Sunday, 16 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 13

Williams Fork Reservoir, CO to Salida, CO
Mileage: 245.7 km (152.7 mi)
Riding Time: 20h 12m
Standing: 13th place

Day 13 Map

After the good sleep, I was reset and felt optimistic.  A little bit slower, and knew I would lose a couple of positions, but I felt good about it.  The road climbed steadily up to the top of Ute Pass.  On the way I ran into several northbounders.  One of them told me about a little church outside of Pie Town where you can get some water.  Good tips to remember. 

Ascending up the gravel

On the way up the paved section I started to hear some ringing.  I wondered if I was hallucinating again, but I felt really good so I doubted that.  As I ascended up to the top of the pass some workers were undergoing some sort of testing.  They were walking up the hill with oxygen tanks on their backs.  They looked hot and sweaty.  Every once in a while the tanks would start ringing.  The ringing sounded like the old rotary phones in the olden days.  I thought that would be maddening having this ringing thing on your back as you trudged up the hill. 

Top of Ute Pass

The descent was fast and fun.  I screamed along around 50-60km/hr on the pavement.  Once I almost rode over a porcupine.  After the big decent, the pavement slowly climbed into Silverthorne.  At one point someone working on a billboard cheered me along the way.  That felt great!  I stopped at a gas station in Silverthorne for some resupply and a clean-up.  The trail was really nice from here into Breckenridge.  Miles and miles of scenic paved bike path with sections of boardwalk on the way.  I rode past all of these clean joggers and cyclists and always felt some pride when I would pass one of them. 

Some of the boardwalk on the super-long bike path

I rode into Breckenridge a bit confused as to where the trail was.  At one section, the pink line on the GPS seemed to be somewhere between the road, paved bike path, and a single track trail that all paralleled each other.  I took my chances and rode the paved bike path and one small section of single track.  I stopped at a community centre of some kind and refilled my water and began the climb up to Boreas Pass.  This climb was really nice.  Very long, but a gentle grade.  I was able to grind along seated for most of the climb.  

View on the way up to Boreas Pass

Nice gradual climb

Water tank on the way up

There were many vehicles driving on the road over the pass.  They ranged from minivans to trucks pulling RVs.  As I neared the top of the pass I could hear thunder and saw the dark clouds.  One of the drivers said maybe I should turn around.  I said I was on my way to Como.  I anticipated a wet descent, but the storm moved away. 

Thunderstorm at the pass

Boreas Pass

As I crested the pass, I was happy to have a nice gentle and fast descent.  I started talking to myself as usual on the descent enjoying myself fully.  I glanced down at my GPS and no pink line!  I was off route!  I heard about going off route near Breckenridge and I thought that was the section with the road, bike path and single track in town, but it was here.  I climbed back up the hill for about 20 minutes and saw the turn off down the Gold Dust Trail that I missed.

Missed turn

The descent down the Gold Dust Trail was so much fun!  Rocky, fast single track.  My front tire started bottoming out at one point so I put some air in it.  Need more sealant at the next bike store.  The single track went on for miles and I was having fun!  I wasn’t feeling sleepy after the good night’s sleep and the trail was a blast!

I ended up in Como and stopped briefly outside a store.  I saw another bike, but didn’t recognise it.  I gave the rider a wave as I continued on.  The road went out into open spaces again.  Lots of rolling hills, sage bush and ranches.  The wind was not too favourable as I plowed my way to Hartsel.  I got into Hartsel around 8pm and as there is no store, I went into the restaurant for some food.  I was a bit worried that I would have to eat in the bar since I didn’t see the restaurant next door initially.  The patrons at the bar seemed to be getting a bit rowdy. I didn’t want to deal with any drunk people.  I started locking my bike to a fence outside the bar when some northbound tourers came up.  We chatted a bit about the race and marvelled at Mike Hall’s pace.  They described the next section to me since I was debating riding into the dark all the way to Salida.  I wanted to ride for at least a few more hours.  They said there was mostly farmland and I was worried about sleeping on someone’s property.  They told me about the restaurant next door so I moved my bike near the window and sat down to order.   The rider I passed in Como rode up and it was a tourer from Canmore, AB.  Another Canadian!  We had some supper together and I debated riding all the way to Salida that night.  I made my decision, then called Kristin.  I told her my plan.  Ride into the night until I got to Salida, get a hotel and sleep until about 8am then go to the bike store.  She was happy I was going to go to my first hotel and take my one and only shower of the whole trip. 

I ate a BLT and got two more for the road.  The sun was starting to set as I began my 69km trek to Salida.  The skies that were darkening with clouds earlier cleared up and it looked like it was going to be a good night.  The grade was pretty gentle as I passed more ranch land.  As darkness descended the big, bright moon came out.  The riding was great!  If I had to pick a night to ride late into the early hours of the morning, this was it.  With the moonlight, I could see the edges of the trail.  I rode along and started to wonder about the wild dogs.  The waitress at Hartsel said they were the biggest threat in this area.  I was a bit skeptical, but when you are tired, riding along in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, you can get spooked easily.   At one point, I looked to my left with my headlight and saw a sea of eyes looking back at me.  There must have been a hundred of these shiny white eyes staring at me in the dark.  I looked ahead and nervously kept pedalling forward.  What else could I do?  After the trip was over, I looked at the satellite view of that area and saw that it was a bunch of farmland.  I think all of the eyes were just a bunch of cows. 

I kept riding and walked some distance up to Watershed Divide.  At the top I could see the lights of Salida in the valley below.  I started the twisty steep descent into town.  I started nodding off a bit and worked hard at staying alert making these tight corners at the edge of a cliff.  I made it into town about 2am and got a hotel.  It was nice taking a shower and sleeping in a bed.  I ate my BLT then got to sleep as fast as I could.  Nice, comfy sleep that night. 

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