Monday, 10 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 4

Whitetail Creek, MT to 4.5 km south of Lincoln, MT
Mileage: 234 km (145.3 mi)
Riding Time: 17 h 55 m
Standing: 16th place 

Day 4 Map

My alarm went off and I started getting ready to go.  I learned how to get all of my riding clothes on and start dismantling my bivy before I even got out.  I was packed up and away before the other two but I knew they would catch up.  “I am not that fast”, I said to myself as I ate my Danish on the bike.

Breakfast Danish

I met up with Jose on the way to Holland Lake.  He said he slept on the side of the road for about 4-5 hours and was woken up by a car driving past.  We rode together until the Holland Lake turn off.  It was nice riding with someone for a while.  Jose talked about running out of food and I felt bad eating my meat stick and cheese in front of him.  I thought it was interesting that Jose was born in Columbia, spoke with a British accent and lived in Texas.  Jose needed food so he was off to the lodge.  We parted ways. 

Jose on his way to breakfast

I filtered some water at the lake and was on my way up Richmond Peak.  My filter and bladder system worked great.  I put quick connects on my bladder for ease of removal from the frame bag.  I put the same quick connect on my MSR Hyperflow so I could just click it together and pump away.  It was a nice moment on the edge of the lake in the sun pumping away.

Filtering spot by Holland Lake

Gorgeous country!  I loved seeing the terrain change as the miles clicked by. 

Forest on the way to Richmond Peak

The climb up Richmond Peak was steady and warm. It was a cold morning so I was reveling in the nice warm day.  I was able to grind steadily up to the top of the mountain.  Again, no significant snow except some on the edge of the trail.  I saw a truck and said hi to a couple of hikers on the narrow trail at the top.  There was one spot that was a bit washed out and the edge fell off down a steep cliff.  I could only imagine how scary and challenging it would be with a bunch of snow.  I was glad it was clear, but a bit disappointed I couldn’t tackle the challenge of snow…a very small amount disappointed. 

The only snow on Richmond Peak

The view from the top of Richmond Peak

Then came the descent.  What a blast!  Fairly easy single track for miles!  The only drawback was the broken branches jutting into the trail.  One of those caught me on the left shoulder, tore my jersey and gave me a good scratch.  I hit it hard enough to stop me and the bike, with help from my brakes.  I still have the scar.

Richmond Peak descent

After the descent were some rolling gravel roads.  A bit more traffic and it was getting pretty hot.  Dusty and hot.  Saw another black bear on the way too.  Once I spotted him I blew my whistle.  He (or she) looked back at me and continued to saunter down the road.  I followed him for a while and eventually he turned off the trail so I could ride a bit faster.

Sauntering bear without a care in the world

More gravel roads that led into Ovando.  At one spot a big irrigation sprinkler sprayed me as I rode on the road.  What a shock of cold water on my back! I was looking forward to seeing Angler in Ovando.  This is one of those legendary places I read so much about.  Angler was there to greet me at the store with a smile.  “You must be Dean” she said.  At least she said something like that. The memory is a bit fuzzy.  Angler told me that I was doing well.  At this point I didn’t know where I was in the race.  She had Trackleaders up on her computer so I took a look.  I was 17th!  I couldn’t believe I was that far up front.  I had no expectations and I was slow.  My strict schedule and quick food stops were paying off.  After a quick check in call to Kristin, I got some food and ice cream and saw some other riders.  Tom rode up as I was about to go.  He was having issues with his knee.  After some cleat adjustments, it was feeling better.  Great to hear he was able to continue. 

 Photo courtesy of Angler

Single speed in Ovando

The gas station in Lincoln was going to close at 10:30 so I had to make it up and over Huckleberry Pass before then.  There was a long stretch of gravel before the climb up the pass. The views in these flat spots were amazing.  So wide open and beautiful.

Wide open spaces on the way to Huckleberry Pass

As I got to the top of the pass there was a message to Mike Hall.  “Go Mike” was scratched in the road.  My Spot batteries were dying so I replaced them at the top.   Mosquitos like crazy!  I thought they were going to pick me up and take me away.  After I frantically changed my batteries, down the descent I went.

Go Mike!

On the descent, I had my first real mechanical issue.  My hub all of the sudden started to make some horrible grinding noises. I stopped and realised the horrible sound was coming from inside my hub.  Uh oh, something internal.  I thought with the single speed, drive train issues were not supposed to happen What else could I do except keep riding and hope for the best.  So, that’s what I did.  I managed to make it to the gas station just before closing.  Too bad for me - no hot food.  It was all put away for the night.  I found a couple of burritos in the freezer and asked the attendant if she would heat them up for me in the microwave behind the counter.  “You have to pay for them first” she said with an annoyed tone.  No problem!  Sitting on the curb at the gas station eating burritos I had my first long call with Kristin.  Up to this point all of the calls were short.  I learned that the best time to call was when I was eating.  I could say something and while I was chewing, Kristin could respond.  Double up on tasks. Efficiency!  After a late supper I rode off into the night looking for a nice spot to bivy.  I found one behind some trees off the side of the road.  Slept great again.  Sometime in the night I heard a rider pass by.  I later found out that was Jose looking for a place to bivy, but apparently he didn’t see me.  I also heard some weird animal noises.  I rationalised that it must be a deer or something and went back to sleep. 

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