Monday, 10 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 5

4.5km S of Lincoln, MT to Swede Gulch, MT
Mileage: 183.7 km (114 mi)
Riding Time: 17h 58m
Standing: 15th place

Day 5 Map

Up at around 4:15am for another day!  Nice night.  It was starting to take a while to warm up in the mornings.  I made sure I stuck with my mantra of just keep moving forward.  It doesn’t matter how slow, just move.  Went up and over a pass with a lot of walking.  The map calls it Crossing Divide #1.  It was pretty steep with a lot of loose rock.  With the single speed it was unrideable…for me at least.  

Somewhere outside of Lincoln

The Achilles were still bothering me, but the pain would come and go. My right ankle was developing some pain in the top of the ankle too.   All part of the race I told myself.  I thought that night I would move my cleats and see if that would take care of things.  My hub was holding up.  It didn’t sound the same and the clicking while I coasted would come and go.  I was concerned, but what else could I do but keep riding.  Hold on until Helena! 

Coming down over the pass opened up into some nice farm land.  I saw cowboys moving some cows around in the field. I think it’s called herding. Can you tell I’m not a herdsman or whatever they call themselves? It started to rain a bit and I decided to put on some rain gear.  Later on I regretted taking the time to stop.  The rain stopped and it started to get warm so I had to take everything off again soon after.  I stopped to use the facilities (facilities being a tree in the woods).   I met up with Luke and we rode for a bit.  This is the first we spoke.  We leapfrogged each other on the way into Helena.  Up and over another pass and I was happy to see the long paved downhill into the big city. I was feeling a bit tired and my ankles were pretty sore.  On the descent, all I could do was coast.  Can’t gear up with a single speed.  That’s really nice, but being tired I started to nod off on the bike going down the hill.  It’s a bit disconcerting feeling that disconnected feeling going 40km/hr on a busy highway. 

Luke caught up right as we rode into town and he stopped at a gas station.  I was making a bee line for the bike store to get my hub looked at.  Before the race, I put the bike stores as waypoints in my Etrex30 along with writing the hours of operation on my map.  The little flag on the GPS was a godsend.  I made it to the bike store and the guys at the Garage were great!  I left the bike at the store and walked up the street to Pita Pit.  I got a big pita and a smoothie and walked back to the store.  The mechanic opened up the hub and found some bits had broken off.  I know how to fix a lot on a mountain bike, but I don’t know much about the inner workings of a hub.  I was glad he was able to fix it.  Brake pads were replaced and I was ready to go.  Jose came in for some repairs as well. 

Once I was ready to go a huge rainstorm rolled in.  It looked like one of those familiar downpours that are temporary so I decided to dawdle a bit until the rain passed.  The rain stopped after a little while so I was happy with my decision.  The mechanic told me about a store to resupply at so I started looking for it.  I started following the route out of town and ran into Luke again.  I didn’t see the store and reached the edge of town.  I needed some food so I left Luke and turned back to find this store.   I had a lot of trouble finding it and this neighborhood was full of steep little hills.  It was frustrating having to turn around and I knew I was wasting time riding around in circles and up and down these little hills.  Eventually I found it and was on my way.  Helena has some cool old structures on the way out.  I like to see these old decrepit structures and imagine how they were used in their prime. 

Once out of the town site, sleepiness started to set in.  The scenery was not that interesting and I started to nod off on the bike as I ground the pedals along.  I was starting to discover that big meals did not work well for me.  I would always feel this wave of fatigue for a few hours after.  I kept slowly pedalling up and down these boring rolling gravel hills, swerving back and forth in a half asleep stupor.  I didn’t feel too happy and was thinking, “this is definitely a low point in the race”.  All of a sudden Pavel rode up beside me.  Here was the guy I helped on day one.  It was nice to snap out of my little sleepy funk with someone to talk to.  I was a bit worried he would be angry that I didn’t get out my pump and rode away, but he seemed thankful for the help I gave him.  The other guy helped him out.  After a bit of a chat, he rode away up the hill.  I felt I was going so slow again while I watched him ride gradually away up the hill, but just continued to tell myself, “just keep moving”. 

I wondered where I was in the race.  I was surprised that I was this far up in the pack so I was trying my best to figure out how to make my riding the most efficient as possible.  The gravel roads climbed and climbed until I was upon the Lava Mountain Trail.  There were a lot of corners to take and the trail split off all over the place.  I did my best in following the pink line on the GPS and looked for tire tracks in the mud.  Seeing other tire tracks was reassuring to know I was on the right track.  The trail deteriorated into an unrideable, steep, rutty, muddy mess.  Hike-a-bike all the way up.  I hesitate to say “mess” because I really liked this part too.  I think I am a glutton for punishment or something.  The hardest parts are the ones I really enjoy. 

Hike-a-bike up Lava Mountain

I kept eating and pushing for what seemed like forever.  I was hoping I would catch up to Pavel, Jose or Luke, but the only other riders I saw were a couple of Northbounders.  We had a chat and they kept saying how crazy they thought single speed was.  I can’t relate.  I love my single speed.  So simple and fun. We talked a bit about the Basin and they said, “If the wind is at your back, don’t stop!” These words with their southern drawls would echo in my mind for the rest of the race.  Nice guys.  It was great talking to them.  After summiting the Lava Mountain trail, it was some tricky rocky single track down. Fun! 

The trail spat me out near Basin.  I didn’t stop and continued to ride along the busy highway on the parallel gravel road.  It was starting to get dark and I started to think where I would camp.  I saw a rider in the distance and noticed I was slowly creeping up on him.  I had to stop since I was running low on water.  There was a nice spot to stop and filter some and I liked to camp with a full bladder.  After filling up, I continued to ride on.  There were a couple of informal camping sites where I saw some RVS.  I kept riding into the dark and saw some lights ahead of me right at a day-use campsite.  It was Pavel who stopped and was putting on his leg warmers.  He said he was going to push on to “Butt-eh”.  I decided to stop and sleep in the outhouse at the day use area.  I was happy to be in a concrete structure, but a bit paranoid of someone knocking on the door for some reason.  It was great to have a place I could sleep on top of my bivy and air out the sleeping bag a bit.

Cozy and warm

I took advantage of the shelter to move my cleats.  My ankles were still bothering me and I was hoping this would fix things.  After some fiddling with the cleats, reading my Bible, and eating a couple of gas station sandwiches by the stink hole, I was off to sleep like a baby.  A sore, sweaty, smelly baby.  I think I smelled worse than the stink hole (which really didn’t smell that bad).

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