Monday, 10 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 7

Bannack, MT to Upper Red Rock Lake, MT
Mileage: 222.1 km (138 mi)
Riding Time: 17 h 48 m
Standing: 13th place

Day 7 Map

Tom and I woke up at about the same time and packed things up.  He was out of the gate a bit faster than me.  I didn’t expect to see him again since he is a way faster rider than me.  It was a bit cold especially putting on all the wet clothes from the night before.  I was happy to start riding to warm up. 

Early morning start into the wide open spaces toward Bannack Road

Tom spoke about the infamous Bannack Road mud.  In all of my research I still forgot where the worst mud was supposed to be.  Turns out this stretch was one of them.  I saw Tom in the distance.  You could see pretty far in these sections.  He had stopped at a cattle guard for some reason so I caught up.  I saw that he stopped because of the mud.  I didn’t notice because I was keeping my speed up and with the single speed the mud didn’t affect my gearing at all.  I kept on pedalling and the mud didn’t really slow me down.  Keep going straight and don’t stop!  I passed Jose pushing his bike through the sage bushes on the side of the road.  He looked at me with his mouth open and asked, “How can you ride through this?”  “I don’t know” I said as I rode by.  I kept going glad I was making some distance on some strong riders.  

I kept riding trying to keep a decent pace and then the sleepiness crept in again.  Nodding off and swerving.  Jose eventually caught up and we rode together for a while.  It was nice chatting with someone to keep the sleep monster at bay.  Jose seemed surprised that my bike was 50lbs in a “that’s heavy” sort of way.  I thought I was doing pretty well with a steel single speed, but it sounds like there are a lot of really light kits out there. 

At one stretch we were riding into a headwind.  I tucked into my aerobars and looked down for a second.  Before I knew it I had collided with Jose!  He had stopped and since I wasn’t looking I rode right into him.  My hands were on the aerobars so I couldn’t even grab my brakes.  I felt terrible!  No injuries and our bikes were okay, but I felt really bad about that for a long time.  I must pay more attention to where I was going! 

We kept riding together leapfrogging as our paces would vary.  Eventually we hit more sticky mud.  This time I couldn’t power through it.  The slower you went the more mud would stick to your tires.  Tom caught up with us and powered though the mud we were walking through.  I learned that if you keep your speed up the centrifugal force would fling the mud off of your tires.  It only took one slow spot though to start the accumulation. 

Sticky Bannack mud

More Bannack mud

Jose and I walked, cleaned off mud, and walked some more.  I gradually pulled away from Jose and reached the top of a small summit.  I thought finally the mud is over.  Nope. 

Top of the Bannack Road

I started flying down the descent with mud flying off all over the place.  Once I got to the bottom of the hill, more mud.  Now it was mixed with cow poo.  A herd of cows had just gone through and the road was pockmarked with hoof holes in the sticky mud.  After one spot of pushing, I went to get back on the bike.   Right as I was about to put my foot on the pedal, I noticed the pedal housing had come unthreaded from the spindle.  I fell over avoiding stepping on the half disassembled pedal.  Close one!  If I was to step on that, it probably would have ruined my pedal.  I got out my multi tool, cleaned off the threads and put the pedal back together.  The fix worked well because it didn’t give me any issues the rest of the trip.  

I kept riding along talking to the cows and avoiding manure land mines.  I was still blown away by the wide open spaces.  I thought it was funny how the cows would stare at me until the last minute then jerk away into a clumsy gallop.

More wide open spaces before Lima

The wind started to pick up.  I rode into the wind trying to keep a steady pace and continuing to eat.  The road led into a canyon where the winds would funnel through and gust like crazy.  There were times I thought I was going to get blown over.  I kept pushing along until the highway leading to Lima.  I stopped at a garbage dump and waved at a truck that was dumping some trash.  Rode steady pushing into the wind on the frontage road toward Lima.  I remembered my coach Joel’s advice about setting micro goals.  The ride along the road was boring so I started telling myself just get to that stand of trees.  After that, just get to the red barn, and so on.  Before I knew it, I was at Lima.  Thanks Joel!  I saw another bike at the restaurant at the entrance to town.  I headed to the gas station to resupply and clean up.  I had a hot dog and Gatorade and called Kristin.  Another invaluable morale boost.  I was feeling a bit worn out after the mud and wind, but felt renewed on the way out of Lima.  Jose arrived as I was leaving along with Tom, David, and I think some other riders.  I continued on toward Lakeview. 

After the nice break and hot dog at the gas station, I rode up toward the Lima Reservoir.  David Stowe passed me and Tom was way ahead, but I didn’t mind.   The strong wind I was fighting much of the day was either at the side or the back so the riding was nice. 

Road stretching out of Lima

On the way up to the reservoir

The view coming up to the reservoir was awesome with the light glinting off the water.  The sun began to set and the huge view was hard to describe.  So big and beautiful!  The riding was smooth, I felt good and it was an awesome sunset.

Sunset around the reservoir

Rolling into Lakeview I passed David Stowe. It looked like he was setting up camp.  I continued on because I wanted to stop at the Red Rock Lake campground about 5 miles out of Lakeview.  I pulled in to the campsite when it was dark and I set up my bivy.  Pavel arrived shortly after me.  I found out the next morning Tom was already there.  That was a cold night, but I still slept very well. I had a warmer sleeping bag, at about -10C rating, compared to many on the route and I was glad I had it that night.  

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