Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Tour Divide 2016: Day 8

Upper Red Rock Lake, MT to Turpin Meadow Campground, WY
Mileage: 244.7 km (152.1 mi)
Riding Time: 18 h 03 m
Standing: 13th place

Day 8 Map

Woke up at around 4:15am and I wanted to get going ahead of Pavel.  My set up around my bivy would consist of putting my shoes near my head, covering them with my raincoat and placing my helmet on top.  I would read my bible a bit and could turn the headlight off without unzipping my bivy.  This morning my coat was covered in frost!  It was probably a few degrees below zero at the coldest point of the night.  Tom passed by while I was packing up and I followed shortly after.

It was a cold ride out and the trail was nice and felt easy even with the stiff legs.  I rode up the gentle climb up to Red Rock Pass and took my picture at the Idaho border.  It felt great to leave a state behind!

Happy to be at the border!

I continued down the hill onto some pavement that traversed Henrys Lake.  Pavel caught up to me and continued past.   Luke eventually caught up to me and gave me a bunch more valuable advice.  He knew the route so well and I was trying to keep track of the good spots to stop and what to avoid.  I am sure I missed a lot of it, but it was much appreciated.  One thing that stuck with me was bring more food and water than you think you will need into New Mexico.  You never know what will happen and there are not too many places to resupply.  We kept riding and I explained my strategy of riding slow and consistent while minimizing stops.  I told him about the hand warmers in my shoes because I get cold feet and he seemed to really like that idea.  There was a nice stretch of single track leading up to Mack’s Inn that was fun.  Luke said he was going into the Subway for breakfast.  I thought that would take too long so I went into the big gas station to resupply and have some quick gas station food.   Tom was there and just finished some breakfast.  He went on his way as I shopped. 

When I was about ready to leave, Pavel rode up.  He needed a new pedal and was trying to hitch a ride into Yellowstone.  I left while watching Pavel riding in circles on the road stopping trucks trying to get a ride.  Crazy Czech!  The next stretch was the rail trail. 

Infamous Rail Trail

I was curious to see how tough the Rail Trial actually was after all the research.  It didn’t seem too bad.  There were some really loose spots, but with all the riding in the snow I do in Canada, it seemed natural to ride through. Always remember not to turn until you are out of the loose stuff.  Go with the flow.  The big washboards were a bit tedious. They seemed to be at the same spacing as my wheel base so you couldn’t sit on the saddle without getting bucked off. I felt I was making good time as the riding was flat (in elevation), dry and warm.  Warm turned into hot as I found Luke again.  We rode together at times and apart at others, but always in the same vicinity.  At one spot when I was on my own, I looked at my maps a little too long and my front tire got caught in the loose sand lump in the middle of road.  Down I went.  No real injury except some scratches and my pride.  The trail started to follow along the Wise River canyon and it was really nice riding.  The washboards dissipated and it was all downhill.  There was a campground at the bottom with an outhouse and spigot to wash off the dirt and sweat.

The road was paved all the way to another Tour Divide friendly lodge.  Squirrel Creek Elk Ranch was the place.  On the way there I was about to put my elbow on my aerobar pad and a big bug flew in the way right as I put my arm down.  Gross!  I debated stopping and I thought I would stop to fill my water only.  I ran into Tom on his way out and he recommended the ice cream.  I stopped inside and succumbed to the temptation of ice cream.  Eating my ice cream I made conversation with a couple of tourers. 

The road turned to gravel again and started to climb.  I was a bit confused to see another border sign, but apparently I was out of Idaho already and into Wyoming. 

Entering Wyoming

Sleepiness set in again and I fought the sleep monster for a long time.  The elevation profile on the map seemed gentle but the reality seemed a lot tougher.  I climbed and climbed in a bit of a stupor for what seemed like forever.  The forest was very pretty, but it was hard to enjoy in my state.  Over the top and across the Grassy Lake Reservoir I went.  I eventually made it to Flagg Ranch for a resupply.  The GPS track was a bit confusing getting into the store.  I ended up taking some foot path that led past some cabins.  I ran into everyone at the store.  Tom was already there and just finished up his lunch.  Pavel and David showed up shortly after.  I was surprised to see Pavel since the last I saw him he was trying to get a ride to Yellowstone.  I had my first conversation with a fan (of the race, not me) in the parking lot too.  He was following Trackleaders and was excited to talk to a racer.

I followed the pavement out of the store and had a few cars cheer as I rode along.  That felt great!  It was an amazing view of the Tetons riding along the highway.  More pictures that don’t come close to giving the view justice.

Grand Tetons

The pavement stretched on as the sun fell.  One guy on a motorcycle yelled, “You’re going to get yourself killed!” as he drove by.  I was a bit confused by that.  I felt pretty safe.  At one point a driver stopped in front of me.  As I rode up, she looked at me and the bike and said, “You really look like you know what you’re doing.”  She explained she stopped to ask if I wanted a ride somewhere.  Very nice gesture, but I explained the race and we parted ways.  It must be strange to see a cyclist on the highway far from any town late at night. The outhouses looked so appealing to sleep in as the night fell, but I wanted to make it to the Turpin Meadow Campground for the night.  Just after turning left toward Moran Junction I looked at the top of a ridge on the side of the road and saw a big buck deer silhouette.  The antlers were black against the dark blue twilight sky.  I had my headlight on so his eyes were glowing back at me.  It was breathtaking and a bit creepy seeing a black deer silhouette with glowing eyes.  Awesome!

I kept riding the pavement down a nice, fast downhill over a bridge.  I looked down at the GPS and I was off route.  Backtracking I went up the steep hill to the turn off.  I rode as twilight turned to night and rolled past several lodges.  Through the windows I could see so many antlers mounted on the walls.  I rolled into the campground past a bunch of horses. “No tents” the sign at the campground said.  What?!  A campground with no tents allowed?  It seems due to bear activity, only hard walled shelters were allowed.  I was too tired to care and set my bivy up by a picnic table anyway.  If they woke me up, I would just ride away.  Another good night under the stars.  I could hear the horses nearby and slept well.

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