Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TD 2015 - Colorado

It felt good to get past Horca, where I quit last year. I rode about 6 miles up along the river and camped. Up early in the morning and rode to Platoro, got a great breakfast and then had some serious climbs to deal with.

Stunner Pass was the first one and it went pretty quickly. I then rode past Red Mountain and onto a higher alpine like plain and climbed over to Summitville, which is now a Superfund site, due to some mining company building a cyanide pit for gold refining and then running away when the whole thing started leaking and polluting the water supply. After Summitville there was a few miles of climbing left to get to Indiana Pass.  The day was getting late and a thunderstorm was starting to brew and I could see flashes of lightening as I get to an area with very few trees at 11,910 feet.  No sign was up there to take a picture in front of and I started down on a long rainy descent that essentially took me all the way to Del Norte, where I stayed in their hostel for the night.

Stunner Pass

Red Mountain

Alpine zone

Del Norte Cafe

Del Norte Hostel

The next day was going to be a hard one.  I wanted to get to Sargents about 111 miles and 7000 feet of climbing away.  Got another good breakfast, restocked at a gas station and started out with a sandy climb through a small pass and into a grassy desert like area.  Heard my only rattler of the trip out there and then started climbing toward Carnero Pass.  This turned out to be a pretty hot day and the climb later to Cochetopa Pass took a bit out of me, but I got it done.  On the way downhill, instead of going fast, I got hit with a headwind and that continued for next next couple of hours at least.  I ended up stopping at one of the Dome Reservoirs and rested and stuck my feet in the water.  It felt great and I continued on, but really didn't find a decent spot to camp, so kept riding and riding and finally I was at Doyleville where I stopped for all of 30 seconds before I was covered with mosquitos.  So that wasn't going to be a place to camp, and I headed east on US 50 to Sargents and got there about 10:30 or so.  Sargents is one of those places where cold settles in from higher elevations and it was the coldest night I encountered on the whole trip .. woke up the next morning with frost all over the bike, tent and the rest.

Ride the Divide Movie Scene ( north of Del Norte )

Carnero Pass ( no snow here )

As the Tomichi Trading post opened, Neil Beltchenko. showed up.  He finished in the top three this year, and he came in and quickly gathered up his supplies for the coming day ( as I was sitting drinking coffee ).  I was able to tell him and some of the other lead riders that the passes in Colorado were free of snow and they weren't going to have any problems ( lots of folks were worried about this ).  It was fun to see these guys, they are really strong, had been racing the same amount of time as me and had already covered almost 2000 miles ( compared to my 800 or so ).

Go Neil !

Marshall Pass - Yeah !

Absolute Bikes - A TD must stop !
Marshall pass was next and wasn't too bad.  I had some good energy still in my system, but stopped in Salida to check out the bike shop, get some more GU's and have my rear brake looked at.  Scott at Absolute Bikes took care of that in no time, but I stayed the night, got myself a pizza and to bed early.

Looks like an old gas station 

The next morning I got up early and rolled for Hartsel and at least Como.  The ride to Hartsel was pretty, a long climb out of Salida and then views of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, a group of 14000 ft mountains to the west.  I think that was one of the prettiest sections, with all of the snow on them and the morning sun illuminating their eastern slopes.  In Hartsel, I found a cafe and got some food and met one of the racers doing the TransAm race.  Lee is about my age, and was doing Astoria to Yorktown on a road bike, self supported just like TD.  I left the cafe, and headed along another dirt road to Como.  Near Como, I got a phone call from Susan who wondered why I hadn't moved for two or three hours, turns out the batteries in my Spot had died, so I put new batteries in and got that resolved and was back on the tracker,

Como is one of those old mining towns that just has a few people living there and the Como Depot which used to have a restaurant and a bed and breakfast is closed, so onward to Boreas Pass which I got on top of at sundown.  Had a chilly ride down into Breckenridge where I saw a fox as I was parking my bike in front of a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.  I kept going, got onto the bike path and after a really circuitous route finally got to Frisco.  Think it was about 110 miles and 8000 feet of climbing for the day, so I felt pretty darn good about the day.

Boreas Pass
In the morning I texted Coach Jen and met her at a restaurant in Silverthorne for breakfast.  It was cool to see folks I know even if just for a little while and then I was off to Kremmling.  You don't get anyplace on Tour Divide without going over a pass and Ute Pass was next, followed by riding through more forest and along a big reservoir and then a just rained on dirt road.  In Kremmling I ran into Chris and Alex, a father son team who were doing the ride northbound also ( northbounders are rare - almost everyone goes south ).

The Protected Rock 

Colorado River
Next morning, I started for Steamboat Springs.  When I got to Radium I caught the tail end of a little cattle drive, with about 250 cows being moved across the only bridge over the Colorado River.  River rafters and me were all held up as about 7 cowboys tried to get these cows over the river, as they went into some brush and stirred up about a million mosquitos, with me riding in circles trying to keep moving so I didn't get eaten by the mosquitos and cow stuff all over the place.  The herd finally moved along and everyone could get where they needed to go and I started up one of the steeper climbs on the whole trip to get onto a ridgeline above Radium.  That took a while, then I had a bunch of rollers and more forest to ride through.  I got to go around a reservoir on some pretty fun singletrack, cross over a dam and after a few more hours I was in Steamboat.

7 Cowboys, 3 Dogs, 250 Cows, One Million Mosquitos and me
More Wildflower Beauty

I thought about taking a day off, but was afraid of inactivity, so left in the morning for Brush Mountain, one of those Tour Divide magical spots.  I stopped at the Clark Store in Clark, got some food and a bottle of water and managed somehow to ride off with the bottle sitting on the sidewalk.

There were some beautiful displays of wildflowers on this part of the ride, along with a pretty hard climb on rocky forest roads, but later in the evening we were at Brush Mountain with Kirsten asking what I wanted to eat and bringing two cheeseburgers and some Cokes and I was all setup.  Kirsten has been supporting Tour Divide for several years and is just an amazing person.  Jeff and I shared a cabin, we got some breakfast the next morning  and had a pretty short ride to get to Wyoming.  Once you get to Brush Mountain, it is generally said that you have a pretty good chance of sticking with it to the end.  And it was cool to meet a lot of the southbound riders who were there.

Resting - Could have stayed here a couple of days 

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