Tour Divide – 2000 miles, 12000ft and onwards to New Mexico!
To avoid the heat of the day, 5 of us set off at 5 am after a breakfast of egg, ham, fried bread and crisps. (Kirsten forgot to get up as promised to make us the usual recommended pancakes! Oh, I realised my zip had broken on my frame bag. Thankfully this was mainly carrying 3 litres of water in my camelback and bike tools which wouldn’t matter if they got wet but it wasn’t ideal. I had some spare double sided Velcro tape that I had packed for any such occasion but it wasn’t the best. Luckily at lunchtime we were passing Steamboat Springs where there was an excellent bike shop. I will look there.
We set off, very full now. It was a beautiful climb up this lush valley dropping in to civilisation on the other side. Found bike shop where luckily I was able to buy another bag, FedEx mine back home and top up on bike oil and high factor sun cream. ( I had to use my arm warmers in the Basin to stop the sun from burning my arms held at a perfect sun burning angle when I rested on my tri bars. I liked to change position as much as possible to stop my hands from getting numb holding on to the handlebars for hours.) My cough is still with me, probably all the dust and I feel like I’ve swallowed a sponge making breathing hard.
The intention for the evening was to camp at the campsite on the top of Lynx Pass at 9500 foot and we knew there would be a full moon. Campsites here just seem to have an outhouse, (toilet) but we were lucky with this one as it had treated water too. We set the alarm for 4.15am so that we could have a few hours riding in the cool before the heat of the day. However this day began with a long descent which, together with a river crossing, made it quite cold. I even put my down jacket on. I took my shoes off for the river crossing but when the sun comes up, it’s as if someone has switched the heating on so I soon dried. After riding in temperatures unusually cold for that season, here and now, it is unusually hot.
We followed the river up Ute Pass at 9500feet for 30 miles up a dusty gravel track. There was still a headwind and although infrequent, when a car passed, we got a face and lung full of dust! I took my T-shirt off least four times to soak it in the river and put it straight back on to cool me down.
The second pass of the day was Boreas Pass with the brilliant, single track Gold Dust Trail just a couple of hundred metres from the top. It would’ve been easy to miss the turning onto it!
The headwind in To Hartsel made our biking so slow, it was walking pace. Gosh! Now we could see the two forest fires in the distance that the locals were worried would spread to their homes. We hope to make it to the next town that evening but the headwinds slowed us down. We camped in quite a clean cattle enclosure, (without the cattle), just putting the tent up before sunset. It was very beautiful although I did hear wild dogs in the night! This isn’t really bear territory now so we didn’t hang our food up in a tree. Some little animal found Chris’s energy bars though!
It’s been a while since my last post as we’ve had little signal for internet.
I was lucky that I had just been passing a bike shop when the sealant from my tubeless tyres had finally all leaked. An easy replacement and we set off.
There was another brilliant bike shop in Salida with an adjacent cafe for breakfast where we ate while Chris and Corrine had their bikes checked. I also bought another Camelback for the desert as I realised that one of my bagschad a hole in it. I could now potentially carry 11litres of water, five on my back and six on my bike. I don’t like carrying heavy things on my back for long distances as I feel this extra weight can make you more saddle sore.
We were in Colorado now and all the passes were crossed were quite high. Next was Marshall Pass at nearly 11,000 foot. Here I could feel the altitude but Chris raced ahead. After I arrived, we admired the view but as we set off, we could hear a horrible noise. Chris had broken a spoke. Thank you Keswick Bikes mechanic James for thinking ahead, giving me six spokes which i kept with my tent poles.
As we headed south, we encountered several “Northbounders”, many offering advice on our route to come. Many said “take lots of water for the desert. This was the reason I carried 11litres on a couple of days!
My worst nightmare happened today, my Garmin stopped working! Thankfully I’m carrying a full set of paper maps and also a couple of backups on my phone. It won’t be as easy as followin* my Garmin so I’ll just try and keep close to Chris!
Philippa’s blog created by KMB.Written on July 3rd, 2018 by Staff Minion