The Great Divide: Day 36-42 (Part 1)

Day 36 (8/19): Silverthorne to Heaton Bay Campground. 3.3 epic miles.

Oh thank god! Rest day!!! We get a slow breakfast at the cafe, do laundry at the hotel, go to a few bike shops, hit the REI. It was a glorious casual day. Still every little hill my legs groaned. We decide to roll to the campsite just three miles out of town to save some money versus another hotel. Have a mellow evening at the lake. The insanely short distance allows us to go nutball on food and have a feast. We just need to attach it to the bike good enough to make it three miles. Salad, smoked salmon, baguette, hummus, veggies, pudding.

We get to camp. Ed starts looking at the map and says something like “Well… maybe we can…” I interrupt “NO! You better squash that thought down! I NEED THIS REST DAY SO HARD!”.

We kinda don’t know what to do when not biking or setting up camp. After always going it’s kind of a weird experience having relax time. Took awhile to get into that mode. We stuff our faces then take a walk around the campsite. Casual walks, who does that?

 

Day 37 (8/20): Heaton Bay Campground to Hartzel

Man I LOVE day after rest day legs. All of a sudden you can go way faster then you did two days ago. I think maybe from now on I am only going to ride my bike every other day to ensure constant rest day legs. We were able to smash some miles and a pass with no problem.

We started out by biking 15 miles to grab breakfast at Breckinridge. Longest 15 miles of my life. Passing though for breakfast seemed way more financially feasible then staying overnight as all the hotels were at least $150. We then started up Boreas Pass and were going to be biking during the eclipse. It was strange experiencing everything get dim and very cold. A group of people on the pass made me stop and use their glasses for a sec. They were adamant that I had to see it. It will admit it was pretty cool.

The pass was the highest on the route but the grade was not bad at all and a chunk of it was on pavement. Super easy. Ed sprinted ahead because we heard the young Dutch couple were up there and they would be fun to ride with. Sadly we missed them. We then start some fun rocky descending. Eventually we pass through Como. A tiny tiny town with about 10 buildings. It’s very old timey and small town that is clearly dying. We roll on farther to Hartsel. We stop by the restaurant/bar for food and find out about the lodging. This bar is pretty wild already for only being 5:30. It kinda blows my mind. Kids are playing pool in there. It’s a true country bar. Ed finds out there is a lodge a couple miles out. We start heading there to find out about camping and rooms. As we are biking it starts raining. I am all aboard the camping game but once it starts raining all bets are off. I HATE dealing with a wet tent. If there is a dry room somewhere I am going there. As we are biking to the lodge we talk about what our $ cut off is and the more it rains the higher it goes for both of us.

We get there and we call the number on the door. The guy on the phone tells us to just go in and pick any room and a lady will be by later. Holy crap this lodge is BIG with most lights off and there is only one other cyclist there. It feels a bit like The Shinning. I start crossing my fingers that Ed doesn’t snap. Despite its kinda creepy feel at first it had seriously the best bed of whole trip.

 

Day 38 (8/21): Hartzel to Salida

We slowly pack up then go back into town to have breakfast. Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal to go out to eat for on the divide. I love starting out the day with a warm hot sugary carby eggy all the calories meal. Camp breakfast I am hungry in an hour. Camp dinner is is good, camp lunch is good, camp breakfast is LAME. Fine print: I realize this MAY be a result of sending my stove back.

We run into a couple of other Dividers at breakfast. They have pretty much been on the same schedule as us but somehow we have never ran into them. There is probably a whole crew of riders that actually leave on time just 15 miles in front of us that we will never meet.

The ride started out pretty flat, open scenery, and kinda boring then we got to a pass. It all of a sudden felt like we were in forest which was a lovely change of pace from the end of the day before and that morning.

We started going down and the road was steep gravel and very tight corners. It’s real hard not to go down descents super fast after you have spent HOURS going up them at 3.5 miles an hour. I am going down then “oh shit this corner is real sharp! Fuck I am going too fast” hit breaks (rookie mistake), slide out, then crashed hard. I think I was going somewhere in the 20s. I land on my elbow, side, and knee. I start to get up and have an immediate adrenaline rush. Ed starts sprinting back up to me and makes sure I am ok. I hang my head upside down for a good 5 minutes till the adrenaline goes away and he makes me give him my knee to pour water on it. I think I am banged up but ok.

Fix my whacked out handlebars and start slowly rolling into town. We pass the hospital and Ed asks if we should stop. I say no. We come onto a hostel pretty quick (thank god) and get checked in. The desk guy shakes my hand and I can’t help but yelp. I put off showering because I know it’s gonna hurt. My elbow and knee are starting to swell and my rib is starting to hurt. We decide to be lazy and order pizza. I was not into walking. There was people in the living room and I was real thankful that Ed was a novelty from a foreign country because he took most of the chatty chatty brunt. I was also not into talking. I was pretty much only into sitting on the chair with ice on my knee. Secretly I was worried if I could ride the next day. I really didn’t want to go out on an injury a week before I was out of time.

 

Day 39 (8/20): Salida to Sargents

Oh crap I am sore. Knee is a swollen and rib hurts when I breathe deep. Shit. Well everything is still moving and working so I am gonna roll. I am just gonna hugely utilize Ibuprofen to get me through today, aannnddd maybe tomorrow.

We get a fairly quick breakfast at the coffee shop actually pretty early. Good job us. We sit and look at the next few days and plan how many days worth of food we need and even create a grocery list vs the past behavior of just getting into a store and buying ALL the food. It only took me about a month to do this basic bikepacking skill.

After the crash my bike is shifting weird so while I go into the bike shop Ed takes care of the shopping. Turns out my derailleur is bent and the dude had to slowly bend it back all the while making a concerned face.

Once we are all settled we head out. Starts out on pavement then we turn off to onto a very pretty dirt road. Today is Marshall Pass. 10,842 ft gravel the whole way up. We start heading up and run into two other Dividers, Tracy and Karen. We chat a bit while trucking up. Ed decides to take the more intense race route up, he is an avid MTBer that likes the technical stuff. The rest of us take the ACA route up. Goddammit Tracy and Karen are fast. Shit. I am already just “medium” as my norm add being injured and I am solidly in the slow category. They zoom ahead of me. I take a few turns and then start going a bit downhill. I think to myself “well that’s weird.” And I shrug it off as some passes are kinda rolling while slowly going up. Go a bit farther and find myself back at the parking lot right at the start of the pass. Goddammit I have to start over on the day I am already slow riding with ALL fast people!!!! Shit!! It really only sets me back a couple of miles but I did not need that on top of everything.

Finally get to the top and Tracy and Karen had already left. Ed states that he was starting to get worried. I don’t admit yet that I took a wrong turn. I just quietly feel bad that I took so long while I eat lunch. Oh AND on top of that I left my spork on top of the pass. Sigh. The trend of me forgetting something every where has started. It’s takes us just a hot second to get to our destination after this fast downhill. Spinning without pressure actually felt really good on my knee. On the downhill I admit I did bonus miles aka wrong turn. We get dinner and talk to some people doing the Trans Am route. In the evening I ice my knee more to hopefully reduce the swelling and my reliance on ibuprofen the next day. I feel good that I am sure I can keep moving but I still want to be all better immediately. We join Tracy and Karen around their fire. It was a pleasant mellow night.

 

Day 40 (8/21): Sargents to Primitive camping on Carnero Pass.

The last couple of days were fairly low mileage (about 45) so we aimed to smash some out today. We were gonna try for 80ish and up two passes to get to Storm King Campground.

We all get breakfast at the dinner then take off as a group. The first bit was fairly flat pavement so we naturally formed a pace line. We were booking it. My bike computer was saying about 21/22mph. Both Ed and Tracy took turns pulling. I was maxed out just being in the back. We knocked out the first 12 miles in 45 minutes. We then turn onto dirt road and it gets more rolling. My rib is still sore but I am weaning off the ibuprofen and my knee feels a bit better. I do tell Ed that I won’t be offended if he rides w Tracy & Karen and that I will look for them at the campsite but he still ends up riding with me. Yay!

It starts raining for a couple of hours then the wind and rain dies down and the sun even comes out. We start the gravel climb to Cochetopa Pass at 10,032ft. It’s not that steep and there are birch trees all over. Past the top I come onto Ed talking to two older horse packing couples. You can tell they find him a hoot to talk to. Ed is the type that can be ridiculously charming and I am sure all the mothers love him. They are fascinated by what we are doing and keep asking questions. They asked if I started out doing it alone I said yes and I blew one of the ladies mind “AND YOUR A GIRL!!!” She exclaimed in awe. I reacted in a friendly farting noise and shoulder shrug then a “So?”. She asked me if I was scared of bears and I admitted yes but explained my precautions. She also only asked me this even though, despite what Ed might think, a bear could take him down as easily as me and it’s not like bears particularly like girl meat over boy meat. I was pretty stoked on shattering their perceptions a bit.

We finish going down the pass and hit some flat pavement. Oh dear god yes! In real life I find this boring but on this it’s such a lovely exception. This is also the one situation where I might actually be faster then Ed, he has got all the others, but this one is mine. My tuck and fast steady cadence is ON POINT. After having a couple of days where I felt slow I am freaking loving this so hard. A little too hard as I zoom past the turn and hear a loud yell. Crap fun time is over. Turn around and then get onto another gravel road going up to Carnero Pass at 10,166. This is the prettiest part of the day. It is starting to feel a bit southwestern. We make it 69.6 when we come upon Tracy & Karen and decide to stop and camp with them. I am feeling relatively good still but the rain is coming. Not the 80 miles and two passes we planned but 69.6 miles and one and 3/4ths isn’t too bad. We have just enough time to get set up and have dinner before the rain hits. It works out pretty well.

 

Day 41 (8/22): Primitive camping on Carnero Pass to Del Norte.

It’s gonna be an easy day. Under 40 miles no big elevation. At Del Norte is a Hostel specifically for divide riders and looking at pictures it looks hella cute. I have this pic in my head of it being this giant party/reunion filled with all sorts of people we have previously ran into on the trail. I am excited at this totally realistic expectation.

We finish up the pass and start zooming down. Absolutely fun riding. About halfway through we get lunch off the track at a very cute country dinner in La Garita. Supposedly they have very good burgers but my highlight is a word pun that can’t be beat (points to salad of beets) and makes me giggle for way longer then it should. A bit farther it feels more like dessert and we turn onto really fun double track that is smooth and feels like a roller coaster.

We get into town and Ed, Tracy, and Karen go to the bike shop. I go straight to the hostel to make sure Ed and I each get a bed. Well turns out there is only one other person there so not a problem. Also not my fantasy reunion but it’s still cute and it’s really lovely just hanging out in a cozy house. I sit and do a bunch of mileage math to see if there is anyway I could get to the border before I have to be at work. I would have to do 93 miles each day with no rest days for the next eleven days. A bit unrealistic. I decide that Cuba, NM would probably be my last town on the route. Only 6 more days. I have to do 60 miles a day. I arrange a shuttle from Cuba to Albuquerque where I will fly out of. I am still not emotionally ready to purchase plane tickets home yet. I still have a “wellllll maaayyybbeee” in the back of my head.

We grab dinner with the other Divider at the local brewery then Karen and Tracy join. We feel almost like real people. During dinner Ed and I bicker about whether both of us go to the grocery store a million miles away or just me. I relent and agree to pick him up a litter of Chocolate Milk for the next days climb but my retrieval fee would be that I could have some.

 

Day 42 (8/23): Del Norte to Platoro

Pt 1. First half. (It was a big day, I am splitting it into two)

Today is marked by…… BETRAYAL!!!!! On the travelversary!!!

At breakfast we talk about the day with a sense of foreboding. Due to a contamination from a mine there are no water sources the whole day, it’s gonna be a hot day, we have to carry three days worth of food, AND we will be hitting the highest point of the divide, Indiana Pass at 11,910ft. So highest peak while bikes are the heaviest. Ooofta.

We start out together but soon Tracy and Karen zoom up ahead cause they are monsters. I make sure to pace myself and Ed is in the middle.

The worst part is just how fucking long this climb takes. Trudging for hours. Ed for the most part is insight. When I would round corners I would see him standing look back and get back on his bike. I start to see he is drinking something, again he looks back sees me and gets back on his bike. Goddammit I bet he is drinking the chocolate milk!!! He disappears out of sight. After all day slogging I get close to the top and Ed is kinda waiting for me.

He immediately says “I have a confession. I drank all the chocolate milk.”

“Goddammit Ed! Goddammit!”

“I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t stop.”

“I knew it! I saw you were drinking something! Aaargghhh”

I went off on a tangent of all the turmoil I went through to get it the day before.

All on our one week travelversary. I will never be able to trust again.

(Truth be told it was kinda worth it as from here on out I brought it up whenever I deemed it amusing)

After finishing off the climb we sat and ate lunch while watching sheepdogs and cowboys herd a flock of sheep down in the valley. It was some real old west shit.

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