June 30, 2019

Tour Divide '19: Day 17 - Brush Mountain Lodge to Lynx Pass

This is a dream, right? I'm in a comfy bed, roof over my head, friends all around, breakfast being cooked and I get to ride my bike all day...again. No dream, this is the Brush Mountain Lodge. *I made a late edit to the last post, I forgot to add the BML as #14 on the Tour Divide punch card!! So, if you didn't have Kirsten punch your card last night, get it punched this morning!!

I forget what time breakfast was, maybe 6:30a. The perfect time really. Not stupid early or lazy late. The others had filled the seats at the table are were scarfing down the pancakes faster than the griddle could produce. Spirits were high after the relaxing evening/night. The aroma of fresh coffee filled the air. The pancakes were perfect, so good that I may just visit Kirsten here in AZ this winter for a plate!!
Kirsten in her domain, whipping up all kinds of smiles.
Breakfast is wrapping up, final prep for the day is being made. I stroll over to the butt care table, yes, there's an entire table filled with all sorts of saddle sore remedies. Kirsten insists I try some blister patches from England. I had tried some earlier in the ride, but they either didn't work well or I should've doubled up the layers. I agreed and went about getting situated for the day. My right side was a mess, the area was easily 4x5" in area with two distinct pressure sores. The blister that had opened way back on day 4 had begun to heal. The entire area was sore, swollen and the left side wasn't much better. It took two of the large blister patches to sort of cover the main area of discomfort. Then I put a couple of 4x4" pads on top. This was it, a moment-of-truth so-to-speak.
Better selection than some stores.

It's a convenience store too!!

I had to make my contribution to the fridge sticker collage: Two Schillingsworth (2/), #LocoRides, Hawesaholics & BeerDuro (It's like an Enduro event, but there's a timed beer chugging segment).

Interior tour of the lodge.

The travel department.

The Tour Divide attracts all types, that's former New Mexico Governor & Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson sipping some coffee.

All the pertinent information. Come to the desert in the winter!! Kirsten will be there at La Choza within a stone's throw of the Maricopa Trail.

The classic shot from the deck.

Almost ready to head out.
Justin and Bonnie were among the first to leave. Eric was next.

Eric Morton taking off.

My turn. It was a bit late of a start at 8:45a, but so worth it.
The moment of truth arrived as I swung my leg over the seatbag and readied for departure. I softly lowered myself onto the saddle...it didn't hurt!! It actually felt normal!! So, you're saying there's a chance? You better believe it. I told Kirsten it was the best I felt since Day 3!! Let's freakin' ride!!
It didn't take long to see the tire tracks and footprints of despair. Ugh, that looked horrendous.

There were a couple of nice open areas that flew by, this was on the 'climb' up the Watershed Divide.

I lost count of how many different National Forests the route crossed, the Routt was yet another.

It was a really nice overcast morning. I was feeling great, had to be the pancake fuel.

Aspen Alley of sorts.

The 'ol gray beard was getting long.

Austin Turner caught up and we shared a few miles together. He had toured this section before and mentioned there was a steady climb coming with a steep push to the pass.
It was so good to be able to keep a high cadence at a good pace all while being seated and not in agony. I just hoped the feeling would last. We cleared the steady climb in good time, then the route turned right and up a headwall all too reminiscent of Devil's Hole trail on Union Pass.
Ok, this doesn't look steep, but I swear it was. Austin walked it too!! He left me in the dust here.

While there were patches of snow, it was hard to imagine the conditions the lead riders faced a mere week earlier.

Closing in on the pass.

No, this isn't the route. It's a purdy stream cascading through the snow.

This is the route at the pass. A bit muddy, but otherwise rideable.
I picked my way around the patches of snow on the descent and mud was mostly avoidable as well.
Then the rocks increased and increased...it reminded me of home!! It was a fast chunky descent and I was trying to pick smooth-ish lines. By the time it leveled out, my hands were sore!! Sure was fun though.
Cruising through the bottom portion of the descent.

A few of the higher peaks in the area.

I was rolling down this straightaway and noticed my tent was dangling by my front wheel!! One of the loops I ran the velcro strap under had failed. Dang it. I re-positioned the tent so the straps went through a more robust area of the compression sack.
This seemed to work well and actually limited the sag a bit. I then remembered that Big Agnes was headquartered in Steamboat Springs, my destination that afternoon. I could swing by their office and get a new bag. Then I also remembered it was Sunday and they were closed. Drat. *After the ride I contacted Big Agnes and they replaced the bag at no charge.

Dirt tarmac on the way to Clark, CO.
Haha!! The Lazy Ass Ranch.

Lush meadows of northern Colorado were such a stark contrast to the oil fields of southern Wyoming.

The final miles to Clark were a breeze.

If you're going to stop in Clark, CO this is the place.
I hadn't really planned to stop at the Clark Store, but I had heard how cool of a place it was. I figured I'd get a cold drink and motor on. Justin was outside making a call back home and inside, the place was abuzz with activity. I noticed some people had plates of really good looking food, I couldn't resist. Steamboat Springs wasn't too far away, might as well east now and skip the meal in Steamboat.

Delicious Buffalo Chicken wrap.
MTBCast call-in from Clark: http://mtbcast.com/site2/2019/06/30/mtbcast-tour-divide-19-day-17-evening-calls-from-the-route/
The route was almost all paved from Clark to Steamboat Springs and generally downhill.

There were a few lingering dark clouds about.

Green as far as the eye could see.

I'm never too keen on shoulderless roads. At least this was fast and relatively short.

I started seeing the effects of not only the recent storm snowmelt, but the season's historically high snowpack runoff. This is the swollen Elk River. 

A short climb and dirt cutoff to the pavement.

The dark clouds growing noticeably bigger, I may be getting wet shortly.

I narrowly missed this passing rain shower as the route merged onto the Yampa River Trail.

The Yampa River slightly over its banks as it winds through Steamboat Springs.

A flashback to the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad
I had planned to stop by Orange Peel Bikes in Steamboat to pick up a new chain, if needed, and swap out my brake pads. (I carried two spare sets). The chain was nearing it's stretch limit, so it was replaced.

I ran into Bonnie at Orange Peel Bikes!! So good to see her riding so well. She had a few major setbacks this year while training and for a while it looked like she may not be able to line up at all. Yet here she was, still pedaling south with a huge smile. Her Divide spirit and enthusiasm is second to none and is highly contagious!! Go, Bonnie, GO!!!

Super convenient, located ON route. Great staff too, they immediately started working on my bike. Thanks fellas.

Cool brick art outside the shop.
I got some burrito recommendations and walked down main street. On my way I happened to notice a store with Camelbak accessories, aha!! They had a 3L bladder, so I was able to replace my leaky one. I also nabbed a Steamboat patch for my coffee table. I thought it was a bit funny how my first time to this place would be in summer on a bike and not winter & skis. It's long been on my 'must ski' places.

I tracked down the burrito place and picked one up for dinner & breakfast the next morning. Then off to the nearest convenience store for supplies. I wasn't hungry at all since I ate in Clark, but I was craving a smoothie. I was able to find one on my way back to Orange Peel Bikes and all was well.
LL Cool J fans will know this reference!! Haha. Room 515...

Aerial practice, anyone?

I love BeauJo's pizza, had some in Idaho Springs, CO a few years back. I stopped in to see if I could get a slice to go...denied!!

Seemed appropriate.

The restroom at Orange Peel Bikes is a submarine door!
It was now around 4:30p, it was a bit longer layover than I anticipated, but I had everything I needed and the bike was taken care of. In the back of my mind I thought I could make a late night push to Kremmling.
Rafters taking advantage of the Yampa River's high flow.
The rain began to come down shortly after leaving Orange Peel Bikes. I donned my rain gear and continued along the bikepath. There was a blockade set up at an underpass, I rode around it and only found a couple inches of water under the bridge. No big deal. A bit farther down the path was another detour. I stuck to the track and stayed on the path, but this time the underpass was almost waist deep!! Oops. My rain pants did the trick and kept me dry, but it was amazing to see how high the waterline was.
Looking back at the flooded bikepath.
The rain had let up and the route exited the bikepath in favor of pavement. It seemed I was chasing the stormy clouds (hoping I wouldn't catch them!) the rest of the afternoon.
Green slopes of Steamboat ski area.

Riding south on CR14. I was certain it was about to dump buckets.

Then the sun came out!

Quite the contrast as my luck continued to hold true.

I was really enjoying this paved section as there weren't many vehicles.

Looking back to the north, the weather appeared to be clearing.

Lake Catamount in the Pleasant Valley.

The pavement morphed to dirt once again and resumed following the Yampa River's path.

It was a beautiful canyon to ride.

The climb topped out at the Stagecoach Reservoir. I initially missed the turn to ride across the dam.

Stagecoach Reservoir spillway. Gushing!!

The Elk Run Trail was a surprise bit of singletrack.

The trail began as a gravel path, but quickly turned to singletrack.

Stagecoach Reservoir.

The stormy afternoon evolved into an artists masterpiece.
I was riding through swarms of gnats as the singletrack came to an end. Luckily for me, the gnats were hanging close to the water as I began the gradual climb towards Lynx Pass.

Almost immediately after beginning the climb I began to fight the road. My legs had grown heavy as darkness fell, which is odd since I tend to find my second wind after sunset. My euphoria about my saddle situation from this morning had now faded as my discomfort level began to spike once again. The road climb by itself wasn't difficult, my steadily declining physical state made it so. It took me 3 1/2 hours to muster 15 miles. By 11:30p I could no longer keep the sleep monster at bay. Not only was I no where near Kremmling, I hadn't even crested Lynx Pass. I found a level-ish slope off the side of the road and pitched the tent.

Another day under 100 miles. This was now beginning to be a concern to me. Finishing was always my first goal when I lined up, but now that I was well over halfway to Antelope Wells, I really wanted to get my average daily mileage over 100. I needed some big days. The swelling in my lower legs had subsided considerably from earlier in the race. I just needed to keep taking care of my saddle sore issue, it wasn't going away. I had to deal with it.

Stats: 84.22 miles & 5,459' gained.

Full photo album for Day 17.

Day 18 - Lynx Pass to Silverthorne

Here is a full Tour Divide Index from each day on the route.