July 1, 2019

Tour Divide '19: Day 18 - Lynx Pass to Silverthorne

The morning dew in the deep grass had my camping gear soaked about as much had it actually rained. I slept great and was riding up a deserted Lynx Pass Rd. by 6:30a. My backside wasn't feeling as great as the prior morning, but it settled in quick enough that I could do some seated riding. I was reminded this morning how badly I was struggling the night before, when I walked a ton of the climb, but now pedaled it with relative ease. What a difference a few hours of sleep make.
Not the most level campsite, but when you're dog tired, you really don't care much.

There's something majestic about riding through alleys of Aspen trees.

A few miles of climbing warms the body up nicely. It was a beautiful morning.
Rolling down towards a fog bank.

Whoa!! The initial drop looked to be waist deep!! I had heard rumblings of this crossing.
There was another rider packing up to leave on the far side of the creek. I think it may have been Justin, be he took off just as I was coming to a halt. I tried yelling out, but he didn't hear me.

I noticed it was a tad shallower on the left side of the dirt road. I had a set of oven roaster bags, mostly to cover my shoes in the event of a long snow crossing, I figured I'd give them a try. Nothing really to lose, they either work and keep my shoes dry or they don't. I wasn't concerned about the shoes not drying quickly today. I put on my waterproof socks and rain pants, hoisted the bike over my shoulders and stepped in. It was about mid-quad deep on me and was an easy stroll across. The roaster bags were shredded, but everything else was dry. I'll chalk that up as a success.

Enduro style crossing of Rock Creek FTW.

Looking back, the main road to the left and my entry point to the right of the bush.

Colorado's version of a yellow brick road.

Gore Range coming into focus.

Most of my pictures through here depict a level or downhill scene, not always the case. There were a few tough climbs mixed in giving me all I could handle.

Mind the ruts or face the consequences!!

After a few short contouring sections the landscape really opened up. Jaw dropping scenery.

Hillsides bathed in purple hues.

The Colorado River exits Gore Canyon weaving its way towards Radium.

The temperature was slowly rising as I lost elevation. I saw a handful of northbound tourers through this section, maybe a dozen riders total. It was great to see.

Stunning views around each and every turn.

No, I wouldn't have to climb that far slope!!

Another sighting of the Denver & Rio Grande Western line along the banks of the Colorado River.

I rounded a corner and another northbound rider, Matt Hoven, stopped me and asked how I was doing. I must've mentioned some of my struggles in spite of the massive downhill. While he was grinding up a monstrous climb, he was all smiles and in great spirits. It reminded me that there really was no other place I'd rather be at that moment. It's not always unicorns & rainbows, but I absolutely love the challenge. Thanks for spreading the stoke, Matt. I hope the rest of your journey was everything you hoped it would be. Photo by Matt H.

One final steep climb on the descent to the river.

Crossing the Colorado River.
For some reason it didn't really register that after the long downhill to the river there would be a price to pay on the other side. I either didn't recall the details about the route from here to Kremmling or I blocked it from memory. The initial grade away from the river was fine, but things had warmed up significantly as the clock ticked past 11a.

I had a brief moment of panic when I reached CR1, It appeared as if both GPS units had truncated the route!! WTH?!? I stared in puzzled disbelief. How could this be, I know I checked both routes on both units. I checked my backup on the phone and noticed the route took a hard left, almost a switchback of sorts on the road. It was enough to not really show up on the GPS in the current zoom level. As soon as I zoomed out, I could see the track continued and my heartrate returned to normal. Well, at least until I was done with my snack.
My butt's kryptonite. Steep grade, requiring slow, low geared pedaling. It didn't last long, the pedaling that is. Hike-a-bike mode: Activated.
 It was a hot 1 1/2 mile slog and the ensuing downhill went by in a flash. I needed more calories, but the mosquitoes needed their fix too. I was getting swarmed again, hot and becoming crankier by the minute. Why can't I just ride my bike!! Frustration was mounting. Stay calm...
The grade broke for a while, finally some easy spinning.

The route kicked up again, this time paved, resonating the heat in both directions now. Once again reduced to walking.
I began to recall all the times I was told how 'easy' Colorado would be compared to Wyoming. I was conned!! Sold snake oil, these climbs were killing me. Early in the morning I had planned to skip Kremmling since it's two miles off route. Instead, I'd keep rolling up & over Ute Pass and into Silverthorne, but as the afternoon wore on I needed a desperate recharge. Kremmling was now the goal and so was a thick burger & brew. I just needed to get there.

The four mile paved hike-a-bike mercifully crested the apex and returned to dirt. Ride time.

Stand and mash the pedals, it was just enough to get over this hill.

Yet another lonesome structure.

Here we go!! Yeehaw, free miles at last.

Kremmling sits far below this screamin' descent to Highway 9.

A quick Google search and I found a place for a much needed calorie binge, the Grand Old West Saloon.
As I pedaling into to town, who should be riding back to the route? It was Bonnie!! We exchanged waves and rode on. I did my normal routine when entering an establishment, find a table near an outlet, charge electronics, order food, start checking my current food stash and do a quick check-in on social media while I waited for food to arrive.

The lunch really hit the spot. I felt like a new man. I stocked up at a convenience store and made call to MTBCast & home to K.
It may have a funny name, but these stores are fantastic. Great variety and plenty of real food too.

As soon as K picked up the phone I about lost it. I'm sure it was due to the unforeseen struggles over the preceding few hours, but I was mentally a mess. We chatted for a bit and I turned my attention to Ute Pass. It was still early enough in the day, I was now feeling like I could actually get some serious miles in. It's amazing what a good meal will do for your psyche. I actually had the notion that if I arrived in Silverthorne at a descent hour, I'd push on up & over Boreas Pass tonight. Time would tell.

As I left town, I spotted a couple of bikes at a mexican restaurant, it was Joe P. & Nathan's unmistakable neon bags that gave it away. I hadn't seen those two guys since Island Park, ID!!
Getting back on route and happy to leave busy Highway 9, one more crossing.
A much needed flat 10 miles of cruising.

The Colorado River looks much different in Arizona.


Joe & Nathan tracked me down on this gentle grade.

First glimpse of Williams Fork Reservoir.

The road then weaved in & out of the fingers of the reservoir much to the delight of the mosquitoes!!

It's a fairly sizable body of water and keeps all the insects happy.

Mosquito levee. I was ready to get away from the water.

I was really enjoying the gentle grades and vast rolling hills.

Langholen Reservoir tis just a pond compared to Williams Fork.

The road through here was really pleasant to ride, side bonus: Cloud cover!!

Hmmm, perhaps too much cloud cover!! Incoming!!

I managed to stay ahead of the Charlie Brown storm cloud as it swept behind me while I snacked.

Rejoining the trees in the Arapahoe National Forest.

According to my cue card, I was firmly entrenched on the Ute Pass climb, but so far it was a breeze.
I saw a sign that indicated it was 3 miles to Ute Pass, but I was skeptical. The grade was far too mellow and my cue sheet was showing closer to 5 miles from the pass.

Somewhere near the 3 mile mark, no pass here, only a shadow pushing a bike up pavement. Ugh.

I may have been reduced to walking, but the sky painters were busy keeping me entertained.

Yay! A rideable section at the fork in the road.

A captivating sunset will make a tailing pond look stunning.

Henderson Mill

Higher view of the Henderson Mill tailing pond.
I was able to hop back on the bike for the final bit to the pass. I went to switch my dynamo setup from USB charger to light mode and nada. The switch was dead, busted. Crap. I fired up my helmet light and unscrewed the switch cover. There's a very small metal post with a cover under the rubber cap. The post had broke in two. Hmmm. I could see the base of the post was set in the USB direction. I was able to use the other parts to nudge the remaining post over to light mode and felt it click into position. I gave the wheel a quick test spin. Light fired up!! I reassembled everything and got moving. The light was holding steady.
Check another one off the list.

There was just enough light to see the magnificent Gore Range.
At the pass the dirt turned to pavement and began a screaming four mile descent to Highway 9. I remember thinking how fast I was going and glanced down at the GPS, 34 mph!! Then I hit an expansion joint in the road and my main headlight went dark. Whoa!! Good thing I still had my helmet light on low power as it was enough lumens to pick up the road's reflective markings. I hit another bump and the light came back on, now super bright as my eyes had already adjusted to the low light setting. This routine went on/off/on/off until I bottomed out at Highway 9. I knew I'd need to figure something out to help with stabilization of the switch since I only needed to move it twice a day. I didn't really have anything I could jam in the switch at the moment, it was such a tiny area.
Switch with rubber cover.

Top metal sheath is under the rubber cover, but over the knurled post. The knurled post is the broken piece.

The remaining portion of the switch.
*After the ride I contacted K-lite and was sent a replacement switch harness at no cost.

It was getting late and for some reason I thought Highway 9 was a downhill cruise into Silverthorne. Not the case, it's slightly uphill following the Blue River upstream. The riding was easy, but slower than anticipated. At least the traffic was virtually non-existent since it was closing in on 11p. I had made up my mind to grab a hotel in Silverthorne, no Breckenridge tonight and definitely no Boreas Pass.

I called a hotel to check availability and halfway through the process lost the signal. Oh well, can't imagine there are too many people booking rooms at this time of night.

Another Trackleaders checkpoint attained!!

As you can tell, I like when towns have fancy welcoming signs.
I swung by the Kum & Go for resupply and a late dinner sandwich, fruit and chocolate milk. I called the hotel again and made the reservation. I wanted to stay on the route all the way through Silverthorne that night so I didn't have to backtrack in the morning. I'm glad I did as it was a little confusing to follow and had one small punchy climb.

This is a paved multiuse path through town linking up with the Dillon Reservoir path.
I checked in to the hotel around midnight. I lugged my rig up to the second floor room and began to settle in for the short night. While taking a shower I noticed a developing redness above my right knee. It was a little tender, but I really didn't pay much attention to it. All cleaned up for the third time on this adventure, I spread my gear out in the room as my camping stuff was still wet from the morning dew.

I somehow managed to squeak out 99 miles in spite of the gut punch before Kremmling and couldn't help to think I had a bigger effort in me the next day. Could I reach Salida at a reasonable time? Maybe make a late night push up Marshal Pass to the campground? I was still searching for those famed 'easy' climbs of Colorado, perhaps Boreas Pass early the next morning? Let's get some zzz's first.

Stats: 99.14 miles & 8,030' gained.


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


  1. I found Colorado really tough as there were a multitude of punchy climbs and very little resupply. The Mex in Kremmling was a godsend and bucked me up but Ute pass handed me my backside again!
    On the calling home front - I called Rebecca from Silverthorne and lost it too. I only called home twice during the race as I found it too upsetting and took my head out of the race. The time difference helped and crap cell reception provided a good excuse to not call home, this saving me from blubbing.
    Great write up though John. I’m relay enjoying (and sympathising) with your ride. ;)

    1. I hear you on the calling home front. I think I only called K three times. The one call really caught me off guard when I lost it, I was fine when I dialed...
      That section before Kremmling after the Colorado River crossing was almost my undoing. I bet I could go back there today and cruise right along. These things are all about timing, eh?

  2. That shadow picture is fantastic! You really should enter it into a photo contest.