Monthly Archives: July 2022

TD 2022 – Day 11 – June 21st, 2022 – Brush Lodge, CO to Silverthorne, CO via my favorite day of the race

This was my favorite day of the race. It started out cold with the lowest temps of the race with my Garmin bottoming out at 19 degF. But just 12 hours later, my Garmin would top out at 109 degF on the pavement climbing up from the Colorado River while getting swarmed by mosquitoes. In between was all kinds of awesome.

Leaving Brush Lodge

The four of us set out at about the same time at 4am – although I was a few minutes later than everyone else due to my last minute repacking of everything. It was cold, but I was prepared as shown in the pic at the top of the post. FOUR hand warmers wedged between the sandal straps and my thick expedition socks. My feet did not get cold. I also knew that we were starting out climbing so I didn’t overdress. This worked out well as I was able to catch up to Steve pretty quick, and we rode together through the “Hippie Village” – a large collection of all kinds of VW buses and campers and other kinds of cars for long term camping spread out in a few lots. In the first one, there were a few people up already with a large campfire (by this point on the climb it was still before 6am).

After the hippie village we ran across Theo and Zoé, who had stopped for a break and to admire the amazing alpine glow in the valley and hillsides right as the sun was rising. I wanted to keep moving and pressed on with Steve where the double track started climbing quite steeply. There was a steep pitch with a log that I recognized I wouldn’t be able to ride so I got off and hike-a-biked over it. While climbing over the tree, I got some pine mulch or dirt or something down into my sandal. Plus, my hand warmers fell out of my sandals while hiking, so I had to readjust them. I decided right then and there that I was done with hike-a-bike. So from that point to the top, I rode up some pretty ridiculous gradients with lots of logs and rocks to navigate. I kept waiting to mess something up and having to dab, but I am pretty sure I was able to clear the entire rest of the climb.

The descent on the far side was quite rocky. It wasn’t technical, but it was rough. It required some careful navigation down as I was trying to be gentle on the bike and take the smoothest possible lines. I kept thinking that the three others would pass me because of how slow I was going, but they never did. The Captain’s Cove view at the bottom was fantastic, and the course had turned onto nice wide gravel as it continued to descend at a gradual rate down into the Steamboat Springs valley for many miles. I saw two different groups of road riders and it almost looked like one group was part of a race or training race, but it was a Tuesday morning so I thought that was unlikely. Still, it was nice to see so many riders.

Bike paths!

Not too long before Steamboat and after climbing a pretty good hill, the course merged onto a busy road that finished descending straight down into Steamboat. At the first traffic light, I saw a gas station so I went ahead and did my resupply there hoping that the bike shop would be opening at 9am since it was only 830am. The gas station was VERY busy, but they were super efficient at the checkout counter and I was out the door in just a few minutes. I followed the course through town and onto the main bike path that takes you right by the Orange Peel bike shop. I could tell it was closed, but I rode up there anyway to see if they opened at 9am … but unfortunately, they weren’t opening until 10am. There was no way I was going to wait, even though I half wanted to go ahead and replace my chain as preventative maintenance after having gone through so much peanut butter mud and snow and rain over the first week of the race.

I had not eaten any food from my resupply because I was hoping to do that while they worked on my bike at the bike shop. So I decided to go ahead and eat for a few minutes, and during that time Zoé and Steve rode up. Steve mentioned that there was another store on the other side of the building, so I followed him over there and sure enough there was an adventure ski shop that also had some bike supplies. I had been desperately looking for wet lube since the dry lube I had brought wouldn’t last very long in the rain and snow. I knew we were still in for a lot more rain so I was able to buy some wet lube as well as another bottle of dry lube since I was almost out from having to reapply it so often.

After that, I took off on the bike paths heading out of town. I got passed by a few road riders, and our route appeared to follow a very popular road biking route right up to the point where it turned to gravel – at which point it looked like it was a popular hiking/mountain biking trail. It started out as rolling doubletrack climbing up to a reservoir, but turned into singletrack when the route took a left turn across the dam for the reservoir. This singletrack was fast and easy to ride, but it lacked any kind of shade so it got hot very quickly. I stopped at the only shade I could find – a vault toilet at a boat ramp for the reservoir – to take a break and put on suntan lotion.

The singletrack continued on around the reservoir, but our route went up a paved road that eventually turned back into a gravel road with lots of mountain homes scattered around. The gravel road continued climbing for about 25 miles to the top of Lynx Pass. There was one wider water crossing that I stopped to take my socks off to avoid getting them wet. There was a couple logging trucks on the next narrow section that rolled a bit before divebombing down to the Colorado River. Thankfully, the steep section of the descent didn’t have logging trucks … they probably could not have made it up the climb. I felt bad for a few northbounders I saw towards the bottom knowing how long I had been descending, which meant they would be climbing forever in the heat.

The Colorado River was quite busy with rafting groups. Unfortunately, the place where the rafting busses parked only had a vault toilet and no running water. I found shade alongside the river to drink my own water and try to cool off. I knew from my Garmin that I would be climbing up out of the river soon. What I didn’t know was that after the first 3.5 mile climb and dropping all the way back down to river level, I would then need to do another steeper 4.5 mile climb before dropping down into Kremmling. I also didn’t know that this particular area had mosquitos that could keep up with you if you dropped anywhere below 10mph. Even across the top of some of the climbs I was still getting bit. On the climbs themselves, it was one handed swatting the whole way up.

Route Intersection

Kremmling was significant because I knew I would be crossing my 2,000 mile route riding from Alabama to Durango last summer. Furthermore, I would be stopping at the same gas station I stopped at last summer. The problem with Kremmling, though, is that it’s about 5 miles off course. At the bridge across the Colorado River, which is the turn to go off course to get to Kremmling, there was a CDT hiker resting. I was wondering if they were debating about detouring to get to Kremmling or not. This was the only CDT hiker I saw the entire trip. I offered him some food/water when I got back from my resupply as he was still in the same spot, but he turned me down.

The gas station in Kremmling (and all the roads leading to it) were quite busy. It was a much needed resupply and chance to cool off out of the sun which was starting to get much lower in the sky. I was looking forward to the next stretch as Ridewithgps showed that the next section to Silverthorne was all paved. Unfortunately, that was wrong as I was on dirt roads for quite a while, all the way past the giant reservoir, which I hit just before sunset. The alpine glow on mountains and clouds on the climb after the reservoir was fantastic. The climb continued up for many miles until it got dark. The dirt switched to pavement shortly before reaching the main mining area. There was very little traffic.

Eventually, I did hit the top of the pass, which I assumed would drop me all the way down into Silverthorne, where I had already made a reservation at the Hotel Indigo using my IHG points while riding. I was really looking forward to that hotel, which is probably what made the 10 mile climb after the pass seem that much longer. I had assumed I would just roll into Silverthorne, but it was in fact a gradual 10 mile climb that was on a fairly busy highway until it finally picked up the bike path. The bike path itself, though, continued to climb all the way into town. It was great to play some Pokémon Go with cellphone reception rolling into the hotel shortly before midnight.

And so ended my favorite day of the race … climbing long before sunrise in sub-freezing temps to start the day and finishing by climbing some more on bike paths through town playing Pokémon Go … and every kind of riding imaginable in between – technical singletrack/doubletrack, gravel roads, dirt roads, paved roads, and bike paths – long climbs, short climbs, long descents, short descents, creek crossings and crossing the Colorado River three times (on bridges). The next day would be great, too, but more on that tomorrow!

Maps and data

Strava map and data: https://www.strava.com/activities/7348959044
Click the topocreator map above to zoom and see detail.
Annotated gradient, not the 10 mile gradual climb at the end to get up to Silverthorne!

Pickuta photo album

See even more pics from the entire race along with the exact time/location where each was taken on the tracking website I created called pickuta.com. If you are on a phone or small screen web browser, click the “hamburger” triple bar icon in the upper left to slide out the photos and turn on/off the tracking markers: https://pickuta.com/album/258

pickuta album with hundreds of pics from the race with exact time/date location. https://pickuta.com/album/258

TD 2022 – Days 9-10 – June 19-20th, 2022 – Pinedale, WY to Brush Lodge, CO via a Great Basin adventure

Within a mile or two of leaving the Jackalope, Steve Large caught up to me on the bike path outside Pinedale. It was great meeting him and finding out he is from a town near Birmingham, England. I told him I was from the other Birmingham – the one in Alabama. I also told him I was so glad to have someone to ride with explaining the “bonus miles” situation from the previous day and how frustrated I would be riding this same stretch of road for the third time if I was all by myself.

Steve needed to change layers before Boulder so I rode on ahead passing the disappointing gas station / lodge experience from the previous night. Steve caught back up to me and rode on ahead in a good rhythm. Not long after Steve pulled away, I saw Zoé, who must have left before us, stopping to take off her jacket because it looked like it was going to get hot.

I also stopped and took off my knee warmers and jacket because it was starting to get warm with the sun out. But then the sun went back behind clouds, and the temp didn’t continue to increase like it felt like it would. I stubbornly didn’t want to stop again for another clothing change, so I rode on quite cold with the temp never getting out of the mid 50s and then tanking down into the 40s once the first rain storm hit, at which point I scrambled to get all my rain gear on before it hit.

Riding a motorcycle in the rain

That first rain storm came after we made it to the end of the paved state highway and turned left onto the first of several dirt roads leading to Atlantic City – the last outpost before crossing the Great Basin. Thankfully, the dirt we were on was relatively unaffected by the rain, i.e., no peanut butter mud! And other than it raining pretty hard at times while still being pretty cold, there were periods where it was not raining with an absolutely ridiculous tailwind. There were times where I would crest a hill and feel the wind start to accelerate me faster than it felt like it should have. I’m guessing this is what it must feel like to ride a motorcycle. This was good because this stretch before Atlantic City was full of steep roller after steep roller, a short busy section of a US highway, more dirt and a longer climb from South Pass up and over a ridge before dropping back down steeply into Atlantic City.

There was yet another nasty storm building off to our left I was worried would hit us, but it ended up missing Atlantic City to the north. We dropped down into Atlantic City where the sun stayed out. It was so incredibly windy, though, that it was tricky to even get the bikes to stay put while we went inside the saloon to “resupply”. Since it was a restaurant, this meant eating a lot there and then ordering a couple things to go. The couple running the saloon was great and very helpful getting us ready to cover the nearly 100 miles between Atlantic City and the Love’s truck stop in Wamsutter with no resupply or water.

Racing a storm in the Great Basin … and not winning … sorta

Zoé was first to arrive at the saloon. Steve and I came in not too long after. But since Zoé’s food had already come, she was ready to leave just a bit before us and took off first. We knew that the wind was favorable, and that it wasn’t raining, so we needed to take advantage of that while it lasted. So not long after her, Steve took off. I was delayed because as I was packing a few things in the bike, a huge gust of wind blew a lot of my stuff way down the dirt road. I had to run after it, retrieve it, and then make my way back. This put me a few minutes behind Steve who was out of sight as I climbed the super steep hill leaving Atlantic City into a nasty headwind at first, but with the course making a nearly 180 degree turn at the top, having mostly a tailwind afterwards.

On top of the hill, the Great Basin lay in front of me extending out to the horizon. I continued forward on the rolling terrain occasionally able to see Steve in the distance. As I got farther into the basin, I realized at some point that if anything happened to me I would be all on my own for quite some time as nobody else would be coming this way for a long time. This motivated me to hit it hard to catch up to Steve again. We rode together for a bit and fairly soon realized that there was quite a storm forming off to our right. It seemed like it was pretty far away, but it wasn’t long before we realized it was getting closer. This motivated us to push the pace VERY hard. So hard that we were wondering why on earth we hadn’t caught Zoé yet.

Crossing the Great Basin with Steve Large with storms in the area.

As it turns out, Zoé saw that same storm and was pushing it even harder than us to stay ahead of the storm. We found all of this out right before the storm hit us when we saw Zoé flagging us down from beside a huge structure that had miraculously appeared out of nowhere. I hadn’t even seen it as I was distracted by an oil well on the left side of the road. When Steve said “there she is”, I looked over and was astonished to see Zoé waving to us from in front of this huge enclosed shed-like structure. She was standing next to some sort of storage unit outside the main shed, which had a door open. We were trying to figure out if we could all fit in there when we saw that there was a fairly large truck nearby. We were thinking maybe we could leave the bikes in the storage area and climb in the truck. The truck was next to the back door of the oil shed, and it was totally unlocked. Saved.

We quickly grabbed the bikes and got them inside right as the storm hit. Inside, we found that the shed had electricity, was super warm from being in the sun for a good part of the day (it was still cold in the 50s and 60s when the sun went behind a cloud) and even a sleeping area for when the oil workers get stuck because of mud and have to spend the night. Meanwhile, outside it was pouring rain and thundering, but it didn’t last long – maybe 30 minutes. But it was enough. Steve went outside to see if maybe the road was still rideable since it was still a couple hours until sunset. But this was certainly not the first storm this area had seen in the crazy monsoon after monsoon hitting the whole area, so this rain was more than enough to “melt” the crust and turn everything into sopping mud. He stepped into the road which looked fine and when he picked his foot back up, his shoe had a good solid inch of mud just from one step.

That was enough to decide that we should definitely wait things out there in shelter while hopefully the mud would dry/harden and become more rideable. So that’s what we did – setting our alarm for 2:30am to be out the door by 3:00am to make up for stopping so early. We also plugged in all the devices to charge everything up.

Peanut butter mud in the Great Basin

We had no nasty headwinds to deal with (only a moderate crosswind after sunrise) and no blazing hot temps to deal with. So in one sense, we were lucky. The Great Basin still proved challenging with peanut butter mud after the storm we were lucky to find shelter from and then freezing temps by sunrise. This was the first stretch of peanut butter mud where all of us at varying times had to stop and clean mud off the tires to allow the wheels to spin and also clean mud off the chain and chainring to keep it from falling off with each pedal stroke.

Fortunately, not too long after the oil shed, we veered from the main dirt road onto double track and single track that climbed up a bit and was a bit more rocky so that it had less mud. Unfortunately, it wasn’t consistent and would periodically have a deep section of peanut butter mud in one of the tracks (double tracks). Since it was still long before sunrise, you had to see these stretches and no whether to hop up into the middle (it was a hop because of how deep the tracks were presumably from ATVs / 4WD cars driving through the course when it’s muddy. In any case, it wasn’t easy navigating or riding until we finally made it past the range of whatever storm had hit and made it onto a good, legit gravel road (see pic below).

This is one of my favorite pics of the race. Steve Large (left) and Zoé Chauderlot (right) riding ahead nearing the end of the Great Basin having survived a nasty thunderstorm, peanut butter mud, and frost by sunrise.

The gravel road went on for a while, but eventually you could see I-80 in the distance and buildings, which meant that we were getting close to Wamsutter and the Love’s truck stop that everyone looks forward to while they are crossing the basin.

Finishing the basin and artificial peanut butter mud

The Love’s truck stop was great, and I had made a list of things to get and was able to get them all except for hand warmers. The clerk at Love’s told me to check with his uncle at the gas station on the other side of the interstate, which is what I did after first enjoying coffee and food at the Love’s.

Unfortunately, I would find out shortly that even though I had made it to Wamsutter, I wasn’t finished with the Great Basin yet. Zoé and Steve had taken off before me from the Love’s so I was on my own again when I saw storms building as I bike along the mostly flat dusty and now a bit busy dirt road. I stopped and put on all my rain gear when it was evident that a storm was going to hit me. Hilariously, distances are so hard to judge that the storm not only crossed the road in front of me, it was pretty much long gone by the time I made it to the road. The gravel road was indeed wet, but because there was so much gravel there was no peanut butter mud.

No peanut butter mud, that is, until I mysteriously came across a very wet and muddy section of road. It was puzzling because I hadn’t noticed a storm. And then I saw a huge tanker truck coming towards me spraying some sort of chemical on the road to keep the dust down. He was spraying so much that it was turning the gravel road to mud and there was spray coming off my wheels all over me. He passed me going one way and then a couple miles later of me negotiating the nasty road, he passed me again going my same way this time before turning off his sprayer and leaving the area. Ugghh.

Also, at the same time there was a real storm building and from the look of how it was moving it was going to be close if I could make it far enough south before it hit. During this point I pushed it hard and caught back up to Steve who had stopped to put on rain gear at it had started raining. I could see the edge of the storm, though, and decided I would just push it hard to ride out of it – which is what I did. After that, it was quite a bit more climbing on roads that were more dirt than rock. There were some DEEP tire tracks both from other TD racers and trucks/ATVs so I was thankful that it had all dried out and was fast riding almost like pavement.

Towards the top of all the climbing Steve caught back up to me and said he was pushing the pace hard to make it to the Savery museum before closing time. That sounded like a good idea so I upped my pace to keep up with him. As it turns out, we didn’t need to hurry because they were staying open late with a great selection of food in the kitchen of the museum/community center for us to buy at great prices. I bought a burrito, warmed it up in the microwave, and it was awesome. I also bought a few snack bars not knowing for sure what I would find at the Brush Lodge since we were told it would be closed, but some northbounders had revealed that it was actually open.

Knowing that I couldn’t make it much farther past Brush Lodge, I was planning on sleeping under any shelter I could find there. But amazingly, the amazing and awesome Kirstin was there. After laundering clothes, showering, and making a ton of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Theo arrived! So that meant it was a reunion of the Pinedale Four. We all decided to get up early to head out the next morning since we were going to be so early (8pm). And that’s what we did … but more on my favorite day of the entire race tomorrow!

Maps and data

Strava map and data: https://www.strava.com/activities/7343015759
topocreator map: click the map to zoom and see detail.
Annotated elevation profile.

Pickuta photo album

See even more pics from the entire race along with the exact time/location where each was taken on the tracking website I created called pickuta.com. If you are on a phone or small screen web browser, click the “hamburger” triple bar icon in the upper left to slide out the photos and turn on/off the tracking markers: https://pickuta.com/album/258

pickuta album with hundreds of pics from the race with exact time/date location. https://pickuta.com/album/258