This was the first really hot day of the Tour. You’d think with that picture above that it would be nice, pleasant riding. But the gravel road got quite a bit rougher, and the route went past those mountains in the distance before I reached any shade at all, nearly 75 miles later riding from 10am-6pm, the hottest part of the day. The temp stayed in the upper 80s and lower 90s, but that was a shock to the system after so much snow and after being so cold for so long and after starting out the day in frost.
Nearly all of the riding was STILL in Montana’s largest county (Beaverhead) before crossing from that county over into Idaho for the last 30 miles. The day started out cold leaving the cave, but warmed up quickly before making it to Lima where FIVE of us TD riders/racers ate breakfast in the Home Cooked Grub cafe. Two northbounders, Gretchen and André (?), were both touring and not on trackleaders. The three southbounders included me, Theo, and Ben Handrich. Ben had already been there a day waiting for his wife to drive from Oregon to pick him up. He had a knee injury from before the race that flared up badly during the race, so he was scratching there in Lima.
I was the first to leave the cafe, still needing to resupply. Upon leaving the nearby gas station, I accidentally sheered off the head of my charging cable when it wrapped around the brake rotor. Fortunately, when I doubled back to the gas station, they did have a charging cable, but it was quite cheap quality and only lasted one day before not working again. Thus began my iPhone charging woes that would carried on for the rest of the trip all the way back to Alabama. But before those woes, I was faced with woes of a different kind: hot, headwind, hell!
I had stuffed my large hunting jacket into my backpack, taking up ALL the space in the backpack and not even able to zip it closed. So I had to use my rain cover over top the backpack like an extended zipper. On top of that, I had done a full resupply since it was about 75 miles to the next resupply spot. So I had all my other bags loaded so much that I had to wear my rain vest and long sleeves to act as “sun sleeves”. This kept me from getting a sunburn, but I got very hot and was wondering if I had enough water to make it through the apparently shade-less valley. On top of that, it was very windy.
During the valley, Theo caught up to me and passed me so I tried to up my pace to keep him relatively close and was debating about whether it would be worth it to stop and filter water at the “red rock” river crossing or stay closer to him to keep me from just pedaling slower and slower. But as it turns out, there wasn’t an easy way down to the river and there was cattle everywhere so I opted to keep going. An eternal number of rolling, rough, and now dusty and washboarded miles later, I stumbled into the visitor center for the national monument we had apparently been riding through (or near). I went inside to refill water, change clothes because I was soaked with sweat, and give away my hunting jacket to the park ranger. But there was a family inside that I saw first and ended up giving my jacket to them instead.
The family was excited, but I had conflicting emotions because it was an awesome jacket, and I knew I would need a rain jacket again, but I also knew that I would not be able to finish the race with that jacket. It was simply too heavy and too bulky to carry with me for the second half of the race into a much warmer climate. I took off again, continuing on the rough gravel road and now starting to climb back up into the mountains. The scenery was great, but I was in a particular low point mentally because of the jacket and how little I had ridden that day and how hard it had been to ride on a relatively flat day on a wide open gravel road (albeit quite rough and into stiff headwind for most of the day). Somebody had put up a “Welcome to Idaho” sign for the Tour Divide racers that lifted my spirits as it caught me by surprise and carried a realization that I had not only finished Montana but also was pretty much out of grizzly territory – so one less thing to worry about.
Also, to end the day, I made it to the pretty cool single-track outside Idaho Park running into a cheerful northbound couple and stopped to say hi briefly before continuing on to try to find a place to stay – I had routed myself to one of the Adventure Cycling Association POI lodges bypassing a motel I saw, but the lodge ended up being ridiculously expensive for a six hour stay. It was also not easy to get between the check-in counter at the nearby gas station and find the right cabin and return the physical key to the counter before they closed at 10pm or I would lose my $10 deposit, but if you are paying so much money for a room where you check-in at a gas station, I would think they should eat the cost of the deposit and let me leave the key in the room. I was pleasant, though, and didn’t argue and was thankful the gas station clerk came up with the solution of just leave the door unlocked and bring the key back before they close and then lock the door from the inside.
Resupplied and rested, I set out before sunrise on what ended up being the most ridiculous Eddington 250 mile ride I had ever done … until a week later when it would be topped by another Eddington 250 as the hardest ride I’ve done … but more on that tomorrow!
Maps and data
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
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