Saturday, February 22, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 9: SolRaK dRoPs it LiKe ITs HoT

And just like that.... On my limp to breakfast the next morning, I made the call that my race was over.

What can I say, the list of complications was too long, the pain, unrelenting, I knew the only way to stop it all was to stop and rest and relax....

Now to get home....

I saw other riders at breakfast that next morning.  The Lorax, Rick Ashton, some riders I had not seen since I passed them on the top of Richmond Peak, I said bye to all of them.  Some were sad to hear about me dropping out, but I was making the decision that had to be made.

Sometimes, decisions get made for you.  Whether you like it or not, you swallow the bitter reality and move on and plan your next challenge and make your next move.

My options for leaving Lima was taking a bus to Salt Lake city Utah and then hopping a plane.  I considered just riding there, but didn't.

Then my brother Edwin was on his way to Yellowstone National Park and he volunteered to pick  me up.  I got the room for another day and then spent the next week, riding with my brother.  We did the tourist thing in Yellowstone, then did the tourist thing in South Dakota, then did the tourist road trip across the United States.  He left me off in Tennessee where I met up with my Brother Eric, who needed a van driven back down to Florida, so that ended up being my last leg of the trip, a long drive home.

It was an epic 22 days away from home, 2 countries, 10 states and several thousand miles of planes, trains, automobiles, hikes and of course Bikes!!!

counting more coup 
my campsite with my brother at Yellowstone
falls at Yellowstone
Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

yellow stone is full of bears, I was very fortunate to see lots of wild life on my 22 day voyage

Somehow my wallet came up missing in Yellowstone.  So I had no license and no cash.  I got cash sent to me, and eventually my wallet back, but I drove far without a license and when I got in the mini van to drive home, the speedometer didn't work, so I improvised.

that's right Buffalo's the size of a Prius

my brother Edwin is no joke, WE WENT TO EVERY SINGLE HOT HOLE IN YELLOWSTONE, beautiful in person

This duck was at the camp in South Dakota, he behaved like a dog and you could pet him.  I am not making this stuff up.

I wanted to capture even the smallest things when I was traveling, a macro up close shot of Mr. Bee

My home in South Dakota for a few days.  Even though my trip ended, my need for sleep gear did not.

Yellowstone is a live volcano, a huge diverse expanse of raw earth power

Biggest single stone I have ever seen
Huge thank you's to my Family, Edith, my Sons, my Daughters, my brothers, my Friends, my acquaintances. The Great Creator for giving me the strength to persevere, lessons where learned out there.  Once again the Divide was a life changing experience and this adventure ended long ago, already tons of new adventures have happened since.  What can I say, I am blessed and live a very charmed life, even amongst immense diversity, I am humbled by all the beauty that we have to enjoy!!!

Thanks for reading!!!

ON to the next thing!

Biggest rocking chair in the world AND what I look like after I don't shave for 20 days.  I know it drives the ladies cray cray

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 8: SolRaK cOnQuErS the DeSeRt!!!!

what a find!

It was cold that night.

Thru the eve I could hear howling animals in the distance.  Hear Birds that sounded like giggling children flying about.
When I got up, I started a fire
and packed up in earnest enjoying the warmth and eating my food.
I looked out the window and there were numerous deer grazing on the plateau at the top of that mountain.


I left and decided that I would stop for a visit at the Sky High Lodge and hopefully catch up to Rick Ashton.

It didnt take me long to see the signs advertising the lodge and it was a fast ten miles to the place as it was downhill the entire way and I could just mash gigantic beast mode gears the whole time.

I got closer and I could see a familiar face standing by the road way.  It was the LORAX and it had been days since I last saw him.  IN fact I thought for a moment he was out of the race in Butte due to gps issues, but alas he wasn't.  The LORAX and I had done a lot of back and forth in the mountains up and and back into the states, and up and over Cabin Pass, he got to see me gnar it up, LOL and he was probably the rider that I got to ride closest too for the longest time my entire trip so far.

It was good to see him and as I rolled up to the Lodge I saw Rick.  He congratulated me on finding the warming hut, impressive he said and told me they had breakfast waiting for me.  How cool is that.  I also caught up to the Vegan Australian, it was nice to catch up to him I found his buddy hobbled in
Wise River, and I was looking forward to chasing him down some more.  I went in, ate and then wanted to just stay the whole day.  Not only were they hospitable, but the Lodge is beautiful and priced well.  Its all very reasonable and a must visit location on the divide.

I left.

Immediately Chased down for a parting picture.  Such a nice couple, such a great place.

It was the first time in many years I have ate pancakes and cereal and also the last time.  Not because there was anything wrong with the food, I am just not a big grain eater.

I was out of polaris rather fast. It was a mix of pavement and dirt roads before I went into the Bannack Region.  For the first time in the race I got a visit from the sleep monster.  I was riding rather fast, but contemplating a nap?  Anyways I kept moving, by cattle farms and little houses.  Little streams everywhere but this terrain was very different from the rest of the route. It looked more like stuff you saw in cowboy movies.  Gone where the trees and the green, this was arid climate and desert land.  Strange, LOL.

I am not a fan of the desert, but I was on point today and working hard to get across.  But the distance stretched for miles and miles of rolling terrain.  Nothing big, just rollers.  As I got closer to Bannack Road I could see the dry mud tire marks of the ones who made the crossing the day before when it was wet.  Not a smart choice as that section is infamous for being a pit of wheel stopping mud.

At one point I could See a HUGE  S shaped climb in the distance and sport bikers where tearing down it.   I remember how surreal it looked.  I got closer and it got steeper and eventually, grinding the smallest gears I had, I made my way to the top and took a moment to get a picture of the Bannack Road
historical marker and also look back at the sport bikers, I could still see them, like dirt devils in the distance.

It was more up and down. And more encounters with some Great Divide Tourist.  They actually looked so out of place, with their trailers, orange flags and 70's era gym shorts.

I knew that for the next section it was about 30 miles mostly downhill and at a 20 plus avg I could get there fast so I was hauling.

And it did go fast.

But there was alot going on in my mind.

My "rash" still bled, no improvement, horrible pain, and my ankle was not getting better it was getting worst.  ON top of it all I had another impending issue....

Let's see how can I breach this topic lightly.

Ideally, in my humble opinion, an ultra rider or tourist should try and have 1$ for every mile they plan to ride at the beginning of their ride.  This does not include the trip to the start or anything that you might need right before you start, but right when you roll out on the route, 1$ per mile.  So if its a 300 mile trip, if you have 300$ you should be able to eat like you like, buy what you like, fix what is needed and get as many rooms as you may need in that time period, in theory at 1$ per mile.

Again, Ideally, I like to try and average about .28 cents a mile.  And with good planning, and good speed and no issues a rider can easily do that while touring or racing.

BUT, the Divide is definitely more like a 1$ a mile ride for me and after 800+ miles lets just say I had about enough $ to ride about 400 miles and that didn't include the trip home.

The issues, all of them were piling up fast.

My head was a mess.

I got to Lima.

Got a room and checked my rash, and checked my ankle which now was making a sound similar to dry rubber being forced to move.

I decided with all the things that were happening, it was best that I do what everyone says you should do and sleep on it.  So I got cleaned up, went to dinner, had a steak, had pecan pie with Vanilla.  Chatted it up with some fellow racers.  It was a nice eve.

I limped my way back to my room and rested, feeling
satisfied that I had traversed the desert without issues and made the crossing of Bannack Road.


Friday, February 07, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 7: SolRaK RiDeS FrOm BuTTe To ThE WaRmInG HuT

I was an Army of one out there.

I admit that I kind of envied all the other riders who had acquired buddies or packed in buddies.  They had each other in the quiet times and when times went bad.

But I also remembered that the point of this ride was for me to be able to be alone.

AND I was fine alone.  I just was a little weird alone.

I talked to myself out loud frequently.  Sometimes I was my own coach barking charging orders on the climbs, " OK STAND UP AND PEDAL 30 REVOLUTIONS< GO!!!"



I wish I was telling you stories that were not true, but that's really what was happening out there.   I would occasionally pass a rider, but no part of the ride, did I bar up side to side with anyone and talk.  I wasn't being rude, I was just on a mission and that mission involved ME and MY own Pace and I had yet been able to find someone that could slide into that pace.

I remember getting up in the hotel room, on a mission to head to the shop to get my bike looked at.  The previous eve I had sent a message to the Manager via Facebook but got no response.

I was there on time, had breakfast before hand.  And was caught off guard by the following interaction.

I want to be politically polite in my telling of this next part of the story.

Reason being is that I don't mean to truly offend anyone.  If anything, I am telling a story the way I Experienced it and even the thinnest sheet of paper has another side.  I will leave out names.

But a person there, who works there, was telling me that there may be no solution to my problem.  Telling me that they worked hard on it the day before and that they didn't even charge me.  To which I said," I did put money in the tip jar, but let me digress.  I am not blaming anyone, I just need a solution."

And I wasn't blaming anyone.  Them elixirs are old and they are garbage.  5 plus years of hard miles.  I was not placing blame on them at all and I was thankful they were so generous.  But I had money and I needed a solution that was my only point.  I work at a bicycle shop, there is always a solution, I may not like it, but there is always a fix.  I may have to wait 3 days, but there is always a fix.

Problem: Calipers would not open enough to accept new pads, they were constantly rubbing.

Possible solutions since nothing had really worked the day before:
Sell me new brakes?
Take off brakes off a bike on the floor, sell them to me, order new brakes to replace the take offs?
OR call AVid
OR order new brakes
Or sand the new pads?

I think there were all kinds of possible solutions but I was put off by the lack of empathy and the agitated response.
O well.
I don't know whats going on in anyone's life and I didn't let it bother me too much, I just wanted to solve it.

Turns out the problem solved itself.

This all had gone down before it even went in the stand.  The lack of believing in a solution was the biggest obstacle that morning.  But it was put in the stand.  The day before they had sprayed the calipers with Pb blaster or something similar and it seems that overnight, it worked things free and when the person who put it in the stand attempted to manually push the calipers open, they did open and all was right and the brakes were flawless for the remainder of the event.

While I was leaving, Happy that I finally had brakes, I ran into Rick Ashton.  I thought Rick was in front of me all this time.  He was in and out and I took a shorter way to get back on route, stocking up on food on the way out of town and scoring some sandwich bags for my feet, I was finally getting smart about the weather.

I thought rain was gonna hit all morning long as I made my way up and over the first big pass.  It was a nice ride up, I saw riders coming down the mountain, with their running dogs, all in good spirits.  I got splashed when a passing truck hit a puddle, but O well, even that couldn't dampen my mood, how happy I was to be rolling again.

I got to the top of pass and noticed that the route I was gonna ride was perfectly weaved in between a storm to the left of me and a storm to the right.  I was literally riding a singletrack path of good weather.  It was rolling terrain as well, giving away to long downhills.  I cooked one right hander too fast and ended up in the ditch, without a crash or injury.  Then did it again on a left hander almost colliding into a huge boulder.  I resolved to not cook anymore corners.  I needed to be more cautious.  I was anticipating cresting fleecer ridge and was pretty happy about it.  Enjoying a roadside lunch and then off, chasing tracks in the mud.

I finally saw my first south bound rider.  That was cool.  He wasn't in a race that I know off, but I knew he was a GDMBR rider.  As I got closer to the top I saw more and more tracks eventually, catching sight of what looks like a gigantic GRASSY MOUND on top of a big mountain.
From where I was at the bottom I could see a muddy ATV track carved down the middle of it and I could see a tiny little figure pushing their bike up the mound.

I pedaled and grinded and it got steeper, but eventually got closer and I finally met the owner of the tracks I had been chasing.  It was Rick! I pedaled by, happy that I had officially caught and passed another Floridian, got on top of fleecer and started to make my way down the back side.

At one point, it looked like I was going to pedal right off the edge of the earth, it was a vista like I had never seen before.  I started down fast at first on the loose boulder strewn mound side.  Then slowed to a crawl, carefully picking my way, eventually stopping cause it was just too steep and too loose, remembering that this was where my Friend Rob almost died.

After forever, I got to the bottom and rolled out, super fast downhill for lots of miles and a HUGE cattle-guard jump at the end.  I rolled into Wise River.  Stocked up on more supplies, and then stopped at the restaurant/bar/hotel/laundromat/convenience store, crazy.

I went in, cooled my heels, got water, sat down for dinner.  While In there I saw one of the two Australians.  Not the vegan one, who had crashed on Fleecer, and was now out of the race.  My plan was to push to Polaris before going to bed and after Rick caught up, he easily talked me into staying at the Sky Line Lodge.  He left two hours before me.  I left and started up the mountain.  It was a pavement ride to Polaris, but I underestimated the distance and it got dark and cold on me.  The moon was full.  Probably the biggest I had ever seen.

All over to my left and to my right, there were a hundred or more campsites all over the country side with fires burning and people hollering and having fun.  It was quite the treat.  I climbed higher and higher, it got colder and colder and the sky line lodge seemed so far away.  I made my way up to the plateau on the mountain top and remember seeing a cabin at the top of the hill, wishing I could stay inside.  Got around the corner and saw a sign for a mountain top picnic spot, and kept rolling.

I got a quarter mile past it.  And decided the sky line lodge was too out of reach for the coldness that was coming in fast.  I could of put on a ton of clothes and kept going, but It had been a big day, and I was tired.  So I decided I would stay in a Montana Hilton for the night.  Figured that mountain top picnic spot had to have a bathroom.

And it did.

But it also had a cabin.

The same cabin I saw from the road.

I approached it and saw that all it had holding it shut was a tiny little stick.  I pulled it out and there it was, paradise.  Chopped wood stacked.  Two picnic tables, fireplace and a pot belly stove, all there wide open and public.

I made myself at home.  Settled in for the night in the comforts of my own private cabin.  This was by far the best day I had since leaving BANF.

Monday, February 03, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 6: SolRaK TaKeS mORe AbUsE on ThE WaY To BuTTe

Racing the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is like the Hunger Games.

There are well trained "volunteers" from all over the world.
They are all being tracked with Satellite Trackers, so the People at home can see your every move.
They are all dropping like flies, making their announcements via MTB CAST.

And I knew at this point, I wasn't going to win.

I really did think going in that I had a chance for a good finish.  I had a stellar year on the bike, in fact, every Ultra Endurance event I have ever finished netted me a top 5 finish 90% of the time and a top 20 finish the other 10%.

Its quite true there have been many events I didn't finish, but the fact is, that I go out there and I race.  I put it all on the line, I don't mess around, and play and socialize, go out hard and fast till I drop and more often then not I drop.

BUT, since my children have grown, and my living situation and work situation have changed, I am able to put in more miles and ultimately the sport of Ultra endurance is about conditioning, not raw speed.  Its about who can ride the longest the farthest and sleep less.

So, knowing full well that I wasn't the ONE, I had to create a sub category in my mind, to create a win for myself, something to motivate myself for.

I had met one other Native racer, and I was sure he was in front of me, so claiming to be the fastest Indian was out of reach.  SO, I really wanted to be the fastest Floridian.  I had made a side commitment to not check trackleaders while I raced, so I didn't, I never looked at it as long as I was racing.  I was relying on the odd unsolicited text message from folks telling me where the other Floridians where, and from rumors and speculation.  It is what I had to do to motivate myself.

Cause really, the motivation was low.  I cant begin to explain and accurately communicate the amount of pain I felt from the rash I had.  It wasn't a rash on my butt.  It was a rash on my pubis area from shaving.  And it had turn to bright red open bumps that would chafe from riding in wet gear and NOTHING I was doing was alleviating the pain.  It was literally like being rubbed with sandpaper in my most private of areas all day long.  ON top of that, my ankle though immobilized at this point by a brace, was painful.  I had to literally be conscious of my stroke to prevent it from aching on every push and pull of the pedals.

O well, I was still doing what I had to do, devouring passes and white knuckling the downhills.

I was proud as I laid in my tent that night that I had gotten so fast and so good at tent set up.  I had pitched on an old two track right in the middle of the grassy road.  It was a cold ass night, I spent most of it shivering.  I should of not been lazy and went and gotten the emergency bivy I had brought to add to my insulation, but instead I was bullheaded and stubborn and just toughed it out.  Dumb.

I heard cars roaring on the road, and got up at day break, instantly packing camp and getting my move on into another cold morning.  AT least it wasn't raining.  I climbed a few 100 feet more and then I was descending.  That was nice.

It was a speedy day with a few rises and a lots of downhill.  Eventually the rain started again.  I waited in an underpass for a minute near the town of Basin.  For the most part I had really fallen in love with the forest in Montana, my passion for it only being dashed by the constant Horrendous weather.  Eventually I chose to push on into the rain.  My only hope for repair for my brakes was in Butte.

I was riding as fast as I could.  I had a deadline for Butte, after all the shop doesn't stay open all day.  It happened that the rain started turning to sleet and hail and as I was coming in tight on a left handed gravel rutted road switchback, I lost my front wheel and crashed again.  I spent a few minutes cursing as Ice cubes pelted me from the sky.  Again, there was no adequate options but to go faster, as I had learned that riding fast enough could sometimes get me out from under the storm.  So I did that.  Rode fast.  Part angry about the crash, part angry that I had left my rain pants and gore tex gloves at home just to save a few grams.  Ignorant.

Again I was treated to miles and miles of mostly downhill terrain and then as I was riding along a path that was on the left of the Highway, angry about all that was happening, I got LANCED by a tree right off my bike.   I was skirting the edge of the road, trying to use the tree brush to break the wind, and a tree just literally hit me in the chest like a Lance from a Knight and sent me backwards off the bike crashing into the gravel.  NOW I WAS REALLY PISSED.

Regardless, I pushed on.  It would rain and hail and sleet.  So I would put all my shit on.  Then it would stop and get hot, so I would take it off.  Then it would rain and hail and sleet so I would put my shit on again. and then it would get hot... I was sick of it.

Eventually I hit pavement.

AND the wind was 30 plus miles an hour right against me.

Ri Fucking Di Cu LOUS.

A Nd then on the horizon I could see a small figure.

It was a rider.

So I tucked up and raced ahead, charging into the wind.

Eventually catching up and passing DAVE from Schneider electric who was walking his bike.

I asked him what was wrong and he said that he was just tired of fighting the wind.


I then, did the strangest thing, and rode on the highway donig a super fast downhill into Butte.

The outdoors man is right on route.

They  put my bike in the stand and got to work on my brakes.

cleaned it, I put all the cash I had in their tip jar, like 30$ and then spent another 20$ on astronaut food, like  gels and shot bloks.  It was still hard to swallow from my ibuprofen poisoning so I was really wanting to find some product like this.

They looked real busy and they were not asking for any money for all the work they did, which I thought was odd.  I mean if its only 10 people racing and you want to be generous I get it, but to just give free labor to 140+ riders is just bad business, no one expects it and no other shop on the route is doing it.

I found out that the other indian that I thought was a head off me was actually behind me.  And I found out that Dave from Schneider electric had rode late into the night and stayed in a Montana Hilton at a park about 10 miles further along the route then I did.

Regardless, I left.

Went to burger king and then pedaled out of town.

Something weird was going on though.  I was pedaling my ass off, but even on the downhills I could barely muster 11 mph.

I get off the bike, spin the rear wheel, and it moves on revolution and stops.  I do the same for the rear and the same thing happens.  Freaking great.  I know my old avids where shit to begin with, I don't blame the shop, but there was no way I was going to race up over a pass in this condition, the one thing I needed was to be able to fast on the downhills and it wasn't happening.

Frustrated I pull over, call wise river and cancel my reservations.  Today was the day I was going to catch up to a bunch of Florida Riders and catch up to Scott Thigpen and now all that was dashed.  I decided I needed to go back to the shop.  Maybe they could sand the pads, maybe they could order me new brakes or pull something off another bike to get me rolling and then order replacement parts.  Something Had to be done.  Once again I was mad that I didn't get new brakes before the race..  Fuck....

I turned off my gps, turned off my spot and went to the road, stuck out my thumb and then, by a miracle I got picked up.  The nice guy, who I cant remember his name, gave me a ride to a hotel, I got a room and rested, waiting for the next morning to see if I could get this problem fixed with my brakes.  Frustration is an understatement, I was starting to lose my motivation for the whole experience.



Friday, January 31, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 5: SolRaK CRoSSeS the DiVidE nOt OnCE BuT ThRiCe

Day one was mostly sunny in the morning, cold and miserable by days end.
Day two was sunny all day, but a LONG PUSH to the border.
Day three I almost died.
Day four was recovering and riding
Day five ended with cold and misery and I almost died.

This is Divide racing in JUNE.  Who's Idea was it to pick such a horrible month.  I mean why not go in August when its not so wet in MonFreaKINGTANA .....

Once again, it looked like a gear bomb had gone off in my room.  I was up and busy working, adjusting to the challenges of the conditions.  I wrapped all the stuff I need to stay dry in plastic, knowing full well that rain could come at any minute.

I spent the morning, 2 hours exactly, trying to fix my fading brakes.  Had no luck, if I put in new pads and rotated the fronts to the rear everything was rubbing.  NOTHING I was doing was going to fix it, and the only solution was to put it all back the way it was and push on, hoping that the shops in Helena could get it fixed.  So yes, today I was heading up and over 4 major peaks, with fading breaks.  Ahhhh the magic of racing the divide.

As soon as I finished packing and opened the door, it was cold and raining outside.  It was like it never stopped from the night before.  UGH..

If I wasnt racing I would have stayed there another night.  But thats not what HTFU is about, so I rolled out, stopping to get espresso on the way out of town.  LOVE that stuff.

It wasnt bad, when you wear a ton of gear, so I kept riding, goal was a repair in Helena.  Next thing I know, I get passed by the Australians.  Apparently they had made it to Lincoln as well.  O well.   I kept going, finally hitting the first Continental divide crossing and for the first time in the race, bearing down into my lowest gears to make the climb. The road was cut into the side of the mountain and there was barely 8 feet of surface across.  I could see the muddy tracks.  As I climbed higher, the hail started falling, and when I finished one, the other started, higher and higher I climbed, until I actually emerged from the storm and started my descent, and it was a fun one.  I was flying,  having fun, hitting one of those sections where you could push the big ring and just go fast for miles and miles.  Eventually I pass some guys, do a creek crossing, stop to check something and notice my spot FELL OFF.  WTF, REALLY??????

After cursing for a bit, I decided I had to back track to try and find it.  The worst part was that I had the black and grey spot 2 and the whole area was dark soil and granite rocks, might as well be a Boa in the everglades.... I passed the guys I saw going backwards, and not even a mile down the road I found it Hooray, a bit of good luck to offset the 100% shitty luck I was having.

I attached it to my rear pack this time not using the leather case, but using the actually built in holes in the back door with the remaining zip ties I had.

It wasn't long before I passed the two guys again, and we pretty much did that back and forth, till I crested the third crossing and lost them.  Eventually I crested the fourth and knowing I was close to HELENA was exhilarating.  The weather had let up and I was flying so fast that when I approached the final cattle guard I bunny hopped the whole thing!

On pavement I was straight dropping hammers and before long I saw a pizza hut and pulled right in.  I ordered a large thin crust meat lovers pizza and huge order of their bread.  I must of drank about 7 sodas, and even packed a couple of slices to go.  While I ate it poured.  I saw the two guys pass by, but then saw that they stopped in town.  I was determined to leave HELENA that night since I had missed the shop opportunity.  I went to Starbucks to fuel up for the long push into the night, but they were closed.  I noticed a storm was rolling in so I stayed right there waiting for it to pass.

Eventually it did, I thought about staying in town, but decided to climb to the top of the next pass and camp up there so I could go downhill the next morning.  Kevin Greten had told me there was a cabin up there that I could sleep on the porch.  Well there was about 100 cabins and they all looked occupied.  After reviewing the elevation sheet I figured I was close enough to the top and set up my tent.  Another day was in the books and another late push had been completed.

So far, the divide had its moments of Fun, But not much sun, and not much room for mistakes.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 4: SolRaK AlmOsT DiEs On HiS WaY to LiNcoLn

Good sleep is to be relished.

That night I had a heavenly rest.  I was uncomfortable.  Itchy legs from the hundreds of mosquito's that attacked me while I set up my tent.  Horrible pain in my personal area.  Horrible limp leg.  BUT even with all that I still slept great.

In Fact I may have even had a good chance to sleep in, but my Camp Mates, changed that.  I wish I could remember his name.  I want to say it was Dave.  And he wore a Kit that said Schneider Electric??? Hard to remember now, next time I will make notes.....  It was him, for the sake of the story we will call him Dave, and Selle (don't remember his real name), the younger guy, both from Colorado.  I chose to call him Selle cause he was one of the other people I noticed used a Selle Anatomica Saddle like me.

It was funny the night before while finishing up my meal at the LODGE, I asked Selle if he wanted to split a room.  He pretty much told me he was broke, and I completely understood.  I kinda hated how necessary a room feels when your soaking wet and the temps start dropping, like almost every night I had been spending on the Divide.  I was determined to figure out how to avoid the cycle, but it had not happened yet.

Well we all camped together.  I had my fancy tent.  Dave had a bivy, and Selle... Well Selle had a blue tarp thing.....

I would of probably slept late... But somewhere around 4 in the morning, Dave was packing up.  And all I could hear was Zippers.  I wondered how many zippers did his stuff actually have.  Both Selle and I got up together.  2 hours later.   Selle headed to the lodge and I got on route.  Next up was Richmond peak.  Supposedly from what I had read from the trail book.  Near the top it turned narrow and became some real buff hell raising singletrack.  So I was happy to be alive and I was working my butt up that mountain.

While I finished packing, I had seen Dave leave two hours before and then the two pairs of travelers rolled by, the Australians and the older guys, both who I had mentioned before, where not very friendly.

They had about an hour gap and I honestly didn't expect to see them again.  But low and behold after the unexpected gnar section in the middle of the mountain, I caught and passed the Australians and the other guys.

I came up behind one of them and rang the bell, and he, with much grump in his voice, Said, "what does that mean"... To which I, responded with a smile and a wave, "It means good morning".

None of them responded as I pedaled away, except for the Vegan Australian.  He could climb.  And he was keeping time, and me, not liking being shadowed, I intentionally dropped back and let him take the front, eventually passing him again before the top.  Once at the top, I started layering for the downhill and eating some more food and enjoying the GLORIOUS view.

While I was doing that, they all caught back up, all together again, one big peloton of weird vibes.  They kept going, and eventually at the very peak, I passed them all including DAVE from Colorado.

Richmond peak was gnar gnar extreme with water bars every 300 feet.  I spent the next 30 minutes doing HUGE FULLY LOADED airs and Surfing the GRAVEL on the high speed corners and switch backs.  It was ECSTASY.

I had noticed while riding the Divide that I could understand how someone could do the route so fast.  Once you get over certain big features the ground descends every so slightly and rolls ever so perfectly for miles and miles so that you can literally surf the land by pushing your big ring and small cogs in the back.... It was BLISSFULL Heaven on a bike.

After a Long Lonely ride, I stopped for a chilly, breezy road side lunch.  I was noticing I had missed the turn to seely lake.  Which was fine, my pack strategy had evolved.  If a restock was not on route, then I would not restock there and I would plan accordingly.  Seely Lake was off route.  BUT, I did miss the turn, I kinda wanted to be aware of it...  I also realized that Ovando was close and there were only five minor peaks to roll over to get there.  My spidey sense was telling me a storm was coming, I could feel it.  So I got moving and not before long I was rolling into the NOTHING really there town of Ovando.  On the way I had got in the self spoken joke of calling in HOVANDO.  When your all alone out there, you talk to yourself.  Out loud even, but no one can hear you.

When I got into town, there were two stores.  One on one side of the street.  One on the other.... Didnt know which one to go into....

Then it happened...... Something that's only happened to me twice in my race career.....  a Random stranger speaks my name....... Duh Karlos, Spot Trackers...

I get invited in, I get a hammer nutrition race swag bag like you would at any XC race in America and drink espresso and stock up.  It was a nice warm respite from the cold breeze outside.  I'm there ten minutes, and look who shows up, DAVE.  He actually gets dressed and pedals right into the storm that had started while we were inside.

 map 1 section A and here are the numbers. 250 miles. 26 hours ride time. 8.6 total avg. 9.6 moving avg. 
I was getting ready to leave.  Putting on everything I had, preparing to battle the storm.  When a hummingbird, flew right in front of my face and hovered there.  I took it as a good sign.  The lady inside had told me that all the other Florida riders had come through.  I had five in front of me and I had made up my mind that I was gonna be at least the fastest Florida finisher.  The closest was The Krafts, so the chase was on.  I rode out into the storm too.  Passing Dave early.  Then I passed some giant tall man on a bike.  Then I started climbing Huckleberry pass.

I was not playing with these passes folks.  I was teasing the Colorado guy at the store.  Telling him she would be ashamed that a guy from Florida caught him when he had a 2 HOUR HEAD START.  I also asked him how many zippers does his gear have for goodness sakes....  Anyhow, I was not playing and had not climbed a pass yet in the small ring.  In Fact, it wasn't till divide crossing number 1 that I broke down and used the granny, that 36 x 36 proved to suit me well  for beasting up the mountain.

Eventually the rain got worst.  I crested the pass and I could see the Krafts tracks.  I was close.  But I had bigger problems at the moment. My feet were completely numb.  My hands screaming in pain, and it was cold and windy and raining.  I decided that the situation had gotten dire.  That I was in real potential danger in these conditions of Hypothermia.  So I made the call that the only way to survive this situation, was to go fast.  The only solution to get me out of this weather and to warmth that was available in Lincoln was SPEED>>>>>>>

And I went fast.  I remember hitting a cattle guard and momentarily gliding left for a bit before straightening out.  Max speed 42 mph.  I was tucked in Aero on the dowhnills, I was committed, the whole nine.  Nothing but stand up and work, till I got to Lincoln.  I rolled into the first place and got a cabin for 50$.

I actually got to Lincoln 5 minutes after the Krafts.  It took a hot shower and 40 minutes under the blankets before I stopped shivering.  Thinking about it now makes me shiver.

The room was once again in the aftermath of my rolling gear bomb.  But I fished out some dry clothes, got dinner and went to bed.  There were lots of problems I had to resolve.  My sleeping bag had gotten wet in that torrential downpour and my brakes were not working well, I was losing appropriate lever feel.  It just seemed like there was no lack of adversity for me on the divide.....

I slept warm that night.  The Krafts.  They left Lincoln and pushed on.  Wow, we are racing.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 3: SolRaK RideS FrOm WhiTeFiSh To HoLLaNd

My room was littered with clothes and gear.  All over the extra bed, hanging near the AC vents, hoping to dry it all.

It was by far the Hardest two days I have ever spent on a route.  Fearing death and starvation, still feeling the discomfort in my throat, but determined to push on.

I had soaked all my clothes in the tub to clean it.  It was brown and murky after a good soak, but came clean after awhile.  In retrospect I would use a washing machine and a dryer to save time.  In between doing laundry, eating slowly and elevating my leg I was taking mental inventory of my woes.

Ankle, swollen, tender and painful, check.

Horrible rash like I have never had before, check.

That next morning I left at Day Break as planned. Early I could ride moderately without too much pain and discomfort. But , right around hour 2, it would become an issue.  I didn't want to take any more Ibuprofen, so I was on a one Excedrin a day.

I left Whitefish, with an empty stomach, hoping to score food in the next town.

When I got to Columbia Falls, I remember thinking that I should have just ridden here last night, it was the fastest 10 miles I had done on the route, all pavement and bike path.

I stopped at the first sight of the word Espresso, but the gentleman was closed.  We chatted for a minute, but he didn't open for another hour and I was in that silly Racer Boi mode so I pushed on.

When I got to the T intersection I saw a Divide Ride Bike leaning against another place advertising breakfast and Espresso.

The place was called Montana Coffee Traders.  They made me a big breakfast and I had two large four shot Espressos with coconut milk.  I forget the Other Riders name but I believe they had given him the Nick Name BEARDO.  He must of been in Racer Boi mode as well, cause he left before me.  I was kinda stoked to chase a carrot, so I calmly finished my drinks and food and then shopped for gourmet Dark Chocolate.

I left there KEYED up on the prospect of making some fast Road miles and chasing the rabbit.  I kept expecting to come around the corner and see the rider, but instead, it was miles of undulating riding similar to what you would ride in Clermont Florida.  Eventually I came up on a construction zone and rolled over some tar that they were using to fix the gaps in the road.  I could here a thump thump  on my tire from where the tar got packed in and picked up a patch of dirt and rocks.  I ignored it, racer boi doesn't stop for some silly shit like that.

I got to a little restaurant where there were about 6 ride the divide bikes.
The riders inside I had seen briefly at the start.  I was excited, but to be honest, they didn't look too happy to see me and none of them where very friendly at all.   I guess being a nice Indian is of no importance.  After a brief Search for Water I pushed on knowing full well I would have to go a mile off route to Swan River to get some batteries and a few small things.

I got in the habit that when I left the route, I would turn off my GPS so I could keep an accurate mileage tally against my elevation profile. It was helpful for me to know how far I had to go before starting the delicious downhill on the other side so I felt that information was more important then keeping an accurate tally of every mile I had ridden on the ride.

When I found the grocery mart I caught up to BEARDO and he was way more talkative and we spent time laughing and talking about our pains and aches.  I left, got back on route and then caught, two riders.  They were younger guys, it was HOT, I had taken everything off and was riding Florida style.  I caught the other guy but he actually responded and after holding him off for a long while, I let him pass me and I stayed back. Not long after I crested the peak where he was waiting for his friend and two other riders, older guys.  These were all the guys I had seen at the restaurant, and they were not too friendly there, and they were not too friendly here.  I rolled past them and started the downhill.

I was flying.  Killing the downhill, then the unexpected happened.  As I was cooking a left handed gravel road switch back, my rear tire lost traction and before I could regain control I was in a high speed nose wheelie heading into the brush line.

I went head over end, and had me a good old fashion crash, scraping up my arm, twisting my seat post and ergon grip and breaking my GPS mount.  It took me all of 3 minutes to make all the repairs and SCREAM LIKE A MAD MAN in ANGER about crashing.  Seems that Tar I picked up on the road, packed in my knobs creating a bald spot.  I sat there for a few minutes scraping the tire when the two younger guys passed me.  I immediately got back on caught and passed them.

The next section proved to be a little difficult.  It reminded me of Riding in the Forest back home.  Sandy, undulating and endless.  The weather was hot, but I had a good roll and the big ring was propelling me in a good flow and it was miles and miles of 18+ mph pace.  Eventually I needed water.  I saw a hobo camp site by a river and stopped to ice my foot in the cold river and filter and eat lunch.  The two older guys showed up and joined me for a bit.  The two younger guys rolled past and got a good lead on me.

Something happened after that.  The route undulations got bigger.  I passed a pair of riders that where having a very dysfunctional time.  One guy recognized me much better then I did him and immediately conversed with me.  I passed on by and kept climbing and his friend from Colorado easily kept time with me.  Up and down, the rain came.  I passed a guy getting dressed I chose to just go with a jacket.  Eventually exiting on pavement where I caught another guy and we rode to Lake Holland Lodge.

There is so much I would of done different at Lake Holland.  I would of camped in a Montana Hilton instead of setting up my tent.....

But, I went inside.  The younger guys had kept their gap from me and got there just a few minutes before me.  Inside I saw my friend Paul Vaughn who had a big gap on me up to that point, but now had FUBARD his knee.  Eliminated from this years challenge.

I found out the younger guys were Australian and I asked if for a money chip in If I could sleep on the floor.  They politely told me they didn't need the money, and after dinner, I put on wet clothes and made camp with Two other Colorado Riders, one younger - one older.

The food at Lake Holland was Gourmet and overpriced.  I was not impressed by their lack of generosity, but I guess thats the price you pay to eat a warm meal in the middle of BFE.

The mosquito's were horrible.  You would think the cold weather would kill them off, but NO, they could care less.

I got in my tent, laying on my wet clothes, hoping to get some sleep and amazingly enough I did.


NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 2:SoLraK RidEs FroM Banff Canada to Whitefish Montana

After much mental digestion its time to share the gritty details of my last ride on the divide.

This post here will catch you up from DAys 1 - 3.

It was a good chance to share a good story and get some extra exposure for one of my true loves, writing.