Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 2, OceAn PoNd to PeTeR K's PlaCe

It was a pretty cold night.
view out of my tent at ocean pond camp site

I made note of it, cause I knew, the further south I went, how much things would change.  I was gonna ride myself out of this chill, and I was curious to know when it would happen.

after a day in the flooded forest GuaJaTaKa wants more
Its hard when your on a schedule to guess if things will work out.
"Can I make my goals Happen"?
"Can I crank out 100 miles a day for 8 days without circumstance kidnapping me of my plans"???

I had made certain Mini challenges with myself during this challenge.  And one of those MINI challenges was to not Pay to stay anywhere.

I was packing up my things, observing the people around.  Taking my time, enjoying where I was, appreciating the moment.  Being mindful, and careful.  Lots of inner dialogue.   When along comes the Camp host wondering who I am.

He was polite enough, I explained I arrived late, in the dark(technically a lie) and wet and didn't know where to pay for camping.  He told me where to go and just like that, one of my MINI challenges died, LOL.

It wasn't long and I was off.  I was looking at the forest.  Now that it was a bright & sunny beautiful day, I could really get a good look at Osceola.  It was flooded still in the woods, but at least I  had better visibility.  And even though I was on pavement, it was just a paved over forest road, not much different from dirt.  The beauty was all the same.

It was interesting to see the houses that were way out here.  And the yard garbage was even better.  Old rusted out VW beetles and school buses.  Abandoned offices.  All of the sights made me want to release my inner shutter bug and snap away a zillion macro fotos.  So much texture.

because those two things go perfect together
I thnk they are out of business???
The battle ground was everything I thought it would be.  Ominous, eerie, weird, strange...full of an indescribable energy.  They had a little museum, so I went in.  There was no one in there.  When I got inside it was so warm compared to the outside temp, that my survivor man skills kicked in and I stripped down to my base layers to avoid feeling cold when I got back outside.

They had all sorts of authentic uniforms and artifacts.  As a trained Anthropologist I cant help but take mental inventory and catalog of the things I see.  I am amazed by old things.  Wondrous about the stories they tell, whose pockets they traveled in, whose flesh they may have torn apart(bullets).

There was a bench in the front room, facing a TV.  So I took the time to enjoy the warm building and learn about what happened at OLUSTEE.

definetely the not how the north won the war at Olustee
Apparently.  After a long battle.  The white soldiers, left the black soldiers to cover their retreat.  Interesting.  I put all my clothes back on and headed over to the cemetery.   I like cemeteries, call me creepy, but I do.  Almost always stop if I see one and I have time.  I sat there for a bit, listening to the wind, looking at the dates on the stones.

I returned to the route, and enjoyed my ride down to Butler for a restock.  I'm always careful when traveling alone.  I am not going to be the one to be taken advantage off.  I walk around with a smile on my face, and I give nothing but thumbs ups, hang looses and hello's, but you never know when there could be trouble so I am careful.

I restocked, wanted food, wanted to visit the dollar store.  It was an interesting little stop at the convenience store, I couldn't help but notice how "mixed" this little southern town was.  In five minutes I saw just as many interracial couples.  Being a person that is normally noticed by folks cause I look different.  I cant help but notice differences of where I am.  AND I couldnt help but take notice how mixed this community was.  Regardless, a local gave me some insight as to where there could be a restaurant.  AND I pedaled off and found nothing, eventually backtracking to a Hungry Howies.

MINI CHALLENGE number 130 was to not eat any grains on this ride and not eat any fast food.  SO, I ate a salad and 20 naked wings at this stop and rolled on south. This particular Hungry Howies was quite unique and had a very one of a kind old 50's style appearance.

thats the parking lot down there
I had a long day ahead so I kept going.  Taking advantage of the pavement sections.  Eventually I came up on Private Property so I had to figure out a re route and used Google maps to take a short cut along a prison.  I kept the speeds high and reached the Santa Fe River.  I took a moment to explore the river side.  Took pictures of the flooding. And then kept going.  After riding a bunch of sweet dirt, I eventually rolled into San Felasco and the fun singletrack traverse began.

Made it!
I saw several people at the lot.  Almost half expecting them to come up and ask me why I had all the luggage.  When I got to the park I paid the pedestrian entry fee and simultaneously watched two people drive right by it.  Shame shame, such a cool trail you should pay the fee????

I took a minute to eat, and reconfigure my packs.  At this point I had some stuff strapped to my rear bag, and decided to alternate and carry stuff on my back so I could really Gnar Gnar the singletrack.
safety break in San Felasco, Never have I seen the brook so swollen

 And that's pretty much what went down.  Probably the most fun I have ever had in Felasco.  I hammered the crap out of that place and took times to stop and smell the roses.  Enjoy the swollen brooks, drop the roots, rail the corners....etc....etc....

Took the 'dog leg' out and when I got to pavement I let Peter Kraft know I was heading to his place.

the man, the myth, the dork
He found me on the road and then we got food and hung out, and ate, and watched movies, and talked... and man... It was a great way to end my second day on the road.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 1, FArgo To OcEaN PonD

The day started in De Leon Springs Florida.

Edith and I had to get up to Fargo where I would be dropped off to begin my journey south to Flamingo.  The  night before I had loaded up my bike.  The reality is the planning for the trip had been happening for months, so it was pretty easy to get loaded up and get out the door.  

We Stopped in Gainesville to eat food and talk.  I was resolved.  It was raining hard outside.  WE could clearly see that my day was going to be wet.  I had learned from riding days and days on the continental divide, how to keep things dry.  So I was prepared, not overjoyed.  


Edith took this foto of me at breakfast...busy...busy....

 It was a very pretty drive to Fargo.  Not far.  But as I got closer it became OBVIOUS that the area was in a higher stage then usual for water level.  Never having seen this place in person, I was curious about what it would look like.  AND all was perfect.  The spot I started at had a huge tourist center right on the Suwanee river and I Couldn't had done a better job at picking a memorable start for such an adventure.  Pictures don't do it justice.
Mighty Suwanee

It was the perfect place to start.  Fargo GA is the Gateway to the Okeefenokee and the Suwanee river.  Didnt even know that when I picked it.

 Meet GuaJaTakA , I think I made all the right choices with the build and the bike.  I had it all and felt good about it.  GEar list will follow when the story is done.

From the start I rode 17 miles down the road.  Getting a good soaking the entire time.  It took exactly 17 miles to leave the state of Florida.  The forest roads through Osceola were Horribly flooded.  Muddy, slow, covered in puddles.  I Had been looking at this area for months on the satellite images so it was a bit of a bummer to have to deal with the chill and the wet.  But I was geared well, and prepared and put in the work.  Slowly picking my way through the mud, the deep water crossings that often forced me to dismount cause they got too deep for my wheels.  It was pandemonium at its finest.  This was my first trip ever without using a Fred Bar adapter and aero bars, so I was constantly reminded how much I missed my two friends.  
The weather was bad enough that I was contemplating some alternatives.  

"I mean is it the smartest thing in the world to work this hard in an 800 mile trip in the first 50 miles?" ...."should I have just waited it out....", ...."should I just camp right now?"

AND for each thought... I had a response.....
"50 miles 800 miles... miles don't matter, this trip is about time and you have to be in Picayune racing by March 8th!"
"waiting is for you know how bad ass you are right now cause your not caring that its cold and raining......"
i did a lot of riding on this trip in what appeared to be regular clothes.  I think I get treated better when I look like a regular guy.
"camp? there isn't a dry spot on the ground to be had?????? and when have I ever set up that tent in the middle of a rain storm....."
This is typical dialogue... LOL

Before long I am on 17 mile camp road.  I know I have to go over 75.  Once I do that the route turns to singletrack and I have about 3 miles of that before I hit my first mandatory water stop at Ocean Pond Camp Ground.  I expected no available food restocks till Lake Butler, so I packed heavy enough when I left for two days of supply-less travel.  
When I crossed 75 I was happy.  I had been getting some text messages and even a call from Peter Kraft, so all that kept my spirits pretty high.  I wasn't feeling down.  IN fact.  I noticed my demeanor was the calmest I have ever been.  Its like, after years of doing this stuff, I had found my Zen.  
I got into the singletrack, and It was flooded as well... and then the trail, disappeared... It was getting dark... and I wasn't in the mood to solve a riddle after spending 6 hours speed traversing the Osceola forest in arduous conditions.  SO I backtracked to my original track that didn't use singletrack.  Used the Osceola Forest map I had and re navigated to Ocean pond.  

I found the first structure I could.  AND discovered that they had, electric, water, and dryers that ran on credit cards.  Within seconds the decision had been made for me, to stay at Ocean Pond, dry my clothes, set up camp and take a half day.  Lord knows, after driving 270 miles, and riding 7 hours in flood - mud conditions, I think a half day was appropriate.  Tomorrow I would ride faster.

NK 14

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.