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.