Thursday, 13 July 2017

Tour Divide, day 13, Steamboat to Williams Fork Reservoir

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The power was back on by the time I awoke. If only the body could be magically reawakened.  For days now I'd been a complete wreck, especially late at night and in the mornings.  Even shuffling round the room with my dodgy ankle was an effort. Let alone getting the rig back down the stairs.  That said I found a great place for breakfast and filled up with an omelette, hash browns, and a stack of pancakes washed down with lots of coffee, an OJ and a milkshake.  The bike had been increasingly prone to chain suck over the last few days, despite repeated efforts to clean it.  The bike shop didn't open till 9 so I wondered if it would survive one more leg then have it serviced at Breckenridge instead.  I got my answer barely a few hundred meters out of town when it jammed up again.  A local roadie pointed me in the direction of the "Orange Peel" bike shop.  Brock, the owner, turned up soon after and began the process of opening the store (i.e., emptying it of bikes). Bryan turned up too, followed by Craig, as well as a few of the shop mechanics.  They had their work cut out for them.

I love bike shops and Orange Peel had some real character.  The circular building housing the workshop was once a timber yard.   Three curved mechanic alcoves arced around the central cavity.  The shop was also the original home of Moots, a boutique titanium brand now located elsewhere in town.  Brock had his hands full dealing with an endless stream of customers as well as servicing the bike, but kept his cool.  I wasn't overly worried about time - an hour or two weren't going to make much of a difference in the long run, but having the drive train eat itself out on the trail certainly would.  We decided not to change the chain, but the whole drive train was removed for an industrial clean.  Jockey wheels were replaced, and in went the spare press fit bearings I'd lugged all this way.  Oh, and the rear brake got an oil topup - the lever had been down the bar since before The Basin.  I got out of there about midday, stopped just down the road for another sandwich, then got moving.  Steamboat seemed a nice place.  I wish I'd been able to stay longer.

As was often the case, my getting moving somehow coincided with the similar intentions of another rider.  In this case Bryan.  It was hot and windy and the trail gradually started to climb.  According to the route profile Lynx pass and its following "plateau" was a lumpy one, with numerous tops and troughs to negotiate.  It was also possibly going to be a stormy affair with some ominous clouds blowing in.  I was feeling good today, consequently setting a tempo a little too hot for Brian.  A little higher up the climb I passed Craig who'd stopped by a stream to fill his bottles.  Craig and I yo-yo'd a bit before he stopped again to do something and I suggested I'd soft pedal to let him catch up.  

The wind was whipping the trees violently now as I went over one of the Cols.  Thirty seconds later I scythed round a corner to the sound of a large crack.  I could see what was about to happen but was powerless to do anything about it.  The trunk of a dead aspen had been cast down from the high side of the road, impacting just meters in front on me and shattering as it bounced off the surface.  I had no where to go but straight into it and was unable to keep the bike upright. I slid on my right side long enough to register the pain, and the fact that my tour was probably over.  Craig arrived shortly after to help scrape me off the deck.  I'd done a good job of skinning my right thumb, palm (yes, I know I should be wearing gloves) elbow, shoulder, but especially hip.  I was a bloody mess, but remarkably didn't appear to have broken anything.  My body seemed to have taken the brunt of it as even the bike seemed undamaged, wheels, rear derailleur and all.

A km later I washed my wounds of grit as best i could and applied some woefully inadequate bandages on my hip.  When I packed my first aid kit I just didn't figure I'd need anything that large.  Needless to say I was now sore in places I hadn't been previously.  But there was not much else I could do apart from get back on and keep pedalling.  Craig was now soft pedalling for me, if for no other reason than to make sure I got off the mountain in one piece.  Getting down was quite technical in places, with a handful of steep abrupt corners you certainly didn't want to miss.  

The next pass was a gentler affair, eventually dumping us on pavement where a tailwind whipped us down the other side.  I hit over 80 km/hr before squeezing the brakes on a corner I couldn't see through.  Whether I liked it or not, as the light faded there wasn't a town with acommodation within cooee, so despite my state we were going to have to bivvy somewhere.  The industrial wasteland of Kremmling came into view, we turned right, and headed up a swampy valley looking for somewhere off the trail.  We found a fisherman's day park area with access to the river.  At the very least Craig needed water.  Any thoughts of staying, however, were immediately quashed by the most intense mosquito experience of my life.  They were everywhere.  Dozens could be killed just by wiping down arms or legs, only to be replaced immediately.  Long sleeve shells and rain pants were hurriedly donned amidst frantic swatting.  Once Craig was done with his water we got the hell out of there, searching for a little more altitude and a darker hour when mozzies are less active.  We eventually found a good spot adjacent a toilet block, also by a lake - fortunately the mozzies had largely turned in by this point.  I felt pretty wretched that night, barely able to move and sticking repeatedly to my thermals and sleeping bag.  At least it wasn't raining.

(142 km, 2200 m)
















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