Up till this point I'd found mornings difficult, but this one was on another level, with oozing hip and torn muscles in my groin making simply standing, dressing and packing kit (with dud hands) extremely challenging. Even getting my foot over the top tube was non-trivial. Craig must have regretted being saddled with such a companion, and that doesn't take into account my snoring. From an observer's perspective, turning the pedals was literally the only thing i could do with any vague sense of normality.
We eventually got going, ascending Ute Pass before descending paved road into Silverthorne. We breakfasted at a Chipotle, which had a good sized bathroom in which I addressed wounds. I was crawling so bid Craig good day, and eventually got back onto the scenic bike path that would take me on through the tourist towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, with spectacular views of mountains rising from the Dillon Reservoir. I hit a gas station at the end of Breckenridge for resupply.
Breckenridge marked the start of one of the highest passes on the tour, Boreas Pass, which was achieved after climbing an even grade for about 20 km. These tempo climbs are my bread and butter, and I daresay I enjoyed tapping out my own rhythm up the mostly forested climb, even passing some other cyclists along the way. The top was spectacular and I parked my bike next to the sign and took some pics, as one does. After the events of the day before I was finally feeling upbeat. I gingerly remounted and was soon whipped away by a stiff tail wind on the descent.
I was enjoying the descent but my mood changed rapidly when I glanced down at the etrex and noted that I was no longer on route. I couldn't understand it as I'd been on the lookout, as always, for any road junctions on the way down. It took me half an hour to re-grind my way back uphill into the headwind to find the cryptic single track I'd missed. Certainly not an obvious turn off for rookies. To rub salt into the wound I then had a silly crash entering the rocky start to the "Gold dust trail", further bashing up all my sore bits, and aggravating my groin injuries from the day before. I was furious. All so I could navigate the "Boreas trench", which was actually quite a nice trail, if not contrived, but I just wasn't in the mood.
The trail eventually dumped me back onto a dirt road with the tail wind still present. I was still angry with missing the turn and the crash, full of endorphins no doubt, so wound it up a notch. The wind blew me through Como then on towards Hartsel. I was absolutely cranking. Distant storm clouds and damp road indicated I was chasing the weather system ahead, but never quite catching it. On review, Strava tells me that as of writing, in a field of 170, i now own the KOM for the 38 km dirt segment between junctions 285 and 24 (my first Strava KOM!).
Unbelievably I was going to make the town of Hartsel by 7 pm. Half of me wanted to bomb through and use as much assistance as the wind would give. However I weakened when I saw Craig's rig parked outside the only restaurant in town. He'd only just sat down, so we promptly ordered dinner, but didn't get out of there till 7:40, by which stage the wind had lost much of its puff. We rolled on for another couple of hours as the sun dropped and the stars emerged, separated by another sunset the majesty of which could never be properly captured on image plate. Extensive washboarding was the final insult of pain for tired aching joints to top off another tough day on the Tour Divide. We finally set camp in a paddock full of cows.
(223 km, 2458 m)