Thursday, June 30, 2011

Luders Creek to Del Norte

I had mixed feelings about arriving in Del Norte today, after all it was at least a 55 mile journey. Regardless, I set out to see how I would fare. Hopping in and out of the Rio Grande National Forest led to some wonderful scenery and brightly colored outcrops. A short climb up Canero Pass landed my at the Storm King campground which was actually under construction. I saw some familiar faces from Salida and filled my water bottles from the nearby creek. If I did not make it to Del Norte, at least I was in National Forest and able to camp anywhere. Right after leaving the Storm King CG, the heavens opened enough for the rain jacket, and I sat on the side of the road for half and hour until I could see the edge of the storm and quickly roll down the hill and out of its way. Still slightly wet I headed for the Penitent Canyon, a renowned sight for climbers and campers alike. The legs and ACL started to feel the length of the day as I skirted the Elephant Outcrops on the outskirts of Del Norte. Never before have I been to happy to see a large D on the side of a mountain, signaling the end of a day. Its difficult to keep motivated during many of these days, since every turn leads to another and every turn leads to another. But this D similar to Salida's glowing S (and heart shape) gave me confidence. Roads were generally in good shape for most of the day, and the San Luis Valley was certainly intriguing for those that have never experienced the sight. Tomorrow I climb out of Del Norte to the highest peak on the divide. In order to do this I will be climbing 4000ft in under 24 miles, to me that means an early start an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

P.S. A new slideshow in the tool bar on the right showcases pictures that have not been included in the posts! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tomichi Creek to Luders Creek Campground

A shorted day of 48.5 miles started with the faithful oatmeal, a mix of blueberry, peach and instant coffee. Not gourmet by any means but it certainly does the job. A short jaunt on the highway lead to the distinctive high and dry mountain basins to which I have become accustomed to. Thankfully the wind had subside as I peddled the rocky terrain in search of highway 114. During a break I was able to catch up with more divide riders who shared their unnerving stories of their present adventure. With little chances to restock water, I passed a pump at a local reservoir and headed between showers to Cochetopa Pass another seemingly endless climb. Steep switchbacks at the end of the day lead to Luder's Creek Campground and a calf who didn't take kindly to my presence as he charged the bike on my way by. Some friendly campers filled my water bottles, and I sat down to my ramen noodles, Uncle Ben's rice and canned chicken concoction. The scenery was that of gentle rolling hills with unsettling rain clouds all around, as I lay in the tent trying to discern whether the neighboring cows had sore throats or were actually coyotes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Salida to Tomichi Creek Trading Post Campground

After a rest day in Salida, I made a quick stop at Absolute Bikes before I set out. This shop is actually showcased in Ride the Divide and was another "must do" such as Pork Chop John's back in Helena. From the shop and nearby Safeway, I took what seemed to be a really nice bike path which would lead to the junction of Route 50 and 285. It seemed to head in the right direction until it randomly stopped in the middle of nowhere. Do I go forward or do I go back? Thankfully the neighborly hound was the only one perturbed by my foregoing the no trespassing sign as I trekked the bike and trailer separately through his back yard. From there is was a breeze to 285 where I stopped for my first tamale goodness and breather before the 5 mile climb on US Highway 285. Although it was only 10:00 in the morning, the sweat poured from my face as I hugged the break down lane to the start of FR 200. From there I had a choice, a 2000ft to climb over 7 miles or 12 miles, choosing the later for ease. A well graded path and decent conditions lasted for three hours until I reached the top of Marshall Pass at 10,842ft and 16th Divide Crossing. Its 3% grade is due to the Denver and Rio Grande Railway which once connected the Gunnison and Arkansas Valleys. On the way, I was kindly given a bottle of water by passing ATV tourists. Not that many people do this ride each year, but its seems that those that do are often (as I have found) treated like wild animals. Everyone wants to feed us, take pictures, need to touch the bike. Maybe I just think the ride is normal. Back to the trail..the top of Marshall Pass was nice and cool, reached the snow line and it was an easy decent to the primitive designated campground. I choose to for go this option and head 10 miles further to the next town with camping facilities. Since this would take 10 miles from the ensuing 58 mile day. Simple camping with warm showers soothed any pains and it was overall a relatively easy day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hartsel to Salida

It was a long and tiring 53 miles, starting at 9am and arriving at 7pm. Today was one of the hardest days on the divide, the first 35 miles along wash boarded gravel roads, heading directly into the wind. With the wind never on my side, the bike and trailer was pushed left and right with futile strength leading to a very slow day. This was a day where fitness did not matter, today was all about mental strength, it was long and painful, with every turn leading to another climb and endless trail. Parts of the trail were full of sand with little traction, and the end of the day finished with a 1000ft climb over 4 miles. It was a high and lonesome terrain leading into the San Isabel National Forest. The literature's use of the words "quite steep" was an understatement as I moved from 9000ft to over 10000ft and back to 7500ft. At the top of the climb it was refreshing to see the peaks of Mount Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton in the distance and a half hour decent to the outskirts of Salida. But even during the decent I had to keep a strong awareness for the bumpy trail and aching hands, fortunately they did not turn blue from the rattling ride. Little to no water sources were found in this desolate stretch and less than half a water bottle remained as I entered Salida. From here I climb back up to 10000 ft reaching Marshall pass and it will be four days until I reached services again. Till then..

P.S. There's something about Michael Jackson, shitty days and remote plains that just makes you scare the locals with your dance moves

Selkirk Campground to Hartsel

38 miles and around 5 hours on the bike. Today started with a 1 mile climb back to the route, certainly better than an instant cup of nescafe coffee. Then it was downhill to the town of Como. Originally thought to be desolate, I was able to pick up a BACON, egg and cheese fuel source. The down hill was fast and rugged showing why the PT Barnum Circus needed their elephants to help the train up Boreas Pass. This pass coincidentally, is the 15th divide crossing and the second highest peak at 11453ish feet. The ensuing 25 miles was a rolling and wash boarded dirt and gravel road, it actually dislodged one of the water bottles in the trailer. The heat was bearable with a steady cross wind, although the tan lines have certainly developed. Once the route hit 24, I stopped and had the chance to meet 5 divide racers, their demeanor dampened as we headed into a 5 mile stretch with a strong head wind. I stopped at a store in Hartsel and met other divide riders along with a few Trans Am riders (Virginia to Oregon). With little in the way of campsites in this wide open plain, I was fortunate to take a peek at an updated version of my maps which showed a nearby Ranch with camping services. Where I found that mice do not appreciate fig newtons as much as I do.

P.S. also found the buffalo :)


Just added a widget in the toolbar to the right that shows my location on the divide! No need to go to a separate site!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Breckenridge to Selkirk Campground

Already acquainted with Boreas Pass, 1900ft climb at a fairly easy grade of 3-5%. The goal being to climb and camp at the top. Boreas Pass will be the 15th (out of 29) crossing of the continental divide and the second highest elevation at 11,482ft. This route had been closed yesterday since the path was wet. Colorado recieved snow last week and I reached the snow line at around 10500ft. The temperature was in the high 80's but the cool winds at the elevation kept the climb manageable. It was a short day as I pedaled 1 mile off the route to the Selkirk campground. A nice campground with a nearby stream as a water source. Certainly a great alpine setting for a cozy little campground. It was an early night after 5 failed attempts to set up my bear container.

1000 miles to go

And so the GDMBR continues, as I sit here in Breckenridge. The plan is to stay the night at Selkirk Campground which is one the South Side of Boreas Pass. Technically Boreas pass is actually closed, because of the recent snowfall and still wet conditions. Although I'm not sure this will stop the 75+ racers behind me. Boreas pass is the second highest past on the divide located at 11,482 ft and Breckenridge is located at 9,602ft. Click the following for GPS data of the ride, this will be updated every ten minutes. ---> GPS DATA