Friday 1 July 2011

Post Race Thoughts.

I've just finished writing up my race and posting my photos. I may even post up a full gear list at some point.

It's 10 days since I dropped out and the people I was racing with are just now starting to reach the Mexican border. I'm thrilled they made it, sad I didn't. Still feeling my sore right knee and having twinges from both achilles.

It's bugging me that I had to quit, I rode 1040 miles. I wanted to ride a lot more than that.
I've never quit a race before...

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Day 11 - all done at $20

I made it to Jackson, WY. Teton Pass was the finisher, my left achilles isn't supposed to make noises when I move it.
Currently in Fort Collins, CO after skipping through the rest of WY in some newfangled invention called a motorcar which allows the occupants to travel hundreds of miles in hours not days!

Full recap with photos and video of the 5 states and 1000+ miles I did manage when I make it home.

Post Race Recap
Driggs ID to Fort Collins CO - 504 miles (44 on my bike)

There was a bike path running from Driggs to Victor, nice and smooth, pretty much zero gradient. I was doing about 12mph. I should have been doing about 18mph.

I was determined to make it out of Idaho.

Three and a half hours after leaving Driggs I made the top of the pass. I'd walked a lot of it, mostly on tip toes because of my achilles. I was struggling but I made it over the pass.

After a few miles of 10% grades on the way up, I had the same to enjoy on the way down. Overtaking a big truck while I was doing nearly 50mph with a strong side wind was...err interesting.

I reached the town of Wilson and collapsed onto the grass outside the bagel shop to consider my options. I'd been popping aleve and icing when I could but it wasn't working. I'd never had achilles problems before and the fact I could feel and hear my left achilles when I moved my foot concerned me. I didn't want to risk serious injury which would stop me racing or stop me riding once I made it home. With the Basin coming up and no working Spot satellite tracker, I didn't want to get stranded and require rescue. I decided it was time to withdraw from the race and rescue myself.

After some food at the bagel shop and the use of their wifi to book a hire car I turned off route and headed towards Jackson Hole airport to collect my car. I chose the dirt road option to the airport as it seemed more appropriate to end that way than taking the highway. Plus I finally got to take in some of the Tetons.

Some buffalo too.

I collected my car at the airport, it was probably over a year since I'd last driven. 7 and a half hours later I got out of that Toyota in Fort Collins my dream of reaching NM gone, but happy with the decision I'd made.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Day 10 - Tetons...

...or lack there of.
They've been covered with clouds all day so no good view of them. I'm currently sheltering from what I hope is a passing shower in Tetonia.

Edit: currently eating in Driggs, trying to decide whether our not to go over Teton Pass today or tomorrow.

Post Race Recap
Big Springs to Driggs ID - 78 miles.

My knees and both achilles weren't happy the next morning. The left achilles wasn't moving smoothly at all.

Straight out of Big Springs the route joined a rail trail. Rail trails can be tarmac, gravel or just dirt. Any of those would have been nice. This one was 40 miles of rutted volcanic soil. This meant you had to stand and pedal the whole way to Marysville, where again the route was on a snow detour. At that point normally it turned East on Ashton-Flagg Ranch Rd and crossed the Tetons to their Eastern side. But lingering heavy snow on that pass and two others before Pinedale meant extensive re-routes were in use and the route stayed West of the Tetons before crossing Teton Pass.

The descent to Warm River was the highlight of the day.

I'd wanted to see the Tetons for several years. The best views are traditionally on their Eastern side where I wasn't going. Now I was stuck on a rutted rail trail. It didn't improve much on the other side of Marysville, more rail trail which was only really used for snowmobiles in the winter, so lots of sections required standing pedalling. I bumped into a few riders during the day, but pedalled along on my own.

Coming past what was marked on the map as the town of Felt, I think I hit my highest heart rate ever on a bicycle. Two dogs off in the distance took an interest to me as I got close to pass them. I've been chased by dogs before the TD, I'd been chased by dogs on the TD. But the one dog which I think was a Boxer was one mean SOB and it let me know in all possible terms it didn't want me there. I shifted into a high gear and made all haste to not be there. My gps track seems to show I doubled my speed to 22mph for a quarter mile at that point, it felt faster with that dog bearing down on me.

The Tetons seemed to be hiding from me. It didn't matter than the route narratives said I should be seeing them, cloud and rain seemed to be blocking my views.

I reached Tetonia and while checking the map the heavens opened. I took shelter and the photo posted at the top. I still had snacks and water so once the rain eased I moved on towards Driggs.

A pizzeria in Driggs had my name all over it. I rested up weary legged with my left achilles letting me know what it thought about the ride.

I just didn't want to ride the 30 miles over the 8400ft pass.

Day 9 - Idahooooooooooooo

Montana is done, it didn't play nice though. 5 hours of rain to see me across the border through Red Rock Pass. So much rain I couldn't even get the camera out for the border crossing.
A tough 11 hour day, annoying to not even have y'all able to watch my blue dot wind it's way.
I did snap a photo earlier in the day to show just how desolate the valley that I did 60 miles in was. (home to the red rock national wildlife refuge)
I'm currently near Big Springs ID, optimistically hoping for Jackson, WY tomorrow. All this rain might ruin that plan though.

Post Race Recap
Lima MT to Big Springs ID - 86miles

86 hard fought miles they were too. It was a long and desolate valley riding East from Lima. The photo below shows the kind of view I had to look at for about 8 hours. As I narrated in the small video I shot at the same time as the photo, no trees, no cows to talk to, just a powerline in the middle of no where and a "raggedy ass dirt road".

In the morning there were dark clouds all around me, I got hit by the odd quick shower, no sustained rain though. That changed as I got to the Eastern end of the valley, past the Red Rock Lakes. The rain started and the wind picked up strong enough to move me about on the road when it gusted. Coming from the South it was great to have the tail wind for the two shortest miles of the day, before I turned into it again and began the climb towards the pass. Some long slow miserable miles got me to the top, but it was raining so hard I just couldn't stop to take a photo.

Some slightly easier miles on tarmac followed before the route turned off onto forest road 455. It looked flooded and muddy as soon as I turned onto it, dirt roads don't react well to downpours when they're already surrounded by waterlogged ground. At the time I cursed the fact I'd had to turn off a tarmac road which would have taken me to the same place. I wound my way along the dirt road which was almost a stream in places. But heading along some sections I was actually enjoying the riding, particulary the descent. I might have been riding in rain for the previous 5 hours, but it was a fun road to be on after the monotony of the road I'd been on all day. I reached HWY 20 and started looking for a motel and food. I had no desire to camp in the rain if I could avoid it.

Then as I stood very soggy outside the only restaurant I discovered the racers from two days previous from Polaris were inside. I joined their table and ordered. The waitress trying to convince me that the two meals I wanted was a lot of food...ha! I think I'd eaten the spaggetti and meatballs before she'd even walked away from the table.

The petrol station had a well stocked store and cabins for rent, so stocked up on snacks for the next day, food for breakfast and a Ben and Jerrys for my desert I settled into my very cosy cabin for the night. The heat cranked up and all my gear spread about to dry.

Friday 17 June 2011

Day 8 - cont

Made it to Lima.

New satellite tracker got sent to Steamboat, will be a few days before I catch up with it :(

Post Race Recap
Polaris to Lima MT - 101 Miles

Leaving after breakfast the other riders who had stayed at the Grasshopper Inn were out ahead of me, but I was riding on my own again. Thankfully the early morning rain didn't turn the roads to slop so I was able to make progress at my new reduced pace. Not much to look at, just a 25 mile climb to the top of Sheep Creek Divide. Pausing in the afternoon to take photos at the Old Bannack Road sign.

After cresting the divide it put me into another valley with mountains to the side and in front of me. I couldn't work out how the route made its escape. But then I slowly wound my way into a narrow pretty canyon, made over thousands of years by Big Sheep Creek.

I rolled into Lima around 7:30 and decided that I'd done enough riding for the day. The motel was fully booked so I paid for a camping spot and went to investigate the nearby Jens Cafe for something to eat. Running into Bob Anderson while I was there. A big fat steak later and I retired back to the campsite. I pitched up next to two cyclists touring the Divide, Bob decided to camp there too.

Being completely shattered I'd bought some sleeping pills from the petrol station. I don't normally take any medication and normally avoid painkillers. Now I had the choice of Aleve to help the knees and achilles or the sleeping pills.

A campsite next to an Interstate doesn't work too well.
I also had to get up several times in the night to pee.
The sleeping pills didn't seem to work.

Bob, if you ever read this I'm sorry if I disturbed your sleep. You were gone in the morning so I never got the chance to apologise.

Day 8

I think my tracker is dead so I'll have to see what the rental company does.

For those watching my blue dot, today I'm trying to get from Polaris MT, to Lima. It's raining, the roads are clay based and impassable when wet.

Could be in for a long day.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Day 7 - lost the groove

The problem with the long good days is you get into the town late and struggle to find good food.
Didn't manage to eat properly last night, the food disagreed with me,slept badly, then my food this morning just wasn't working. A climb which should have taken 3 ish hours was a 5 1/2 hour battle against my body, sub-freezing temperatures and snow at the high altitude.
I called it a day and checked into an inn. My spot tracker is playing up so I've not been on top of that mountain since last night.

Post Race Recap

After a rough night I left Wise River riding with Lance. After not enough sleep or food it didn't take long before he'd dropped me. The climb took forever. Several times I considered snoozing at the side of the road. I just didn't have any energy and my food I did have wasn't working to give me any. All I wanted to do was sleep.

I eventually crested the climb and started to descend towards Polaris. First I tried stopping at Elkhorn Hot Springs, hoping to get food and a room. When that didn't work out I continued downhill and thankfully found the Grasshopper Inn. I ate lunch, and tried to sleep. Late afternoon, early evening a group of riders caught up among them JP Evans, Ray Porter, Martin Wimpenny.