I woke at 0400 in an attempt to make up some time, and after 8 hours sleep, the going was good. Continental Divide Crossing Number 1 was cold- really cold. I had brought more clothing (no spares of anything though) than the gear lists of previous racers, but I guess my sun-loving Sydney body was not nearly as well adapted as some of the other mountain men (Retro- just wait until New Mexico!).
The sun came out on a very high speed descent (serious acceleration and speed attained on a somewhat rocky trail- broken bones if I was lucky in a crash- and no one for miles ) and I daydreamt about horseriding with a future daughter for a few hours until Continental Divide Number Two. Boredom on the trail was quickly solved by losing myself in my brain- spending hours on a single mundane topic, but there is no chance of most of it being repeated here. After losing 45 minutes on the top of the crossing- going down, and then back up the wrong road- I was a little pissed off, but managed to find my way to the descent into Helena.
Big towns equal big supermarkets, and I stocked up on bars, bagels and some drinks. I needed to find a bike shop to get a chainwhip to take off my cassette, so that I could replace a spoke that had broken (a new rear tyre would be good too- at this stage, the 10mm cut in the sidewall was being held together by duct tape, willpower and lots of stoppies). The problem with big cities is that its hard to find the bike shops, even when you know the address. After chasing a cop car through the cbd, I got some directions to the Great Divide Cyclery. They didn’t have any 29” tyres, but after the boss left, the mechanic lent me some tools and a truing stand. I was also after some winter gloves (I was using my second set of socks as gloves. They were working well to stop the wind and cold, but they meant I couldn’t use my thumbs to help braking on the descents), but they didn’t have any decent ones. I had also lost my chamois crème at the bottom of Huckleberry Pass, someone must have picked it up?, and I came away with some Brave Soldier balm (Retro- was fantastic throughout the race). After getting some lunch at a café around the corner, I made my way up Grizzly Gulch , and even though I was following the maps directions, the lack of road signs got me worried. At one stage I was certain that I was on the wrong road, and became demoralised even though there was no real evidence for it. Luckily, I stopped a guy on a motorcross bike and he gave me good news. I was in good spirits as I came through a pine forest to top the climb, but these were quickly extinguished by the Lava Mountain Trail. I had not given previous thought to my potential speed on the more technical, singletrack sections of the route. Hence, I was disheartened when I had to push at about 2 miles per hour for most of the 2 mile long section. But, I began to notice a trend- you get to a descent, grab something to eat, and fly down on high spirits. The descent into Basin was my second favourite of the entire route, with what seemed like interesting places to stop and visit (old mines and camps etc). But I didn’t stop and visit, dinner was calling, and I made it into “Two-Restaurant” Basin to find that the pizza place was closed on Monday nights (Retro- Yes, this is a trend). I sat alone in the restaurant across the street and chatted with the waitress/owner over several beers about the guys that had come though in years past and the night before.
I could have stopped in Basin for the night, and as I left under a setting sun, I wondered again what was driving me to get to Butte that day. I indeed was a passenger to my randomly decided daily goals, and so I just sat back and rode. I climbed gradually in the dark, stopping for lights only when I hit an old rail tunnel (that’s why the climb was gradual), but putting them again on later when a branch across the trail took my helmet off. I crept up on a skunk jogging along, he seemed surprised when I passed him. The lights stayed on when I got on the highway, and I thank Whoever that I brought a rear light. The Interstate was deserted, but when trucks or cars passed, they crossed to the middle lane to give me a wide bearth. After working hard and spending a long time on the highway (in the dark it always seems like its further because there are no reference points, and no vegetation to go flashing by), I came upon the lights of Butte. The lights provided a fantastic sight, and I freewheeled at about 50mph down into the town. I followed some signs to the motel area, and given that it was after midnight, I felt lucky to find a 24hr servo, and a cheap motel.
2007-06-18 19:25:13 GMT
It's Alex Field, um, I don't even know what day it is,(it's Monday) but it's 1:30 and I'm in Helena. Looks to be, um, well after a partly wet morning, that turned good, I managed, uh... yeah I'll probably get to Basin or Butte by tonight sometime, but we'll see. But uh, anyway, I guess I'll report in again later.
Man, Alex sounds spent. Hope the improving weather helps him keep it up-TP
Ha! This is how I sound normally.
Audio: GDR Episode 4 13.35-14.12