Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 12- Slater to Lynx Pass 101 miles

I got up pre-dawn and set off quickly. After the short day yesterday, I was feeling pretty good, just a bit mentally tired after the ordeals. The trail climbed gently, but it didn’t have much of an impact on my speed. By the time I reached the Watershed Divide, I had done my slow hours of warm up riding, but the last steep part I had to walk. Trying to rest my legs as much as possible, steep technical riding was to be avoided. The scenery was in stark contrast to the sections before Middlewood Hill WY: a lot greener, with forests of white Aspens and fields of flowers. After a break at the top of the divide, and 10 minutes working out which descent to take, I was on the way down what seemed to be the longest and steepest descent of the whole trail. It was pretty rocky, I had to stop a few times to re-adjust and tighten the quick release on my rear wheel (it was a great idea not to bring the tugnut for my track dropouts), and then to repair a two snakebites on the rear (running a rear Nanoraptor at 40psi was great for all things except big impact protection. Note that the rear still had a 15mm sidewall cut that I had put in it in Banff). As I was riding down, I thought about Dave Nice with his fixie- you would not be able to sit on the saddle and ride feet off as the trail was too rough, and it was so steep that you would have to be hard on the brakes the whole time to get your feet round.

Steamboat Lake

It was hot by the time I got to Clark, I stopped at the grocery store and downed two litres of Gatorade and called in.

The run into Steamboat was good, until I got run off the road by a grader. The bad thing about the bigger towns is that its harder to find the places you are looking for- I have been to Steamboat twice before (in winter), and I had to ask several people where a bike store was. I found a new bike shop, and put the bike in for a derailleur adjustment so that I could use my bottom cog. I borrowed a bike of theirs and went off in search of a 29” tyre. Orange Peel Cycles was easy to find, and quite a revelation in terms of LBS’s I have visited around the world. Their service, knowledge and willingness to help was explemntary and even though they didn’t have the tyre I was after, they introduced me to Kent Eriksen who had his workshop adjoining. After a quick tour and chat with Kent, I had a Bonty Jones XR in my hand and even though it wasn’t exactly what I was after (Kenda Small Block 8 or Nanoraptor) it proved to be a better tyre for my weight- I didn’t get a single puncture with it on the way to Antelope Wells.

I thanked Kent and the Orange Peel guys and grabbed a burger at the place next door. Again, it seemed that the waitress was either working hard for a tip or was into me. I assumed the second option and chatted with her for a while. I was disappointed to have to leave, both the bar and Steamboat, but it was only the early afternoon and I had wasted a few hours getting stuff fixed.

I rode one handed back to the bike shop carrying my takeaway dinner. After putting the new tyre on (and blowing up a brand new tube- scarry considering I wasn’t carrying a spare) I paid and left but returned 5 minutes later because the guy, Ken, hadn’t fixed the problem. He was apparently the best mech in Steamboat, but all he managed to do was take my $10 and not fix anything because I was running full length housing. The fact that I had ridden from Banff to Wyoming with it working perfectly after setting it up myself didn’t seem to matter to him. I love how he took the money but didn’t even tell me that he couldn’t do what I asked for, or that he didn’t offer suggestions as to getting it set up right.

After a brief detour to the best grocery store along the whole trail, I made my way along the paved roads under the late afternoon sun. I had lost quite a lot of time running around in Steamboat, but it wasnt this that was depressing me. I was feeling fresh, but for the first time in the whole race, I lost motivation. I think it was because I asked myself why I wanted to keep on riding and leave such potential at the bar. My competitive side was at odds with my willingness to have a good time. It didn’t help that I stopped just before the Stagecoach reservoir and dam, not sure if the steep hill in front of me was the right way to go. My amended plan had me over Lynx Pass before stopping to rest for the night, but as I continued up, I felt less and less inclined to keep on going. But, for some reason I did, and another two hours later it was dark and I had ridden a mile or two over the pass, and was looking for somewhere to sleep. I didn’t want to sleep in the bushes on the side of the road, so I stopped at a few ranch/holiday houses along the way, planning to ask if I could sleep on their lawn (and hoping they would offer me more). But, after 30 minutes of knocking on doors, I couldn’t find anyone home, so I set up beside the road and ate my now cold takeaway.

2007-06-26 20:02:01 GMT

Yeah, it's Alex Field. I'm in, uh, Clark. And uh, it's 1:30 on Tuesday, I'm at Links Pass Campground... (The rest of the message is too quiet to be heard)

Audio: GDR Episode 12: 22.43-23.04

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