Tour Divide Day 4

Somewhere near Swan Lake – Lincon, Mn. ; 238km distance, 3,190m climbing, 14hrs 30mins moving time.

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I’d had a crap nights sleep, there’s no nice way to put it. Unfortunately it was not my choice to have such a bad nights sleep but the actions of another rider who arrived late, faffed while setting up his bivi among 4 other sleeping riders, then proceeded to cough and groan for the rest of the night. You sir are a dick. I made no attempt to be quiet while I was getting up with the other three riders. Fuck you and your inconsiderate attitude. I wandered off into the bushes and took a natural break before getting on the road for the day in the enjoyable chilled air.

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Once the sun comes up it dawns on me: today it is going to be hot. I stop and strip down at a bridge with Dan and Rick doing the same. The temperature is rising and I’ve not got much water packed. Filter out, down into the river, fill up and fill me up as well. Closed in forests. Hidden singletrack. Rocky open descents. They all pass the next few hours. By the time I reach the road some 40km later I’m out of water and sucking on dried nuts. I’ve not done this well. I push on and start to wonder what’s going on, it’s not even 12 noon and the temperature are well into the 30’s. The shock of no sun shade and clouds has me thinking already, New Mexico is going to suck if it is like this. I’m not rationally thinking about how little sleep I’ve had. I just plod on and choke on the dust thrown up by cars. When I reach the turn for the Richmond Peak climb I make my decision to go of route to get food and water. It’s not far, but it feels like I’ve failed. It turns out to be the best decision I make all race.

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As I roll into the ranch at Holland lake and spot a bike I don’t recognise. I walk in, spy the dinner room and find Jackie sitting there looking like I feel. She’s on her second breakfast and I sit down, order the same two things she’s had and start to pour water and coffee into my body. Thankfully she’s as wasted as I was and we chat about the race so far. Over the next hour Dan and Rick turn up looking like we do, they fuel up and we all roll out passing each other in a variety of places on the way up the climb of Richmond Pass. Somewhere between Holland Lake and the next 10km my legs reappear and I ride the climb stronger than I’d expected, pausing to chat with Jackie before hammering the singletrack far faster than I should have. With something so fun it felt insulting to take it easy.

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Covered in dust and sweat I roll past the turn off for Sealy Lake, I’ve enough food and water to push on after taking some with me from Holland Lake. I pass a few riders looking worse for wear along the logging roads and as the temps continue to soar I jump into the odd creek to fill my filter bottle and keep the cold water coming. By the time I’m a few kilometres outside of Ovando I’m riding with Jackie and chatting away about the ethics and attitudes of these races we do. I’m feeling good and she reminds me of it. Hitting Ovando I know I’m not stopping and I take my time eating some packed food, getting a photo taken and stocking up on cold drinks. Riders come and go and at 8:30pm I’ve made a decision to roll on out. Two other riders go with me Bailey and Rick. The only other rider I’m surprised doesn’t go is Justin. Not the last I’ll see of him I suspect.

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As I turn on the lights for the fast trail I realise the scope of the climb I’ve committed to. I’d not really registered Huckleberry Pass as being the next climb from Ovando but it is a big one. Prime bear country. I’m now riding all the way over. A few kilometres into it and Bailey comes past – singlespeed – strong – focused. I let him get a few hundred meters ahead and then use his light to pace me, a thing to chase, pity the fucker is so strong I think as I gurn my way up the climb. Still, it’ll be over sooner. Up we go, along the flat bit, then over the next bit. Before the descent I have to stop and put on layers, I’m shivering already, I’ve forgotten to eat and am starting to feel it. I’ve lost Bailey and then It starts to go downhill and I’ve something focus on. Brakes off, brain off. Avoid the cows. Onto the freeway, avoid the cars with a now non existent rear light. Up the the first roach motel I see. Check in for not many dollars apologising profusely for the time, shower, wash kit, bed. My knees are killing me and I dose up heavily wit Vit I and P before bed. I hope it’ll help. It doesn’t.

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