Hartsel – Upper Dome Reservoir, Co. ; 205km distance,2,450 m climbing, 11hrs 50mins moving time.
Dew covers everything except my headache. Beer when I was probably dehydrated, not so smart Greg. Oh well, nothing I can do now. I get up, pack, and get moving towards the diner as Justin and Bailey are blinking themselves awake. If I’ve got one thing going for me it’s that I can get moving in the morning. Not so good in the evenings though. I sit in the diner and try to get an order in fast – it’s not going to happen. This is country speed at its best and I sit back and chill out. It’s going to take a while, so enjoy it. When my order gets taken I make it double helpings of food. May as well eat well.
By the time we roll out it’s not early any more, but we’re not going to have to stop for a while. The weather is frankly excellent, no wind, some sun, but not warm. We just cruise and talk shit. It’s good. Really good. I’m enjoying the day far to much and not eating enough. It doesn’t really matter though. The morning is fast and easy, not much climbing and eventually drops into Salida in blistering hot weather. I regroup with the guys at Absolute Bikes and grab food in the cafe next door after filling up on some Cliff products – may as well get some for later in the race. Justin gets a tyre change, Bailey has a mate who’s turned up to say hi, I get my first decent coffee of the Divide. It’s like black liquid sex on my tongue and I want more and more. But it’s not going to happen. Back out into the heat, out onto the trail again.
Now it’s hot, real hot and we cruise out to the base of the Marshall Pass climb. I let Justin do his thing on the road section and he rides away, so much stronger than me, the headwind is battering me. Bailey cruises past a while later and grunts his singlespeed up the hill. I won’t see them for a few hours at least. I’m not fussed, I’m sure we will meet again at some point down the trail. It’s a long, boring gravel climb and I’m not loving it, but it’s ok – not the worst I’ve done – even if it is 45km long.
Up and then over, the descent is more interesting as I get nailed by a storm just as I crest the summit. It follows me all the way down and batters me, but at least it blows me along while whipping rain at me. I roll down into the truck stop and Sargents and spy the guys bikes. They’re just polishing off some food and I sit and order. I’m hungry and cold, probably not the most entertaining, but it’ll pick up when I get food. And some shit coffee. The food is calories, not great really, but something. I pack a sandwich to go – it was shit – and I fill up my PopTart reserve and leave while drinking a coke for the road. Not much happens, I meet some roadies, and some moto tourers. It’s not a memorable part of the race for me at all.
As night starts to drop I can see the storm clouds I rode near earlier have regrouped for another attack. I’ve got another pass on the cards if I want to get back to the guys but I can’t. Mentally I don’t want to get wet again, I’m dry and I like it. I watch two storm cells kicking off in the direction I need to go for nearly an hour as I ride towards them. I opt for an early night at the reservoir and jump under the cover of a Montana Hilton. Fuck it, I’ll catch them tomorrow.