Upper Dome Reservoir – Campground somewhere in NM! ; 190km distance, 2,795m climbing, 11hrs 55mins moving time.
Today was the day I nearly quit. It had to come at some stage. It sadly wasn’t the last time.
My Montana Hilton was not the most fragrant, or rather it was quite fragrant, so I ended up sleeping outside it. No bugs surprisingly, and warm. I woke up late as I needed to rest more than I’d expected, all this time up high was getting to me and I knew that this was going to be a long hard day with some tough riding at altitude. I got on the road and started the ride up Carnero Pass – it was horrible.
Normally early morning riding was fun, I like the cool air and the low breezes. But today it was hell. Warm moist air and a bird sanctuary meant mosquitoes. Lots of them and they were out in force this morning. More than once I was reduced to a shouting hate filled shadow of myself hurling abuse at them. But nothing, nothing could help me. As the sun came out they went away and the heat came on. With no cooling breeze due to tree cover, I spent the next few hours shouting at the sun. This also, proved fruitless. When I crested the pass I knew it wasn’t over, I just got pissed off and got on with it. Not much else I could do.
The next pass was another mosquitoe filled hell hole. I don’t remember much of this stretch just sadness and a real feeling of being utterly broken mentally. I’ve spent too much time in this pit of self hate in the past, but I could not get out of it no matter how I tried. I ate. I stopped and looked around. I thought of better days. I thought about my friends. Nothing helped. Nothing. Fuck this stupid race and this stupid road. I don’t want to be here. Fuck it all. Aptly, I get caught in another thunderstorm. Rolling down the road towards the junction for Del Norte I figure I’m done with this shit. I decide to go off route to La Garita – maybe find somewhere to sit and stop for a few hours – get my head back together. It’s time to leave Colorado and get into New Mexico
La Garita is a building – not a town. Just so you know. I was disappointed to say the least. Leaving my bike outside I walked in, grabbed a Coke/Gatorade/Coke sandwich and some Payday bars. Avoiding eye contact I stood in line at the counter as country folk took their country time paying for food. Inside I was screaming “HURRY THE FUCK UP I WANT OUT OF YOUR SHITTY TOWN”. Outside I was a sea of calm. I reach the counter to get asked why I’m back so soon? I look confused, and retort with, I only just got here. Oh, well you skinny guys all look the same, i thought you’d forgotten something. Huh? Two of you left 10mins ago! Huuh? Two cyclists, on bikes….. I laughed, walked out, and realised maybe I wasn’t totally fucked, maybe, just maybe that section was hard. Especially if I was only 10km behind the two guys – that’d be Justin and Bailey I later find out.
I sit, eat and drink and get back on the road to Del Norte. Probably 30mins behind the guys now. I ride possibly the greatest trail on the whole route and laugh at it for being too fun, too fast, and way to much potential for crashing at the speed I ride it. Damn good. Del Norte sees me in another Subway, feeding, cleaning and filling my bike and body. It’s road from here to the bottom of Indiana Pass and I want to be at 100% when I get there. It’s later than I like and I know once I start up, I’m going to be committed to going all the way over it. As I ride out I can see the storm clouds hammering the mountain top already. This is possibly going to suck.
The road is uneventful. The road turns to dirt. It’s uneventful for a few kilometres. It rains. The road starts to climb – it turns to peanut butter. Fuck fuck fuck. I pull over and start building up clods of mud on my shoes. OK, don’t panic, find a big strong stick, go from there. I find a stick (it stays with me until the last day where I lose it somehow) . I start scraping mud off tyres and frame. Pick up bike, walk to dry ish patch, try again. I’ve to clean it three times before I get out of the section and can ride with enough speed to keep my tyres clearing. It’s going to be ok, just keep riding fast. Ironically, this makes the climb easier, I focus on riding hard and I get it done. All the way up I see deep tyre marks with footprints and clumps of mud. Someone got hosed going up here. Really hosed. I hit the “top” at 8.30pm – I now have a few hours ahead riding at over 3,600m and it’s getting dark. I put the camera away, put on layers and get on with it. It’s slow. It’s cold. It’s mentally brutal.
I pull into a campsite somewhere on the far side of the pass far too late and piss some people off. I don’t care. Strip down, get in my bivi eat some food and pass out. I’ll be up and gone by 5am, they aren’t going to have a chance to give out to me. Frankly, I’d like to see them try.