I wake up rather early having only slept between four and five hours. What I lacked in hours, however I made up in quality; I slept like a baby with a full stomach and a safe setting. This means I’m wide awake and ready to go. I pack my tent up and head inside. No one else is awake yet, and Kirsten is just getting set up for breakfast. She tells me that I am going to have to wait until all of the other racers are up and taken care of before I can get a ride back to get my tracker. She tells me that she has contacted Matthew for me and that I should send a message to him to make sure I get his response in writing. She gives me a hug and tells me it is all going to work out and I will be at the finish line before I know it.
I decide to take a shower, because why not? Afterwards I go back out to eat breakfast and everyone is stirring. I eat and go chill on the porch. The sun is coming up and the valley is beautiful. This is now one of my favorite places in the world. I don’t know if it’s the view or the hugs, but whatever it is, this place feels like it is magical. I’m soaking it in when I get an email back from Matt. Thankfully, I am good to go.
Since it’s a safety issue I’m fine to get a ride back to my tracker, which is a big relief. The Rev is just chilling out with me, and he says that he only has a couple days of riding left before he’ll drop to make it back home. So he will wait for me and help me push hard and catch up to the group we’ve been leap frogging. That sounds good to me, and now I’m doubly grateful.
After everyone is gone, we use the race tracker to take aerial pictures of where the tracker is at. It’s 40 miles away, so we better get after it. We head down the road, windows down and chatting about life. We make the 80 mile round trip and I’m ready to roll again. Everything at the lodge, excluding the rooms and cabins, are by donation. You pay what you can and what you feel it’s worth to you. If I had the money I would leave them a million. I don’t, so Kirsten says to pay for the meals and that the shower and camping are on the house. I leave them a two hundred dollar tip. I’m 100% sure that the hugs and help are worth more than any dollar I will ever pay. She gets a quick photo with me and we are on our way. As soon as we leave the real mountain biking starts.
We’re climbing fast and high; it’s a wicked climb. We keep pedaling, and a few hours later and we are at the top. Colorado is going to be a tough summa gun. We start to descend some gangster hard off road trails. I have to stop every 20 minutes or so to let my forearms and calves take a break. This is a beating even going down. I have to wait longer and longer for Rev to catch up. He’s riding carbon rims and they are getting wrecked and wobbling all over the place. He says he will just get a replacement in Steam Boat.
We keep dropping downward. I’ve heard that right on the other side of the pass is a baller ice cream shop and I could definitely go for some ice cream. As we are approach the shop the Rev says his friends are there. Huh? This is a surprise to me.
He says something about traffic being bad and he has to get back to his congregation. This makes no sense. Sure enough, two of his friends are waiting in the parking lot of the ice cream shop with the back of the van open. As soon as we pull up Rev says he has to make a video really quick and he will be in for a chocolate shake. What in the hell is going on? Is he quitting on me? He is.
I go inside and get some ice cream and look for more vaseline. My ass is starting to get pretty sore. The Rev sneaks in, grabs a cone and as I’m walking out he shouts goodbye from across the parking lot. Whatever. I don’t need his helping catching up. I finish my cone and walk back to my bike, but the tire is flat.
As I’m fixing it, a few cyclists roll by and ask what I’m up to. They tell me the ride to Steam Boat is going to be a screamer if I wait a few more minutes for the storm to roll in. I have nothing but time. They take off and another guy walks up. “You have a flat tire?” Eat it you jerk bag. For some reason I am pissed. I slam my pump down and catch my knuckles on the brake rotor. Damn! When I look at them, two of them are white. This is bad. Blood starts pouring out. I grab my first aid kit and go into the bathroom leaving a trail of blood as everyone stares at me. I wash it off and wrap it with a part of my bandanna I cut off and some sports tape. That’ll do. Time to hit the road.
I get back on the bike. The wind is ripping at my back and I am heading slightly downhill. The miles are flying by. Nothing changes but I notice that the pedaling is getting harder. I look down and my tire is going flat again. I get off and pump it back up. Then back on the bike, back to flying. I slow down again. Pump and repeat. As I am getting into town I ride into traffic and a guy rolls his window down to give me a cheers. I ask him what bike shops are in town. He says The Orange Peel, which I’ve heard of; my good friend Moon knows the owner. I headed that way, following the bike path. The next person I pass says I’ve got a mile to go. I ride for ten minutes and haven’t found it yet. Did I miss it? I ask another person, they say it’s about a mile. Ten more minutes. Nothing. Ask, ride, repeat.
Turns out, it’s clear on the other side of town, but I find it. When I roll in, I ask if they can help fix the tire and change my brake pads. I have all the gear, I’m just to lazy to do it right now and I want to leave town before all of the comfort and beers draw me in for the night. Unfortunately, they tell me they are shutting down shop for the night and they have to get rolling so they can ride before sundown. This won’t do, so I name drop and ask if they know Moon. When one of the guys says yeah, I tell him that Moon said they would hook a brother up. Still no dice, they say that they’re hungry and really need to eat before riding too. Boom, that’s the solution! I offer to buy them all the appetizers they want from the bar next door if they fix my bike real quick like. They agree, so I go next door and order them one of everything and a big burger for me. I am stoked.
When the food is ready, I head back over. Two guys are working on my bike. Why do they have the front rim off? When I ask, the mechanic says the tires look fine. I point out that the rear tires is completely flat. They laugh and get to fixing the back tire and eating. I am stuffing my face and grabbing all of the supplies that I need. They get it all fixed up and ready to roll and right away I’m out the door. I am going to make up these miles!
As I follow the course closer to where a gas station is, I see hundreds of people outside enjoying themselves. I really wish I could stop and hang out. I just want a beer and some good conversation. Really bad. I shake it off, I have to keep going. I get to the gas station and resupply my food. I’m not quite ready to leave the safety of town and the awesome people, so I sit outside the gas station drinking an energy drink and calling everyone I can think of to talk to. I know I need to get going, I’m just wasting time. I get back on the bike and get back on the course heading out of town. The views are beautiful in Colorado. I love this place.
When I hit the edge of town I run into a Northbound racer and we talk. He has been laid up in a hospital for a while. A storm had rolled through a week ago and a tree had fallen on him! Good news is that he’s alright. Better news, the SPOT tracker SOS button works really well. He pushed the button and said he had emergency services there in no time at all. That is a relief. As always, I have to get going. We pedal our separate ways. I only ride for another hour or so. I am not tired but I’m mentally done for the day. I walk out into some tall grass off a country road and set up my tent. I lay there and think about how I am going to catch this time up. I have gone from being on an almost 30 day pace down to a 20 day pace and I am now back to 23 or 24 days. Shit happens.