Tour Divide – Day 12

Adventure by Bike, Adventure Cycling Association, Bikepacking, El Mariachi Titanium, GDMBR, Great Basin, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Salsa Cycles, Tour Divide, Tour Divide 2013, Ultra Endurance Racing

Day 12:  Atlantic City to Rawlins – The Great Basin

It was hard to sleep with the big unknown of the Great Basin geographically lying directly next to me.  Once again I had thoughts of heading out into the basin that evening but it just seemed easier to stay at the Community Center.  One guy was just leaving as we pulled in the night before.

I had everything together except one thing.  There was no water at the Community Center.  Surely there was a spigot or something on the building but there wasn’t anything.  I saw a lady walking down the street and asked her if there was water anywhere and she said to fill up at the house on the way out of town.  So we left the Community Center and headed for the house to fill up.

The road leading out of town and into the Great Basin was STEEP!  It was no way to warm up so we opted for a nice little hike out of town.

I left with Kevin and Sean and we were all pretty anxious to see what the Great Basin was all about.  Of course, we also wanted to see how windy it was going to be.  So far the wind was pretty calm but it was still around 5:30 am.

The roads were decent so far with only minor washboards.  There was usually somewhere to ride that seemed to be relatively flat and not too sandy.

First impressions of the Great Basin
Kevin cruising in the early morning light.
People weren’t kidding when they say there is nothing out in the Great Basin.  It is the most wide open country I have ever seem.  No trees, no nothing.  Just wide open high desert.  This was going to be a long day of riding some 130 miles to Rawlins.
I passed some of the time taking pictures.  A nice subject was hard to find though.
More wide open road

At one point we were riding along and in the distance saw a dust trail coming from a truck.  Wow, a vehicle way out here!  As the truck made its way towards us I noticed it had something in the back.  They waved as they drove by and as they passed I saw what was in the back of the truck….it was a boat!  What in the world were they doing with a boat out here….there are certainly no lakes out here.  There isn’t even water out here!  Maybe one of the weirdest things I saw on the whole Divide.

We caught up to Peter and Nick and stopped for a lunch snack.  The wind was picking up but it seemed to be blowing in our favor.  Not a full on tail wind but it was coming from somewhere behind us which is all that mattered.

As we continued on I found myself riding alone.  Kevin had taken off early in the day after he realized he needed to make it to Rawlins by 5 so he could pick up his postal shipment which included a new chain.  Sean was somewhere ahead and Peter was somewhere behind me.  I stopped on a small rise and watched behind me as Peter dipped down between the rolling desert.  I looked out and saw what looked like a big tan animal running towards peters direction.  It looked muscular and big and not like a deer or antelope, more like a mountain lion!  I wonder if Peter has seen it?  Was it hunting him?  Was I hallucinating?  Was it just an antelope?  It was hard to say but I just sat there waiting for Peter to pop back up.  He was riding through a low area and it would be some time before I would see him again so I continued on.  Constantly looking back behind me to see if I could see Peter or the mountain lion coming after me!

Eventually, I saw Peter emerge from the low area.  He was still a long ways back so I couldn’t find out what happened yet but I was sure that he had seen it and would have some kind of story to backup my sighting.  When we finally regrouped I asked if he had seen anything and he said “Nope.”  It made me think if I was just seeing things or if I had actually seen a mountain lion stalking Peter.  I guess I will never know.   

We made a 90 degree turn and started heading directly into the wind.  It was about a 6 mile stretch until we turned and headed back alongside the wind.  It was grueling!  I was going 3 mph, tucked in my aero bars in my easiest gear cursing the wind!   

Here’s Sean riding directly into the wind and you can see Peter in the distance walking just as fast.
This is the definition of “Headwind”:
//player.vimeo.com/video/101178929?color=ff9933 Tour Divide 2013 – Great Basin Clip from Ryan Sigsbey on Vimeo.

Once we hit the turn back with the wind we were back to cruising.  I looked at the map and noticed there was another turn back into the wind and this time for about 15 miles!  I was not looking forward to that.  Sean and I stopped for a break before starting the long grind back into the wind.  I got a pretty good burst of energy and powered through the first bit and then realized the wind wasn’t nearly as bad as the first time earlier in the day.  It was more just blowing from the side and every once in a while I’d get a little push forward.  Of course most of the pushed were just from the side trying to blow me off the road!  

We finally pushed on and hit the end of Sooner Road and the start of the paved road that heads towards Rawlins. 

We were still riding through the land of nothing even though we were now on pavement.  We passed a dead cow lying in the ditch completely bloated.  It smelled awful!  Then we passed these colorful trailers along the road.  It looked like someone just dropped them off here to decompose.  Definitely not a livable situation.  Sean and I continued on together towards Rawlins.  I would get some energy and eventually end up ahead riding alone and then I would start feeling terrible again so would just pedal along until Sean caught back up.  Then he would take off and I would catch up.  We eventually stopped and ate some food and I think both of us were pretty beat.  I had no energy and just wanted to sit there on the side of the road.  We joked about how we were feeling and made up the name “Spronking” meaning sprint/bonking.  First you sprint for a while and then bonk really hard.  Then you sprint and then bonk again.  It’s not an efficient way to ride but it was working.  Next thing you know we were laughing and cracking jokes again and just riding along at a descent enough speed.  Sean was a great person to ride with because we always just talking about random stuff and didn’t focus on our aches and pains or if we were feeling tired or bad or whatever.  We just laughed are way from town to town and occasionally “spronked from here to there.”

I was getting excited knowing I was 107 miles from Atlantic City and closing in on Rawlins.  The road was pretty flat, almost downhill a little and I was making good time.  I finally got my legs back and was in the groove again.  
Then we turned onto Highway 287 and I noticed a few things I did NOT like the looks of!  First there was a ton of traffic.  Big trucks, campers, trailers, everything.  There were 4 lanes of it!  The other thing that was probably worse in conjunction with the traffic was a steep hill!  I made the turn and at least there was a little shoulder to ride on.  After getting to the base of the climb I realized there was a construction zone and the shoulder was missing!  So I am riding up the steep hill going super slow with these big trucks flying by.  Most of which were getting over into the other lane.  I was keeping a good look behind me making sure they were getting over and then I saw a semi coming up behind me and a line of traffic coming around him in the passing lane.  There was nowhere for him to go but straight into me!  I rode off the edge of the pavement dropping off about a foot down onto some super chunky gravel and finished riding up the hill in my granny gear suffering through the loose gravel.  It was better than getting flattened riding in the road!  
At the top of the climb the road construction ended and a great big wide open shoulder was in front of me.  Much better.  I just remember thinking to myself, I will never do a road tour, EVER!  I will always stick to the gravel road as much as possible!
After the long lonely ride down the endless road into Rawlins I came to the first place I saw where there was a grocery store and a pizza hut.  I went to the grocery to see if anyone’s bikes were there and eventually met up with Peter and headed over to the Pizza Hut.  I ate a bunch of food once again and met up with Sean.  We were pretty beat and felt like getting a motel and soon found out that motels in Rawlins are hard to come by.  With the oil fields near by they are almost endlessly booked so no options there.  Chris B. had gotten a room and offered Peter a place to stay and said if we couldn’t find anything to let him know.  
We started thinking about heading out of town when we found a KOA campground that had a one room cabin with two beds.  Perfect!  We found Kevin who had been in town for a while after picking up his things from the Post Office.  He had made a pretty crazy push to get to town that fast!
We checked in to the cabin, started some laundry, got a shower, found a bag of ice for my knees and sat on the porch to rest.  It had been a long day and some 140 miles later I was ready for bed!  The good news was that I had reached the second milestone of the Tour Divide – the Halfway Point!  I believe the first milestone is leaving Montana!
Kevin got his chain just in time before the post office closed.
Our cozy cabin for the night!