Tour Divide – Day 15

Adventure, Adventure by Bike, Adventure Cycling Association, Bikepacking, GDMBR, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Magic Cycles, Mountain Biking, photography, Racing, Salsa Cycles, Tour Divide, Ultra Endurance Racing

Kremmling to Hartsel:

I ended up hearing about a hostel in town and that’s where I ended up staying.  It was nice to get a shower and some good rest.  I woke up, got packed up and went downstairs to check out.  The owner said there were some other riders that came in after me and I figured it was Sean, Kevin or Chris Culos.  I ended up bumping into Sean shortly after that and then saw Chris’ bike in the bike storage room.  He must have still been asleep so Sean and I headed out.  Chris generally slept longer but rode faster so always managed to stay ahead of me at the end of the day.  I figured he would come screaming past me at some point during the day.  Just like every other day.

Sean and I stocked up at the gas station, ate some breakfast biscuits and hit the road.  We just had one pass to get over before hitting the next major town, Silverthorne and then shortly after that, Breckenridge.  It was a few miles of pavement to get back to the GDMBR where we found nice rolling gravel roads. It was nice to ease into the day and not start out with some huge climb right out the door.  It was sunny and my spirits were high.

Danishes, my favorite trail food.

I was excited to be getting into some of the bigger, higher elevation climbs of the route.  It was also also a little daunting not really knowing how hard they were going to be.  I had heard that the grade on a lot of these really big climbs was rather gentle since many of them followed old railroad lines.  Still, I was going to be climbing to almost 12,000 feet some time in the next few days so I was certainly a little anxious about how I would hold up.

We rolled on and the as the road began to steepen we hit pavement.  That’s a nice change!  Then Chris caught up to us.  I had a nice little talk about family and jobs which made the climb go by a little faster. We were climbing Ute Pass (9,524′) and then would be cruising pavement all the way into Silverthorne.  Once we got to the top we met up with some roadies that had climbed up from Silverthorne.  They said that this was one of their favorite climbs around and ofter go down the other side and then back up and over.  Today they were just climbing up and then going back down. We took off with them but there was no way our fat tires could keep up with them on the descent so off they went!

We hit the highway and rode into Silverthorne which turned out to be mostly just strip mall after strip mall.  I found a 7 Eleven and got a slurpy.  Somehow it just wasn’t as good as I had remembered from back in high school when I used to hit up the local 7 Eleven daily.  I went back in a got a Gatorade.  I was feeling the heat and figured I needed to keep hydrated.  Chris pulled up and he was on a mission to find arm coolers so he didn’t stick around very long.  I was trying to figure out whether I should eat now or wait a little while longer.  I ate some food and decided to keep going until Breckenridge.

Kevin pulled up which was a surprise.  I figured he was long gone after leaving us the other morning in Steamboat. Turned out he had stayed in Kremmling also and just finished up a big lunch down the street in Silverthorne. Sean showed up and the three of us were back together.  It was nice having the group back so we hit the trail, instantly heading in the wrong direction.  We looked down at our GPS and then looked at each other.  We found our way back to the track and realized we missed a short section of the bike path so rode back to the 7 Eleven and got on the bike path to continue.

It was nice to be on a bike path through this congested area even though there was one stretch that was super steep getting up to the shoulder on the highway.  The bike path continued along the highway in its own brightly painted lane.  Eventually we got away from the road and into the woods and the path began to wind this way and that.  It was pretty fun and I couldn’t even tell if we were climbing or descending.  We were just cruising along passing all kinds of people.  It was great!  It did end up climbing up a little but it wasn’t too bad.

We went past Frisco which looked buzzing with tourists.  Then we got to Breckenridge and it was crazy!  Tons of tourists and people everywhere!  We were riding along down main street getting some weird looks, probably because we smelled and looked terrible.  Sean and I were hungry and Kevin said he could use a break so we we hit up the Gold Pan Saloon!  No shots this time, just food.  I think the waitress was annoyed that we were ordering drink after drink like the rest of the bar.  Oh well, I’m sure our smell didn’t help either.

We were sitting at a table in the front window which was opened up wide to let in the breeze.  It was one of those open air bars.  People were passing by our bikes staring at them.  The setup is a bit strange and definitely not your average “touring bike” so I understood.  Some folks would look up and see us and others would just say some crazy thing about the bikes and keep walking.  It provided some good entertainment.

We had a big climb ahead of us up Boreas Pass so we hit the road.  There were a few steep spots at the bottom as we passed through some neighborhoods.  Then we hit the gradual incline that must have been the old railroad line.  It was a nice grade and soon after my food settling I started feeling really good.

Sean and I we’re making good time and we even caught up to a group of mountain bikers that were scoping out some race course for the following weekend.  We chatted with them for a while and then they turned off.

We finally got to the top of Boreas Pass (11,412′) and met up with Chris again.  We all took some photos in front of the big sign.  This was the highest we had been yet!

I think the best part about this climb was the fact that we were about to turn onto some single track!  The Gold Dust Trail was pretty bumpy at first with such a loaded bike.  So much so that my GPS popped off!  Thankfully I had heard too many stories about lost GPSs so I had a short string tied to mine just in case.  I stopped and locked it back down.  The trail became less rocky and more flowy the further we got down.  It was fun.  Even on a loaded bike we were all smiles.  Sean got a head of me a little but I caught back up when he stopped to retie his burrito aptly name “The Bomb!” back onto his bike.

“The Bomb”

Once we got going I tried to get a shot of him riding but he was too fast.

We continued on and eventually popped out at the bottom and rode into Como. I knew there was a place in Como that served food and also followed the race pretty closely so I was looking around for something that looked open.  It looked pretty dead, almost like a ghost town.  Off in the distance it looked like there was a couple cars at a place that mostly just looked like a really big house.  Then I saw the sign, The Como Depot.  Sean and I popped in for a snack and to just check the place out.  The guy that owns the business was super nice and offered us beers on the house.  He said the first one is always free to Tour Divide riders.  I was a little hesitant but then he said “most people take me up on the offer.” So I gave in.  Mmmmm, tasted so good!  It was pretty unlike me to drink a beer knowing I had 24 miles to go before making it to Hartsel.  Peter Maindonald walked in the door not long after we sat down so he joined us for a quick snack.  He didn’t stick around long and was back out the door.  Sean and I took our time and enjoyed our beers.

 

Then it was back on the bike.  The terrain was pretty gentle for the next 24 miles.  There were a few hills that dragged on but certainly nothing too big to get in the way.  We rolled on making jokes about all sorts of stuff.  We always laughed our way from one town to the next which was a great way to pass the miles.

There were storms looming in all directions but it was hard to tell which way they were going.  It looked like we were right between two of them so hopefully it would stay that way. It looked really bad behind us and I was extremely thankful that I was not up on Boreas Pass right now!  We caught up to Peter and Chris Bennett shortly before reaching the highway into Hartsel.

After looking at the map we realized there was a restaurant or general store in town but it said it closed at 8.  We called and verified that they were closing at 8.  It was nearing 8 and we had 4.5 miles to go on this highway.  There was no way I wanted to have to wait on that store to open in the morning so I was convinced I could make it.  We all started riding and I was feeling pretty good so I picked it up.  There was no way we were going to make it unless we hustled.  I was calculating my speed and distance to go with my watch.  It was 8 minutes to 8:00 and I still had a ways to go.  I picked it up a little more.  I was flying!  I was getting closer and closer but the minutes just kept going by.  7:59……8:00! No! I could see town a half mile away.  I was bummed but I kept riding thinking maybe I could catch someone closing up.  Once I got into town I saw a pile of bikes in front of the local bar. Didn’t look like anyone was in a hurry and certainly not closing.  All that for nothing!

I walked in and the place was packed.  Chris Culos was inside and had just ordered food.  I told him I had just raced there trying to beat the 8:00 closing time but turns out that was for the General Store, not the local watering hole.  The maps didn’t mention the bar!  I was relieved so sat down and ordered a huge burrito.  It was fun hanging out with everyone and talking about how the last few days had been and what the next few days were going to be like.

It was looking like a big storm was moving in so we were all a little hesitant to camp outside of town.  Chris Bennett who had been on the route several times before and always offered up more than enough knowledge about services and the route mentioned a lodge down the road.  It sounded good so after dinner we all pedaled on over and got setup.

It turned out to be a swanky lodge and only Peter and Chris Bennett could afford rooms inside.

Peter kicking his feet up in the lodge.

They did have a guest cabin outside so had a lady run over and get it setup for the rest of us.  We split the cost so it wasn’t bad at all.  It was well worth a clean dry place to sleep, especially one with a bed.

Well the lodge was nice but off we went to the guest house
Not so bad…..