I made it into Abiquiu- The Great Divide continues!!!

Hitching back to the route from Tres Piedras was difficult, the traffic was almost non exsistent, at least in the direction I needed to go. After an hour and a half I got a ride in the back of a pickup truck, with no bed gate. I had to hold my bike so tight and keep us both from falling out of the back of the truck as the driver drove way too fast for the turns on that road. I was pretty scared to be honest. When I got back to the route, I put my panniers back on my bike and started the 5 mile climb up the paved highway 64 to Hopewell Lake. I was still feeling tired, my body was still exhausted and I was only planning to ride to Canon Plaza, 24 miles away. My riding was sluggish, I was still fading mentally and psychically. FR 91 was in alright condition, the terrain was pretty nice, there were a few climbs up to Burned Mountain and then again to the top a saddle that stood above ranches and wetlands. I loved riding through the tall trees that day. It was so quiet out there, no one else was out there, but me and my bike. Most days on the Divide were like that, but there was generally some vehicle traffic at some point and that day the road belonged to just me and my bike. After only 10 miles of riding I was beginning to feel the fatique worsen. My pernicious anemia and Crohns were giving me trouble as they often do and coupled with the fact that I was riding the Divide and pushing myself day after day for weeks now, my body was admittedly protesting. I rode into Canon Plaza and went to the store Joe and his wife have setup for bikers, I bought a few snacks and talked to Joe for a while. Joe kindly offered to let me stay at his house he was fixing up across from the store. I happily accepted his offer and ended my day on the bike early. As I was writing outside on the patio of the house a dog named Duke came to greet me. He was a skiddish shepard mix, but, sweet as could be. He hungout with me for a while as I wrote and then went on his way.

I struggled to sleep that night. I did not sleep at all in fact. I laid awake all night. You would think I could fall asleep so easy and fast because I was exhausted, but, I have always had trouble with sleep. Even when my body is beyond tired in every single way, there are nights when I cannot turn my mind off and I cannot sleep. It is like torture. Absolute torture. I have grown used to it over the years, but, it makes my days harder, especially when I am out on a big adventure like riding the Divide. The lack of sleep messes with my focus, emotions, appetite, endurance- everything- it throws yet another challenge into the mix for me. I have tried a lot of different things over the years to help with this struggle, but, I have yet to find anything that has worked long term. So, I have no other choice than to accept it as a part of who I am and learn to live with it, just as I do with having Crohns, Pernicous Anemia, anxiety and depression and POTS. All I can do is embrace those struggles and decide to not let them stop me from what I want to do.

As the daylight crept through the windows I knew I was going to have to pack up and start riding. I was headed for Abiquiu, 38 miles away. I left early as I was already awake, I wanted to see Joe again but I was not going to go over and wake him up. The morning air was cold, my eyes burned from staying up all night, my head was all over the place. I was supposed to have been in Abiquiu days ago, I just wasn’t riding as fast as planned because my body was just too tired. The riding out of town wasn’t too bad. The route took me across Rio Vallectios and then it turned onto FR 44 which was rougher riding than the nice gravel and pavement I had just been on. The road climbed up to a remote high point and then continued downhill for a bit. Then it went back up hill, eventually leading me onto Highway 554. I rode into El Rito and stopped at the little store there to get a soda and take a break. I was 18 miles from Abiquiu at that point and it was all pavement from there JAfter I was finished with my soda, I got back onto my bike and headed South on 554. The views were so beautiful riding into Abiquiu, the distant mesas and desert landscape did not disappoint. I was so happy to finally be in Abiquiu, a few days before when I was really struggling I did not think I would ever get there. I went straight to the Inn and got a room and ate a huge lunch.

Rawlings, WY into Colorado on the Great Divide!!

I took a day off in Rawlins, I needed it. Cheryl continued on because her husband was picking her up in Frisco, Colorado and she was eager to get there. I take more days off than other riders probably do because of my health issues. My body requires a lot of rest and I have to honor that, even when I do not want to. Days off are never really days off, there is always something to get done- grocery shopping, laundry, dealing with your bike if there is something needing attention, making sure things are charged and that you have everything for the next stretch of trail that you need. And, eating a lot of food, that in itself can take up hours of a day 🙂

When I left Rawlins; I rode 52 miles towards Aspen Alley. The riding was very enjoyable, pretty easy all day long. The scenery was beautiful, I could feel that I was beginning to climb into the mountains and the terrain was changing as I entered the Medicine Bow National Forest. I passed a few creeks and eventually around 4 pm stopped and made camp right before Aspen Alley. I setup camp early and was in my sleeping bag tucked in before 7 pm. In the morning, I packed up and rode through Aspen Alley, it was awesome. Tall beautiful aspens trapped me on the narrow road, the colors were great. The air was crisp and cold. Absolutely, a perfect morning. I was looking forward to getting into Colorado. When I came to highway 70, I took a right turn onto the pavement and 17 miles later I finally entered COLORADO!!! I left highway 70 and crossed Slater Creek and headed onto County rd 1, it was a pretty solid road in most places. There were some annoying very steep climbs, then rollers and of course some flat and downhill. It was peaceful out there, it was me, my bike and the local cows for most of the day. Occasionally a truck would drive by and offer me water or ask me what I was doing. I turned onto County rd 82 and entered into Routt National Forest. Five miles later; I turned onto Hahns Peak Basin rd/Co rd 42 and rode a mile or so until I stopped and decided to setup camp. I was exhausted and also super excited to be in Steamboat the following day. I found a neat little spot surrounded by a canopy of trees to setup my tent. The view were amazing from where I camped, the sunset was on fire that night. I enjoyed a good dinner and fell asleep rather early.

I struggled to get out of my tent in the morning, I was still exhausted and felt sluggish and sore. I followed Co rd 42 uphill to continue towards Steamboat. About a 1.5 up the road became impassable- deadfall everywhere, I couldn’t even see a foot in front of me. Downed trees covering the entire road and on both sides. Navigating this would be impossible with my bike. I started to feel so irritated and it was then I knew that it was going to be a very long day. I turned around thinking I would have to go back to where I originally turned on that road and find another way down into Steamboat. All of a sudden this cowboy on his horse came up, he had is sheep dog with him, he didn’t speak any English. In my very broken Spanish I explained to him my issue and that I needed to somehow find a way around the downed trees. He got off his horse, introduced himself as Walter and told me to follow him. I was a bit worried to follow him not being able to communicate very well and I was worried following him would only get me more lost. But. I followed him, after a few minutes we both quickly learned pushing a fully loaded bike through and over downed trees in steep terrain off road was extremely hard. I could barely carry my bike. Walter would hike ahead a few 100 feet or so, hitch his horse and then run back and help me carry my bike over the trees. Some trees were stacked up on one another 3-4 feet high off the ground and lifting my bike over that was an enormous workout. You couldn’t see anything but trees everywhere. Walter kept looking at the dot on my GPS, laughing with me and trying to communicate with me as we continued to navigate through the steep deadfall together. We were out there carrying and pushing my bike for almost two hours before we found the road again. I was so relieved to be on the road and to have gotten around that craziness. I could not have gotten through that without him. I was so grateful for him. Walter took off on his horse and headed to go find his sheep. The road became very very steep. I had to walk my bike up about 2 miles before I ran into Walter and his friends herding their sheep. There was 200 sheep in the herd and it was a cool thing to watch all of those sheep. I thanked Walter again for helping me and finished my climb to the top of the Watershed Divide. Finally, I thought the going was going to getting easier because I was now going to ride downhill. Nope! Wrong! The views of Hahns Peak and surrounding area was outstanding and I was enjoying the mountain air and scenery, but oh the rocks, the damn rocks, the road was so rough. ATVs and trucks were stopping along the road to look at how to navigate the road and continue driving. I was indeed riding downhill, but very slowly, because of how rough, rocky and bumpy the road was. The going was slow for awhile, then eventually I got to a better road where the downhill was fun and fast. The trees were changing colors, I was listening to Van Morrison and bombing downhill. I was still hoping to make it into Steamboat. I stopped at the Clark store and ate lunch and took a break from the crazy morning I had. After lunch, I turned onto the paved highway 40 and headed towards Steamboat. The trees only became more beautiful as I rode down the highway. I arrived in Steamboat Springs late afternoon and was graciously invited to stay at Eric and Kathy Graab’s place. They are Divide riders as well and I was excited to connect with them and get to know them 🙂 and Kathy made delicious Mac and Cheese for us that night 🙂 which totally made me happy. To be continued……

Pinedale, WY across the Great Basin to Rawlins, WY!

I stayed over a day in Pinedale after the boys left. It was really getting cold out. I ran into Sarah and Jesse who I had met on day two of my ride. They were doing their own route and following the Divide here and there. It was nice to see them again and to swap stories about our experiences the last few weeks. I also ended up meeting Cheryl, who was out for a few weeks on her bike. The weather was getting colder by the hour and the snowstorms were coming. I bought mittens, stocked up on food, and bought a few foot and hand warmers. I was getting restless on my second day off in Pinedale and I decided to ride the easy 12 miles into Boulder, WY so I wouldn’t feel stuck and I would feel like I was making some progress. 12 miles seems easy, especially on pavement, but, NO, it was NOT easy. The headwind was insane for the entire ride into Boulder and little did I know that was just the first of the psychotic winds that I would face along the Divide. When I arrived in Boulder; I went into the bar/motel and got a room for the night. Some of the guys in the bar looked exactly like Woody from Toy Story, it was definitely a scene in there 🙂 I was worried about the weather for the next few days, but, I enjoyed my evening inside out of the wind and cold.

The next morning, I left Boulder and was planning to ride about 46 miles or so. I ran into Cheryl about 12 miles into the day and we started riding together. We had a fun time that day, breaking a lot, chatting and eventually making camp near Little Sandy Creek surrounded by cow patties. The riding was pretty easy however, the constant little up and downs become frustrating after while and I was happy to be done for the day. The next day, we planned to ride into Atlantic City. The wind the wind was insane once again, we fought it all day. We struggled to make miles fighting the wind each pedal stroke, but, we enjoyed the random snow patches by making snow angels and laughing about how ridiculous the wind was. Though it was not that funny at the moment. I hate wind. My buddy Brent met us in his truck along highway 28, he had Swedish Fish and my favorite drinks and was planning on camping with me for the next few nights until I got into Rawlins. We told him we would see him in a few hours in Atlantic City and continued riding/fighting the wind. We turned off highway 28 and onto a nice gravel road that lead to South Pass City, the little steep climbs along the way sucked, but, the downhills were fun. We took a short break in South Pass City to get out of the wind and go potty. I was exhausted from the wind. It was just awful. Ugh!! I hate wind. It did not let up at all.. It was relentless. The ups and downs continued out of South Pass City and the temps dropped, the air became colder and just as we rode down the last hill into Atlantic City it began to snow. The three of us stayed at Wild Bills Cabins and enjoyed hot food and warm place to stay for the night. It was a nice place to stop for the night, we had absolutely no idea what was waiting for us in the coming two days.

Cheryl and I left Wild Bills with Brent, he drove ahead and we planned to meet at the Sweetwater River. The hill leaving Atlantic City was a good warm up for the day. As we reached the top of the climb, we could see the amount of snow that fell from the storm. We enjoyed the riding for 10 miles down to the Sweetwater River. It was beautiful out and the riding was great. Once we arrived at the River Brent was there reading, we agreed to meet up again in a few miles and continued riding. A few miles later we saw Brent’s truck stopped in the road, when we got up to it we could see that the road was impassable. The snow drifts were huge and the road was not safe for Brent to keep driving on. Brent decided to head back and Cheryl and I decided to continue on our bikes, knowing the going was going to be difficult, slow and cold. We couldn’t pedal through that stuff, we had to walk our bikes through the snow drifts and mud. It took us until the end of the day just to get 10 more miles in because of the snow. My feet were soaked, they were freezing, my bike was covered in mud and I was frustrated by the challenge of dealing with all of the snow. We camped in a random field and hunkered down for the night. We discussed what we were going to do because the going was extremely slow and we couldn’t do that for days on end without running out of food. We both felt exhausted and defeated.

We were ready for the next day when the sun came up, we knew we would have to navigate more snow drifts and we were right. The beginning of the day it was walking our bikes through snow drifts, after snow drifts, puddles after puddles and then more snow. We would push through a snow drift, get back on the route, ride a few feet of dry gravel, then back off our bikes to navigate more snow drifts. It did not end. Some of the snow drifts and sections were so deep that we had to walk way around the route with our bikes and then come back to it only to post hole through the snow with our bikes. I was not in a good mental place. I wanted to quit. This was crazy and it was not fun. By late morning, the snow was melting fast and then the MUD came. The mud was like clay, it stuck to my bike, clogged up my fork and chain. It caused my chain to fall off multiple times. My bike would get clogged and I would stop and scrap the mud off, then I would push my bike a few hundred feet through more snow and mud and it would get clogged up again and my bike would not move. This battle went on all day and it was very rough. I wanted to leave my bike and just hike out. I was really struggling mentally and it was exhausting on every level. By the early evening, after two days of dealing with snow drifts and mud the road started to clear up. I could actually ride my bike and though I had to get off every once and while and push through snow and mud, it was not nearly has awful as it had been. About an hour before dark after 12 hours of moving we got to A and M reservoir and made camp for the night. There was a group of hunters there that invited us into their camp for dinner. That was a rewarding dinner after everything we had dealt with. We ate a lot, chatted with the hunters for an hour or so and then headed to bed pretty early.

The sunrise woke me up, I packed up, enjoyed a burrito from one of the hunters and was ready to ride the 57 miles into Rawlins and get away from the Great Basin. As I rode; I could see the wild horses in the distance, they ran on both sides of me. It was amazing, there is nothing so beautiful as watching wild horses run. I kept getting off my bike to watch them and take pictures. I find peace in watching and being around horses and out there it was an unbelievable setting to watch them. I couldn’t get enough of them. There were so many of them. Once I turned onto County Road 63 I was happy to see pavement. I could finally cruise and enjoy the riding. I enjoyed the riding and easy climbs for the next 25 miles or so. I stopped at the turn for highway 287 to wait for Cheryl to catch up. Cheryl caught up about an hour later and we ate a snack and talked about what we were going to eat in Rawlins, another 17 miles away. When we finished our snacks, we started the 6 mile climb to the top of the Continental Divide. At the top we took a few pictures and then it was downhill time 🙂 all the way into Rawlins. I was beyond excited to get into Rawlins. Everything was covered in mud and I needed a day off. I felt like I really wanted to quit and go home. I was at the end of my rope with that huge hunk of metal with tires. I wondered what the hell had possessed me to buy a bike and ride from Canada to Mexico. I was questioning my intentions and really struggling inside to stay out there.