I woke up to find that I hadn't been trampled by elk. This made me happy. The other thing that made me happy was that a little over five hours of sleep had cleared my brain enough to be able to look at the arrow and red line on the GPS and feel confident that I was on route. It's amazing what a little shut-eye can do.
I pedaled happily along dreaming of the vending machine that the Beaverhead is known for. I had specifically gotten change at Pie Town and was debating whether I wanted a Mountain Dew for it's caffeine content or a Dr. Pepper for its taste. Or maybe a Fanta for it's refreshing deliciousness. I pulled into the Workstation and went straight for the machine. In went my quarters, clunk, clunk, clunk, and I hit the Mountain Dew button. Nothing. I hit it again. Still nothing. I hit the Dr. Pepper button and the machine made a noise and flashed 'Sold out'. I hit every button on that machine, twice before I gave up, pissed. Even more irritating, when I went to dump my trash, there were soda cans in the trash! People had gotten soda out of that stupid machine, it was a world conspiracy for me not to have my soda. I drank some cold Via instead, made myself some oatmeal, and chugged as much water as my stomach cold hold as the next section was notoriously dry and hot.
Armed with 7.5 liters of water, I set out. The road went straight uphill. I did not go fast. Then after climbing, the road went straight down. And then straight up again. And straight down. This went on for nearly 40 miles. Sometimes the road was smooth. Sometimes it was rocky. Sometimes it was covered in gravel and washboards. I shook my head in amazement and recalled Kurt's blog about his ride last year when he caught Jefe on one of these hills after Jefe had bypassed both the church water and the Beaverhead (Kurt was sleeping there and Jefe snuck by in the middle of the night). While I was rationing water, I kept thinking of what it would be like to ride the section with no food or water.
I knew that the singletrack section was coming that few spoke fondly of, but I couldn't imagine it to be worse than the 40 miles of road that was shaking me so bad I was worried some wires would come loose in my brain. And it was scorching out. The last descent down to the road was so rough I had to hold back tears I was so angry.
I rode to the campground at the base of the singletrack and plopped down in the shade for some life reorganization. I made myself a mix of gummy orange slices, sour watermelons, and roasted almonds in my Gastank and munched on a Bobo Bar that I had hauled from Bode's. I still had two liters of water and feeling confident, I followed the meandering tire tracks through the campground trying to find the trail. Apparently I wasn't the only one who couldn't find it as I soon found myself following tire tracks down a hill when my little arrow was no longer on my little red line. I turned around and started hiking back up, making note of all the other sets of footprints that had hiked their bikes up as well. Eventually I found the trail, marked by some cairns, and started the hike-a-bike up. 'This is no worse than The Wall,' I decided gleefully. I love living in Crested Butte!
I ended up being able to ride a good portion of the singletrack and I thought it was lovely. While I wouldn't have wanted to do it in the dark, in the daylight, trail made me so happy after the beating I had sustained on the previous 40 miles. I had water, I had food, and I was going to make it to Silver city for dinner! Life on the Divide! My water ran dry just as I pulled into Altos Pinos, where unfortunately the ice cream shop was closed on Mondays and Tuesday. The consolation prize, some locals assured me I'd be able to coast the seven miles into Silver City. (They lied, there was a (little) hill that I had to pedal.)
First stop, McDonalds. The golden arches drew me in and I ordered my usual and unlike other times, finished it and was still hungry. Embarrassed by this fact, I went and found a gas station to buy more food. I pondered what to buy, 125 miles, mostly pavement, mostly flat, maybe trending slightly downwards. Eddie had confirmed that it was all downhill, except for the uphill parts, from Silver City on and after 2,625 of carrying too much food, I opted to go light. Gummy candy, nuts, a gas station burrito, Starbucks energy drink, and some Apple Pie goodness for breakfast. Plus some other stuff, like string cheese and slimjims.
I called Chris to make sure he was on his way to pick me up. He answered and I asked where he was. 'Monarch Pass.' 'Hmm...' I replied, 'I'm in Silver City, I could be at the border in ten to twelve hours. How long is it for you to get to Silver City?' '9 hours' I advised that he should probably drive straight to the border. 'You must have made good time, you said you'd be lucky to make it to Silver City late tonight!' I'd arrived a hair after 7 pm.
I downed some caffeine and set off, slightly scared at the prospect of riding close to the border at night but knowing that I didn't want to endure another day of heat. I think I may have had a bit of a tailwind because the climb out of Silver City went by easily. The turn onto dirt came quickly and then the irrational mind launched it's attack. 'You have the wrong GPS track!' it told me. 'You're off route! After 2,670 miles, you're off route and you're going to be relegated!' it screamed. I stopped to do my normal GPS futzing. 'Keep pedaling!' my rational mind countered, 'The arrow is on the line. The line is right!' I pedaled up the next rise. 'You're lost! Check the GPS, you're completely off route!' the irrational mind attacked again with twice the intensity. 'Pedal!' my rapidly weakening rational self screamed. 'LOST!' came the final attack and I pulled over. 'Three hours,' I told myself, 'Then we run for the border.'
I ate, listened to the wind pick up and howl through the bush I laid next to, and stared at the sky. 'This is it. Last night out. Goodnight, Sky.'