I choose my bivy sites strategically: the closer to a bathroom the better. This may be crossing the line of what people need to know, but generally after downing on the order of 5,000 calories the day before, the first thing my body needs to do in the morning is get rid of the waste. My floorspace at the fairgrounds was convienently located just feet from an outhouse so I woke up, ate breakfast in bed, deflated my sleeping pad, and hopped out of the sleeping bag to visit the facilities. They were locked. Who locks an outhouse?! I started to panic as the situation was becoming dire, hobbled back to my bike (the first couple of steps each morning always came with the possibility of collapse) shoved everything in my bags, and took off. There had to be open bathrooms in the fairgrounds! I checked a permanent bathroom facility, locked. They kept these things under lock and key! I tried a third one, locked. Crud. It was 4:30 in the morning, gas stations weren't going to be open. I was in an urban center, things were not looking up. I took off down the bike path, knowing that things were going to get ugly real quick when I came upon a bikepath bathroom. Sweet relief. I promised myself I'd check the viability of a bathroom facility before sleeping next to it in the future.
Full disclosure: I have no clue what this picture is of, but I took it this day, or the day before.
I rolled silently out of town under the cover of darkness. It was classic Steamboat: rolling hills, lush meadows, pretty horses. Ahh, Colorado. Cruising along, I saw a loaded bike parked next to the side of the road. Full suspension? 26-inch wheels? Who was this yahoo? As I rolled up to investigate, a head popped up out of a bivy. It was Becky, formerly of Gunnison! She was touring the Colorado section of the route as CTR preparation and had started in Slater the day before. A smiling face who really understood the enormity of what I was attempting to do was a welcome sight in the early morning sun. We talked a bit about the Colorado Trail Race, and event close to both of our hearts, the heinous steep hill just past Brush Mountain Lodge that the cue sheet had called 'a potential pusher' which we both interperted as an excuse to push, and my decision to eat Subway the night before when Steamboat had so many good foodie options.
After Wyoming, the trees of Colorado provided a welcome relief both in terms of shade and wind and the miles passed quickly into Radium, capped with a ripping descent down to the Colorado River. Running low on water, I scouted the campground at the bottom. Nothing. I rode back up to the River Rafting Outfitters. Closed. I really didn't want to drink treated Colorado River water. I gambled, knowing that I'd have a few more options to get water off route if I needed, and pushed on, hoping to find a commercial source to get water, or to make the detour into Kremmling if the situation got dire.
I climbed out of the valley, and when the road turned down, something bizzare happened. I got sleepy. Or at least my brain function slowed down enough that I couldn't process the landscape at the speed it was passing and my body registered the sensation as 'sleepy'. As I found myself trying to 'rest' my eyeballs on the descent, I decided I was being dangerous. So I stopped and drank a 5-Hour Energy. I gave it a minute to kick in and continued down. When the road kicked up, the sleepies didn't disappear like they normally did. I fought them for a few minutes, saw a shady tree, and gave up. I scampered up the side of the road, set my alarm for 10 minutes, used my backpack for a pillow, and passed out. I hoped that my SPOT wouldn't send out two signals in the same spot as I'm sure that would have sent my mom into a panic.
It was the best 10 minute nap ever and I woke up ready to rumble.
Up, up, up, down, down, down. Past the Kremmling turnoff and into Grand County country. I had learned how to mountain bike in Winter Park which was just down the road so I passed the time day dreaming about all the rides that I'd done in the area, the first time we rode Rollins Pass from Boulder to Winter Park (actually Nederland to Winter Park) and thought it was the biggest, epic-est ride EVER, the times that I rode from Winter Park back to Boulder in time for work in the morning a few years after that first ride, all the Winter Park series races, the secret trails, the time we drank a bunch of beer with Walt and then decided it was a good idea to take 29-ers into the skate park (we left when the grommits showed up, and well, showed us up) and decided that I had a blessed mountain bike life. And really, a blessed life in general.
Cruising around a lake, I saw a bike in the distance. Red jersey. Was it Jarral in his Western State jersey? Did he bonk? Was he going into diabetic shock? More importantly, could I pass him? I upped the pace to close the gap but something didn't make sense. I was following two pairs of Nanoraptors, Jarral had some Bontragers on. I am well versed in the art of tire track tracking. Then there was another bike even farther in the distance. Adam? Garrett? I was cruising, but I wasn't going that fast. I caught both bikes as they pulled over in the shade of a tree at the base of the final pass of the day. Fully loaded, but not racing, I waved as I passed, intent on Silverthorm.
When one of the riders caught me down the road, we struck up a conversation. He was riding a Willets, a custom frame who's origins were in Crested Butte, also one of the early pioneers of the 29-er and a Willets frame generally means an interesting rider. I forget his name...from California, he'd come out and tour sections of the route every year. We gabbed about bikes the whole way up the pass where I left him to start the long descent into Silverthorn.
I arrived at 7:30, in time to miss both the post office and bike shop. I was still carrying winter gear and my rear tire was leaking Stans out of the sidewalls. I needed a shop before New Mexico and would have loved one before having to ride the Gold Dust trail on the backside of Boreas pass. I quickly stocked up, broke the bonk which seemed to accompany me into every resupply stop, and went to one of my pre-planned food stops: Qdoba. Or maybe it was Chipotle. I don't remember but it was DIVINE. I got two burritos, inhaled one, I packed the other safely away for breakfast. Off to Breckenridge, 22 miles of bike path, intersection #1 with the Colorado Trail. I looked whimsically at the trail marker, wondering if I could recover in time to do the CTR at the beginning of August.
I passed through Breckenridge late at night, recounting frigid starts to the Breck 100, the festive starts of the Firecracker 50, the time when Chris and I toured the Colorado Trail, arrived in Breck late at night, and had his cousin, who lived a ways up Boreas Pass pick us up because I was to tired to pedal anymore. This was my country.
I stopped at the final gas station which was still mercifully open, bought my coffee drink for the morning, pedaled 100 yards up the road to the Ice Rink and slept by the pump track. It was Salida or bust in the morning. My bike wasn't going to hold up to New Mexico in the state that it was in.