November 17, 2014
Day 1 (36mi/58km) Steamboat Springs
It was Monday, the snowplow woke me up at 6am and on its way back at 8am. Camping beside the road isn't the best place to sleep in. Today will be a short day to Steamboat Springs where I'll hopefully spend a night indoors. The road to Columbine was much better than the night before, I still opted not to be a hero and walk my bike up some of the hills (mainly due to my toes getting cold!).
I stopped at a roadhouse just out of Columbine to see about finding a place to stay in Steamboat. No luck - out of the 6 warmshowers hosts 4 were NO's and two no-reply. At the roadhouse, while warming up I met John - who had raced the Tour Divide and was happy to see somebody doing it this late in the winter. It was amazing getting a glimpse at what racing it is like: the challenges, the rewards and how different it is in the summer. Ever since I set foot... err... Wheel on the Divide, I couldn't help but wonder what racing it would be like. It's very likely that I will be back one day!
Sunny, warm(ish), no headwind, good road. Getting to Steamboat was a piece of cake. Somebody I met on the road ended up buying me a meal at the golden arches. In the evening a maze of steep, icy and crooked one-way streets led me to Louis's home, where I will get to spend my first warm night since that Arctic front came down in Wyoming.
Day 2: Rest Day
DAY 3(57mi/92km): Rabbit Ears
"7 miles at 7%" said John two days ago at the roadhouse. I've been looking for an alternate route to Kremmling as the GDMBR goes through a forested area, which would be full of snow. The climb was long but the views well worth it, so were people's reactions upon seeing a cyclist.
Day 4(54mi/87km): Ute Pass
Another 9000'er today: Ute Pass, I was told the road is kept plowed because there is a mine near the pass. I also got warned about the mining trucks but I figure that won't be a problem, when I was on the Dalton Highway in Alaska over 100 trucks passed me each day - truck drivers are people too! (except empty logging trucks - they just have no souls!).
Ute Pass is the single, most stunning descent on the GDMBR (so far!). There was something about rolling down the smooth pavement at 30mph one handed (the other holding the camera of course).
Day 5(19mi/31km) Boreas Pass
I spent the night with a family at Frisco (following a scary ride on the Dam road - which doesn't allow bikes but it was either that, the interstate or a bike path full of snow). The two feet of snow on the bike trial meant that going over Boreas Pass would be impossible. But I can at least check it out right?
At Breckenridge (elevation 9600ft - woah!) I asked some locals about Boreas Pass Road.
One said it was clear.
Another it was snowed in.
The sign said "GPS is wrong, go back to Boreas Rd. or you will get stuck."
So, I had to go and check it out. Right as I was looking at the map before the dirt section and looking at the piles of snow beside the road a city worker pulled over. He told me that the road is impassable and he is just here to close the gate. Then he drove off to chase a jeep that went up.
I still wanted to check out the road...
Boreas Pass Road... OH...
"There's a good view just around the corner" - said the woman waiting for her husband with the dogs.
Then I just kept going. Not biking, pushing the bike. Often I had to walk in the powder while keeping the bike on the cross-country ski tracks. Two surveyors on snow machines approached and told me that they were able to drive up 2 miles from the pass on the other side. Good News. But I've been averaging 1mile per hour and I still had 6 more to go.
3 Miles in I reached a cistern which served the railroad track that Boreas Rd used to be. The ski tracks ended and I was left with a foot and a half of powder snow and two sets of skidoo tracks. The bike was sinking in, so were my feet. I ended up wearing my backpack and moving all 4 panniers to the rear so that the front wheel doesn't get stuck. I had to stop and rest every 1/20th of a mile. Still... turning back was out of the question.
The road improved slightly as I neared the top. Setting up the camera was a welcome break, so was my first moose sighting in the USA. It's an American moose! It's Freedom moose!!!
Boreas Pass: 11 493ft / 3505m. It has been 7.5 hours since I left town, the sun was just setting and I was happy. I didn't have to do this. I didn't have to be here. There was a good highway paralleling Boreas Road, or even my initial plan to cycle the West Coast - that would have been much warmer. But yet, there is no other place I'd rather be.
No other place I'd rather be except somewhere warm. Ken's cabin was left open! It would have been a cold and windy night outside.
Day 6(50mi/80km): Canyons and tailwinds
Today I am headed toward Colorado Springs where I'll meet the man who built my wheels: Chris Murray, take some well earned rest, bike repairs and thanksgiving.
After a short walk-a-bike section I was finally able to ride. I met a ranger observing a herd of elk and he suggested that I take a different highway to Colorado Springs.
I ran into a Mexican cycling from Durango to the Grand Canyon - he, as well as me was surprised to see another cyclist on the road.
Day 7(55mi/88km): Colorado Springs
Ever since the iceroads in Arctic Canada where I received a lot of help from Sister Fay (Tuktoyaktuk) and Pastor Paul (Fort McPherson) I promised myself that I will attend church. It was Sunday and there was service at Lake George, while thinking about it I saw the sign which read: "Thanksgiving meal Noon till 2:00". Throughout the whole experience I couldn't help but see this gathering as a big family getting together. Somebody said a prayer for me and I was on my way: belly full and ready for that storm that's brewing.
I thought this would be boring but with the storm, getting flat in the dark and a glorious downhill ride into Colorado Springs it was all I asked for!
A Band of rest days
Deadhorse was on the operating table, having a big overhaul. The divide had eaten through my chain, BB rings and rear cassette. The disc brake inner adjustment was melted together (Probably coming down Galton Pass in Canada) and that round object (bottom right) is indeed the derailleur cog!
The Pizza Hut All-you-can eat miniadventure
Today was the day to strike gold at the lunch buffet but first I took out Chris's fatbike (Borealist - Echo) for a spin, starting at sunrise.
On my way down I saw two guys pushing their bikes up, one of them tells the other "That's what you need."
I was rolling too fast to stop and tell them that the snow doesn't get any better than this. Haha! Suckers!
Sadly the Pizza hut was closed, it was Thanksgiving after all. After a great dinner we went out to see the black friday sale at walmart. It apparently starts the eve of thanksgiving now and it would be another extreme adventure: PEOPLE DIE OUT THERE!!!
In the rush to leave for Alaska, while making the rough draft of my first video (see link on main page), I forgot to render an entire chapter. Here it is, picks up right after I left Whitehorse for the second time and traded my studded tires for a new derailleur & chain. Only to find myself riding on British Columbia's largest Lake: Atlin, two days later.
(There are plans to make a documentary for Alaska, as well as The Great Divide)
After a brief visit to Garden of the Gods park it was time to take the 1-hour Dizzydrome challenge. Video below (it's a bit too long but I was still dizzy while making it!). If you are feeling heroic be sure to check out the 1-hour uncut version!!!
The bike was finally tuned up. Thank you Chris, Fixie Dave, Borealis Bikes and the guys at SRAM who gave me another BB7 rotor and a lifetime supply of brake pads. Jessica for the great thanksgiving dinner. The guys from Eureka tents who have been helping me all along the way and now sent me a second sleeping bag to tackle those -30C nights.
...and all of those whom I've met along the way.
With winter in full swing it was time to hop off the Divide. Although beautiful, there are a lot of amazing national parks, backroads and cool towns to explore!