There was no sign marking the state line. As a roading engineer, I decided that the line must be where there was a change to the pavement type so I took the photo to the right. Had to have something to mark my transition to my second-to-last state. It was about 19:00 when Elena, Marco and I crossed into Colorado. We were heading for ‘Bush Mountain Lodge’ where we hoped we could get a good meal and some accommodation. We were tired after the day’s slog through Wyoming, as well as low on water.
The road was good and the gradient was not excessive so while the riding was not easy, it was not particularly difficult either … at least if you weren’t tired and dehydrated. But we had no option but to push on and so we kept at it, knocking off kilometre after kilometre. Elena began to bonk and so I told Marco I’d head on ahead to the lodge and ask them to get some food ready. He said a Coke was the top priority.
I was pleased to get to the lodge and was met by Scott who said he had been expecting me and pizza was in the oven. I had 2 x Sprites to get the blood sugar up—and some delightful watermelon. Cold watermelon is one of the best tonics for hot and thirsty riders. Who should then come in but Matt Lee—the ‘organizer’ of the race and winner some 6 times. It was great to finally meet Matt. Elena and Marco came in and we all enjoyed dinner and drinks, as well as socializing.
They had internet connection so I used it to check my e-mails. I got the bad news that my 90 year-old mother had broken her hip that morning and was in hospital. Of more concern was my father who has mild dementia. With nobody to take care of him there was talk of putting in in an institution. I resolved to get out to a phone as soon as possible and so planned to leave at 04:00 with Elena and Marco for Clark. About midnight James and Prentiss arrived, I invited them into my warm room where Prentiss proceeded to wake the dead with his snoring. I was too stressed out to sleep anyway but James moved outside to camp in the cold—but quiet—fresh air.
At 04:00 we headed out. I was in a rush so I soon cycled ahead of the other two. The road was not too bad so I made good time and as the sun rose I was approaching the hillier sections of the route. I didn’t absorb very much of my surroundings as my mind was racing. I really didn’t want to have to bail from the race and was hoping that we could find some solution that would let me continue the ride. However, family had to come first.
I was very glad that I did not leave immediately the night before as the ride was very challenging and technical in places. There were a lot of large rocks and ruts which required very careful navigation. At the same time I was on a mission so it was a balance between taking it easy and getting on with it.
Eventually I turned out onto the road, but here I was even more careful: this was the section where Dave Blumenthol was killed in the race a few years ago when he collided with a car. Eventually I got to the store at Clark where I was able to get some food and also make some calls. It was clear that I had to get to Toronto to help out the family. There was no way that I could continue riding with nobody to take care of my father.
I headed towards Steamboat Springs as fast as I could. I met a family riding the route in the other direction. I asked them to visit Bush Mountain Lodge and pass on to Matt that I was heading up to Toronto. They were quite excited at the prospect of meeting Matt—who they knew from the film ‘Riding the Divide’ which served as an inspiration for this trip.
I got to Steamboat—which I knew well from last year as this is where I bailed. I went to the same car wash and gave my bike a good clean, then to the ‘Orange Peel’ bike shop to get it boxed up. Talk about bad Karma. The guy said “Weren’t you hear last year when you withdrew with asthma???”. Yep. Steamboat is not a place of success for me.
As I finished boxing my bike Elena and Marco arrived. They were sorry to hear that I had to withdraw but understood. I headed over to the library where thanks to the wonders of the Internet I was able to book a flight Denver-Toronto and a hotel in Denver. Eight hours later I was in Denver and within 36 hours I was at the hospital with my mother.
Matt kindly left me ‘active’ on the www.trackleaders.com site as the plan is, family allowing, I’ll head back to Steamboat and try to finish the ride. Next year is my 25th wedding anniversary and my wife (and I) have other plans than my trying the Tour Divide for a third time!
Here are some favourite photos from the trip. Eat, Sleep and Ride the Divide!