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Tour Divide: Trials & Travails

Here’s another slideshow from the Tour Divide mountain bike race, this one entitled “Trials & Travails.” There were many!

There’s still a lot of Tour Divide stuff I intend to post, but it may take a while due to an overwhelming amount of work I need to take care of. So the postings will probably come in a trickle.

[Day 3] The first night in Montana had over two miles of snow.  Hike-a-bike time.
[Almost everyday] Lots of puddles to ride through.
[Day 7] Lava Mountain: one of the most challenging and techical sections on the entire Continental Divide Mountain Bike Route. I also got lost in the forest.
[Day 7] On Lava Mountain, even two motorcyclists on BMW dual sport bikes made no more forward progress than I did in 3 hours.
[Day 9] For the most part, I refused to allow hotel and established campground locations dictate my schedule -- meaning that I often had to stealth camp.
[Day 10] This tunnel in Idaho had collapsed and I had to hike around it.  That was "interesting."
[Day 11] Entering Wyoming and the Tetons, I encountered snow again.  Worse: mud and chainsuck.  Worst: vicious mosquitoes that didn't care if I was wearing full-length clothing and 98% DEET!
[Day 12] Deep snow and super-sticky mud resulting in constant mud-jamming.  It took >2.5 hours to go 4.5 miles.
[Day 13] I kept losing plastic spoons, so had to resort to using this 16mm cone wrench to eat on a number of occasions.
[Day 14] The Great Divide Basin was so desolate, there wasn't even a single tree.  Terrible place to be suffering from hyponatremia for 10 hours on my birthday.
[Day 17] Had to ford a knee-deep river.  This is John Nobile (the ultimate winner of the concurrent Great Divide Race) fording it right after me.
[Day 4] In Montana, there were giant mudholes for miles.
[Day 20] Indiana Pass (elevation 11,900 feet) was super long and steep, with freezing rain at the summit. Came down with hypothermia and had to bail for the night at 6:00 p.m.
[Day 21] Bovine blockages.
[Day 21, 22] Cyclometer broke and I was forced 28 miles off-course to find a new one.
[Day 22] This steep half-mile section of scree in Northern NM was unrideable.
[Day 22, 23] The double-track in Northern NM was extremely rutted, but actually kind of fun!
[Day 23] A 5.5-hour climb in Northern NM was extremely jarring with lava rocks.
[Day 23] The lava rocks were so jarring that one of the rack eyelets pulled out of the frame (this is because I had lost the screw for the other side).  I used tie-wraps on both sides for the remainder of the race.
[Days 4 & 5] In northern Montana, there were also downed trees that I had to dismount for about 100 times.
[Day 25] I arrived in Pie Town at Monday at noon, yet both restaurants were closed.  Extremely disappointing.
[Day 25] 40 miles and 6 hours later, I arrived at this intersection expecting some sort of grocery store, but there was only this church!  Had to resort to begging for food after that.
[Day 26] My ninth flat with no more good spare tubes, no CO2 cartridges, a half-functional pump, and just one patch.  Resorted to inflate-ride-inflate-ride strategy.
[Day 26] To compound matters, a monsoon came through and would not... stop... raining.
[Day 27] I was careful to hike over extremely muddy sections instead of riding, but mud-jamming still occurred.  Sometimes it took 3 minutes to go 10 feet.  Ridiculous.
[Day 27.5] I was so ready to be done, but the monsoons (with fog) wouldn't stop.  The low point was thinking I was lost when I wasn't, and needless backtracking 3.5 miles.
[After the race] Inspection of my helmet showed severe damage, probably occurring during my 3rd or 4th crash.  But at least my skull is still intact.
[Day 5] Some of the downed tree piles were ridiculous. I had to throw my bike over this one, and then climb over it like it was a rock climbing wall.
[Days 3, 4, 5, 13, 16] Snow collected on the tires causing additional resistance, but at least it was much better than mud!
[Day 5] Death trap -- traversing a crazy, highly exposed section of snow piled up at a 45 degree angle without an ice axe for at least half a mile.
[Day 5] About a mile later I saw this perfectly laid out Go-Lite jacket and water bottle on the trail.  I left a note wondering if it was an emergency kit left by Matthew Lee?  Turns out racer Mike Dion lost these items here!
[Day 5] Camping in grizzly bear territory inspired paranoia about what to do with food, how to fend of bears, etc.  I resorted to a "mark your spot" strategy someone in Grant, MT advised me about.
[Day 2] It rained the night before, so the morning was a mudfest. After the mud hardened on the front derailleur, shifting it was difficult.