Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Update #4

Del Norte, Colorado

The hell with Beowulf.

Here I sit in Del Norte, Colorado. Named after the first white settler in the region, Del and his wife Gwyneth McHitchen Norte became famous, if not wealthy, by establishing a trade route through the southern Colorado mountains for the fur trappers and native tribes in the region. Legend has it that Del met an untimely death when he was unable to dislodge himself from a large mud pit en route to Wyoming during an unseasonably wet June. Starved to death while shaking his fists at the heavens. And if you believe that crap, have I got a great used mountain bike to sell you.

Anybody a Star Trek fan out there? Not Galaxy #736 or the X Generation, but the great ones where Kirk and Sulu lean hard left during turbulence on the Enterprise? Yeah, I thought so. So this update is subtitled "I Mudd". Classic episode, good fun. Less fun was my personal I Mudd experience in northern New Mexico.

Allow me to elaborate.

Leaving the clay soils behind, I ventured into some of the first truly challenging terrain of the trip so far. Steep climbs on rough roads featuring their own micro-topography. Troughs, ruts, erosion channels, blah blahs and hoo hoos (just checking to see if you're paying attention). Tough riding like nobody's business (I adore that saying, so shut up.).

My first day in this terrain was hard. I think that was Monday. Sixty five miles with over a vertical mile of tough climbing (masochism is my middle name). Towards the end of the day that silly rain set in, slowly, teasing. Just enough to make the roads spongy but not soupy. Kinda like riding a bike over a large partially-inflated balloon (use your imagination here). Tuesday...a mix of balloon and stew as the moisture (moystyah for those of you in Jersey) drained from the heavens above. It took all I could muster (mister) to crawl 50 miles through this malarky. Was the worst over? Could it get worse? Gotta know, gotta know.....ahhhh....what happened?

Rain.....all night long, ya bastard. The following morning, like chocolate pudding (think Bill Cosby here), the dirt roads clogged and bogged and sucked my bike in like nobody's business(2 times....oh yeah). Now what you need to do is wade back up to the surface of this posting and check out the photos from the bottom up (sorry, but this weird blog makes it hard to format photo positioning. yeah yeah).

The bottom photo is without a doubt the last cool shot of me ever (again, shut it. gimme a break, i'm alone out here). Second up is the chocolate pudding and what it looks like after I wove my 2 wheeled teenager through. #3 is what a front fork looks like when it doesn't allow a wheel to rotate anymore. And the top one, of course, is what's left of the last fellow who rode through. Luckily I was able to scavenge some parts from his bike.

Through an act of divine intervention, I still managed to ride 55 miles in the rain that day (roads did get better), and even crossed the border into Colorado (theme song to "Greatest American Hero" playing in your head right now). That was wednesday. Rained all night again (sopping wet everything at this point), and I had one 17 mile climb and then a 24 mile, 4000 ft decent into Del Norte. On the way down I crossed paths with the leader of a race that is ridden North to South on the same route I'm on. These folks are total animals. The leader is doing over 150 miles/day, solo, unsupported on roads of mud and soup and yuckity yuck. Truly amazing, if not a bit mental (as they say in Yorkshire).

Anyway, like Pie Town, Del Norte is a place of magic. You wouldn't understand, so don't ask. So I took the rest of Thursday off here, staying with a couple who put up Great Divide cyclists passing through town (these folks are known as trail angels, and somewhere in heaven there are really comfy sofas and hot cocoa waiting for them).

And today I decided to take a rest day. After 14 straight days of riding the trail, I thought it was both deserved and necessary. What did I do on my rest day, you ask. I went mountain biking of course. Look, smarty pants, two local women/goddess/mountain-bikers asked me to join the on some of the best single track trails in the country. What would you do? Yeah, but you're both lazy and in the closet, so gimme a break. Indeed, the riding was outrageous. Super technical cycling through crazy canyons and goblin-rock formations. Stunning country. Wow.

So tonight, for the icing on my vacation from my vacation cake, we're gonna have a little cook out and camp fire up at some property my hosts have up in the mountains. I plan on bingeing hard, sleeping harder, then pointing my bike North in the morning and turning my legs around and around for the next month or so. The weather forecast is not sounding too good. Wish me luck and sun.

Until next time, Kirk out.


  1. My favorite saying is "For Pete's sake", but "Like nobody's business", is a good one too. I don't even know who Pete is, but I've got his back, so watch out! Dude, your blog is great, keep it up. Write more in fact, I love reading it. Sorry to hear about the weather, but did you ever think that maybe it's because you're not a believer? God never pees on his own flock man. Ride with that one for awhile you beatnik infidel. I've found a bunch more incredible Punk from the late seventies lately, I'll get you some of it when you get back. Have fun homeboy, and be safe. Nobody likes a show-off.
    - Dr. Orie Eugene Weeks III

  2. yeah, pete's is a classic. never understood the monkey's uncle thing but i like it.

    oh and i'm a believer.....i couldn't leave her if i tried.


  3. Daniel-

    My conversations with God elicit the same- you just gotta believe (or as we say in Baltimore, B'lieve, Hon!) and you won't be riding through piss from the skies and shit on the ground!

    Victoria has been cool, but the last few days sunny with clear skies. I miss the pdx summer heat. BUT what a life without a house to tend! Ahhh, the simple life! Things are pretty quiet here. LIfe is at the one-day-at-a-time pace for me and I am LOVING every second of it. I am at peace here near the water and mountains. Been biking lots, barely using my car, and sleeping "like nobody's business" (to quote someone famous!).

    Wedding is scheduled for August 16th and we will be doing a pdx gathering around Aug 30th or so- will you be back? I can't remember.

    Happy rides, my friend!

    Love Jeannie

  4. Hey there -- to place these pictures where you want, when you're composing the post click over to the "edit html" view and then *cut and paste* the photo html in between the paragraphs where you want it. Then click back "compose" and you'll see them in the right place. It's easy, hope that made sense...

  5. Hey Danny,

    So you caught the first of the GDR guys. Kooky bunch they are - they make what you're doing look fairly relaxed. I've been trying to follow Tommy's updates on the non-GDR race (he's doing the one that started at the border rather than deep in Canada) and I'm not sure the tracking website is making much sense of his race. It looks like he is still in Montana and taking his sweet time. There is only one other person in his race and they are riding together. Should be at least a few days til you see him. Buy him a Shirley Temple for me when you do.
    Sorry for all the slop you've been running into. Sounds frustrating but also like you're making the best of it. Scarlett and I have been getting a kick out of the blog (she says hi). Oh, and the new Star Trek is really good so don't knock it yet...
    You need a new book to read yet? I'd be happy to mail you one (your choice or mine) to one of your drops if you're ready for one.
    Went on a totally epic mountain bike ride yesterday for the final weekend of big riding before Creampuff. Drove (I know...drove to a bike ride) out to Rhodedendrum and then rode up to Timberline. 4000 or 4500' of gain over 9 or 10 miles. On a singlespeed. Ugh. We were supposed to ride a section of singletrack that went all the way from the lodge down but too much snow so we had to descend the Timberline road down to Gov't Camp and then pick up the trail from there. Sweet carving and little pedaling! Got the tan lines nicely marked out and now I can coast til the 'Puff on 7/12. I'll be thinking of you during the race and how I've got it pretty easy.

    Happy Riding,

  6. hey john,

    i need a bike sherpa to carry all my crap up there crazy climbs. sounds like you might be just the guy for the job. any interest you animal?


  7. Ok, OK, you've guilt tripped me back onto my beginners Mongoose Maneuver -- even took it to River City Bicycles to get air in the tires -- for a non-stop thrilling ride from my house to just the other side of Prescott and back this morning. I guess fitness begins one gear at a time. While at River City I picked up a Rookie Rides flyer -- all sorts of flat paved routes for me, the elderly and the tadpoles. Ah well, while in the saddle I have rerun your blog from memory and am right there in Cuba with you eating the 2-person platter Solo. You're my hero -- ride on Captain Kirk! Oh, yeah, the new Star Trek movie is much better than you might think -- pretty much loved it.

  8. Daniel, you really need to pedal hard or else you'll miss Star Trek in the Park. Yup, they're performing actual Star Trek (the old ones) episodes in the park! Hopefully they'll have the paper mache rocks, bad fist fights, and everything!