When I went to sleep at 1:30PM in Saratoga, my plan had been to sleep the afternoon and then ride in the evening to try and minimize the effects of the winds on my progress. I was so sick of headwinds! It seemed like it was everyday. I got up with my alarm at some point in the late afternoon/early evening and the wind was still howling out of the south. I was hungry, so I went downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant and ate a big meal, then went back upstairs and went back to bed. I just didn’t have it in me to go.
Finally, I got up about 1:00Am. I had slept or at least rested and eaten for over 12 hours. I wasn’t real excited to get back out there, but I knew I should. I was beginning to get embarrassed for the amount of time I had spent down. Friends and family had been texting and calling, wishing me a happy 44th birthday, but also wanting to know what was up. I needed to get moving. I packed up, went across the block to the Kum & Go for supplies and headed out into the dark, cold night.
The winds were still blowing out of the south pretty good and progress was slow, but I had to keep moving. It was a slog for me to Riverside and I was cold in the night mountain air. It took me 2 hours to make the short 17 miles and I was already fighting sleep. Really?!?!? Frustrated with the situation and myself, I rolled into town. Across the street from where I was supposed to turn east onto Hwy 230, there was a community center and out front a teepee. I decided that would be a great spot and quickly opened the flap door, pulled my bike inside, rolled out my bivy and crawled in it for a nap. I slept almost 2 hours.
When I woke, the sun was coming up. I grabbed my things and quickly hit the road. It was cold and there was still a headwind, but I felt better about things and started to actually make some progress. I wasn’t breaking any land speed records, but progress is progress. By 10:00AM I made it to Walden, Co. I went to a restaurant on the main drag and ordered a big breakfast.
While I sat eating, in walks none other than Jason Kulma. Jason lives in Sty Louis, just 70 miles away from my home and he and I have done quite a few of the same events over the last few years. I was both happy and sad to see him. I was happy to see a familiar face, but if there was anyone in the race that I wanted to end up in front of, it would be him. I don’t mean that in a malicious way, just in a friendly rivalry sort of thing. This spurred me to finish my food and get going. As I was getting ready to leave, in came Jimmy Bisese, Janie Hayes’ husband. Jimmy sat with Jason and I hit the road.
I grabbed some things at a gas station on my way out of town and got going. Just outside of town I was met with more nasty headwinds. They were relentless it seemed! Fueled by competition and wanting to stay out in front of Jason, I stayed moving, making it across the valley to Rand and then up Willow Creek Pass. Crossing Willow Creek Pass was significant in my mind as it was the next to last pass in the Rockies. Next up- Hoosier Pass and then the mountains were done…for awhile.
A few miles after coming over the pass, as I passed a turnoff for a gravel road, I heard someone holler my name. It was JD, local bike mechanic and fellow TABR15 veteran! He had been coming out to meet all the racers and provide bike service if needed. I was in desperate need of some chain lube and he was happy to oblige. He also topped off my tires with his floor pump while we chatted a few minutes. It was great to see another familiar face! I didn’t stay long and hit the road right away, thanking JD for his help to me and all the other racers. What a treat!
Leaving JD, I continued on, making the turn onto US40 and then to Hot Sulphur Springs. When I got to town it was a little after 4PM.
I headed straight for a little roadside dairy bar that I had eaten at before. Sitting there was Luke Kocher and George Koefler. We chatted while we ate and discussed plans. Luke said he had ridden through the night and was exhausted. He was going to get a room in town and sleep for awhile. George and I both planned to go on. It was early still and despite the howling headwinds from the south, I needed to stay moving. The two of them left, I finished my food and then headed out of town.
The ride out of Hot Sulphur Springs was a slog. It is all down hill through the Colorado River gorge, but the winds were screaming up the gorge and there was zero coasting. Once out of the gorge and on the flatter sections beyond Parshall, riding was better, but the wind was something else.
I got to Kremmling about 6:15PM and had to make a decision. Kremmling is fairly high at 8000′ in elevation. It was pretty cool out that evening and I knew the temps would drop at night. I didn’t have the gear to bivy in the cold at that elevation and didn’t want to get stuck having to try to find a hotel room in the tourist traps ahead of Dillon, Frisco and Breckenridge. I decided to get a room at the Super 8 in Kremmling and get an early start the next day. I was disappointed that my mileage was so low. I had only made 148 miles on the day.
First things first, I went to the Kum & Go across the street and loaded up on food. Then I went to the hotel, checked in and started my laundry. Jimmy Bisese got to town not too long after me and stayed in the same hotel. He came down to do his laundry as well and asked if I wanted to have dinner and birthday beers at a Mexican restaurant across the street. I declined and said that I was going to sleep and get an early start the next day. I really regret not accepting his offer. It would’ve been a great way to celebrate my birthday and I know I would’ve enjoyed the company. I finished my laundry, ate my gas station burritos and went to bed.