CTR: Day 2
August 23, 2013
Silverton to end of La Garita bike detour
93 miles, 12,400' gained, 18 hours
After a fitful couple hours of sleep (I can never sleep well after hard exertion), I actually felt pretty good riding/hiking Stony Pass at 3am, and made it to the top probably around 5am, barely needing my lights under the full moon. I started the traverse over to Cataract Ridge as the pre-dawn light began to appear - looked like another fantastic day approaching:
I had heard how incredible Segments 23 and 22 were supposed to be, but even my high expectations were blown away. Stefan Griebel caught me as we crested 13,000ft on Cataract Ridge, just as the sun came up. We were both flabbergasted by the surroundings, perfect timing with the sunrise!
Lifted up by the morning light, the riding was effortless despite the altitude. Despite all the techy ups and downs on Cataract, it was hard to focus on the riding in these settings. The colors were unlike anything I've seen. Above treeline riding is truly something special.
Ryan Franz had caught up to us as well. After a couple spectacular descents, we had the long, steep slog up to the high point of the race, Coney Summit, at 13,300 ft. Stefan rode most of it and he was gone. We caught Pete Basinger, hiking along steadily. It was almost noon, and the weather was holding – no sign of dark clouds, my biggest fear of the race – lightning is no joke at these elevations.
Ryan and I had a quick lunch break at the top, then bombed down the other side. Finally some darker clouds were moving in, glad we got over that as early as we did. My pace quickened as I watched the clouds, I wanted to get back below treeline as soon as possible. The clouds never threatened lightning however.
The last few miles of Segment 22 were awful - Jarosa Mesa, a long, flat, grassy expanse, covered with thousands of sharp, immovable, baby head sized rocks. You could barely ride at all, and I was out of water, tired, and starting to get pissed off. Finally it ended, only to be followed by a jarring, super rocky descent. I was parched. Luckily I stumbled across a barely trickling stream, and stopped to fill my bladder. Ryan showed up as I was waiting for my iodine tablets to work, and we chilled at the stream for a bit, recovering from the beating we just took on our hardtails. Ryan took off before me, as I decided I needed a 20-minute nap. Woke up feeling refreshed, and bombed down the trail to Spring Creek Pass, the start of a 56 mile detour around the La Garita Wilderness.
The detour started with a few miles on pavement, and I rode past this huge, bizarre asphalt burning operation on the road, spewing huge plumes of noxious smoke into the air that from a distance we thought was a large wildfire. I tried to hold my breath through it but had to breathe some in and felt sick. Later, Ryan remarked, "That was like riding through hell!"
I almost made a HUGE mistake after Slumgullion Pass - I missed the turn onto the dirt road, and kept going down HWY 149 towards Lake City. It was a fast, steep descent, and I had gone about a mile and a half before I noticed my mistake. Shit! Burned valuable calories I didn't have to spare with my dwindling food rations.
The rest of the detour was actually kind of nice - easy dirt roads through a beautiful, remote valley dotted with farms. A nice break from the intensity of the Colorado Trail. I made it to the end of the detour by 9pm and found a comfy campsite right by the road. Starving, I scarfed down a couple Hostess pastries and some beef jerkey, slightly worried about my food rations for the next day - only about 3500 calories to get me about 90 extremely tough miles to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. I noticed lots of small desert rodents scurrying about, so I put all my food up high on my bike, and passed out, alarm again set for 2am.
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