picture from Brush Mtn Lodge facebook account (ha Kirsten made me smile like that)
Day 11, 5:30am – 12:30pm, 19hrs, 135 miles
I would imagine that anyone reading this realizes I did finish. But that night drifting off to sleep in my seedy Wamsutter hotel room I was fully expecting to have to scratch when the alarm went off. When I did wake up all the ice on both knees was melted to water in plastic bags and wet towels, but there was still a bit of ice under my achilles. I gingerly rolled off the bed and ‘tested’ the achilles for the prior nights grinding and clicking. To my compete surprise there was no grind or pop or noticeable obstruction of any type whatsoever. Everything, knees and achillies, ribs etc, was a bit sore but …..I was back in it. A huge weight lifted and I absolutely knew in my heart that if I was careful and didn’t screw up, or have my bike break in half, I would see Antelope Wells.
Ha most of you are probably more than tired of reading about my downhill progression, me too but I am trying to reflect what I thought and felt and not sugar coat anything. I will say that from here to the end mentally I was going uphill so each post should be in general a bit more positive.
I popped over to the truck stop and topped off my supplies and then headed south. The immediate plan was to baby my achilles along the flat (and dusty from oil rig trucks) dirt road. This was truly a nasty section of road with the large tanker type trucks rumbling by but I will say most of the drivers did slow just a bit and always gave plenty of room. However there was no way short of completely stopping that they could keep from dusting me. It wasn’t long before I had crossed highway 789 and left all the traffic behind. It’s not just dusty traffic I had left behind, in many ways my race had restarted, my personal mid-race "do over". It’s not easy to put into words how relaxed I was now verses how stressed I had been feeling the last 3 or 4 days. In many ways the ‘race’ was off my mind yet not really. Now I felt centered, balanced if you will and ready to get on with my TDR experience.
65 miles into my day, about 9 hours later I rolled into the little town of Savery. I stopped at the little museum and asked if there was still a soda machine on the premises, instead I was offered some ice for the water bladder and as many frozen homemade cookies as I wanted. I already had all the food I could possible need, especially with Brush Mtn Lodge just up the road, but I took some ice and a few cookies more to be polite than anything else, although the ice was nice as the day was just barely hot. About 2.5 hours later I reached Brush Mtn Lodge. The post-race Trackeleaders Spot check shows it was just past 5:00pm and I had traveled about 90 miles at a 7.5mph pace. At the time I knew I had reached the lodge way too early to stop for the day. I also remember feeling very fresh and relaxed, I had paced myself all day at a low level and was feeling good.
Kirsten offered up her usual racer support, encouraging words, hamburgers cooked to order, race gossip, a offer for a place to camp or get a room if needed and on and on. If you want a real feel for just how big deal this mid race pit-stop at Kirsten’s lodge is I would invite you to go to her lodge’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BrushMountainLodge/ and simply click through all the 2015 TDR pictures. It’s a great way to scope out TDR bike set ups if you are thinking of doing the race-- but what I would ask is you first focus on is the expression on each racers face. YES, that’s right-- almost everyone has that huge oversized smile.
ha--here is my usual rather wimpy 'big' smileI am sure some of those smiles are because at this point you are just over ½ way done with what by now is turning into a truly ‘long’ race. However the main part of each racer's smile is I think because stopping at Kristin’s lodge is a huge TDR Magic Moment. (see earlier post about TDR magic moments)
I had my hamburger, declined to stay the night, listened politely to some unexpected and thoughtful advice on trailside first aid techniques for my ailing achilles and just relaxed for about an hour. But it was simply too early to stop and I wanted to pass by DB’s last camp spot in daylight hours and say some sort of hi to his ever lingering presence.
Later up the road, just before the pass I spooked a mama elk nursing her calf. Bikes can be quiet and I was quite close, closer than I realized before she saw me. When mama did see me, in her haste to escape she knocked into her poor calf who took a comical tumble, and then confused baby was up and off like a flash to catch up to mama. I reached the pass right at dark, popped on the helmet light, which had a known full charge for a change, and worked my way slowly down the notorious harsh decent. Ah, how I was wishing for the comfort of a FS frame like the one Andres Bonelli was running. A post-race Spot check shows he had crossed the same punishing section the morning of the day before, he was already 1.5 days further along at this point. After the bumps it was long but easy cruising into Steamboat. It had been a good day, the body held on quite nicely all day with only one ice pack used, back at Brush Mtn.
Brush Mtn was just about the last time I felt the need to ice downThe 135 miles at a 7mph overall pace was nice, in essence the whole day had been a rolling recovery day and I knew I was going to finish it with a long sleep in a hotel with one more ice down and lots to eat and drink.
So I rolled in to a 24 hour super convenience store at 12:30pm and finalized my plans for the night. Called and confirmed the hotel room, ate some food right on the spot and bought extra to eat in my room. The basic reason to push on to Steamboat was to sleep warm and snug, recover some more, sleep till just before the bike shops opened and hit one 1st in line. I wanted to set myself up for some better days going forward.