Day 4 I awoke to more rain. Things didn’t feel right at all. I could not get the bad dream out of my mind. I got a late start but finally made it to new trail. I saw some elk but still felt terrible, psychologically. I began to get off my nutrition schedule. There was little water on the map for the next 20 miles and so I was drinking just small sips every once in a while. Quickly I became dehydrated and things got worse. It was impossible to eat anything with a dry mouth. Then I entered Sargents Mesa. This section brings the toughest people to their knees. You can’t ride it. There’s just no line. It’s flat for the most part but the rocks are huge and never ending. It crippled me. Pushing my bike for hours on end was torture. When you push your bike, you naturally want to steer it through the rocks and that means you can’t really watch where you step. I kept stepping on loose boulders and losing my footing. If I watched where I was stepping, the front wheel would get caught up on a big rock and I’d stumble. I yelled numerous times out of frustration. At one point I stopped and cried but no tears came. I felt like a wuss for it so I quickly shut up before someone jumped out from behind the trees laughing at me. I talked to Heather. I looked at my SPOT and focused on the 911 button more times than I can count. I remember the way the button felt on my finger. If pressing that button would have ended it right then, I would have done it but I knew I would still have to wait for help. That angered me more. I remember saying, “I think I’m in trouble here.” I began to panic. There was nothing to do but keep pushing. I said those 2 words to myself over and over again. “Keep pushing.” “Keep pushing.”
I started talking to the cattle in the meadows. The weather moved in. The cows looked at me like I was an idiot. The lightning started. The Cochetopa Hills meant tons of pushing. The lightning put some extra pep in my step. I had no idea how much further I had to go but I was scared as hell. I began sprinting up the hills and riding as hard as I could on the downhills. I was making so much noise as I gasped for air but I kept going trying to outrun this storm.
I had already made the decision to pull the plug.
20 minutes later I popped out into a small clearing. I saw a massive tent but it wasn’t raised up all the way. I was pretty sure there were 2 bikes laying there. Then someone said, “There he is!” I honestly thought I was hallucinating. I rode by it before deciding to look inside. Sitting in chairs were Marshal and Alex. Next to them were coolers of pop, huge jugs of water, and boxes and boxes of snacks. The words “Trail Angel” were written on the tent. They invited me in and I told them that I was ready to quit. I asked where the closest town was. Marshal told me to drink a pop but there was only diet left. It was the best pop I’ve ever had. I think I had 3 of them. I have no clue how many packages of cookies I ate. I began to feel better and we joked a bit. Then we talked about moving on.
I decided that I’d ride with them until I could find a town and then I’d stop. I told them about my dream the night before and how it was messing with me. We started the next section and within miles, found 2 more coolers filled with pop. I laid there next to the creek and drank several more while Alex and Marshal rode on. With a good sugar buzz, I eventually caught them and we rode through the dark and light rain to Dome Lake where we decided to sleep. I laid in my bivy thinking about the nightmare I had the night before. I worried about Heather.