I had a pretty big weekend to get through in terms of training. Once again, I loaded up and headed over to Chaffee County for three days of riding. On the way over, I saw a Tour Divide racer on highway 24 just out of Hartsel and decided to stop and wait for him to get there so I could give him an applause. It turned out to be Jeff Tomasetti. We chatted for a bit as he inhaled ice cream and then I wished him well and got back in the car. My plan was to park at Absolute Bikes in Salida and do a big loop over the next 3 days. Friday night I rode the TD route northbound. I did not realize how much the road kicked up right as it left Salida though. It doesn't look like much but it climbed for a solid 2.5 hours and man was it hot. It was also incredibly dry back there.
Shortly after taking this picture, I would see someone on the side of the road after cresting a small climb. I figured it would be Jeff but the jersey was a different color. As I got closer, we both were smiling and waving. I can't recall his name right now but he was from Belgium and was also a TD racer. As we chatted, Jeff popped over the hill and we all had a good laugh before riding off in opposite directions. It was pretty inspiring seeing those guys. They were both lubed up with Carmex, Burt's products, Chapstick, Coppertone and layer upon layer of dirt. They both had some pretty serious sores on their mouths and ears from the sun. To say that they looked "bad" would be rude considering the miles they had covered up to that point and the fact that these riders are just exposed to the sun ALL DAY LONG and no amount of anything will keep things from cracking. It was really neat to get to talk to both of them and hear some of their stories.
This was about 3 hours in to the ride when I ran out of water. I was supposed to ride for 3-4 hours this evening and then bivy up somewhere but the route was a lot longer than I anticipated. I ended up making it back to the highway after 6 hours and 3 of them spent licking my lips and trying not to think about soda, water, Gatorade, iced mocha this and that. There were some houses along the way and I could have stopped and pleaded my case but I wanted to see what would happen if I climbed into the hurt cave. At hour 5 I got a little emotional. Although it's just a theory, I believe that dehydration is the biggest reason for my quitting in 2009 and even if my hub hadn't had issues in 2008, I would not have made it through the remote areas and may have gotten into serious trouble.