I had not hung my food the night before and I woke to a startle wondering if the noise I thought I had heard was a bear getting into my food. I popped out of my bivy only to see another rider steadily going past. It was 6 in the morning and the air was super crisp. I went over and grabbed some food and ate breakfast and then broke things down and got moving. Soon I caught the rider who had slid past in the early morning. As I made my way towards highway 50, I found this sign taped to a tree.
I kept moving, crossed highway 50, and started the long slog up Fooses Creek. Not far into the climb, I found 2 riders. One was Paul Bosworth and the other was Dan Hickstein. Dan was ITTing the route from Durango to Denver. I rode with Dan most of the day at the Salida Big Friggin' Loop a few months prior. For that race we both rode rigid Salsa El Mar singlespeeds. I was amazed to see he was still riding the same rig. He appeared in good spirits. Paul had broken a chain and Dan had helped him fix it right before I arrived. We all got moving again and Dan laughed and said, "Hey...enjoy these next few sections!" I think I told him to fuck off.
The climb up Fooses tops out at 12k and change again as you go over Marshal Pass. Another storm was brewing so I was in another hurry to get up and over and back in the safety of the trees before the lightening started. I did snap a fee pics up there.
Once on top of Marshal, you are actually exposed for a good bit of trail and then you climb a bit more before dropping down.
I have no clue if this picture was even taken in the area of Marshal Pass nor do I have any idea why I don't have a helmet on. There are times when I will take it off for really long climbs but I don't think this was one of them. Anyways...I'm including it because I think I still look normal.
You can see here that this section is actually relatively flat but still really exposed and those clouds are thinking of something evil.
I think this was looking east on top of the pass.
Right after Marshal Pass you enter an area that is typically very dry so it's important to not miss that last water re-supply. There is supposed to be a piped spring on the backside of Marshal Pass but I missed it. I made it to the end of the section with hardly any water left and very pissed off. I drink a lot of water. For this race I had a 2 liter bladder in my pack, 2 bottles and a collapsable 1 liter bottle as well. I was planning on having them all full for the next few sections.
A storm rolled in and I bivied for a bit but it blew over quickly and hardly dropped any rain. Not more than an hour later, I saw where there was supposed to be a creek (Silver Creek) about .3 mile off route and knew I had to go. I left my bike and went down the mountain to where I could see green brush. It was scarce but I was able to get enough to fill my bladder. On the way out another storm came in and this one was more determined and had me running up the mountain to where I had left my bike at a small stand of trees. I got in the center of them and bivied again. I was miserable. "Fuck this. I'm going to do the same thing I did in 2009. I'm gonna hit 114 and take it all the way into Gunnison." I was planning my route when all of a sudden a rider appeared. It was BC Paul. I yelled at him and he smiled and came into my little tree fort. We ate food and talked a bit and he said I wasn't quitting.
I liked riding with Paul so I agreed to go a bit further. I could bail after Sargents just as easily. Paul was traveling really light. No bivy. Hopping from hotel to hotel. He intended to simply push through the long stretch day and night because of his sleeping system choice. Kinda like me. We made our way through the next section which sucks unless you have a motorcycle. We hit Tank 7 Creek and I told Paul that we were now about to enter the fabled Sargents Mesa stretch. I've seen it bring riders to their knees. It can be truly be soul crushing. For whatever reason, I was looking forward to it this year.
Paul was frustrated at the amount of pushing right away. I told him to chill because we had another 17 miles of this to go. It sounds unbelievable. 20 miles of pushing your bike. It's not steep. It's just rocky. Maybe 8 miles in, Paul put his bike down and said he was quitting. "You can't quit here dude. You have to get to the end of the section to hit 114." He said he was going to cook up a hot meal and then take his time and get out and then head to Gunny. He didn't wanna push his bike anymore. "I'll hang out with you then because it's not safe to leave anyone out here." "Don't be silly. I've been in much worse conditions than this." I knew Paul had attempted Tour Divide twice and done some serious rides around the world (one of them across Africa). He appeared to have his wits about him but was just tired of pushing. We argued about it for a bit and then I gave him water to drink and to cook his meal with and headed off.