Day 1 was lonely for me. So many racers started and yet it was just me, the mountains, and woods all day
We weren't sure what this was, but we slept in the rickety loft on the right side. It was nice to have a roof to keep us dry and something to get us above the grizzlies.
Tandem-onium caught us and we rode with them for a while. Then we stood along the road and showed off our tan lines for a few minutes.
This photo doesn't do justice to the amount of sandy mud we had just ridden through. Miles and miles and miles of it.
Getting through more gooey clay mud to this pass was a huge accomplishment. Little did we know that things got worse on the other side, and Joe's bike would never be the same again. He was forced to spend a day in Lima waiting for replacement parts.
At the end of a long day, Chris and I pushed up the pass and across the border into Idaho. This was a huge accomplishment, and as we approached the pass, Idaho welcomed us with a rainbow.
The top of the pass presented a hike-a-bike of unknown duration. It turned out that it took ~3 hours, it was just above freezing, and we didn't quit riding/pushing until after midnight. Ouch.
Coming down from Union Pass, my lower derailleur pulley started acting up. Then it quit turning entirely. Closer inspection showed that the sealed cartridge bearing had self-destructed, and I was left with only one pulley and two gears to ride the 40 miles into Pinedale.
We stayed in an awesome campground near Boulder, WY. The owner let us sleep in his barn, shower, and do laundry, all for $10. It was a good night.
The end of a good day - Boulder, WY to the end of the dirt in the Basin. That felt huge. And a warm breakfast was only 40 miles away in the morning.
We wanted to sleep inside this instead of next to it, since it was the only structure around for miles and there were more storms to the west, but the cattle had filled the shack a couple feet deep with manure. Impressive.
Southernmost Wyoming was a battle. Wind and incredibly steep climbs took a lot out of both Chris and me.
Heading out of Del Norte on a moist morning with Gary along for some great company for the first bit. A 4000' climb loomed in front of me, and then to top things off, 4 hours of steady rain.
Looking back up the Conejos Valley toward Platoro, where I got a fantastic meal and dried my clothes in front of their raging fireplace.
Heading into New Mexico. That just meant more mud and a tough evening as I raced a storm to get through an already-nearly-unrideable section of sticky mud.
Riding out of Grants and toward the cliffs of El Malpais after a 5-hour afternoon drenching. Skirting the base of the cliffs in the moonlight was magical, and Pie Town wasn't too far away. Too bad I got there before the cafes opened, so no pie for me.
Tracey and JayP caught me in the evening, and we enjoyed what the Beaverhead Work Center had to offer: a pop machine! This section was something like 160 miles between towns.
I thought I was homefree after the last climb in the Gila. Nope. A couple miles of unrideable mud tried to keep me from getting to Mimbres and Silver City. Fortunately, this was the last mud I had to deal with.
After Silver City was some amazing riding through the Separ desert. And the border was only 100 miles away!
Mother Nature decided to throw one last challenge at me - a giant storm. It provided a nice tailwind, but the lightning and heavy rain behind that pushed me to my limit. I was already going hard to try to hold off Tracey and JayP, but this storm honestly scared the hell out of me.
Pushing hard. Note the giant cloud of dust and sand behind me, and behind that the storm as it was starting to grow more quickly. I raced the storm for the next 30 miles and actually won. That's never happened before.
The end! I couldn't quite get to the border, so 200 feet shy had to do. I'm not sure what the ever-present Border Patrol would have done if I had snuck past this gate.