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GDMBR Chapter 6

Dillon, CO, to Steamboat Springs. CO

Refueling the body

Day 11 was a zero day in Dillon. I did something I hadn't done in weeks: grocery shopping.

Here's what I bought:

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 banana

  • 1 orange

  • 1 apple

  • Raspberries

  • Herbal tea

  • Almond milk

  • Mango-flavored probiotic cashew milk yogurt stuff (honestly I don't think I even realized what I was buying... but it was tasty)

  • Bob's Red Mill fruit and nut muesli

  • A loaf of really dark dense rye German "athletic" bread

I ate all of that in one day. All 12 servings of muesli... plus half a stick of butter and half a brick of Philadelphia cream cheese that was already in the fridge (sorry Ken and Joy... I'll get ya back!).

You might have noticed there weren't ingredients to make a proper meal... so next time I'll go in with a plan and not just an empty stomach.

Resting the body

I slept so much. It was cold and drizzling when I first arrived to Dillon. Although it was supposed to snow on my zero day it ended up just raining some more, but it was still a great excuse to do some writing, planning, napping and painting.

I tend to gravitate toward my smaller brushes so this time I challenged myself to use just one brush for the whole painting—and it had to be one of my bigger brushes. Not my fav, but it was a fun and relaxing activity!

A scene from the dirt roads of Elephant Rocks BLM:

No butts about it

Upon packing up and getting dressed for the trail again the next morning, I ran out of chamois cream.

*quick side note: it turns out I'm actually quite pro chamois!

Seriously... chamois for everybody. So many chamois. All the chamois.

I will say, however, that they need to come up with an antimicrobial liner, something that keeps the top of it dry (similar to the top layer of those period-proof panties or a maxi pad) and a better method to keep them in place so they don't ride up your thighs.

Okay back to the story

Sorry for the tangent there. Okay, so with chamois shorts, you also use something called chamois cream (aka chamois butter). It's a slick, non-greasy lubricant that further helps prevent chafing from your bits that... experience a lot of rubbing and friction during cycling.

Sooo... I had been using one in a chapstick-type format, called Body Glide (I swear it's made for sports use) (non-sexy sports) (unless you find long-distance running and biking sexy) (annnd I digress).

Anyway, I stared down the barrel of an empty chamois lube tube that morning. Only managed to apply it to one side before running out.

But fear not; there was a bike shop just on the north end of Silverthorne. I could resupply there!


They didn't have ANY chamois cream. None. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Perhaps they hadn't yet transitioned over from winter sports to summer sports, but Pioneer Sports of Silverthorne, you REALLY let a sister down.

On the trail again

Butt jokes aside, the ride out of Dillon was just fantastic. In a lot of ways, Summit County is quintessential Colorado. With meandering rivers, lush green valleys and snowcapped mountains, it's what you'd expect to see on a postcard.

The ride that day took me past horse and cattle ranches, through dense pine forests, airy aspen groves, expansive sage fields and large stocked reservoirs, finally spitting me out on the bank of the mighty Colorado River.

It was a longer day, at 65 miles. Although there was considerable elevation gain, it was at a relatively low grade, so it didn't feel like work.

Camping at Pumphouse

Hey I know this place! It's a popular put-in site for rafters and I've both rafted and camped here! It's a really fun and beautiful spot just west of Kremmling.

I arrived on Thursday evening and was lucky to get a waterfront site. I was also lucky to have arrived in the middle of the annual salmonfly hatch, which typically lasts about four days and draws flyfishers out from the woodwork.

I ate my dinner on the rocks of the river that evening quietly listening to the water and watching the fishermen casting their lines.

Over and over, they'd reel in then scoop up and admire the fat fish in their nets before carefully removing the hook and releasing them back into the clear cold water.

The sun doesn't set until around 9:00 now. So before I went to bed I took a short walk to where there's a bench on the river. I sat there watching a thick swarm of swifts as they flew in a tight cluster over the water diving to eat the flies—miraculously never crashing into each other.

All the while a salmonfly rested safely on my shoulder.

That night I slept without the rainfly on my tent so I could stare up at the stars.

A late start to a looong day

Day 13 nearly broke me. I knew it was going to be a doozy of a day at 70 miles and 7,000 ft elevation gain. But holy shit.

I set my alarm (something I haven't done so far this trip) for 6:00a so I could get an early start.

I must have been in such a deep sleep I didn't even hear it until it had been sounding for several minutes... I managed to turn it off but then continued sleeping until 8:30! Gah!

After making a hearty breakfast, breaking down camp and getting dressed I didn't start riding until after 9:00a.

Climb #1

Straight from camp I climbed. And climbed. It was already getting warm and although I felt great I was beginning to worry about time.

I had a cozy place waiting for me in Steamboat Springs and I really wanted to make it there that day.

I stopped to lube my chain in the picture above and a hummingbird came and hovered within two feet from my face for what seemed like an eternity. I saw its eyes. It's possible we saw into each other's souls. That's how close and how long it was there.

A numbers game

Anyone who knows me well knows math isn't my forte.

But I was teetering between 3.5-4.5 mph on this climb and I knew there simply weren't enough hours of daylight (or darkness) left at that rate.

So I decided to stick my girthiest digit into the air the next time a truck passed, hoping they'd show some mercy and shuttle me 5... or 10... or 15 miles ahead.

But no takers.

Stairway to Hell

Sure, I'm being a bit dramatic, but the stretch north of Radium was unforgiving. In all, it was maybe only fifteen or so miles, but it was nearly all at a constant grade of 10% or more—and really rutty and rocky with areas of loose gravel on top of packed clay that felt like riding up a hill of marbles.

Sure there were some redeeming qualities; like all of the colorful wildflowers including purple lupine that grew along the edges of the road. They seemed to lean toward me with their petals outstretched.

At one point I imagined they were the adoring, cheering audience lined up along the Tour de France.

I actually outstretched my arm to give one of them a passing high five... only to realize I wasn't going top racing speed.

No. I was now going so slow my Garmin refused to register it as movement at all. It clearly didn't appreciate the effort it took to go up that goddamn mountain.

My first hike-a-bike

You'll notice I don't have many pictures from this segment.

And by not many, I mean none. All you need to know I guess is that I passed through some really pretty places yada yada and pushed/pulled the equivalent of my own dead bodyweight in bike awkwardly up a steep mountain for at least—cumulatively—a mile.

Hallelujah a downhill

With all the hiking uphill, rests and breaks (I took a lot of breaks to rest my arms and to eat/drink), it took me about six hours to go sixteen miles.

But of course, as soon as the route began to tilt down, the wind picked up. And it wasn't at my back.

This wasn't going to be easy, either.

But it was better... and that's what I chose to focus on.

Around 4:00p I made it to the halfway point in miles, and had completed all but about 1,200 ft in remaining elevation gain.

Now I had a nice 3,500 ft descent! Woohoo!

Water crossing

After a couple nice downhills I came to my first water crossing! It kind of caught me off guard and was deeper than I expected.

I opted to take off my sun legs, cycling shoes and socks, and install my Tevas. This would later prove to be futile.

But alas, I portaged my bike through knee-deep flowing water. And it was fun. And I smiled easily.

Dinner on the edge of Steamboat

By 6:00p I was bonking. My stomach was screaming at me to be refilled, so I pulled off to a picnic table in Stagecoach State Park, just about twenty three miles from my destination.

I brought chicken alfredo to life via boiling water from my jetboil. Technically it was two meals—meant to be shared—but I ate it all so fast, plus some peanut butter and an Rx bar.

Back at it...

By 6:40p I was back on route, reenergized and tearing down some whippy trails through huge 12-18" deep mud puddles that extended the whole width of the trail.

I didn't playfully aim for them this time... but I also didn't gingerly try to skirt them.

The only thing that gave me pause during this stretch was a CHONKY skunk. I slammed my brakes so hard. It scampered along the trail ahead of me for about fifteen yards before turning off into the thick shrubbery.

The home stretch

About an hour later I popped out from the forest and it was all paved roads from there. Now with flashing lights festooned to the front and back of my bike, I made the final miles to Sandie's house in oldtown Steamboat Springs.

Upon arrival, around 8:40p, I had the opportunity to really see myself. I was covered in mud. My arms, my legs, my shorts, shoes and socks soaked.

I let out an exhale and a laugh that quickly devolved into a sob. Sandie hugged me and told me how proud she was of me.

I asked if I should hose off outside before showering...

After cleaning up she made me a hot cup of tea and I went to bed feeling quite proud of myself, too, and thankful for the couple days' rest ahead of me.

Video dispatches from the trail:

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