DNF! Tour Divide Rookie Attempt Days 4-6

Day 4 started great! I slept a bit long, but woke refreshed and with partly cloudy skies. A couple riders went by as I was breaking down my camp before getting back on to climbing.  This sections was closed to motorized vehicles, so the trail kind of alternated between nice double track and overgrown single track.  When the trail got tight, I’d ring my bike bell to let the bears know I was coming.  Although at on point as I was ringing my bell … Ding, ding, ding … I had to wonder if I was just calling wolves and Cougars for breakfast!

There was another section of single track that included the infamous “wall”.  Of course, once again I rode right past the turn that was again marked with stacked rocks.  Some of this single track was too technical for me, so I walked some of it. It was relatively flat to the wall, but there was a lot of roots, rocks and dips.

Partly cloudy sky in the morning

nice double track!

Yep! Missed this turn! oops

Single track headed to the “wall”

With the reflection, I couldn’t get a good pic of my Garmin which showed the US border

The wall was insane. I didn’t get a great picture of it, but it’s almost vertical. Had to be at least a 70% grade. You push your bike above your head while scrambling up roots and steps in the mud. Push a few feet, lock the brakes and step up to your bike and repeat. It’s not too long, maybe a 100 feet or so, but took quite a bit of time to get up. There was a river running at the bottom. Very scenic, but holy cow, that was hard!  There was a stream running across the trail shortly after the top, so I stopped and refilled my water bladder.

There was quite a long climb after getting back on the forest road, but near the top I noticed the US border starting to show up on my Garmin! I was getting close! Of course the road took had a switchback and moved away from the border for a while, then moved parallel to it.  It was pretty brisk at the top, so I put a jacket on near the top and for a nice long descent.  It really warmed up and got into the mid 80’s so I stopped when I got to the pavement at the bottom to shed my jacket and arm and leg warmers.

It was only a few miles from there to the border in Roosville.  The wind had kicked up some, but with the pavement I still made pretty good time.  The border patrol agent was following the race told me the leaders were already in Butte. Wow.

US Border crossing in Roosville


After crossing the border I proceeded to ride right past my turn. It was a couple miles before I noticed that my Garmin showed me off-route. The turn was just passed the border, so I headed back and noticed a picnic table in the parking lot of one of the duty-free stores. So I pulled over there and called Annette to let her know I was back in the good ole U.S. Of A.

That headwind got harder on the way to Eureka. I was pretty drained when I got to the Subway for a late lunch.  There were a couple other riders there who had decided to spend the night in Eureka. The weather was expected to turn bad again with the possibility of snow and high wind.  I sat in the Subway for a while re-hydrating and made the decision to stay for the night as well. The gas station/subway also had a motel, so I got a room, took a shower then stuffed my dirty clothes in a trash bag and walked about a mile to a laundry-mat.  On my walk back to the hotel, I could see the storm coming. It was still windy, but there were black clouds above the mountains. It started sprinkling before I got back to the hotel, then started to just pour.

I hung out in my room watching TV until there was a break in the weather then walked down to the grocery store to stock up on food so I’d be ready to head out in the morning.  I was a bit congested when I went to bed, but didn’t feel too bad. Unfortunately when I got up in the morning, I was shaking with the chills. I called Annette and decide to spend the day in bed to break a fever. So day 5 was spent in a hotel. The gas station convenience store had some NyQuil and that put me out for the day.  I slept a lot and started to get the sweats in the afternoon.  I was hoping that meant I was breaking the fever. That storm was as bad as expected and there was fresh snow on the mountains.

The view from my room in Eureka

Day 6 I felt a lot better.  I went next door to the Subway to get a sub to eat for lunch, packed my bike and headed out.  It was a bit brisk, but partly cloudy and calm.  Annette texted me to wish me a Happy Anniversay. Wow time was flying! I texted her back, but really wanted to see her on our 25th Anniversary, so I decided to push to Whitefish to get another hotel room. Whitefish is 91 miles with 6100 feet of climbing from Eureka, so the farthest distance and most climbing I would do on one day during the ride.

There was a lot of climbing, but the grades of the climbs topped out at about 6%, so I was able to ride pretty much the whole day. I started catching some other riders and it was good to see people on the trail.

At one point I came upon a historic cabin that was owned by the forest service. Nobody was using it, so I pulled in and sat on the porch to eat my sandwich.

This was a great day on the bike. The weather was pleasant, the climbs weren’t too hard and I made great time.  I pulled into Whitefish in the early evening. I was keeping my phone on airplane mode to conserve battery, but turned it on when I got into town to find a hotel. Right after turning off airplane mode, it rang. My dad was calling to check in on me.  After talking to him, I pulled up the trackleaders web page to see if there was anyone else in town and where they were staying. All the hotels were a mile or so off route, so I rode over to one and checked in.  After showering, I face timed with Annette on our Anniversary. Well worth the effort to get there!

I walked over to a pizza place for dinner and a beer before calling it a night.  I was still feeling good and having a great time.  Canada is nice, but it was great being back in the US!

To be continued…

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