Today was shaping up to be a tough day. Why?
- Lots of climbing. This is especially difficult with a heavy bike
- Rocky trails. These reduce your biking speed significantly
- Weather. When it’s sunny it’s cold at this elevation. When it’s rainy… I hope it won’t. When it’s a thunderstorm…
So let’s start with my biggest fear – the weather. At 6 am the skies were crystal clear. At 8 some clouds appeared. By 10 is was mostly cloudy. I then had a drizzle, some small hail, sunny again, hail, sunny, drizzle, and so on. But overall I count myself lucky. I was dry and I didn’t need (all) my bad weather gear.
Now the trails. It was a push-bike-a-thon. I think I haven’t pushed my bike so much in any other day in my life. My arms and shoulders were cramping. I didn’t have anything to carry the bike on my back – I should find a way in the future.
But I didn’t perceive this day as a bad one. First off, I reached the highest elevation of this trail – 4045 meters.
Second, I was on the final day of the 5 day stretch of remote difficult high altitude riding. Only 2 days left after this. I could smell the finish line.
Third, a big rack of ribs was waiting for me in the town of Silverton. And a shower. And laundry service. I stink in a way I didn’t think possible. I originally thought you get used to your stink. No, you don’t.
I finished segments 22 and 23 and reached Stony Pass, accessible via a jeep road. I enjoyed reading a panel there with the history of this pass. Built in the 1870s, it was originally a wagon road. Which actually meant you had to disassemble the wagon and pack it on mules in order to get it over the pass. I don’t think things changed a lot. The road down was pretty rough and very steep. I stopped several times to let my hands relax after holding the brakes.
Finally reached Silverton. Ate a ridiculously large rack of ribs, then checked into the local hostel. Tomorrow I’m taking a zero (trail slang for rest day).