I thought I was going to get hypothermia at 12,200’ on the continental divide. Then I found a beach towel.
When we started up the first climb of stage three, I immediately felt better with my lower gear. I was able to sit down and spin right up the hill. A few minutes into the stage, Evan Plews got off his bike and started walking back to the start. I looked back at Dejay. “Well I guess it’s game on.” he said.
I sat and merrily spun away, maintaining a nice lead. We crested the hill, and I passed two geared riders right before the single track. The trail was flat and about a foot wide. I couldn’t go any faster then 12mph. My new gear had a significant downside.
After another minute Dejay and I pulled off to let the other riders pass. We spun back up to our mind blowing pace. In another mile, we hit a steep rocky downhill. I ripped down it and overtook the two riders that had passed us on the flat section, and went sailing over a little rock jump. When I landed, I heard a ‘clunk.’ It happened again. ‘Clunk Clunk.’ Damn.
I pulled off the trail and tried to get the CO2 off of my top tube. Three single speeders rumbled past me before I could get the inflator screwed on. I hit the back tire with the gas, and Stan’s started to spew out of the rim. After some furious shaking, I got the thing to seal and headed for the first aid station.
After the aid, we started the long climb to the continental divide. My tire was going soft, so I stopped again to inflate it. I was frustrated, but I was starting to get worried about the clouds up ahead. It was getting colder.
I rode away from the tree line, and could see a long string of riders hiking up a dirt line to the mountain top. The summit was covered in a thick fog. I started to have trouble riding in a straight line.
Near the top, we entered the cloud. A heavy mist soaked through my thin jersey, and the wind picked up. I was freezing. It was so warm and sunny when we started the ride that I hadn’t even considered bringing arm warmers. Now it was about 40 degrees.
I dizzily rode towards the post that marked the divide, then realized I didn’t know where I was going. There was a hooded figure next to the stick. “Where’s the trail?” I yelled over the wind. He pointed at some rocks. I headed for them.
I started to ride down the side of the mountain, away from the trail. “No dumbass, get back up there.” I shouted at myself.
My hands were frozen to the bars as I rolled down the mountain. I caught up to two other guys. We hopped over a stream, then continued the muddy single track descent. My splattered glasses distorted the terrain. Finally it ended, and I started the fire road climb up to the aid station.
Montana Miller is a single speeder from the hills of Western Pennsylvania. He thinks that riding in Colorado would be a lot more fun if the mountains were smaller and made of waffle crumbs. More of his literary drivel can be found on knobbymeats.blogspot.com.
Images by Liam Doran