Picture taken by Jess at Orange Peel Bikes in Steamboat.
Tracey, Chris, and Kurt
Tracey, Chris, and Kurt
Just got to chat with Chris from Del Norte over the computer.
The house that he was stopped at did not have a land line, only a cell phone. Which would be okay, except Chris is trying to follow the strictest of rules between the GDR and the Tour Divide, so that if (when!) he sets the single speed record, it is 100% legit and he won't feel there's an asterisk attached. He is not carrying a cell phone and he refuses to use one, even if it is offered to him by someone else.
This is a giant pain in the butt. Chris has said it's one of the toughest aspects of the race.
Many places have ripped out the payphones, since everyone and their grandmother have cell phones these days, and they cost a lot to maintain.
Chris and I both think the cell phone rule is "stupid" (I know, I know, it has its reasons), but regardless, he plays by the rules. As if riding the route on a rigid single speed wasn't hard enough to start with... he must make it a bit harder. There's no googling phone numbers on his iPhone and calling ahead to see what's open, or to coerse businesses into staying open late -- like the bike shop. While it's allowed within the Tour Divide rules, Chris chooses not to do it.
So, when he gets to a spot like Patti's house in Del Norte (an official stop along the route -- how cool are they?!!!), he can't use the cell phone sitting next to him on the desk to call home. Instead, he hopped on gmail and we chatted for a bit.
But he's tough. He can do it.
Chris is not a big curser, but he has more than a few choice words to say about the weather. He was hammered by storms yesterday afternoon and evening, causing him to stop beneath an outhouse shelter around 8:00 last night, much earlier than he'd prefer to stop. He waited for the rain to stop and got started again this morning around 3 am. He had a hard day ahead of him to get to Del Norte, climbing a few passes that are not exaclty easy. Plus, getting up at 3 am always makes you feel a little funky.
Chris said he felt really slow this morning, despite making pretty good time to Del Norte from his stopping place...he got in just before 11:00. He said the trails/road were really tacky and slow from the rain the night before, which made him feel like he was working really hard and not really going anywhere. But, he made it to Del Norte in time for a delicious lunch and some coffee. As he wrote to me on the computer, thunder and lightning crashed overhead and the skies opened up with more rain. Making the smart choice, he stayed right where he was until the skies looked to be clearing and the lightning stopped... but this caused yet another stop that was longer than he wanted.
"It feels really strange to be 'racing' and sitting here drinking coffee."
I think I finally convinced him that anyone would do the same in those conditions. Might as well take advantage of the shelter while you've got it. It'll only help in the long run.
He showered, ate, and we chatted for a while and just a bit ago he decided to head out into the "sucker hole" and resupply before heading onto Indiana Pass -- the high point of the course. I'm sure he'll hit more weather on the pass... it is nearly impossible to avoid weather when you're at 11,000 ft in the afternoon in Colorado. I just hope he skirts through it safely and makes it down to Platoro in a swift fassion. He may end up stopping there for the night, but we'll see what he decides when he gets down.
As seems par for the course this year in Tour Divide, the weather will make the ultimate decision for him.
Annoying to say the least.
Also, in Chris's words:
"The single speed seems to be getting harder and harder as this race goes on."
Even if his daily mileage is dropping a bit, his determination is still running strong.
(EDIT: Chris found a payphone at the gas station where he was resupplying. As I picked up the phone, he was turning down ANOTHER cell phone offer from someone in the parking lot. He wanted to call for a minute and get to actually hear each other's voices. He sounds better than I expected and he's ready to get his climb on!)