Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 17: Signal Mountain to Aspen Meadows Bike Hostel, 67 miles

This morning it was 26 degrees. (I found out later that it was the coldest temperature in the nation on this date). I had to shake the frost off the tent and bike! The method of making coffee in camp is quite interesting... you place a filter and some coffee grounds in a little plastic cone that perches on top of your cup and pour boiling water through it several times (since it drips very slowly). It took us a long time to get out of camp...

I wore my warm biking jacket and full fingered gloves this morning, thank you Erika for sending them. Interesting thing though--one hand is wearing a Novaro nylon glove and the other hand is wearing a Louis Garneau fleece glove.... I also wore leg warmers and arm warmers and an earband... By the time we were 10 miles out I had changed jackets and gloves; at 20 miles I took off the arm warmers, leg warmers and ear band.

There was a lot of climbing today on dirty muddy roads--no, roads is the wrong word. It was a rutted tractor trail through the forest. Several riders took the paved option, but I did not, and I was sorry! Right before the big dirt trail climb, we stopped for a rest at the Turpin Meadow Ranch, where they gave us water and coffee, allowed us to use their restrooms, and we saw a group leaving for a week-long horse ride up in the mountains. I guess this is what you call a dude ranch. It was quite impressive!

John and Steve and Brian-from-Dallas stayed with me even though I had to stop and rest and catch my breath frequently (altitude issues). We climbed to almost 9,000 feet on the dirt before getting to pavement. After riding about a mile on pavement (still climbing) we were shuttled up the last 600 feet in elevation to Togwotee Pass, due to massive road construction (bikes not allowed). Jenny helped us load the bikes in the back of the pilot truck, and Brian was kind enough to let me ride in front! After the shuttle we waited for Steve and John to ascend to the pass. This was our first crossing of the continental divide on this trip.

On the way down the pass I opted for the paved route and had a blast--Brian stayed with me since we are not supposed to be riding alone in bear country... we descended so fast that I did not have time to stop and take a photo of the beautiful and rugged mountains off to our left.

We arrived at our camping point after a short climb. This night's lodging was at the Aspen Meadows bike hostel, where Jo-An and Dave were our hosts. This is a cyclists only hostel along the great divide cycling route, recognizable by the two bikes at the fence along the road. They opened their lovely home to us for showers and socializing, provided a great lasagna dinner with homemade brownies for dessert, and we women had a cabin with 2 beds and floor space for the other 2. Here is Judy on her bed, and at the front door of our cabin. The men were in what used to be a 2 car garage but is now converted into a super living space--cots, carpeting, books, TV and videos. The hot shower was a real treat after the previous night's cold water splash bath in the campground restroom! The outhouse was the best ever--this was a super evening altogether.

When Brian and I arrived at the hostel, Judy, Joe and Dianne were already there. The women felt so sorry for me having ridden the rougher route (they took the paved roads) that they let me have one of the beds and also INSISTED I have the first shower. Aaaahhh.

1 comment:

historicstitcher said...

Don't complain too much - at least you have warm fingers! (And one left and one right....)

I grabbed a couple of gloves from the shelf that were crumpled together - it was quite the rush to get your stuff together and packed that night. And I still managed to find some good chocolate to hide in there!

So have they warned you about wandering to the outhouse alone at night?