- Crossing the Oregon trail and Pony Express
-Tail winds in the Great Basin
-Film crew, having Nadia and Julie with us
-Free cinnamon rolls
-Falls leaves in Colorado
-Visit from my professor
-Meeting Laura's friend's E and Clara in Silverthorne
-Landing on a cactus and having others pick spines from my butt
This week started by meeting-up with Nadia and Julie, the film crew that stayedwith us through the Great Basin. They were lovely and we had a blast getting toknow these artsy women. They made us laugh and helped us appreciate the area wewere riding through over the three days we were with them.
As we prepared for the Great Basin we picked-up extra waters to take with us aswe were told there was barely any water for nearly 130 miles. We found this tobe a bit inaccurate as we had a stream and reservoir in our first day. We didget lucky though as we had tail winds which carried us through a lot of theBasin. Throughout the Great Basin we enjoyed beautiful sky views and sagebrushlandscapes. We also came upon some deserted houses and oil fields in day 2.Overall it was a great ride and nothing like others had explained to us.
After the Great Basin experience we got a visit from my graduate advisor, Phil,who road with us down to Steamboat Lake. He presented us with a lavishbreakfast before taking off on the day's ride. During the ride we got rain andhail along with some sun. Throughout the day we came across a few sheep andcattle herds. We had to wait for these herds to cross the road at points beforewe could move on. It made me feel like I was in a different country. Later inthe day we had a rocky and steep uphill climb which Phil and I got off ourbikes for as it was rocky we were out of energy. We rolled into a campsite onSteamboat at the end of the day, and found a nice surprise of warm showers andlaundry access. The night was frigid as evidenced by the fact that we awoke toice on our tents. Phil's tent even got him a bit wet.
As we continued south en route to Silverthorne we passed through a lot ofbeautiful fall colors and a lot of hunters through the mountains of Colorado.At one informal campsite two hunters offered us water and treats so we didn'thave to go on to filter that evening. During another day's ride we had to forgea stream, which was a first for us. We also got to see a house which was usedas a staging area for the Pony Express. We had some beautiful climbs this weekwhich took us upwards of 9,500 in elevation so it's been cold to say the least.Thanks heavens for My Big Agnes sleeping bag which had done wonders as theweather turns cold.
Once we made it down to Silverthorne we stopped for a tasty burger meal andwent on to do some laundry for the week. We'd made into town by lunchtime so weeven decided to treat ourselves to a matinee of Pete's Dragon, which gave me agod cry. That evening we were graced with the presence of Clara and E who was acollege basketball teammate of Laura's. They'd hiked the PCT so we were able toswap trail stories over dinner. They were even kind enough to make us breakfastthe next morning. They provided us with a good dose of "trail magic"as they put it, where people do kind things for you along the route. They madefor a wonderful Segway into our Sunday rest day here in Frisco.
This week the STARS ALIGNED! At the beginning of the week I wasn't sure my health would hold up as we headed into the Wyoming Great Basin BUT IT DID!!! Not only did my body feel great through the Basin but I LOVED THE GREAT BASIN! We had heard SO MUCH talk about how hard, dry, boring, desolate, etc it was but didn't experience any of that! It was windy but on our first day of the basin we were blessed with tailwinds and crosswinds -- we didn't get headwinds until the last twenty miles of the basin.
As for water -- we found that we were completely fine (we brought a couple extra liters each just in case) and camped a mile off route at the A&M Reservoir which was full of delicious water. Not sure if people just don't want to go off route or what but that reservoir is money! It's five acres in surface area and has great camping spots all around it.
We were blessed with the company of Nadia and Julie from Encompass films who followed us through the basin to film our experience. They were super nice and a lot of fun to be around for those few days. We liked them and the Basin so much that we didn't even mind it when they'd ask us to go back and bike a section over again :)
The Great Basin was BEAUTIFUL and had a lot more little hills and just overall scenic texture than I had anticipated. I can definitely see how headwinds would put a cramp in the Basin experience but at the same time the unpredictable nature of the Basin is one of the more appealing things about it.
Oh embarrassing side note about our morning in Rawlins -- I tweaked my left ankle while jumping in the air to capture a shot for the filming thing. That tweak bothered me ALL WEEK. It's in the back of my ankle near my achilles and hurts a bunch and is swollen but isn't debilitating. Go figure I tweak something while jumping around. Fingers crossed that after a solid rest day and some ice the swelling will go down.
K enough about the Basin and my achilles --- the next few days we discovered TREES again!! Seeing a legit grove of trees off the trail for the first time threw my mind for a trip! We rolled into Colorado and were welcomed with the changing of the colors of all the leaves!!! IT HAS BEEN BEAUTIFUL! Sure, we've had frost on our tent in the mornings but the views during the day more than make up for it. I've seen so many aspens on the spectrum from dark green to bright green to yellow to orange to red. Seeing the changing fall colors has been a highlight of every single day. If you haven't been in Colorado to see the trees change colors definitely add that to your bucket list!! Colorado has also granted us more climbing opportunities which we didn't see much of in Wyoming. I've enjoyed all of the climbs because it gives me a chance to slow down (cause i can't go fast) and take in my surroundings. There is SO MUCH BEAUTY ALL AROUND!
This past week we were able to bike with Katie's advisor from her masters program, Phil. He was SO STOKED to ride with us for a day and I really enjoyed all of his questions and the fun tree and plant facts that he knew (not to mention the DELISH breakfast he brought us). It's super fun when people not only talk about joining us but actually DO IT. Props to Phil.
We have seen SO MANY hunters since crossing into Colorado. They've all been really nice and one night we were lucky enough to camp next to two of them who gave us water!!!!!! I don't know if they'll ever realize how much the gift of water means to us but WE WERE (and are) SO GRATEFUL! Acts of kindness are awesome to do and on this trip Katie and I have been blessed to be on the receiving side which doesn't happen as often for us in normal non bikepacking life.
The culminating act of kindness for the week happened on Saturday afternoon. Katie and I had rolled into Silverthorne and were doing laundry (we had just gone to see Pete's Dragon btw which was just as good the second time) when E, Clara and their dog Berea arrived!!!! E, or Elise or E-thug, was one of my college teammates who I hadn't seen in over three years! She and Clara had hiked the PCT a couple years ago so had a really really really good idea of what kinds of experiences we had been having :) They were the BEST trail angels and spoiled us with the BEST CAMPSITE, COMPANY, and FOOD we could have ever hoped for! It was seriously SO MUCH FUN talking trail and swapping stories! They're thinking of going on the Idaho Hot Springs bikepacking trip in the coming years so they were soaking up all the bike talk and such. I can't thank them enough for driving out here and spending an evening/morning with us! SO MUCH FUN!!!! Makes me realize I need to get out to Colorado more often to spend time with friends!!
Sponsor shoutout of the week goes to SRAM! We're riding on Roam 50 wheels, using the XX1 drivetrain, Guide Brakes and Rockshox SID front shock but the part I want to highlight is the XX1 drivetrain with the 28T drive ring. CLIMBING HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PLEASANT. Sure, we can't pedal comfortably past 20mph but we wanted a setup that would allow us to pedal up 15% grade fully loaded. And it has granted us that opportunity, although I know this past week there was a section that I walked because I was straight up EXHAUSTED. It has been a SUPER reliable system and we've experienced no issues other than normal wear after 1600+ miles of biking. Way to go SRAM!!!!!!! We're stoked to be able to use their products because they get the job done and we don't have to worry about it.