Tour Divide Update: Eureka, MT

Screen Shot 2015 06 13 at 2 33 35 AM

Some of the leading group bivvied in the Butts Cabin, a public cabin available on a first-come first-served basis, about 200 miles from Banff.  This is the Tobermory Cabin, just over the top of Elk Pass, about 40 miles before Elkford. 

I gleaned from the greater social media scene that there was some precipitation on the first day out of Banff, some even mentioned snow and peanut butter mud or “death mud”.  Nighttime temperatures were expected to be near freezing in the mountains.

Lael simply mentioned that there was rain and freezing rain when I spoke with her this afternoon.  And at night, she crossed through a series of cold streams for some time.  This morning, she was riding behind nine guys, ahead of about 140 other riders.  She was on her own unscripted race pace, which come with little calculation or expectation.

Here’s the important part, which I only learned when she crossed back into the country and was riding the pavement from Roosville to Eureka– she is sick.

On the evening of the first day, beyond Sparwood, the fresh feeling of breathing hard up hills had turned to respiratory constriction.  Her breathing was condensed to shallow breaths and wheezing.  She did not sleep well, woke early and continued.  Unable to breathe she walked up much of Galton Pass– the last of three passes in the remote Canadian Flathead section, and the steepest– and ripped down the other side to the border crossing at Rooseville.  I spoke with her while she was riding, with labored breath, on the way to Eureka.  Eureka would be the place to figure out what the heck is going on, if it can be mitigated or overcome.  I received another phone call several hours later and breathing was still a challenge, and she felt like she was getting sick, for real.  She admitted to feeling something coming on while in Canmore, in the days before the race.  She bought some DayQuil at the gas station in Eureka, and a soda.

Three hours later I heard– the last report before she left Eureka- that she found some Mucinex, coughed up a ton of green shit, was breathing more normally, her anxiety about the situation had subsided, she might in fact be able to ride, that she was eating real food, and that she might leave town tonight.  There were serious moments in which her race was over, save for a restart in Eureka after a few days of recovery, but not much of a race anymore.  She talked about riding down to Colorado when she felt better to enjoy the Colorado Trail in peak season.  But when her airways cleared and her mind relaxed, riding was once again an option, and her preference.  If she can overcome illness while riding, if she can recover while kind-of racing, is yet to be seen.

She pedaled out of Eureka about an hour ago, about five hours after she first arrived.  Additionally, as she sees it, she wasted a few hours this morning when she was forced to walk.  

After refusing to refresh the Trackleaders page for five hours, I finally clicked the button.  Lael is still the leading female competitor.  If and when she reaches Whitefish tomorrow, we’ll have a much clearer idea of the future of her race.  

Two things I heard today:  It is really scary when you can’t breathe, and, racing is really fun.

I’m thinking of her and all the other riders whose personal challenges are very real.   

9 thoughts on “Tour Divide Update: Eureka, MT

  1. Mike Hall [TD 2013 winner] had serious respitority problems in the early days and instant recovery once he got the correct diagnosis and medication [in Helena] he went on to set a new ‘alternate’ time that is well inside the ‘current record’. I rode with Jessica Green last year between Sparwood and Eureka and I put her chances of finishing [another day] at 100/1. She was in desperate need of some relief from her suffocating respitority condition. She could only walk 20 metres up Gralton Pass before stopping to gather some breath again. She went to Medical Clinic [next to the Motel/Subway in Eureka where Lael stopped] and subsequently finished the TD. I mention this because there is a common thread … they may be completely unrelated and pure co-incidence. Getting a second [medical] opinion might be better than throwing darts at a dart board. Lael is a very impressive young lady and I want Beth from my home town to beat her fair and square!
    Cheers Steve

      • Mike Hall just posted this up on the backpacking forum in case you didn’t see it …
        “Lael’s issues sound very much like mine in 2013, especially the worsening throughout the day. I got some Claratin in Helena and was flying again within an hour.
        Good luck Lael.”

        • Thanks Steve, and thanks to Mike Hall as well for his input. Lael saw a doctor today and has been prescribed some meds for bronchitis. Hoping she will be back to full steam soon.

    • Thanks Steve!! I too thought there was no way I would finish last year. I used a medical mask an emergency inhailer and broncaid. It turns out I suffer from cold weather asthma that was agrevatted by the cold mixed with wet. I would also suck on halls vapor drops for days. Night time was brutal. I had to sleep sitting up in a bivy and would accomplish this by creating a pile of leaves under where my head was. My spirit and heart got my thru the agony of the 1st week and the wisdom given to me my the pharmacy in whitefish.

      • Hi Jess, A great ride to finish given the brutality and suffering you endured. As a lesser man I will have to return again in 2016 and see if I can complete the journey. Keep well and cherish your achievement. Cheers Steve

  2. Sounds like she should have a albuterol inhaler with her. This is a rescue inhaler.

    Sent from my iPhone


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