Lael bares her teeth as she packs her seatbag at the Brush Mountain Lodge Monday morning, a friendly place for Divide riders to resupply in remote northwestern Colorado. Photos courtesy Brush Mountain Lodge.
From her four day push across southern Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming into Colorado, Lael has caught the second fastest group in the Tour Divide 2015. The lead group of six riders, about 300 miles ahead, are all riding ahead of the current record pace set by Jay Petervary in 2012. However, leaders JayP and Neil Beltchenko are still short of Mike Hall’s blistering 2013 pace, calculated by the times in which they pass through certain towns. Mike’s ride to Mexico was spoiled by a technicality as wildfires forced a reroute from the sanctioned TD track. He finished more than a day faster than Jay’s 2012 ride. Jay and Neil aren’t far off Mike’s pace, and they’re trading punches from early morning to late at night. Jay has held the upper hand, but Neil hasn’t flinched.
Lael’s is tackling the riders in her group one at a time. She’s caught three of the six, with three more just ahead. I expect she will begin to outrun them by the time she reaches Salida, if not sooner. Thereafter, she’ll enjoy wide open roads to Mexico. She has less than 1000 miles to go.
Yesterday, Lael stopped at Orange Peel Bikes in Steamboat Springs, CO to have her bottom bracket replaced. The SRAM PF30 has been in service for just over a month and came stock on her Specialized Stumpjumper. JayP also stopped at Orange Peel to replace his PF30 bottom bracket on his new Salsa Cutthroat. Lael called from Steamboat and reported that she was feeling good. She hasn’t said those words exactly since before the race, so I am relieved to know that she is finally enjoying her ride. While in Steamboat she also purchased another headlamp, as she had lost hers the previous night. She also reported that the Great Basin was as famously windy as expected, and that she was wasting a lot of time on that day. She stopped to talk at the Brush Mountain Lodge, to a woman in Clark, CO touring the Great Divide on a Bike Friday, and in Steamboat for service. No offense to those that she has met along the way, but she is working hard to cut the fat from the day and stay on the bike. I’ve also noticed that her riding speed has dramatically increased since the illness has faded. She is climbing faster than most of the riders around her.
Once in Breckenridge, Lael will be riding familiar terrain for some time, at least to the New Mexico border. We rode the Divide and assorted dirt roads down to Santa Fe in 2011 with Cass, Nancy, and Greg. I continued to Silver City, before joining Lael in Alaska for the winter.
Follow the Tour Divide 2015 at Trackleaders.com.