(photo) Update 4 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Seb and Ollie had a big day yesterday up and over Haast Pass, still managed 300+ km while ‘taking it easy’. They camped out and rolled into Wanaka at 6am to eat bakery treats and keep rolling. They have just hit Queenstown and will be on the 2pm boat to Water Peak. Only 240km to go: estimated finish time 12pm tomorrow (10am Australian time)!

That’s it from me, Seb can write a blog post or two when he gets home!!

Go guys, stella effort.



Update 3 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Had a quick chat to Seb today when he was in Ross, about 2112km into the event. Has been riding for around 7 days 8 hours and he sounded very chipper! All is going well. He and Ollie parted ways with Anja when she had a slightly longer stop in Nelson, her home town. Seb had some tube dramas and spent a chunk of time swapping new ones in and out and mending others, but all seems good now and he has a fair long road section ahead. If they keep on this pace they will finish before the allowed 10 days minimum, so it sounds like the next few days will be a bit more cruisy rather than sitting near the finish waiting… I wish my cruisy days were 300km!

The next 300km for the guys from Hari Hari has around 3500m climbing and will take them past the glacier townships of Fox and Franz Joseph and then up and over Haast Pass. The next 300km after that has around 2600m of climbing. Hope Seb gets to have an awesome Queenstown FERGBURGER before the boat across gorgeous Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak.

Anja is having some butt issues although it doesn’t seem to have slowed her down. Cracking pace. Nathan apparently got stung on the tongue by a bee (eeeek) and has a bit of a sore knee, feeling good other than that. He has regained some ground and is currently in Springs Junction about 280km behind the leaders. He has a fantastic road climb ahead of him up and over Rahu saddle (one of my favourite Kiwi Brevet sections) to Reefton. He then has the horrid Big River Track (my least favourite section). Think of a road with head sized river boulders followed by classic (and a tad sketchy) NZ hiking trail. Enjoy Nath, Seb confirmed that he enjoyed it as much as last time, which was not at all!

The field is really spread out now, with a lot of riders looking like they might still be on the North Island when the top riders finish. Sounds like weather up north is hampering efforts, making the Mountains to Sea/ Bridge to No Where section challenging. Keep thinking happy thoughts people, it will all be over too soon and you’ll wish you were back out there in the rain!

Here are some photos Seb sent through.


Update 2 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Today (25th Feb) sees the front riders well into their 5th day of racing. All waves have started and riders are now spread out across the entire North island of New Zealand as people have settled into their individual rhythms and routines.

Tour Aotearoa - Day 5

Tour Aotearoa – Day 5

For the last few days a group of 6 riders had been out the front quite enjoying each others company. Seb as usual says he is just riding along chatting and loving it, but some others appear to be already burning the candle at both ends. Nathan Versey was riding with the group but required a chain lube top up in town, which unfortunately (unless he stopped for other reasons), meant he missed the boat the front guys were on.  Haven’t heard from him but looks like he is still riding strong!

Seb’s FB update read: “Tour Aotearoa going along fantastically. Today was wicked-up at 4am to finish off timber trail – proper NZ mtbing. Managed to make last jet boat and rolled 80km to Whanganui for a motel and shower which also means social media. Been very social for a change with a group of 6 – mainly due to boat pinch points. Around 1050km in now and aiming to make ferry to Picton Friday evening.

Photo point 10 was at the Bridge to Nowhere: originally built to connect the small settlement to the Whanganui River, Now abandoned, native bush has taken over leaving a bridge with nowhere to go. Very pretty!

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere


Being a tree? I presume this is photo point 8 – the geographical centre of the North Island.


Anja and Ollie


Not quite so rideable. Anja and Ollie.

Seb said parts of the timber-trail were pretty epic but there was a great downhill which made up for it. The jet boat from Mangapurua Landing along the Wanganui River to Pipiriki looked so cool! He posted a video here.


Bike storage on the jet boat

Annoyingly when they woke this morning to leave, Ollie Whalley’s shoes had been stolen from out the front of the room. The others pushed on while he waited around for a store to open to buy some more. Who would want shoes that have just ridden over 1000km in 4 days!?!? They are famous person shoes I guess!

So at the moment Matty Graham, Seb Dunne, Anja McDonald, Steve Halligan are trying hard to make the Friday ferry from Wellington to the South Island.  Ollie will surely catch them up in time for the Friday evening ferry, otherwise it’s Saturday morning. I gotta say, big kudos to Anja, she is ripping this ride apart so far and keeping with the top boys. Go girl! Not sure where they will sleep tonight, but the riding looks pretty straight forward once they cross the Tararua Range.

Grey Galway and a group of a few others have just gotten off the speed boat and will push for Wanganui tonight I guess, this is where hard as nails Rob Davidson and Nathan Versey currently are.

Our buddies Dane Roberts and Lee Rice are going well since their start on the 23rd. Both have made it Auckland and it looks like Dane has pushed on ahead.

I am away camping and rogaining for the weekend so no internet or updates for me. Come Sunday night I am sure things will have started getting interesting. With only one boat section on the South Island they will be free to ride without such hard time constraints except for the 6 hour stoppages!

Update 1 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

As most might be aware, there is an awesome new event on the bikepacking calendar this year: Tour Aotearoa. It is a 3000 km brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff (top to bottom) in New Zealand. It follows the route described in the 3rd edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails and has been organised Jonathan Kennett.  The event is being run in 3 waves of start dates: 21st, 23rd and 24th February.

The event follows most of the usual bikepacking style rules: self-sufficiency, carry your own gear, no outside assistance. There are a few other unique additions to the rules: cannot finish in under 10 days or over 30 days, can ride in pairs (no drafting) and between 9am one day and 9am the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least six hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 18 hours (between each 9am-to-9am period). Plus mandatory photo points!

You can follow the spot tracking here: http://touraotearoa2016.maprogress.com/

And the event blog here: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/

We have a quite a number of riders from Australia who have headed over: Seb Dunne, Nathan Versey, Dane Roberts, Lee Rice, Steve Watson.  There are a few good friends of ours from New Zealand riding including Ollie Whalley, Rob Davidson, Scott & Jo Emmens and Margaret Leyland (riding in a pair as Peg & Kath).

Back here in Australia I am super busy with uni and work at the moment but I’ll try and do a general update of what I hear and find on out on the internet every couple of days!

Seb's photo point 1: Cape Reinga

Required photo point 1: Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand

I spoke to Seb after his first day. Apparently a super tough day. The first section headed them straight out onto ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ for a hard slog the entire length of the beach on the sand with a great big southerly blowing hard into their faces. Oh, and it was HOT! Seb had some chest pain and breathing issues so stopped a bit early that night. After a good rest he was up early and caught back up to the small lead group to all catch the ferry together.


Required photo point 2: Ninety Mile Beach



On the ferry across Kaipara Harbour

After the ferry a small group waited out the rest of their 6 hr rest stop in order to ride through the night, avoiding the hectic aspects of riding through Auckland.


Hobbits wearing lyrca?!

Apparently they made it through Auckland with no dramas. Seb says he is on track to catch the speed boat at the planned time to Pipiriki. He also said that all the timing deadlines with boats makes riding a bit more complicated than normal, especially trying to coordinate it with mandatory rest periods!

It seems like a group of a few riders have been staying pretty close at the pointy end: Matty Graham, Seb Dunne, Cliff Clermont, Anja McDonald, Steve Halligan. It appears (according to the trackers but who knows how accurate the trackers are real time) Ollie Whalley and Nathan Versey are a little bit behind that.

Wave 1 have now been riding for just over 2 days. Wave 2 started a few hours ago, wave three due to start tomorrow!

Keep enjoying the event unfold and watching those dots.

Tour Divide: New Mexico

Our first morning in New Mexico began with a dark climb up and over Brazos Ridge. Seb pointed out the spot where his fork broke, where he camped and had to hike out. It was remote and wild and I didn’t envy him having been stuck out there in a thunderstorm at all. We bumped into the kiwis (again). I was riding along enjoying the morning and then realised I was falling behind the guys. Then struggling. Then feeling a bit dizzy. What was wrong with me? I could see Seb cringing at the pace.

When I stopped and thought about it, I realised I was really really hungry. I’d only had half an old burger for dinner and a sugary fruit bun for breakfast. I had absolutely bonked for the first time on the divide. I was starting to make bad judgements, especially about food and water. My mouth was blistered from continually eating. From sugar. Gross muesli bars. If I never had to eat another another sweet and salty nut bar in my life I would be happy. But I had nothing else at the moment, so I stopped and reluctantly forced down nut bars and snickers. Seb caught me letting go of a few tears while muttering something about muesli bars. But the food worked and after an hour or so of easy riding I had managed to dig myself out of my bonk hole.

IMG_2239As we approached Vallecitos the thunderclouds were rolling in and starting to grumble. We rejoined the kiwis for the ride through town, hoping that a group of four would be safe to combat the aggressive dogs which live in the town. We slipped through unnoticed, but not by the storm. Large drops started hitting us and as we climbed higher into the forest, the air started to feel static. Seb and I kept pushing but eventually a huge front of hail came through followed by a downpour of rain. We took shelter under some trees and crouched next to each other grinning. It was a wild storm and nice to have someone to sit it out with. Unfortunately the rain turned the top of the pass and the entire downhill to sticky brown goop which covered and clogged everything. We washed our bikes at a ranger station and got aero for the downhill to Abiquiu.

IMG_2241We stopped at the Abiquiu Inn to see if there was a room for the evening but it was all booked out for a wedding. We were fortunate to meet Cricket Butler and Keith Brodsky sitting out front and they invited us to eat with them. It turned out they booked what appeared to be the last room available in the town. We shared some laughs and stories. They were riding North and meeting up with Dave Nice who I had bumped into in Del Norte. Such amazingly cool peoples, they got me smiling again and told us if me rode up less than 10km we’d be in the national park and would be able to camp and tackle the Polvadera Mesa fresh(er) in the morning. This sounded like a plan and so we headed off into the mountains again. We stopped earlier than I think Seb liked but I was spent. I hate riding into the night tired and would much rather get up at 3am and see dawn from the bike seat.

IMG_0809Polvadera Mesa was pretty evil. The start was tough going: sandy, slab rocks, bumpy. Maybe any other time it would be a rad climb, but not with the previous 16 days in the legs. It was dark, I was grumpy and it was pretty much like sucking big hairy balls. I winged and cried my way up the freaking long climb. I was dropping-my-basket and not enjoying any single part of the day so far. Then when we caught up to Marshal. That made me at least stop complaining out loud as I told myself to HTFU. 11269484_10153475049739459_4704379765928150408_oEventually, though, the sweet downhill came. We meandered through some spectacular countryside and as we got closer to town we passed through some sweet campgrounds full with people enjoying their Sunday.

IMG_2255It was getting HOT!

After a slight water-point miscalculation (ended up drinking from a cattle dam…. yuck), we rolled into Cuba on sticky tar under a scorching midday sun. I hadn’t eaten a full ‘bikepacking’ size meal since Del Norte, so all I could think about was McDonalds. As we rolled up there were lots of racer’s bikes lined up out the front. Seb ordered us a family pack (2 x burgers, 2 x chicken nuggets, 2 x large chips, 2 x thickshakes), and laughed at how gross that all sounded. We quickly realised we were going to need more, and ordered another family pack between the two of us…

mcdonaldsEveryone was debating about the best strategy: go now or wait until it cooled down a smidgen. Outside it was close to 40 degrees Celsius and we had a 125 mile stretch of tar across the desert to Grants. Everyone else left to give it a go, and we did too. I wet my buff and covered my face with it. Leg warmers on, arm protectors on. An hour later, riding in intense heat on the tar, my McDonalds got to me, stomach cramps!!

IMG_2259As we rode along the Navajo Route 9 through the canyon, the sky darkened and a huge electrical storm came in. We skirted the edge for hours and I started to get really worried. Knowing that our buddy JC had an incident with lightning a few years ago, I felt it was a bad idea to keep going, but there was literally nowhere else to go. It was a vast desert.

We rolled into Grants at midnight and got a room at the first accommodation at the Crossroads. A shower and bed was just what the doctor ordered after a big 180 mile day. I rinsed my disgusting stinky clothes and passed out, the alarm set for 5am.

The mission for the next day was Pie Town. It closed at 4pm (?) and we agreed we MUST get there! After a fantastic, hot, big breakfast was woofed down we rode through the beautiful El Malpais National Monument, an area of basalt formation made by volcanoes and lava.

IMG_2274 IMG_2278 It would have been nice to look around, apparently there are lava tubes, caving and other cool structures; but we were on a mission for PIE! The heat was back and we struggled into Pie Town desperate for some shelter from the sun, and some pie. At the Good Pie Cafe we presented our Salsa top caps and put the order in for two pieces of pie. I had lemon coconut followed by a yummy burger followed by blackberry pie. We had a great chat to the cafe owners and also Kathy, the Toaster House owner. Then we each got a solid burrito to take away and headed back into the sun.

IMG_2283Later that evening we munched on those burritos at the church by the highway, made famous in the Ride the Divide movie. We also restocked with water here – indeed a ‘god send’ of a spot. We bumped into Ryan Correy who was also on the search for water.

IMG_0822IMG_0823As we rode up towards  the canyon we passed an enormous herd of elk. We don’t have many animals back some in such huge groups. In the fading light, thunderstorms full of lightning ahead, gazing back across the grassy basin, listening to the eerie elk calls, I felt quite insignificant. Partway up the canyon, the walls closed in and darkness came, and so too did the rain. I wanted to stop, Seb wanted to continue. We stopped under some trees, had dinner, sleep and were back riding by 3:30am.

IMG_2289Day 18.

As we got to the top of the pass, all of a sudden I felt like I was riding through quicksand. Gross, all encompassing mud. We shouted and yelled at each other, Seb annoyed we hadn’t ridden through the night before. Shmeh! It turned out to be (just) possible to ride on the bumping sage brush type ‘grass’ on the side of the road, which he did for a looooong time until we intersected a more rideable road and were able to continue. This turned out to be our last ‘day’ on the divide, as we technically didn’t sleep now for about 30 hours. And this turned out to be the first of many dramas in our journey across the Gila Wilderness.

IMG_2291We entirely miscalculated the amount of food and water required for the huge stretch through to Pinos Altos / Silver City and the Gila was tough. It was spectacular country but hard riding. Hot, dusty, dry with constant undulations that wouldn’t allow you to get any respite or easy miles.

IMG_2294 IMG_2296We were both struggling big time. Seb says he saw a huge bear running fast through the trees, I never saw it. Maybe he just had the heat crazies? The CDT was a tricky little section made all the more trickier by me being afraid of heights, crap at singletrack and tired.  We got through faster than I had hoped though and in no time we were cruising the tar again towards Pinos Altos.

IMG_2298 IMG_2299 IMG_2300Then I spectacularly almost ruined my entire race trying to copy Seb’s mastery. Turns out he can turn off his red flasher on his rear seat stays by unclipping and using his foot; I on the other hand, cannot.  After sticking my foot in my rear wheel and almost breaking my toe, I got going again, amazed I hadn’t fallen off or broken any spokes. Very lucky. Very stupid.

At McDonalds in Silver City we decided to keep going. To be honest, my reasoning was simply that I didn’t want to have to wake up again and put on clammy, stinky knicks. I just wanted to keep going and get this thing done. The one thing that got me out of that chair was that if I kept going, I could beat Eszter’s old record. Of course Lael had already beaten it days before me, but it meant something I could push for to get me to the end. And so we went!

We had been riding since 3:30am that morning so it was fair that when dark settled in I got the sleepies. We weren’t far out of Silver City and had to pull off the side of the main highway and I slept for 15mins. Feeling refreshed we pushed on to the dirt turn off. Riding Separ Rd at night was a very cool experience. It was a perfect temperature, no wind, lots of stars. The riding was easy, fast. At around 1am we stopped for a 45min nap. No bivy or tent, just sleeping bags on the dirt. It was so good. I dragged myself off the ground and packed things slowly. Seb and I were riding a bit separate after this point. He was keen to get it done, I was showing obvious signs of exhaustion. He said he’d wait at the turn off of the final road. And there we met. We got aero and started the final countdown to the finish. As the sun rose it was a bizarre landscape. A few cactus, some distant mountains. This place was so incredibly different to the place we started from 19 days ago and I disliked it very much. I like trees and water and mountains.

IMG_2315 IMG_2319After sunrise I started to bonk incredibly. We were running out of food and I was running out of energy. At 19 miles to go I had eaten every last thing I had. I was doing about 7 miles per hour and getting slower. I had to sit down under the ‘shade’ of a salt bush twice. By now it was hot. I told Seb to go ahead and I’d see him at the finish. When he rode off I was crying at how crap that would be to finish together, but not together. I totally lost my shit! I felt sick to my stomach and considered calling it quits and trying for an ambulance or something. I spoke quietly and calmly to myself. Talked myself through every inch of about 10 miles. It was truly terrible. Eventually poor Seb appeared on the horizon and said he had to wait. What if I never made it to the finish??

Then something happened. Something kicked in and I swear it was pure adrenalin that got me to the finish. It was one of the most emotional moments in my life. Everyone says how they breezed into the finish. But for me, this was THE hardest part of the entire ride. Having ridden about 35hrs straight with a few nanna naps, it was terrible.We crossed the line, had obligatory border photos and then pretty much passed out in the shade with some of the other riders still there.


Many many thanks to Doug from Wisconsin who collected us from the finish in a huge RV. Also thanks to for Lukas for the fun chats and companionship throughout the race and for your company for those few days after the race where we spent the time sleeping, swimming and showing off our tan lines in the middle of the dustbowl that is Lordsburg.

IMG_2326 IMG_2329This was the adventure of a lifetime. Maybe I have made it sound hard or horrible, maybe not. It was indeed that sometimes, and I asked myself plenty of times why I was doing it! But the best part is that I got through it. I saw amazing sights, met amazing and courageous people, witnessed firsthand my strengths and weaknesses. I can now say I rode my bike across America and that’s one hell of a story to tell the grand kids one day. IMG_2334Thanks for reading!

Tour Divide: Colorado Capers

Day 12 on the Divide started with a long climb from Savery and into Colorado. After crawling past Brush Mountain Lodge in the dawn light, we pushed on and towards the next pass and  Steamboat Springs. IMG_0792The aspens started to become more common in this area. It was quite spectacular to ride through large stands of white trunks with a huge green canopy overhead. Also fields of yellow and white flowers. I don’t know why I didn’t get any photos.  Maybe the fact that we were cruising around 3000m at the top of the pass and I was gasping for air! Here is one I found from the same area and is pretty much what it looked like.


Photo: Jay Potts Photography

A very bumpy descent popped us out at Steamboat  Lake. We cruised along the tar to Clark and then through to Steamboat Springs. I stopped to grab an iced coffee and found Josh sitting next to the ice-cream stand with a bag of ice on his knees, looking in much pain. He was on the phone so I didn’t stop.

Closer to Steamboat Springs it seemed a popular cycling road. There were groups of cyclists and triathletes riding the undulating road into town and we got lots of cheers. In town it was tricky to follow the GPS track along the bikepath, weaving in and out of streets, but eventually it brought us right to Orange Peel Cycles. I could finally get someone to look at my fork which was a wobbly nightmare. While the bike was getting a once-over I kitted myself out with new gloves, white sun-protection arms (no more black arm warmers!!!) and a feed bag full of Pro Bars. I hadn’t had them before but they were a great change to sugary muesli bars and cliff bars. Organic, chia, matcha, all the yummy stuff and over 300 calories each. Yes! I also went around the corner to the organic deli and loaded up with bananas, handmade organic muffins and date logs. Heaven!


Bike fixed and a ton full of great food on board I smiled my way out of town. The next section was around 80km of generally uphill. It was hot hot hot and I stopped at Lake Catamount to jump in the water, fully clothed! As Simon and I rolled out of town Dave Meissner caught up to us on his road bike. We had met him at Wamsutter truck stop where he was driving through and said hi at Subway where he saw our bikes and weary faces. He lives in Steamboat and was out for a ride to meet another friend who was racing this year. We chatted for ages, Dave had done TD in 2012. Must have been so hard to ride through his home town in the middle of the race!!

After Lynx Pass, Josh caught up to Simon and I again. This seemed to be a daily occurrence now. We rode long and steady, he rode fast but stopped longer. As we got down and crossed the Colorado River a guy drove up next to us and said the shop back across the river was open, he had seen us riding around looking for it. We popped back there and filled our bellies with ice-cream and gatorade then headed up and over the tarred pass towards Kremmling. Josh planned to stay in a motel he booked and we thought that would be a plan. I was a bit tired and didn’t realise how far off-route it was. By the time we were riding through town it was too late to bail, we were already committed. Simon and I found an $18 motel room (bargain!!), where we set our alarms for fours hours and easily crashed into a deep sleep. It was nice to have a shower, although four hours was definitely not enough time for my washed knicks to dry. In fact they were nearly still dripping. Gotta love soggy shorts at 3am in the morning.

In the morning we rode past a great little toilet block closer to Ute pass. In hindsight I should have kept riding to here, I had enough food but the lure of a bed sucked me in. TD is a learning experience, and I had already learned I was a sucker for a bed and a shower.

At the top of Ute Pass Simon’s tyre made a big HISS and started going down fast. Sealant was coming out and he was madly spinning it to make it seal. We rode a bit but it went down again. I kept going and said I might see him at a bike shop in Silverthorn, I needed brake pads.


I got to the other side of Silverthorn but had struggled to find a bike shop on the route. I got yoghurt, strawberries, ham and cheese croissant and other delicious goodies and the Seven Eleven and kept moving. The crazy bike path express through the busy, posh and up market ski towns of Frisco and Breckenridge was way too much to handle and I rode as fast as I could to get out. Boreas Pass was lovely and as I was enjoying my peanut M&Ms  a new voice said hello. It was Marshal Bird. I had finally overtaken him as he admitted to stopping at too many cafes along the way through the last three towns. He rode just ahead down the Gold Dust Trail, through Como and into the horrendous headwind to Hartsel.


I had dinner with two Northbound riders and headed out into the wind and rain, thinking I might make Salida. Simon pulled up just as I was leaving but he was staying there for the night. Again, in hindsight, I should have stayed. I was cold and as dark surrounded me I began to flip out. All I could think about was Josh’s warning: he had seen a few mountain lions in this section a few months prior when he was hiking his bike through mud. Great. Dark, cold sleepy and now might get eaten by a mountain lion.

It was close to midnight when I crashed to the ground, completely shocked and disorientated. I had fallen asleep and lost control in a big wheel rut. Lying on the dirt with pain in my wrist I started sobbing. Silly choice Beth. Silly.  Josh rode past not long after I had regathered myself. I wiped away the tears and thought I might be able to ride with him. He said he was going all the way to Salida and that we were close to the top off the pass so it would be all downhill. I was completely exhausted and decided that such a long downhill after midnight in the freezing cold was a very bad idea. I stayed at the top of the pass and rode down early the next morning.


Photo: Eddie Clark Media

But tomorrow was another day. People say not to make big decisions night. Sleep it out. And it was true, the next day was fantastic. I got up early and rolled downhill to Salida. I had a HUGE breakfast next to Absolute Bikes, where my bike was getting a new rear rotor (apparently the old one was thinner than paper) and new brake pads. Josh and I chatted to Eddie Clark, who took some photos of us said he’d hope to catch us at the top of Marshall Pass. The tar climb up to the beginning of Marshall Pass was horrible. It was so hot the road was bubbling and popping. I wished I hadn’t stayed so long at breakfast. Over the top of Marshall Pass, Josh Marshal and I donned our rain coats and sped downhill, trying to outrun the huge thunderstorm brewing above us. We made it, just.


Photo: Josh Daugherty

The thunderstorms were rolling past thick and fast. As fast as you could out run one the wind would change or the route would swing around and you were facing another black menacing cloud. I overtook Josh and Marshal having a dinner stop before we descended to the State Highway. I had ridden within my limits and was feeling good so I started pushing a little harder. Maybe I could make Del Norte tonight? The shape of a person appeared on the horizon. As I got closer and stopped to ask how they were I realised it was the Swiss rider Lukas Aufschlager. I hadn’t seen him since we had dinner together in Bigfork. He looked at me and said in a very surprised voice “YOU”RE GOING FAST”! He was fixing a flat so I continued on. I was thinking back to Eszter’s rides and said zzzzooooommm a few times aloud. I was feeling good. As the sun set partway up the Cochetopa Dome, it got cold. Eventually I was tired and knew I would not make it to Del Norte. Plus, nothing would be open even if I did make it.

Photo: Eddie Clark Media

Photo: Eddie Clark Media

I knew there was a campground partway down the hill after the summit, and I wanted that toilet block to keep warm. I could see Marshall’s light slowing getting closer and I knew he also liked staying in the toilet blocks. I wanted it, I needed it. I raced up the final part of the climb and over the top. By the time I reached the campground I was wrecked. I hadn’t eaten food or drunk water while speeding up the hill. About 20min later as I was setting up my sleeping gear on the toilet floor there was a knock on the door. Marshal. I offered to share the small warm space but he decided to put on all of his warm gear and sleep lower down the hill. I was smiling on the inside that I had made the effort to get here first.

Four hours later I was back on the bike, speeding down the mountain in the freezing inky darkness. I passed Marshal’s campsite towards the bottom. He would be up soon too. As the sun rose I could see Del Norte on the horizon so I decided to call my parents now that I finally had some reception. My phone was going crazy with messages. When I spoke to my parents they informed me that Seb was in fact IN Del Norte. I rang him straight away. Sure enough as I pulled up in town he was there to greet me. We had breakfast together and it was very surreal. I was wrecked from using too much energy the night before and not having any dinner. I was off with the fairies and even refused a coffee. If you know me, this is a big deal. I was so exhausted that I actually went and slept on someone’s front lawn while Seb watched over me. He was staying in town until he could fix his fork later that morning. He asked if it was OK to ride with me? It would be nice to have someone to ride with again. I missed riding with Simon and the uber-competitiveness between Josh and Marshal was rubbing off on me in a bad way.


As I rode out of town towards Indianna Pass I was in a daze. It was strange riding away from Seb after not seeing him for 14 days. Over the top of the pass it started to pour with rain. I had two blood noses in a row and started to feel pretty dejected. Riding over the ridge to Platoro I got poured on. I sat in Skyline Lodge munching on a burger. Cold and wet I was at a very low point of my ride. I asked for a room, they didn’t have any. I asked them to ring around. No one had a room. I went to my bike to get my map to find somewhere to stay but all of a sudden it was sunny. That was all I needed to get me back on the bike. As I rolled along the valley smiling I laughed about how I had almost pulled out of the race but now it was spectacular weather and I was cruising again, nearly in New Mexico. The highs and lows of TD.

I wasn’t sure where Seb was but I decided to head up La Manga Pass and camp near the border. As I turned onto State Highway 17 and headed towards the pass, a woman called out loudly “Are you the Australian woman???” Kinda weird I thought, but answered yes. “Oh great, your husband is inside eating a burger!”. Seb walked out waving. This day was getting more and more surreal.


He had had his fork  fixed and ridden part of the way there but decided he didn’t want to ride Indianna Pass AGAIN so had a lift to here. We decided it would be fun to ride to the border tonight and make our attack on New Mexico together. It was the end of my 15th day on the Divide and Seb and I were reunited.

I thought I was tired now. I thought I had done the hard yards and we’d roll to the border together. Oh no, New Mexico had some real treats lined up for us. I never really studied too much about the New Mexico section in my preparations. By the time I had gotten that far through the route notes I was often too flabergasted by the distance to even get there I paid little attention. Well, if you plan to do Tour Divide, here is my one piece of advice. Study new Mexico. Know it’s ins and outs. Be prepared. I wasn’t.

Tour Divide: Wide open space in Wyoming

Last blog Simon and I were in Idaho and had decided to skip Squirrel Ranch and continue on over the pass to Flagg Ranch. We arrived at Flagg Ranch, now in Wyoming, just as the front desk was closing around 10pm. The restaurant was closed and all they could offer was some muesli bars. The expensive cabin we got was a room with a bunk bed. There was no lights, no sheets or pillows. I hardly slept, I had so little food in my system I was shaking a bit. We decided it was worth staying until the breakfast opened at 7am so we could get some proper food, resupply our snacks and get a move on. A shame to miss the all-you-could-eat buffet opened at 7:30am but we needed to keep moving.IMG_0769The day started on the tar, heading alongside Jackson Lake with jaw-dropping views of the Grand Teton National Park. This is definitely on the list of places to come back and explore. It was early but already the tourists were out and about. After days on the gravel it made me a bit uncomfortable having huge RVs try and squeeze past and other impatient cars revving around us. The view made up for it but all too soon we turned East, heading towards Togwotee Pass.  After a pretty tree lined dirt climb up to Togwotee Mountain Lodge, we stopped for an icecream before heading back onto the tar for the climb. It was a gentle gradient and before we knew it the top came and went. I expected to go screaming down the other side on the road but instead, after a nearly missing the turn, we veered left towards Brooks Lake. The road was a little boggy but it was worth it, the views were some of the best of the entire Divide.IMG_0780IMG_0781

At Lava Mountain Lodge we stopped for a burger. Great place but we waited what seemed and age for our food. Enough time to charge my phone and get a message from Seb saying he was in Colorado having a blast and ‘just cruising’ now that he was ahead of record time. Ha! Here I was slogging my guts out and he was just cruising, nearly an entire state in front of me!IMG_0783

The alternate route, which deviates from the Warm Springs alternate towards Fish Lake Mountain, was another new addition to the route which was completely worth it. Instead of going over Union Pass we headed over the range further to the west. There was a bit of testing hike-a-bike but at the plateau at the top we were treated to views of mountain ranges in every direction. The afternoon sun was shining on the Grand Tetons far in the distance, proof that we had ridden a long way. The wind was picking up and at around 3000m it was getting cold. The Kiwis caught up and said they were off to at toilet block at one of the campgrounds along the Green River. That sounded like a plan to us! The maps suggested quite a few ‘unofficial’ campgrounds which meant that there were no toilets, just spots that were good to camp. We never found the one we were looking for and so camped besides a river with the cows, and awoke to frost covered bikes. Brrr!

The next morning we had a very cold ride into Pinedale for a much needed big breakfast. Mine was so big in fact, that even me AND the Kiwis couldn’t finish all the pancakes!


I rode the day mostly within sight of Simon but alone with my thoughts. It was vast, wide open country, quite intimidating to be out there on a bike. Simon caught up and we rode together into South Pass City where we found no supplies and nothing open except a small tourist office which was closing. The man was very helpful and rang ahead to Atlantic City for us to book a cabin. South Pass City is an old ghost town, most people moved away after the mining boom ended. The man reminded us that there was not much at Atlantic City either. We needed food and water for the basin crossing and hoped that we could find what we needed.IMG_0788

The bar / restaurant next to our cabin was serving food and we were also able to resupply with a few things before Wamsutter. I was scared of the basin crossing, mostly of running out of water. After so many days of sunburn I was now wearing my arm warmers and full length leg warmers all day for protection. I did not want to be out in the basin wearing those and decided I needed to make a very early departure.

If you look at the map, you can see that the basin is the desert gap between the ‘green areas’ of Atlantic City and Savery, quite a big stretch of nothingness!

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By 2:30am Simon and I were riding out of Atlantic City. The basin crossing to Wamsutter was spectacular and nothing to be worried by that early in the day. We enjoyed a sunrise of magnificent oranges and reds and spend the first part of the morning riding through unique and beautiful desert flora.


Unfortunately after an epic lunch at the Wamsutter 24hr truck stop, the rest of the day to Savery was pretty foul. It was very very hot, there were no trees, just oil mining rigs every few kilometer or so. I was chased by a savage white dog guarding some livestock and ran out of water at the base of a hot and exposed climb of nearly 20km. For anyone riding this section in the daylight hours, do not underestimate how much water you need and how tough this section is!

The downhill to Savery was a lovely reprieve. I wanted to continue on to Brush Mountain Lodge so much but I couldn’t face the climb. Day 11 had been 259km and that was enough for now. I had some packaged salmon, a bread roll, banana and a muffin for dinner. Surely not the same as Kirsten’s famous pancakes😦

Simon, Josh and I camped in an open block in the middle of town. There was no shop or accommodation. We spoke to the woman who used to run the shop though it had since closed. She had two houses and it was time to sell up her Savery house. Apparently she had let ACA know many times that the shop was no longer operating, but it is still on the map. After a wash in the gurgling stream I fell asleep easily on the soft grass. Tomorrow morning we would cross the border into Colorado in the wee hours of the morning, and would pass Brush Mountain Lodge way too early to stop in. Next time through I’ll have to stop in to say hi to Kirsten!