Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
In the hostel in Del Norte, Tim suggested I deflate my tires, because the pressure i was running made Jackie too rigid. On a road tour, it's normal to pump your tires as high as you can, but off-road, it's the opposite: you keep them as low as you can get away with. I might not have let as much air out as Tim suggested, but it makes a difference! Jackie is a little less spry on pavement, but more than makes up for it by rolling smoother everywhere else, more confidently handling loose sand and gravel, not losing as much momentum on bumps. Paved surfaces are rare on this tour anyway, and it's not like that's when you need the help.
Jonathan let me use some of his chain lube, which I forgot to bring. Jackie has needed it since day one. Combine that with the better tires, and it's like Jackie is a whole new bike.
So armed, I set off on the best full day or road surface thus far. Along the way, I met a few southbound riders. One may have been racing and didn't stop. The other wasn't officially in the race, but had the goal of finishing the entire route in 20 days, less than half the time I'd planned.
Since the road was so good, and the hills were mild today, I reached the day's goal in early afternoon. I kept going, and then kept going some more...by 7:30, I reached tomorrow's destination. The whole of Sargents, CO appears to have one business, which is a gift shop, mini grocery mart, restaurant, camping, RV camping, cabins for rent, and gas station, all in one. I paid $13 for camping, which came with a hot shower.
While in Sargents, I met several of the southbound racers. One of them was on a singlespeed! The guy in second or third place slept in Sargents for a solid six hours (racers typically only sleep about three hours a night). And he's a math teacher! I should've asked how he finds time to train himself to this level while holding down a time-consuming job.
I was supposed to pick up a package at the post office in Sargents, but the post office doesn't open until 11:00 AM. At 11:30, I called the post office in Salida to ask what was going on. They said someone would be there at 1:00 PM, 1:30 at the latest. I kept waiting.
A little after 2:00, the post office opened. My package wasn't there yet. Rather than wait until 2:00 PM tomorrow, when it possibly wouldn't show anyway, I rode the 45 miles to Salida.
I wound up taking a day off in Salida, because I had a lot of things to do. Mostly involving Jackie. I took her to a shop and had her rear wheel trued. I bought a new frame bag, small enough to fit inside Jackie's main triangle, and just big enough to fit my full 3L water bladder. I went to a shipping center and picked up new handlebars I'd ordered online. I got new grips, to replace the handlebar tape. I installed said handlebars and grips.
The handlebars I'd been using were a creative (and free) solution, near perfect for commuting. They...sort of worked for this ride. Mountain bike handlebars are flat and wide for a reason: it's a lot easier to maintain control in the bumpy stuff. The replacement I ordered still isn't quite a full-fledged mountain bike bar; it's shaped almost like a recurve bow. I like the curves inside as an extra hand position, and the slight sweep back gives a more natural bend to the wrist. The grips are just for comfort. My hands had been going numb.
Moving the 3L water bladder, easily my heaviest item when full, to the frame bag makes a big difference already. It's great to have more mass in the center of the bike, and lower. Jackie is much easier to balance this way, and as a result, sometimes she even feels lighter.
While in Salida, I got a call about my package. From UPS. That's why it never showed up at the post office; UPS can't deliver there. Instead, we arranged to have me pick it up at the UPS store in Steamboat Springs. They could get it there in two days, I'd be there in four. That works.
A third of the ride complete, and most of the highest hills behind me. Jackie running better than ever. And over the two-week hump. Things are looking up.
from Great Divide