Thursday, June 24, 2010

Into the Great Divide Basin

Kent called in last night from Pinedale, Wyoming, "a lovely, lovely town," a cowboy town that preserves its history and its lively downtown main street. He enjoyed a double cheeseburger, fries, and iced tea at the Sugar Shack (doesn't that sound like a great place for someone who's "not a nutritional role model"?) and then found a wonderful place to camp in a park, under trees by the Pine River.

He's off to a bit later start than usual this morning, having had to wait for stores to open so he could load up on supplies for his journey across the Great Divide Basin. I asked what he had, and he said "Omigod, everything!" He's got Snickers and Payday Bars, cashews, Slim Jims (which have temporarily replaced Spam as the meat of choice) and Chips Ahoy cookies. All his water containers are filled and all his batteries charged. The weather is great, the bike is in good shape, and he's in pretty good shape, too, though still feeling the effects of his crash in the form of a bit of stiffness in his right hand and a bruised rib that he feels whenever he coughs or sneezes. Normally not one to need any meds on a ride, he took an Aleve last night to alleviate the soreness and it did help. He also mentioned how great his Ergon equipment is in terms of his sore spots -- the grips are great, and the pack feels virtually weightless.

It's important to stock up on supplies and water before heading into the Basin, as it is one of the emptiest, driest long stretches of the Great Divide. An odd geographic feature of this stretch is that water drains neither west to the Pacific or east to the Atlantic, but instead drains inward, either evaporating or settling into temporary lakes. Here he'll ride among seemingly endless sweeps of sagebrush and saltbrush, with mostly wild horses and pronghorn antelope for company. Kent has a special mission on this stretch of riding, and that is to get pictures of the antelope.

This will be no easy feat, for they are very swift-moving creatures. They can maintain a speed of 30-40 mph for several miles, and can hit 60 over short distances. Their telescopic vision and amazing speed help them to avoid predators as they make their home in these wide open spaces. But as Kent noted, Scott Carrier's book "Running After Antelope" describes well the experience of chasing after them, and concludes that yes, it is possible for human beings to run down antelope. The key is to set one's sights on one particular antelope, and to be persistent. The Mountain Turtle's sights are set on a particular antelope known as Antelope Wells, of course, and he is determined to get there, but hopefully with some good pics of these amazing creatures taken along the way.

Kent and I are deeply saddened to learn of Dave Blumenthal's head-on collision with a pick-up truck near the Wyoming/Colorado border yesterday morning. Dave's vital signs are stable but his condition remains critical, according to postings on the Tour Divide discussion forum. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave and his family.


Johann Rissik said...

Kent, there's an antelope with your name on it. May the aches and pains subside as you chase that dream. Ride like the wind.

Chamanes BTT said...

You have a nice Blog, we are some bikes form Mexico... we like to ride on Bikes(Mountain or road)...our Regards form Chihuahua, Mexico.

Maggie said...

What a trip! Sorry to hear Kent had a crash. Hope you are well holding down the fort at home.

Small Adventures said...

Thoughts and prayers to the rider down and his family.

Kent,good luck catching that elusive pic! You'll get 'er =)