Like a Collagen Injection Gone Bad
I awoke around 4am and noticed that my lips and eyelids were very swollen. In fact, my lips were so swollen that they felt kinda numb. As I got moving, the swelling improved some, but my lips stayed kinda numb and the skin was overstretched feeling. Considering that my breathing seemed normal (no sign of HAPE), and I was peeing normally (no sign of kidney failure) I wasn’t too concerned about this. Edema of altitude is pretty common. I probably made it worse by eating a ton of jerky sticks (with sodium) the night before.
“Get in My Belly”
At this point, I’m running low on food. About 2,000 calories to get me to Princeton Hot Springs. I had concocted this amazing food, which I named, “Marie’s Energy Balls”, a perfect balance of good fats, protein and electrolytes. Very calorie dense, about 400 calories each bite. However, at this point, I started calling it “manna”. Although it was perfect nutrition, I could no longer stomach the stuff. Every bite was a negotiation with my digestive system. This was really frustrating because, although I couldn’t get the manna down my throat, I was SO HUNGRY!!! Every little chipmunk or squirrel I saw, I would audibly yell, “Get in my belly”. I started eyeballing a cow at Tank Seven (he wouldn’t notice if I started nibbling on his hind flank, would he?). I found a chunk of Slim Jim on the ground, covered in ants. I ate it. Ants and all (ants are extra protein). It was the only trail magic I would experience until Buena Vista.
Sargents is Major Payne
This was my low point. I was hungry. Nauseated. Stupid squirrels ran away from me when I tried to eat them (and it was too much work to chase after them). And now I had to, literally, drag my bike up the boulder field that is Sargents.
I would look uptrail, visually identify what looked like a potential resting place ~10-20 meters ahead. Wait. Count down from 3, 2, 1… then give a quick anaerobic burst to carry my bike up to that spot. Then, repeat this process at least 20 times. Felipe was behind me. I think I probably knocked rocks loose on top of him. If I did, he didn’t complain. I think he found my antics mildly amusing.
My Fooses Cooked
After Sargent’s, we made our way to Marshall Pass. It was disappointing to see that, what should’ve been an enjoyable descent, was now a rutted out mess due to ATV usage. We had to walk our bikes off-trail through the trees.
The ride from Marshall Pass to Fooses was spectacular. If you’ve never ridden from Marshall Pass to Hwy 50, put it on your bucket list right now. I finished off the remainder of my manna as we neared the summit of Fooses. 200 calories of GU’s left to get me to BV.
Fooses is an amazing descent, as you go from 11,900 feet elevation to 8,800 feet elevation in 9 miles. My reputation as an amazing descender is well-known throughout the cycling community. I’ll let this photo speak for itself:
I Wept Over a Hamburger
Felipe stayed at Hwy 50 to make a phone call to his girlfriend. I went ahead without him. He was about to throw away his excess tortillas and cheese (he had 2 bags of tortillas and almost a whole 16 ounces of cheese slices in his saddle bag!!! I can’t even have a saddlebag on my bike because its too small!!!) and he begged me to take some food before he discarded it. I’m not sure how the “Do It Yourself” rules apply in this situation, but I did eat 1 tortilla with 2 cheese slices. “He was going to throw it away anyway”, I rationalized.
As I made my way across Hwy 50 and up the switchbacks, I ate my last bit of food. 0 calories left. I would need to resupply at the Princeton Convenience store that closed at 8pm. I had 2 hours to ride 20 miles. No problem. Except that I had forgotten about the hike-a-bike to Angel of Shavano. Problem. I was so hungry. I cried at the thought of having to go to bed without eating a meal.
As darkness fell, I noticed that my dynamo powered light stopped working. I rechecked my connectors and cables. Everything appeared solid. It must be a loose connection somewhere because the light would flash on briefly when I hit a big bump. No time to figure it out now. Maybe the Boneshakers Bike shop in Buena Vista can help me figure it out tomorrow. I now had a list of 3 things I needed their help with 1) check the shifter, 2) check my dynamo hub light, 3) check my brake pads, 4) replace CamelBak Hydrolock. Ok. I guess that’s 4 things. Whatever.
When I arrived in Princeton Hot Springs, 5-6 hours later (maybe around 9 or 10pm), I cruised around the resort hoping to find discarded food. As I headed over to the convenience store dumpster, I noticed a restaurant in the hotel. Timidly, I asked the bartender if they were still serving food. When he explained that they would serve a full menu until 10pm and only burger and fries after 10pm, I could hardly keep my composure. When he fed me soup and a burger, I literally wept tears of joy. When I could not fit the entire burger in my belly… I wept yet again. The bartender and waitresses must have thought I was a lunatic. One of the waitresses gave me a bag with bread, apples, oranges and a homemade granola bar. She also offered to put my bike in her truck and let me stay in her home where I could have a proper shower and rest. Of course, I declined (although it was tempting).
I found a place to camp just above the springs. The air was cool and calm and lightening in the distance. No rain. Just a peaceful calm breeze. My belly was uncomfortably full. I slept like a baby from around 11pm until 6am.