Slumming it in Steamboat Springs

This morning I decided to bail and head down US40 to Steamboat instead of doing the Wyoming Trail. I was beat, and my topo map indicated that the first few miles up to the trail went straight up the fall line. (I don’t know why I never noticed that before.) I am not in the kind of shape I need to be in to ride a loaded Pugsley up something like that!

Of course my rear tire was completely flat this morning. So I said “f*ck it, I only have to ride another 20 miles, on pavement, almost all downhill, just use the spare tube.” My love affair with Stan’s sealant is now over. ūüė¶ Stan’s is a real necessity on my home terrain with all its goathead thorns, but for expedition touring it is too much trouble.

The ride to town was, of course, a whole lotta downhill. ūüėÄ

Gotta love signs like this. ūüėÄ


In town, I hit the hot springs pool for about an hour, then a big burger at the local diner, and headed for home.

Aside from being a lot of fun and a good break from work, the trip succeeded as a shakedown ride for my gear.  I learned a lot of things

  • I don’t really like the feeling of panniers on the back and I might try a trailer on my next ride. (This is not a knock against the Arkels — I think they are brilliantly executed pieces of equipment.) ¬†Aside from the balance issue, I found that the extra weight made my rear tire feel squishy, which made me put more pressure in that tire, which made my butt hurt! Kind of defeats the purpose of riding a fat bike if you have to make the tires rock hard.
  • I found the Esbit stove that I was using to be frustratingly slow. Jenn and Doug told me that Esbit fuel tabs are almost impossible to find in most small towns. They were using a jetboil (which lives up to its name BTW), which uses a canister that, according to them, you can find everywhere. And they were still on their 3rd canister after 4 weeks on the trail!
  • Anonymous USFS guy gave me the tip about the SteriPEN.
  • Tubeless tires are more trouble than they’re worth!

Lynx pass to rabbit ears

Had a rough start this morning. Doug and Jenn pulled out around 8:30am, and it looked like I was going to get out at 9 until I decided that my rear tire could use a bit more air. Unfortunately, I was using a Lezyne pump that has a hose that screws onto the value, and when I unscrewed the hose it took the valve core out with it! I hastily screwed it back in and now I was worse off than before. ¬†I don’t have a valve core tool (note to self: get one!) so I hand tightened it and tried again – same result. ¬†Except that now the tire had lost so much air that it was leaking air around the bead — I am running it tubeless. ¬†Now I was panicking. I had a spare tube but I sure didn’t want to use it for this. I flipped the bike over, removed the wheel, pumped it up to about 10psi and then started doing the Stan’s shake-n-bake with the wheel. ¬†Amazingly, I got everything to seal back up! ¬†But I didn’t get on the road until 10am, and I had a grueling day ahead and barely any water left.

So I was on my way (off-route) to Toponas Creek campground to get some water when I saw the unmistakable icky green of a USFS truck approaching. I flagged him down to ask if he knew whether there was water at Toponas Creek. He didnt know and recommended that I filter some creek  water. So I  got to try out my chlorine diox tabs. Had to wait 2 hours to drink  it but it was good. (BTW, he told me he uses a SteriPEN and it takes only 3 minutes to do the job!)

Today was as hot as yesterday but since I was between 9k and 10k feet all day it felt great.

Big views and perfect weather at 9000’+.

At 10k feet I crossed an unnamed continental divide crossing.

Unnamed Divide crossing at 10k feet on FS250.

Yup, I am definitely on the east side of the Divide now!

I was getting really tired by the time I saw the signature rock formation that told me I was close to Rabbit Ears pass.

The rock formation that gives Rabbit Ears Pass its name.

Tough day with over 4,000 feet of climbing. Absolutely fabulous riding however, with the last 35 miles being on non-technical FS roads at high elevation in perfect weather. (I saw only 4 cars in those 35 miles!) I made it to the Dumont Lake campground just north of US 40 by 5:30. Very nice except for the epic mosquito population.

On the trail at last

Last night I stayed in steamboat Springs and this morning I headed out for day 1 of the south loop. Well, I finally pulled out of town at 11:40, so technically that is still morning.

The first 10 or so miles are on paved but lightly traveled county road 14. After passing Catamount Lake, the route turns into a dirt road alongside the Yampa river — absolutely beautiful.

The dirt road takes you to the Stagecoach Reservoir dam, which you cross to get onto a trail along the reservoir’s east side.

Crossing the dam on Stagecoach Reservoir. Note the trail on the left side that takes you around the lake car-free.

The downside of doing so is that the state park’s headquarters (where presumably you could get potable water) is on the other side of the lake! Luckily I was carrying a full, 4 liter dromedary bag, because it was¬†hot.

Took me until 5:30 to make it to lynx pass, then found out there’s no water there! I started down the road from the pass and on a whim I flagged down a passing truck.¬† The couple in the truck were on their way home from Denver of all places.¬† Since they were only about 20 minutes from home,¬† they gave me their water and a ride back up to the campground!

I was the only one at the campground until a pair of GD bikers showed up.¬† Doug and Jenn are from NH. ¬†They started in Banff 4 weeks ago and they’re going all the way. They are doing the ride as a¬†fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association¬†in memory of one of their fathers.¬†They are riding hardtails with Thudbuster seatposts and each is pulling a B.O.B. Yak trailer.

GDMBR through-riders Doug and Jenn.

It’s nice to have some company at this otherwise-deserted campground.