Ovando to Holland Lake

July 08, 2010 – 58 (+10) miles

This morning I ate a hearty bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese for breakfast while Mathieu ate in the cafe. He though I missed out because it had a lot of character inside.

On the road, he asked how I felt. Not bad, but not great. He rode ahead. I assumed he’d wait for me at one of the critical navigation points. Little did I know I wouldn’t see him for another 10 hours…

On a climb, I met a group of 12 southbound-ers who started at Roosville together. During the past day’s, Mathieu said he was looking forward to meeting them as he considered riding with them before deciding to start in Antelope Wells. We talked for a while and I found out they hadn’t seen Mathieu yet. Strange, because last I saw of him he was ahead.

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The group advised me not to ride solo the Richmond Peak Trail – a rare piece of singletrack on the Great Divide. They reported seeing fresh bear scat and having to lug their bikes over many downed trees.

Should I heed warnings and bypass the trail (which was also at the top of a large climb)? Where was Mathieu? Should I wait for him – or was he far ahead of me and happened to miss the southbound riders?

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I rode onward. All I knew was Holland Lake was our destination…so that’s where I would go.

I stopped for a lunch at a forest road junction. Here I could choose to continue up to Richmond Peak or bypass it on pavement. I ate slowly to let Mathieu catch up in case he was indeed behind me somewhere.

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Enough time had passed without sign of Mathieu so I continued on-route towards Richmond peak. The first five miles were gradual, followed by six steep miles. More than once I doubted my decision to go this direction.

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On the ascent, I met two more SOBO riders.

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At the top, I reached the Richmond Peak trailhead.

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The trail was very narrow. I didn’t like being so closed in in an area where I knew bears were.

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Contrary to my expectations, the trail still ascended. It made singing for bears very difficult.

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Obstacles of the Richmond Peak Trail

The trail turned into two-track, then into a regular dirt road, and I started descending finally. On the way down, I passed an abandoned truck with the hood up and jumper cables resting near the engine. Was the driver eaten by a bear?

A ways down the mountain, I found the driver and his dog. He left the radio on while feeding his dog and came back to find the battery dead. He was walking to a the main road. I offered food and water, but the guy was well prepared and didn’t need it.

At the bottom of the steep descent, I stopped to eat a pop-tart. Right then, Mathieu appeared from around a corner where I just came. He didn’t look happy. He said he missed a turn and rode 10 miles before a dead end told him he’d missed a turn somewhere.

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We rode together from then on. Rounding a corner, I saw a small black bear scurry away into the forest. Even riding together, we managed to miss an overgrown snowmobile track we were supposed to turn onto. We spilled onto a highway 10 miles short of Holland Lake. Those miles were a drag. We should have been camping and eating already.

We made it to Holland Lake as darkness was falling. We decided to reward ourselves with a restaurant meal. Unfortunately, it was one of those fancy places that serves tiny portions at outrageous prices. For example, an appetizer of two meatballs (I forget their fancy name) cost $8! My “gourmet” cost nearly $30!

After still being hungry after $50 of food, we pitched our tents in the dark at the nearby campground. It was 11:30 when we settled in.

I did 10 extra miles with Mathieu. His extra mileage totaled 30 miles, making it a ~90 mile day for him. I’m sure the most disappointing part was the meal at Holland Lake.


Stats
Distance: 58+ miles
Ascent: 5154 ft
Descent: 5155 ft

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