The depth of my reflection today was nowhere near what I experienced yesterday, as I kept having flashbacks of a moment when Kim and Anders rode up behind me singing "Who let the cows out? Moo! Moo! Moo!"
Having this on repeat in my head was a meditation breaker. But, I'm always happy to break for a laugh.
The plan was to ride from Rawlins to Brush Mountain Lodge. I knew that Matthew Lee and his family were taking care of the Lodge until a few days ago, but I understood that they would be long gone by now. In an unfairly brief nutshell, Matthew is the director and seven time finisher (including five wins) of the Tour Divide. He is a living legend.
I also knew that Kirsten, who normally runs the lodge and who showed me incredible hospitality last year, was out of town. Would there be anyone there when we arrived? I had some communication with Kirsten last night, but it was not clear what to expect. We took a gamble and made it our destination anyhow.
We hit a long stretch of road construction at the midway point. It felt like man versus machine as we zig-zagged through the trucks. Before we knew it, we were in Aspen Alley, the final part of the main climb for the day and a beautiful spot for "lunch". Gummy rattlesnakes and melted chocolate. It's a good day.
"Who let the cows out? Moo! Moo! Moo!"
About 10km from the lodge, we spotted an ATV coming down the road. It was a man and his daughter. They were driving pretty slowly and I figured it was to be polite...and then I realized....
Holy shit, it's Matthew Lee!
Amazing. It's a great day.
There is not a cyclist in the world who I admire more for his achievements. What an incredible honour to meet him. When we finally arrived at the lodge, Matthew, his lovely wife, Katie, and their awesome kids made sure that we were well taken care of. Bean burgers, watermelon and a sunset drive around the property. It felt strange to be in a vehicle; suddenly gravel and hills seemed easy. The day keeps getting better.
Kirsten made it home in time to join in some of the fun as well. We must be the luckiest guests this summer, getting to enjoy the company of the Lee family *and* Kirsten.
As tomorrow will be my last day and I will no longer be around to impart my "wisdom" on Kim and Anders, Matthew was kind enough to offer some tips for the remainder of the route. We pulled out the maps and he started going through the route, inch by inch. He remembers every turn, every hill, every house. He even remembers details about business owners, what to order on the menu, when things are open. And he has a story for everything. This was the most exciting part of the night.
There is not a person in the world that knows this route better than Matthew. Have you ever received advice from the undisputed world expert on something? It's amazing. On this road, there are so many details that feel uncertain. And here we were, speaking with the man who has all of the answers. It was like having a conversation with the Dalai Lama.
He's really passionate about the Great Divide. It's contagious. He has the sort of enthusiasm that inspires one to think of doing this again. Was he like this before? Or is this something that came from making the journey seven times? Is there some sort of enlightenment that comes from the experience you have on this ride? I'm beginning to think so.
After my experience yesterday, and after hearing Matthew talk, I am finding more reasons to come back. I wonder what I would discover if I crossed the Basin five more times...