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The Great Basin & Beyond

It’s been a few weeks (months, perhaps?) since I last posted. I know.

For better or worse, after leaving Banff and picking up the Great Divide I was under a bit of a time crunch. With three weeks in September carved out for work, and a little off-the-bike play, I needed to push the pace to make it as far south into Colorado as I could. My fear of an early winter in the Rockies kept me in the saddle — and off the computer.

While I relish the physical and mental challenges that come with setting lofty goals, I’m also aware of the potential for burnout. This time was no exception. After a month of pounding pedals on limited rest, my legs were drained, my ass sore and I was in deep caloric debt. When mid-September rolled around, I still felt motivated to ride. Then I hung up the bike for a few days; up went the bike, down went my motivation to get back on it.

Wrapped in the comfort of the world of Backroads, replete with three weeks of abundant food, soft beds and familiar friendly faces, I’m left softened like a couch potato. Two extraordinary weeks with Erin hasn’t done much to refuel my motivation, either.

I’m currently waiting out the early winter storms I feared would halt my progress along the Divide, holed up — on a couch — in Denver with my cousin Stephanie. The good news: the weather forecast is for sun and warmer temperatures next week. The need to push miles has passed. The luxury of slowing down has returned.

Into the Great Basin after a few days of rest in Jackson.

Dinner along Little Sandy Creek.

Jim rejoined us out of Jackson.

This stretch of winding road straddled the Continental Divide, offering sweeping views of the Great Basin to the south.

Favorable winds and gently rolling terrain made for perfect riding conditions.

Jim waiting patiently. At 60, he had no problem "finding his groove" and riding us off his wheel, effortlessly plowing ahead while we struggled to keep pace.

Riding at dusk proved the best way to beat the heat. With endless opportunities for camping, we had the luxury of riding until sunset, my favorite time of day.

Aspen Alley, a gateway of sorts from the rolling hills of the Basin into the mountains of Colorado.

No bikes here. In Steamboat I hopped a ride with Greyhound to rendezvous with my good friend and climbing partner, Nick. We bee-lined to Jackson, WY where the weather window for the Grand Teton welcomed us with open arms. Here, we're midway between the Lower and Upper Saddles. Parking lot to summit and back in a one-day push is no easy feat, but now that the pain of a 26-mile, 17-hour day climbing 7,000 feet is behind us, mostly good memories remain. The highlight of the day: Nick's first lead placing his own gear -- at 13,000 feet!

Then it was on to Connecticut to support a 450-person charity bike ride with Backroads where I was lucky enough to spend a second straight birthday with 64 friends and co-workers. Panda says hi. (Photo courtesy of Erin Barr)

Plaid on plaid -- on plaid! The collision of bicycle and girlfriend has the wheels turning for a possible change in plans. Last I checked, Erin has a pretty solid touring bike...! (Photo courtesy Sam Pope)

In the few short weeks off the bike, Autumn settled in nicely outside of Steamboat Springs, CO.

The hills ablaze with yellow Aspen leaves.

The chase is on. A friendly reminder that an endless summer can only be found south of here.

Muddy, leave-covered dirt can be expected for the next couple weeks. Here's hoping for an Indian Summer!