Day 12: Ovando- The Llama Ranch

(My birthday πŸŽ‚ 🎁🎈🍰)

Miles: 61

Climbing: 4741ft

Got up this morning and had breakfast with Drew at The Stray Bullet in Ovando. Drew told them it was my birthday, and the ladies brought me my meal with a breakfast candle in my rye toast. Drew got a picture, but even after 31 years on this planet, I still can’t keep my eyes open for a photo:

I started down the road, mostly more Montana ranch land, with some cool dune-looking hills on the way out of town:

It took a while to get out of the flatlands…..

Pretty much from the time I started out, I could already tell that I was NOT feeling it today. Despite (or maybe because of) my birthday, I was just grumpy, tired, and low-energy.

As if sensing my bad attitude, the trail sent me a message:

This β€œHBDAY” definitely means β€œHappy Birthday”, right? Yes.

I struggled up the first pass of the day, and limped (still grumping) into Lincoln–tired, with a bad attitude, and really struggling with the sun exposure/heat.

Lincoln was hot, loud, and dusty, with lots of trucks, casinos, and ATVs. I ran into the grocery store and tried to find a quiet place to eat……I finally just pulled over on a grassy spot on the side of the road. Cursing the sun, I made some kind of flippant comment like “I’d take rain over this unrelenting sun!”……not 10 minutes later it starts POURING out of nowhere and I was forced to take shelter at a gas station till it passed.

I should mention that I was having this big ol’ grumpy morning in the full knowledge that I had my highest pass–and my first actual Divide crossing in the afternoon.

Once I finally got out of town, I started up another steep climb, that got steeper….and steeper…..and steeper, until I was either too tired or too weak to ride it anymore. There were some pretty sights, for sure, but I was struggling.

Seeing this on my Garmin was a fun one:

From steep…..TO VERTICAL

I probably hiked my bike around 2 miles, but did finally eventually make it over the pass.

I seriously almost cried when I saw this:

This sign was at the top, signaling the famed Llama Ranch Warm Showers host. I rode down as fast as I could while not falling on loose gravel or mud, and finally (FINALLY) arrived at the Llama Ranch.

This place is a FREE accommodation for Divide cyclists, hosted by the amazing Barbara and John. When I arrived, they were expecting me (I had called ahead), and immediately offered me a beer and sandwich. Drew and 2 other Divide riders were also there! I got to stay in their amazing little cabin, with ALL the comforts a traveling cyclist could dream of.

After chatting for a while with my incredible hosts, I went to lay down and recover from the day. I sat and ate my sandwich, and had the little cheesecake I had brought from Lincoln.

Today was probably definitely my hardest day so far, but this amazing place honestly made up for it. I’ll try to take some more pictures in the morning. 😊

On having my 31st birthday on this trip:

I am so privileged to be able to take on this amazing adventure. People keep saying I’m brave or whatever, but I honestly feel so fortunate that at this point in my life (relatively not that old), I have the time, the physical fitness, and the money to make this happen. It has been hard, sure, but these are hardships I chose and signed up for; there’s a tremendous amount of privilege in that choice. I’ve been struggling a little with my place in making the world/this country less shitty, and keeping up the fight. I hope I can live up to it as I continue into my thirties.

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