Eric B., in Butte and back out again
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(Call received 5:15 a.m. Thursday, June 18)
Yeah, hi, it’s Eric Bruntjen calling in from Butte, Montana. I’ve been having some pretty good days. Leaving Whitefish, I went over a couple of passes, ended up going through some beautiful country, pretty green, lots of mosquitos. My hat’s off to Christian at the Holland Lake Lodge, it’s a beautiful lodge building with cabins around it on this nice lake. He opened his kitchen for us and I had a heaping mound of fish-and-chips and two beers in front of a roaring fireplace while it drizzled outside. Jeremy and I got a little cabin, it was pretty nice, a really unexpected treat on the Tour Divide.
Coming into Butte yesterday, I chased two things all day: a thunderstorm and two tire tracks, and I caught both of them in Basin, Montana. The thunderstorm was ahead of me all day long; I didn’t really get rained on until Basin, but everywhere I went was just mud and puddles. There’s a lot of tracks on the route right now; you can really see that some guys are heading straight for Mexico, they cut all the corners. Other riders, they’re going to Mexico too, but they go over to this side of the road first and then they go over to that side of the road and then maybe back to the other side.
There were two tracks, however, that were fresh. I chased those guys down and caught up to them in Basin. It was the Italians. I caught the Italians in Basin. I beat them out of town; they were having pizza and beer. I made it over the pass into Butte.
I had been doing a lot of riding with Cricket and Jeremy and Ray and that was a ton of fun, they’re super nice. Cricket is really nice; she rides next to me and listens to me complain about how much I miss my kids. But in the end this is a race, so I put the hammer down outside of Lincoln and lost them, I think. I missed that sort of camaraderie along the trail, but now I’ve got the Italians to stay ahead of. So I’m going to get out of here in about 15 minutes — it’s 5:15 in the morning where I’m am — and I’m going to put about 130 miles on the bike today, try and stay ahead of everyone that’s behind me and maybe try and catch up to some people, too. It’s hard telling.
I’m shedding weight with gear. I’ve been getting rid of stuff. I’ve already gotten rid of two shirts, a rear flashing light, a pair of shorts and my flip-flops. It’s really come down to trying to get rid of as much weight as possible. I really, really want to get rid of my bear spray, but I can’t justify it quite yet. Actually I had a guy I was going to give it to in Whitefish, who was going backpacking. But over breakfast I saw in the newspaper that two guys had been attacked by grizzlies already this year in the area, so I’ve decided to keep it. But it’s just this heavy pig that sits on my bike and I can’t wait to get rid of it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to dump it.
The bike’s holding together pretty well. I’ve got a long stretch here coming up where there’s no bike shop available but I think I’m gonna make it without a problem. Things are going really well; yesterday I only made 100 miles but that was because Lava Mountain was out there, and that’s a really tough, tall section with a lot of mud and rocks and single-tracks. So I felt really good getting over Lava Mountain yesterday, even though that was only a 100-mile day. Not sure why the spot device is not showing my true mileage; probably because it’s only point-to-point. But my shortest day was yesterday and that was 100 miles.
But I’m doing really well; I’m real pleased with my progress. Today like I said I’m going to go 130 miles; got a couple of passes to go over today. Yesterday I think I did three or four passes and the same thing the day before. Things are going really well.