I awoke early and rushed to the local library and one of the few internet facilities we had seen since arrival in the USA. With a pounding head I typed furiously trying to keep dozens of friends and family up to date with our progress.
Back at the hotel 11:15 saw my clutch part arrive. I readjusted my valve clearances to try and kill some of my engine rattle and dismantled the top end of the bike. My suspicions were directed toward a broken valve spring, cam chain fault, or decompression lever problems. There was no way of confirming the latter two suspicions without taking the head off the engine, but I was glad to rule out a broken valve spring. Having experienced the ready availability of spares in the USA realisation soon dawned that my options were limited. I could diagnose the fault and wait for the parts, effectively ensuring our failure to complete the route due to time constraints. Or I could continue, hoping fervently that my bike didn't eat itself in the middle of the Utah or Nevada deserts.
We had come this far together and I felt that I didn't have the right to stop Stef and Jon from having an opportunity to complete the crossing. The more I thought about it the clearer the solution became, there were only three likely outcomes. Wait for spares, already ruled out. Attempt the route with damaged bike, a bike self destruct would more than likely cause only a single days delay to the team before leaving me to make my own way home. Attempt the route with damaged bike and complete, either way at least I would have a clutch!!
Thirty minutes later and we bid goodbye to our odd motel keeper, left him a tip to try and fund his $40000 sex change operation (!!??) and headed west into the mountains. That day we road as fast as we could to try and complete our prescribed 250 mile ordeal. The first few hours were quick and stunning as the trail took us around the mountains I had crossed the previous day. The riding was predominantly on light sandy trails and was easy work for the fragile bikes. Classic looking mountain ranches and farms were all around us as we climbed and dropped and the views opened up to show us our first true range of snow covered mountains.
Although we rode as fast as we could we were trying to complete 250 miles in a single afternoon. The last part of the route was over a piece of ground known as the Rainbow Trail and we knew that this would be hard, technical, and exposed riding. At 6pm we rolled over a low pass and dropped into a huge glaciated valley. We could see it run as far north/south as the horizon, and opposite us 30 miles away was the barrier known locally as the rain mountains. This range rises consistently to 14000ft and formed what looked to us like an impenetrable barrier to our westward route. It was clear that the Rainbow Trail crossed this range somewhere and the chances of us hitting our days' deadlines were not great.
Prudence was called for and a motel loomed into view. We stopped in an exposed village called Westcliffe, there were no trees to be seen on the plains in any direction. Behind us lay a low range of hills, to each side down the open green valley lay small farms dotted at approximately 15 mile intervals and ahead were huge snow capped peaks. Out of our motel window perfectly framed lay a dirt road running west into the mountains as far as we could see. This was a BIG valley!!
The town turned out to be a surprisingly great place to stop and buffalo burgers from locally grown stock provided an unusually tasty tea.