Tour Divide 2014

After two years of training and dreaming I finally got my chance to ride the Tour Divide, a 2,800 mile mountain bike route that goes from Banff, Canada all the way down to the Mexican border.  Before I would ride, though, I spent a few days in Banff, which is a wonderful town.

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The bike all shiny and clean before the race started. Just outside of Banff.

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Crazy Larry. He’s one of the unofficial organizers of this unofficial race. He’s awesome. And a bit crazy.

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I stayed at the YWCA, with about 60 other bikepackers. It was a fun hang. Bikes and cool gear everywhere.

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The bike after one hour of riding. We were hit with very cold rain right from the start. Within an hour it was snowing. Mud, mud, and more mud.

Finally we got started at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning, but alas, the weather was unbelievably bad.  It rained every day, for hours and hours on end, with each day only giving us an hour or two of clear weather.  The rain was cold and it turned to snow up on the passes.

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Ah, no rain. This was toward the top of Cabin Pass, a massive climb that took me several hours.

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Also towards the top of Cabin Pass. That’s usually how I felt after climbing for hours on end.

My body and bike held up just fine, but I just wasn’t focused.  I’m going through a lot of big changes musically and professionally and I kept thinking I should be home practicing and composing.  However, I still averaged about a 100 miles a day this time, and finished 450 miles of the route in five days.  That was much slower than I had hoped for, but the elevation and weather was giving me some trouble.  I rode from about 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day.

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The rain was relentless. This is a shot from the hotel floor on the second day. (I shared a room with four other dudes. $20. Perfect. It rained all night . . . ) I wasn’t the only one trying this. But it didn’t work that well.

The terrain was a mixture of single track, double track, gravel roads, and pavement.

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Look carefully and you’ll see a few bikepackers towards the top of that hill. Singletrack/bushwack.

Sometimes the trail just disappeared and became a river, like this photo below of the bottom of Flathead Pass.  We had to carry our bikes for miles through the icy cold water, or try to navigate the brambles on the side of the “road.”  Fun!

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I rode with other people off and on.  I never tried to catch up to stronger riders as I didn’t want to injure myself.  That was a good strategy.

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All this junk food plus some slices of pizza in my back pocket would keep me going for another 100 miles of rugged wilderness. It’s not great food, but it’s portable, doesn’t go bad, and is all that’s available in small towns.

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When the sun did come out for a few minutes my cockpit would become a clothes rack.

There was a lot of hike-a-bike.  Miles and miles every day.  In the photo below are some avalanche remnants across the trail on Whitefish Pass in Montana.

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Top of Redfish Lake Pass. Gorgeous place. I was by myself for most of the day and had a lot of time for thinking, which is always more clear in the wilderness.

  So, somewhere in the middle of Montana I called it.  I have no regrets.  It was an incredible experience.  I’ll be back next year and I look forward to finishing it.  Not a second goes by that I don’t think about that route.  It’s very original and American in all the right ways.  There’s nothing else like it in the world, riding the spine of our continent from one end of the country to the other.  I really appreciate Jessica’s support.  She “gets it.”  I’m a lucky guy.  I also appreciate all the efforts of the people behind the scenes, like Matthew Lee, Joe Polk, Crazy Larry, and the folks at ACA.  Congrats to the riders who finished.  One day I’ll be able to say the same.

 

One thought on “Tour Divide 2014

  1. Can’t say “I get it”, but your lovely wife does, and that is what counts. You are an amazing couple….suited beyond words. I love you all and I appreciate the entry. Gives me food for thought. ;).

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