Analysis Paralysis is when you think too much about something that it actually stops you from doing it. I’ve suffered from it in the past, but not this time. This time, in May, I realized this might be the only chance I get in life to do a race of such great magnitude. With a little (more like a lot) of help from my friends, I made it to the starting line in Banff, AB. June 10th 2016.
Everyone was bleeding excitement at the start line. The day before I met a few fellow racers. It struck me how everyone came from different parts of the world and different walks of life, but we all shared such a similar, strong passion for a challenging, unknown adventure. As I write this now, I keep pausing and remembering. I want to do it again so badly. Anyways, back to the story.
It’s a brisk mountain morning in Banff and I’m the only person in the race wearing a white cycling kit. This garnered many stares from those who chose darker kits to maintain a false appearance of cleanliness. I didn’t mind looking dirty because I was so unbelievably comfortable (Thank you Hincapie). I felt naked and clothed at the same time. Soon enough though it would be covered up in rain gear.
The first day was miserably awesome! An hour or two after Crazy Larry ceremoniously started the race, it began to rain. As we approached a mountain pass the temperature plummeted to a soggy 32 degrees Fahrenheit according to my handy thermometer. I was very cold, please don’t tell my mother. By the end of the day I was soaked and not wanting to camp in bear country so I split a room with my friends Gary and Ricky. I didn’t sleep a wink. We rose before dawn and pedaled on.
Breakfast on the bike was great! I’m a huge fan of both breakfast and bikes. As my good friend Billy always says, “If you like one thing and you like another, put them together and you’ll like it.” (Disclaimer: Doesn’t always work)
Evening day two I punctured my tire in bear country pretty close to the United States of America. Punctured isn’t the right word. Destroyed. No, annihilated. I took my time to be sure I patched it properly. Many thanks to my roomie who recommended I carry heavy duty tire boots. I really should’ve had a needle and thread too. Lesson learned!
WELL, THERE'S YOUR PROBLEM
I decided to push on into the night where I met “The Wall” and Nigel.
“The Wall” is a steep wall of Earth you must crawl up with bike in tow. It was awesome.
Nigel is a guy from England who I’m glad I met not just because there is safety in numbers when camping in bear country, but also because he’s good company. We rode together on and off for a few days.
I met and rode with so many great people. That might have been the best part. At first, I loved my alone time. Just pedaling for hours on end in the middle of nowhere without a soul in sight was really fun. However, as the days wore on, encountering other racers was always a big moral boost. I really enjoyed sharing stories and making conversation to help pass the time. Thanks to everyone who rode with me. I learned something from you all.
I was chasing one such great person named Ricky for days so I could ride with him again. At some point in time I passed him without seeing him. Then, just as I was waking up one morning about 30 miles away from Helena, I hear a bear bell chiming in the distance. Then I see him ride by, and I think, “Damn! Ricky just passed me while I was sleeping!” That was just one of those fun little moments that can only happen in a race like this.
MY CAMPING SPOT WHERE RICKY WOULD PASS ME IN THE MORNING
The Tour Divide was the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. It was everything I hoped it’d be and more. I was looking for a challenge and found one. I learned that the 40% rule is a real thing. The rule states that when you think you’re out of energy and have given everything you have, you’re actually only 40% used up. Three times I found myself in a really rough spot both physically and mentally. Each time I took a short rest then continued on.
Then, in the Great Basin of Wyoming, I ran out of water and took water out of a sketchy source. I treated it but either it wasn’t treatable, or I just didn’t wait long enough for the iodine to do its thing. Thirty miles into my ride the next morning, I started feeling pretty lousy. I’ll spare you the gory details. The short of it is, after a long time spent contemplating, I hitched to Rawlins, Wyoming where I couldn’t get out of bed for three days. It was awful. I felt terrible and would’ve given anything to keep riding. I chose to stop my race there because the unexpected Doctor’s visit and four nights in the motel drained my bank account. Oh well, there’s no crying over spilled milk. I’m bummed I didn’t finish the race but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Even if it ended with me curled up in the fetal position in a motel in Rawlins, Wyoming again. Totally worth it.
THE GREAT BASIN SURE WAS GREAT
Doing something like this is a big commitment. I’ve been putting off a career and a secure future for a while now. It’s a really hard thing to do. For me it is anyway. But, I know I’ll achieve a secure future because I want that badly enough. Just like I wanted, badly enough, to race the Tour Divide.
Ginormous shout out to the crew at Dryve Wheels, could seriously not have made it to the start line without you folks. Thank you.
Equally ginormous thanks to everyone who welcomed us into their towns and cheered us onward.