Tour Divide = Scratch. Tour Davide = Success!

I’m back in Seattle after exiting the Tour Divide in Steamboat Springs, Co. I made it 1546 miles in 28 days, more than half way on the Tour’s 2,745 miles, and decided to honor my time commitments and come home. There’s a teeny tiny sliver of disappointment that I didn’t figure out how to finish, and a huge wedge of pride at how far I came. Instead of talking about finishing half of the Tour Divide, I’m saying I finished All of the Tour Davide.

RideItRight

Tour Divide, scratching, and disappointment: 

I really liked what Diana Nyad said about endurance athletes who succeed: “We’re so afraid of failure, we can’t”. I thought about Diana a lot, and I’d love to count myself in her company. Certainly her achievement (swimming Cuba to Florida at 60) is singular, but I would like to hold a tiny candle up to her huge flame and the Tour Divide qualifies I think.

Sadly, that’s not this year. Pretty early on in the race I did the math and figured out that with my tire being destroyed on day 1, I really didn’t have a huge chance to catch up unless I put in mamoth days (like many 100+ mile days in a row). Given my relatively low level of fitness, it just didn’t seem believable.

I think that was a failure of imagination. I could have turned it around at a couple different points, but basically decided to ride a different race. Honestly, I’m a bit sad that I didn’t and also happy that I didn’t. It would have meant a *vastly* different experience, and I’m pretty happy with the experience I had.

The Tour Davide

So what, exactly, do I have to be proud about anyway? After all, I barely made it half way along the longest, hardest mountain bike ride in the world!

Well… there’s that: I made it more than half way on the longest, hardest mountain bike race in the world. On the first try!!! In the face of serious obstacles! By myself! Given that the chances of even finishing are 50/50 even on a good weather year, I’ll take it. It’s a huge accomplishment, and something to be proud of for sure. What’s more – I didn’t quit because I couldn’t go on (mechanical failure, medical issues, boredom). I quit because  had my priorities right:

  1. Stay married
  2. Stay Alive
  3. Finish

In those terms, I think I finished at exactly the right time.

But really there’s something more. Once you realize you’re not bound for Antelope Wells, there are quite a few options open to you. Honestly, I’m pretty proud that I stuck to the race route, kept at it, and prioritized seeing things and meeting people above speed. The image above is right: I finished behind the leader, but me with my pastie sitting in the grass in Montana is actually winning.

The folks who win this thing basically don’t sleep. Sleep is how our brains make memories. I’d hate to go through all that effort and miss the opportunity to remember the things I saw and the people I met.


For those not on facebook – here’s what I wrote there a few days ago:

Well, the time has come friends – I’m headed back home! My trip on the Tour Davide is complete and I think a success. Mixed emotions for sure, but I am incredibly thankful and happy to have had this adventure.

This won’t be my last update on this topic, I’ve still got some thinking, writing and organizing to do before I’m tapped out.

One of the things I’m proudest of is finishing strong, on my own terms. I’m not out because of poor preparation or mistakes – I’m done because I know what my priorities are, and have from the start. Very much looking forward to seeing my family. Hopefully I get a chance to catch up with you soon too!

P.s. special thanks to the trail angels and riding companions – it was a joy meeting you, the very best thing on my adventure. You know who you are

Protips

Not that I’m a pro but I have some experience in this area.

  • Don’t bring what you need for the entire trip. For example bringing a whole trips with us unblock is a bad idea. You will find what you need on the way.
  • Exceptions to this rule are clothing spare parts prescription medication phone call
  • Full fingered gloves.
  • Wool. jerseys, undies and base. Full zip nice not necessary.
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are best used as prophylactic medicines – take them bwfore you hurt. Daily is not a bad plan.
  • Make agreements w/ yourself and keep them. For example, on descents I always have helmet on, gloves on, and all bags zipped.

    More to come I’m sure, talk soon.

    Things that worked: Sea to Summit evac stuff sack

    Technically, this didn’t fully work as I doubt it’s still waterproof, but Dang has this thing done its job. This sack holds all my sleep gear plus whatever else I can an cram in.

    It never, ever complains. In a 13l sack I can fit: tarp, poles, stakes, down bag, bivvy bag, sleep pad and pillows and a bit more.

    This bag is mounted on the front of my bike, so if I take a tumble it takes the brunt. Even with sharp things inside, the bag has only developed a few minor holes, easily patched. 

    Super pleased with this.

    I am the luckiest man alive

    I suppose it all depends on your perspective, but I gotta say I think my perspective is right.
    Here’s a rundown of good luck/bad luck incidents as evidence.

    Bad luck:

    • Bike shop broke my derailleur hanger 
    • Tire completely destroyed itself on day 1 and 2
    • Not all of my tire repairs worked as well as I wanted
    • Lost my sewing needle in the woods 
    • Motel in Elkwood was above a music venue
    • New pedals develop annoying squeak after, oh, 200 miles
    • Saddle looses a rivet
    • Saddle rail breaks
    • Saddle sags a lot
    • Left my gloves and knee warmers in a cabin
    • Lost a replacement glove on the rail trail
    • Big tumble on the rail trail
    • Lost my wallet in Sweet Lake
    • Lost my phone at high Country L odge

    Good luck

    • Got my wallet back through the amazing kindness of about 10 people
    • Invited to dinner and a cabin bed in Swan Lake
    • Invited to dinner and a luxury cabin stay in Holland Lake
    • Ralph K. Stumbled across me when I was out of options for tire repair and gave me a needle and thread
    • Christian F. gave me.a ride to Elkwood 
    • I arrived at the High Country Lodge without even knowing it.
    • Excellent traveling companions for many days 
    • My family, friends and job supported me in this amazing adventure
    • Eric and Jo found me at a convenience store and took me into their home
    • My trail repairs basically worked
    • Tom gave me his GPS when he scatched so I could continue.
    • I’ve seen many, many amazing things

      By the numbers I may be behind, but I know for sure I’m the luckiest man alive.

      When things go south…

      A wise man once said “When things go south, address the foundation”. So, today is new socks, undies and jersey day. Not really sure why, but today is definitely a low energy day. I feel like I’ve been out drinking with Clif Renberg, and just want to get back in bed.

      But, there’s really not much to do besides ride on, so ride on I will. Today: Wyoming, and with luck the Togwotee lodge.

      I took a close look at my scrapes and bruises. More bruises than scrapes, and only one of the scrapes is really noteworthy – not serious but annoying. Fortunately when looking for new socks I discovered my backup gloves – warm gloves for the passes, but they’re better than no gloves (which is what I have for my left paw after losing one on the rail trail yesterday). That’s a real yay. The weather is lovely, so lovely ill need more sun block soon.
      The ranch I’m at is a strange mix of beauty and janky. The shower matches anything I’ve seen in Honduras or Guatemala. Still. It’s a lovely spot and I’m happy to have stayed.
      One more sip of Foldgers Black Silk and I’m on my way.

      P.s. sorry if this sounds like a pity party, it’s not, just trying to be honest.

      Rail Trail mishaps

      Today’s route is pretty flat, but the map is decieving. The route is an old rail trail, so the grade is easy, but the surface of the trail is a weird combination is bead sized sand and washboard road. The wash board seems to be cased by the ATVs  that use the trail all the time. No big deal for them, but really difficult for cyclists. It’s like a spanking machine!  The sand is also really soft, it sucks your wheel in and sucks the inertia out of your bike. The worst part is crossing between either side of the dual track. The last time I crossed that lost control of the front wheel and wiped out. My gloves were off, and I landed pretty hard on my left hand, knee and side. Seriously disappointed that I could have avoided that crash but didn’t.

      So a recovery evening, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

      Idaho!

      Trying to keep my site more up to date (many of my notes are on Facebook, if you want the real time updates friend me there).
      Lovely ride from Lima to Sawtell yesterday. The cabin I Stayed at in Lima seemed like a fire trap, but I sure slept well. My saddle, now broken in 3 different ways, is holding up ok. The road here was quite bumpy – bad gravel, washboard and potholes. But the route went through a lake valley, lots of birds, more mosquitos. I definitely have Zika.

      The best thing was talking with people: Gary Macferson, Nick Wagers, Nolan and Mekela. Once again, lovely people brought me dinner. More stories later!

      Sticks and stones, rocks, roots and rutts

      Got a good start out of Helena from Eric and J’s house yesterday. Quick stop in downtown to try and get some cash, but the ATM machine decided to eat my card. Ever onwards, I rode up nice graded roads until I stopped for water and met Nolan and Mekela. We rode together for the day.

      Most notable experience – the “technical” section of the pass. Totally unrideable by me. N and M seemed.to levitate right over it. Fortunaltey my fast walking g technique kept me pretty close to their pace. I had to repack after my seat bag kept hitting my wheel. Took a tiny spill.

      Saw Gregor, Mark and John – still setting a mean pace! Nice long descent Into Butte with just one seriously wrong turn.

      Butte is weird! Old buildings, not many people, lots empty or unoccupied. The cafe open the earliest served me breakfast, but was a card only joint. 2 hours of screwing around later I finally paid. What a waste!

      Now: Gamers for pastries and pasties.

      The Lost Wallet

      The road from Seely Lake to Ovando is really horrible. Baby head gravel, dusty, generally yuck. But, I did meet a few nice folks driving along, and apparently just after that my wallet ejected itself from my pocket.

      I did not discover the ejection until about 10:30 that evening, far too late to do anything but panic cancel. I thought: better to look than wait for a replacement.

      The next day, Kathy (angler on bikepacking.net) let me tag along as she went back to Seely, checking for my lost goods on the way. No luck. When I arrived in Seely I asked at the restaurant I ate at the night before. No luck. I called Marcie to tell her I was going to cancel my cards and she said “Elizabeth Wick has your wallet”.

      Elizabeth was in the truck that I said hi to on the road from Seely to Ovando, and her and her husband spotted my wallet and messaged many of my Facebook friends with the news.

      This story gets even longer and weirder, but in the end Liz and her husband found me at a rest stop and delivered my wallet intact.

      A lot of things have gone wrong on this trip, but they pale in comparison to the thing that have gone right, and the things that have gone right are because of very kind and generous people like Kathy and Elizabeth. I’m not giving enough credit to about a dozen others who were incredibly helpful. Thank you all, it’s really humbling to be on the receiving end of such good luck.