Wow, I can't put into words how good it feels to be done with the beast that is the Tour Divide. It was an incredible year, with long snow slogs and flooded roads in the north, huge days and short nights of sleep in the middle, and 100-degree temperatures and tight racing in New Mexico. I'm still a bit in disbelief that I managed to make it to Antelope Wells before anyone else.
Photo stolen from Eddie Clark's beautiful collection.
The racing this year was nothing less than intense from the start. Ethan, Jefe, and I beat the crap out of one another for the first 1500 miles. Averaging 180 miles per day for that stretch, the toll on all of our bodies was huge. Ankles and knees seemed to take the brunt of the abuse, and watching one another try to get up in the morning when we happened to be camped at the same spot was downright comical until it was your turn to try to become less horizontal. I did a little math and found that I averaged 4 hours of sleep per night for those 16ish days, and that included two nights that I didn't sleep at all (one was the final night) and one that I only napped for an hour. I didn't really think such minimal sleep could be possible for this race, but what do you know?
I really enjoyed the company of Ethan and Jefe when we were riding together. Both are incredibly impressive athletes and simply nice guys. It was refreshing to see that all of us were racing on minimal budgets, on bikes cobbled together with whatever parts we were able to get deals on, and Jefe and I both had quite a bit of homemade gear. It really goes to show that the fanciest bikes and most expensive gear fall far short of what's required for riders to do well in the Tour Divide. It's instead sheer determination, endurance accumulated through years of cycling, savviness in planning, and familiarity with multi-day racing that the fastest racers usually possess, and Ethan and Jefe clearly had an abundance of each.
Photo by Mike Dion/The Path
I'll try to post some more thoughts on the past couple weeks at some point in the near future, and if I can figure out how to get the photos off my camera without a USB cable, I'll post some of those. In the mean time, keep an eye on the Salsa Cycles blog, Cyclingnews, and Mountain Flyer for some upcoming features on the race.
But I'll thank all that have helped me out with the gear used in this race - Salsa Cycles, Revelate Designs, Pearl Izumi, White Brothers, LaceMine29.com, Cane Creek, University Bikes in Boulder, and Michelin. Everything worked FLAWLESSLY, and that made life so much easier for me. I could focus on pedaling, eating, drinking, and enjoying the passing miles instead of futzing with components, repairing broken equipment, and figuring out how to get replacement parts. The one mistake I made was starting with fast-rolling WTB Nano tires - big error on my part. The amount of air that leaked through tiny holes in the sidewalls and the speed at which the tread wore was astounding. I swapped out the rear for a trusty Michelin WildRace'r half way through and had no more problems and spent the rest of the race wishing I had a WildRace'r on the front, too.
I'm hanging out in Silver City recuperating and waiting for Caroline to finish. She's in Cuba this evening and only has a few more days to go before she can hopefully best the rest of the women's field! Then I need to pedal back down to Separ to meet my ride back to Colorado before meeting up with Mike Dion, Hunter Weeks, and Matthew Lee to begin filming of The Path. Hopefully my body is interested in riding again next week!
Thanks to everyone that's sent their congrats...it means a lot, and I'm proud to hear that I've been able to inspire so many others simply by doing what I love to do.