The ‘official’ Tour Divide web site has been down and so with the race starting in five weeks I thought it would be good to make sure the ‘rules’ were readily available. So I pulled them out of ‘web.archive.org’ (thanks for the tip Justin!) and have combined the rules and the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to a single page. Was good to refresh my memory on some of the more esoteric aspects of what really are a simple set of rules. They come down to: do this race alone, with no outside help, and be honest about it…
As a Canadian I find it really challenging to train in the tropics. No matter how many years I’ve worked in the tropics whenever I’m back from a run or a ride people ask if I’ve been swimming.
I was in Vanuatu for a few days of meetings and decided that if this was what people would think I may as well just do brick workouts by having a swim after my run. It would make no difference with regard to how wet I’d be, and at least the water would cool me down a bit.
I was staying at one of my favourite hotels Chantilly’s which is right on the water. So after my run I grabbed my goggles and swam across the bay. It was about 06:30 so nobody else was out there. I’m very comfortable with open water swimming and sighted myself against a large white mansion on the other side. Got into my Ironman rhythm of sighting every 5th stroke and with my MP3 player keeping me entertained I got into a good zone.
I was shocked out of my zone when my hand hit something! It seems that the bay is quite shallow about half way across. At least it was that and not a fish. Based on my time I estimated that it was about 1.5 km across and back which was confirmed by my GPS track. I so enjoyed the brick that I did one every morning I was in town. I’m going to make it a habit when I stay at Chantilly’s since there is no excuse not to make use of the bay.
In 2012 Ollie Whalley set a record for the 4,418 km Tour Divide race by knocking it off in just 16 days, averaging an incredible 270 km of mountain biking a day. By comparison, I only averaged 170 km per day before I had to withdraw at 2,500 km to assist my parents after my mother broke her hip. But yesterday I did the impossible. I beat him 1:1. How this came about is interesting, because it occurred in Tarawa – a small atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…
Confession 1: It was only over 14.2 km and not on a bike—we were running.
Confession 2: The next day over 10 km he out sprinted me. But he did wuss out by asking that we only do 10 km rather than 14.2 km.
To continue …
I had the pleasure of editing Volume 4 of the Cordillera – the story of the 2012 Tour Divide race. I managed to get 20 of the racers to contribute stories and interviews for the book. Ollie was a natural choice and he did a great interview. We got some great stories—check out the book here (all funds go to the college fund of Dave Blumenthol’s daughter—he died a few years ago in the ride).
During the process Ollie noted that I work for the World Bank and asked if we had any positions open for an engineer. We did and after interviewing well (I semi-recused myself) he got hired. He is now working for us in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
We were up in Tarawa to look at my road and aviation projects. I felt really sorry for the rest of our team as our field visits had discussions around Tyler Hamilton, the benefits of combing Advil with caffeine pills, and how he managed to ride down Fleecer Ridge when I did a head over heels.
There are two options for training on Tarawa: turn left or turn right. Right is my preferred route as there are less dogs so right it was. It was a typically balmy early morning, 30+ with 100% humidity. We should have gone 30 min earlier. When we got back to Mary’s Motel Jane, one of the owners, asked if we had been for a swim. Easy to see why she was mistaken! Was nice to have a running partner as usually I train on my own while on mission so have to drag him out. For now, I’m off on my new bicycle (#15). Ollie and I decided that we can’t not have a bike so we went to a shop yesterday and I told the owner I wanted a bike for my son. He duly complied and we’ve now a $150 U-Max mountain bike weighing as much as our fully loaded Tour Divide rigs to play with. But more runs are planned …
Jim Stansbury posted this video taken the morning of the start of the 2012 Tour Divide. It shows the myriad of arrangements used for bike setup. Who would have thought so many permutations and combinations were possible? And my, some do travel light!
I did a post 2+ years ago about the Sufferfest training videos. These are the ultimate videos for getting fit on your stationary trainer, built around the motto: ‘I Will Beat My Ass Today To Kick Yours Tomorrow’ (IWBMATTKYT). My wife Lis commented that the Sufferfest was a (unhealthy) ‘sub-culture’. She doesn’t know the half of it. Those are partake in the videos (who call themselves ‘Sufferlandrians’ after the mythical country of Sufferlandria), are pretty fanatical. For example, the photo below was taken at the 2012 Australian road championships where a spectator is waving the Sufferlandrian flag.
Today is a bookend of sorts, so a good time to put together my ‘Letter of Intent’ for the 2013 Tour Divide race.
One of the problems with a job like mine which entails frequent travel (206 days last year), is that it makes it exceedingly difficult to plan one’s triathlon season—even more so when I don’t race on Saturdays for religious reasons. I was therefore very excited when they announced the inaugural Auckland Ironman 70.3 race in late January as I was planning on having some downtime during summer and so the likelihood of travel was minimal. Of course having paid my non-refundable fee, circumstances worked against me which meant that I arrived in Auckland at 05:30 the day before the race after a 20h flight from Washington D.C. Note to self … one needs more time to recover than a day before a race. Especially when it consists of a 1.9 km swim, 90 km bike ride and 21 km run!