While my focus of late has been on trying to get ready for Ironman Brazil on 28 May, I’m also planning on being in Banff for the Tour Divide (TD) race on June 8. I know that trying a 4,718 km self-supported mountain bike race less than two weeks after an Ironman is not optimum, but I don’t want to miss the Grand Depart. I’ve agreed with my wife Lis that I’ll see how I feel after Brazil and, subject to my not blowing myself up there, I will head to Banff. I’ve already got my gear in Toronto waiting for me…
I need to get the TD out of my system after last year’s fiasco. My first DNF (‘did not finish’) ever in a race. Next year is our 25th wedding anniversary and Lis doesn’t want me still obsessed with the TD (she’s thinking hiking in Switzerland – together!).
When asked about the attraction of the TD, besides the obvious challenge of attempting the world’s toughest bike race, I need a good holiday. Riding my bike for 3+ weeks of through nature is just the sort of decompression I need from the lifestyle of the overtravelled World Banker (170 days of mission travel in the last year). Of course it isn’t all easy, otherwise it would not be the TD. I was checking out the TD forum on www.bikepacking.net and found the following description of some of the challenges:
– The climbs can be really, really long (Indiana Pass for example is a 25-mile climb)
– Some of the climbs are steep. Most aren’t, but some are.
– There’s a lot of washboard
– There are sections that can be under snow. In 2011, we had two 5-mile+ sections of deep snow. No way you ride a bike in that, you have to push. And it ain’t flat.
– You probably will see snow on the ground, but you may also see snow falling from the sky. It happened to me in late June just north of Breckenridge, CO.
– There are sections with peanut-butter like mud. You may have to push your bike. Or carry it. For miles!
– 2 deserts and 1 wilderness section with no or little services. (Wyoming high desert: 140 miles without anything – Gila Wilderness: 175 miles with one Coke machine (may or may not work) – Chihuahuan Desert between Silver City and AW: few services, very, very hot weather)
– Days with lots of wind
– Thunder, lightning, hail! In Wyoming, that can be for several days.
– Cold weather, extremely hot weather.
– Rain. Sometimes lots of it. For days!
– Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, scorpions….
– Mosquitoes. You stop a couple of minutes in some parts of Montana and they eat you alive. Forget being eaten by grizzlies, you have a much better chance of being eaten by mosquitoes!
– Dogs. They can be anywhere on the route, but particularly in the south. They can run with you for half a mile. I try to kick them while still pedaling…
– Altitude (once you reach the middle of Colorado, you’re gonna be above 7,000 ft most of the rest of the way, with summits at 12,000 ft.
– Did I mention lots of washboard? Or climbing?
One thing you can count on: when you get to any kind of difficulty, there will likely be miles and miles of it. For example, you don’t just get a mile or two of washboarded road, and then it gets better. You get 40 ****ing miles of it.
Sounds like a great holiday to me. Hope I’m up to it after Brazil! And that I’ll be able to transition back to my mountain bike very quickly 🙂