For future Tour Divider’s, here are some suggestions:
- Navigate With Cue Sheets: (1) Use cue sheets as your primary navigation. (2) Have a GPS as a backup. Turn on the GPS only when you are in doubt (eg at every intersection). Unnecessary at other times and saves batteries. (3) Get the Carousel Design quad map case as it is by far the best overall design. (4) Print the cue sheets on waterproof paper. (5) Use 14 point font so you can read the mileage while riding.
- Odometer/Trip Meter: (1) Make sure that your odometer will work at 1 km/h—that is the speed you will be pushing your bike over snow pack with the higher peaks. (2) Get one with a ‘navigation’ mode which allows you to reset the distance so it matches the cue sheets.
- GPS Tips: (1) Learn how to use the ‘night’ mode so you can see the route when dark. (2) Use a GPS with a memory card so that if your GPS fails you can transfer the memory card with the route to a new GPS. (3) Load the track to the GPS internal memory as well as the memory card, in case the latter fails.
- Bike: (1) Use a 29” hardtail bike. I was amazed how much faster they rolled than my 26” bike. Over 2700+ miles that will make a huge difference… but recognize the risk of getting spares. (2) Consider using a ‘Thudbuster’ seat post. Your backside will appreciate it. (3) Run tubeless. (4) Carry spare brake pads—and know how to to install them. (5) Plan for the drive train to be trashed. (6) Don’t run with ceramic bottom bracket bearings: mine didn’t last 2500 km. (7) Have a good light for riding at night—you will need it at some point. (8) Consider new pedals: several riders have had pedals break on them at inopportune moments. (9) Install aero bars—and practice using them! I was amazed how many people were cycling head on into a headwind without using their aero bars to make life easier. (10) Bring a small lock. One year someone’s bike was stolen while they slept in the middle of nowhere in their tent; in another Matt Lee’s was stolen at McDonalds in Grants.
- Bike Bags: (1) Get your bags from ‘Revelate Designs’. There is a good reason they are used by most riders. The gear is brilliantly designed and they are very reliable to deal with. (2) Pack everything in plastic freezer bags. Water will get into the bike bags.
- Communications: (1) AT&T had the best mobile phone coverage (and they are GSM) – for what it is worth. You will be without coverage 80%+ of the time. (2) Don’t worry about data: almost every motel/cafe has free internet access—even if you aren’t patronizing them! Just make sure that your phone is able to access the Internet using these services—before the race.
- Gore-tex Socks: Get a pair (I used Rocky Road). Even though it rained five of the first seven days of the 2012 race, and some puddles were more like ponds, my feet were warm and dry. Others got trench foot. Best $65 I ever spent.
- Water Purification: (1) Use Katadyn tablets or similar rather than a Steripen or bleach. Light, easy to use and reliable. (2) Use Nuun or similar electrolyte pills for flavoring (and electrolytes!).
- Sleeping Pills: Bring along some sleeping pills. You will be so wound up after cycling 200+ km that you will have trouble sleeping.
- Lip Balm: Get a lip balm with SPF30 sunscreen. You lips are going to get trashed; but it will not be as bad.
- Chamois Cream: Absolutely essential.
- Small Bills/Coins: Always have some on hand for when your only option for fluids/calories is a vending machine.
Above all, remember that discomfort/pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.