Today is a bookend of sorts, so a good time to put together my ‘Letter of Intent’ for the 2013 Tour Divide race.
I’ve been drawn to the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route since shortly after it was first established. In 2002 I toured it from Rooseville Montana to Antelope Wells New Mexico—something which took me two months. It was a life changing experience. Besides having lots of time to think in the quiet of the wilderness, to see amazing scenery, it was somewhere in northern New Mexico that God gave me the message that I should work for the World Bank (I had turned them down six months earlier) and that is where I have been working since a year after the ride.
Around 2008 I picked up an ‘Outside Magazine’ around which had an article on the Tour Divide Race. Something clicked inside of me and I knew that I had to do this. It took me a few years to be able to arrange my affairs, but in 2011 I lined up for a South-North run in Antelope Wells ready to go. It was a disaster. The fires in New Mexico and the dust brought on a very bad asthma attack and I DQ’d myself day 1 going to the hospital. Although I managed to ride about 1000 km in total, I was really disappointed.
Being a totally obsessive individual there was no doubt that I would be back the next year so in 2012 I headed out from Banff focused on finishing the race. I was a mid-pack rider, juggling with a few others for 40-45th place. After beating Montana and the Great Basin I was confident that this was the year to finish. I was really stoked to meet Matt and Scott at Bush Mountain Lodge. But then I checked my e-m and found my mother had broken her hip. My father had dementia and with nobody to take care of him I had to withdraw. Matt commented ‘when are you going to get this race off your chest’. But I had no choice. I rode to Steamboat Springs and 24 h later I was in Toronto, where I spent seven weeks helping my parents. Matt kindly offered to let me finish from Steamboat, but I couldn’t get back… I was envious of Prentiss, Mario, Elena and James who I rode with and finished, but I was also grateful to be able to help my parents in their time of need.
This is where the bookend comes in. During those seven weeks my wife and I helped my parents, and my father was committed to a long-term care facility. It was hard on everyone, but really for the best. I came up to Toronto every two months or from New Zealand to spend time with them and help out. The World Bank is a very accommodating employer! Yesterday my father died peacefully in his sleep. I caught a flight up from New Zealand and so, jetlagged after 24 h of travel, I find myself awake at midnight thinking about life, what’s important, and appreciative of the amazing life, friends and family that I’ve had.
So I’ll be riding in 2013. To hopefully finish the unfinished business from 2011 and 2012. But even if I don’t finish, it doesn’t really matter that much. For those of us who have the health and optimism to ride the divide, no matter what the outcome, we are truly blessed.