This, by the way, should not be a shock to anyone who has talked to me. I’ve talked and joked about it before.
If you are unfamiliar with Tour Divide it is a mountain bike race that goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. It is a self supported mountain bike race that runs along the continental divide (hence the name). The course is 2745 miles long and there is approximately 200,000 ft of climbing. There is a really excellent movie about the race “Ride the Divide”. (The best way to watch the movie is on a big screen with good sound, but in a pinch the YouTube link will work too!) Jill Homer also wrote a book about this race: “Be Brave Be Strong”. Its a really good read and according to Amazon $2.95 for the Kindle Version. A steal!
So what is this race all about? It’s a single stage race meaning that the clock starts running when you start and doesn’t end until you finish. You set your own pace and bike as much as you can. (Slow people will average 110 miles a day and take 25-30 days to do the race. Faster people are more in the 160 miles/day range.) It’s self supported which means that, well you are on your own. You can sleep in any publicly allowed place (i.e. hotels, motels, hostels, the woods, etc.) but you may not arrange for private lodging. It must be available to all people. You may not get outside support, so no one can drive behind you with supplies and you cannot meet up with people for resupply. You can utilize any services you need along the way (including bike shops) to purchase equipment or supplies. But you need to get yourself from Banff to Antelope Wells, on your own.
Why? Well when I started biking I thought that at some point I would like to ride across the US on a bike. My original thought was a traditional road bike trip West Coast to East Coast. Then I got a mountain bike. Then I learned about Tour Divide. I knew then that my route would be North to South. (Fewer cars, better scenery. Yeah, there are bears, but that’s OK.)
Tour Divide is all about pacing and endurance. It’s about pushing yourself not for hours, but for days. It’s about finding you limit and riding right there. Its about the forever speed. It’s about finding flow. And it’s intensely personal.
Something like RAAM doesn’t really appeal to me. I don’t want to do this with people in a car pushing me, telling me when to get on the bike, when to sleep, when to eat, forcing me to continue. I want to do this myself.
Coach Drew and I have talked about this. There is a lot that has to go into it. Training, prepping, the actual ride. On the training side, well it depends on what your goal is. Winning requires a lot of training like anything. Being able to complete the route in a “competitive time” requires less. This is right now where my goal is. Training on that level is really not going to be a whole lot different from what I am doing right now (I have started to research this). It’s about the forever speed.
Coreen and I have also started to talk about this race. There is a lot that has to go into it. 🙂 Family being the most important. I am luck with work that I pretty easily fit it in. But with family time away is a big deal. My goal is to find the balance. Balance between my relationship with Coreen, being with my kids (who are growing up and will too soon be big enough to move out), and working on me. There is also the balance between doing this while I can and not knowing what will happen down the road. I want to do this right.
The “penciled” in time in my brain is 3 summers from now, but that is still being discussed. That gives me time to get some more experience biking, racing distance etc. I want to do some longer races (maybe a 24 hour race and/or a mtb stage race). I also want to do some bike packing. You know silly stuff like that.