I spent something like 7 years obsessively observing the Tour Divide. It seemed like the most magical almost mystical experience one could have on a bike. I wanted to do it so bad, but instead came up with excuse after excuse, just kept scarring myself out of even trying. Every year I’d follow the race as much as I could, every year I would tell myself, “I’m doing it next year, for sure”. I kept watching, learning, racing, becoming well versed in the culture, the gear, the heartbreaks and disasters of Le Tour Divide.
In 2011 I finally made the leap, I actually made it to Banff. I half expected to get in a car wreck, or come down with food poisoning the night before. I just couldn’t believe I was actually going to race the divide. All the fears that kept me away still lingered in my head. Can I really ride everyday for 2700 miles? Will eating at gas stations for three weeks kill my sensitive stomach? Will I get mauled by a Grizz? Will I crack open like an egg and cry on the side of the road wanting only to go home? Will I run out of money? Will it live up to my many years worth of obsession? Will it be any fun at all?
The Tour Divide was a dream come true. Riding my bike everyday through places I had never been and had only read or looked at through pictures. My only job, my only responsibility was to find food, water, some sort of shelter for the night and to ride my bike as far as I possibly could. Simply the best job ever. I was out there for every sunrise, every sunset. So many climbs, descents, valley after valley, mountain range after mountain range, all with the blissful simplicity of my bike, loaded with barely all I need. Sure it hurt like hell, it kicked my ass, my Achilles, my knees all over the map of pain. I ran out of food, water, sleep. There were a few isolated moments when I was not happy, that I wanted to do something else, that it hurt so damn fucking much I wondered what was wrong with me, why am I not quitting and going home? Because every other moment I was out there I was truly having the time of my life.
It has been over two years since my ride down the spine of this continent. I have had the thought of going back for more, but there is so much that scares me away, once again. All the same things worry my little head. Food, money, grizzlies, my poor beat down body getting beat down some more. Knowing darn well what will happen to me out there. Going hard as can be for 15+ days, barely sleeping, always cold or blistering hot. Could I even do better than my almost perfect 2011 ride? Even for me it is hard to put my whole life on hold for a month, make no money but spend a ton, get some one to watch my two wild crazy dogs, take the time off of work.
I read a great story by Cjell Mone about his ride this summer. About half way through the tale I was feeling that feeling. A hook was sunk. Damn it the Divide was in my head again. Once it gets in there it doesn’t want to leave. Till you take it on, till you throw your hat into the ring, and go for a little ride. I am not sure about anything yet, but I am thinking, and thinking….and thinking….damn it feels kinda good….
Its cack after you come down you want more and you can’t help but think what if i did XYZ different?
it is so much, the perspective, the simplicity, the allure of sooo many miles and miles ahead of you….and there are a few things I could do better…faster…maybe?
Now you have me thinking about it too. My wife thanks you…
George, it will take over your life till you do it….good or bad…so you could tell your wife it could be either 9 months or years!!!!
anyways thanks for reading…Jefe