Sunday, 27 April 2014


I've been talking about the Tour Divide with a lot of people lately, many of whom just don't understand what it is or why I would do it! A friend asked me about daily mileage, what my plans were, would I be travelling in a group, etc….
At least it looks like it is all downhill!
There are less than 200 Participants attempting the full 4418km each with their own personal expectations and goals. Some have entered with another rider and will ride together. Others will start alone and likely find other riders who are travelling along at a similar pace. A few will be on their own agenda and hoping to place well which likely means they will not be too social or want to worry about others outside of those ahead of them or closing from behind. The guys looking to win will ride close to 300kms a day and sleep little with hopes of completing the tour in 15-16 days. All riders are going in with a plan for daily mileage and finish time, while being prepared for poor weather, change in elevation, tough terrain, snow in the mountains, days of rain, bike trouble, physical breakdowns, wild animals, and difficulties related to finding food, water, and a safe place to sleep.
2013 TD Riders begin to start!
I am fortunate to have a travel companion. Brian McCloskey, my friend who was a long-time coach with both UNH Men's and Women's Hockey program, is a cycling enthusiast. At a very young looking and fit 59 years of age, Brian is healthy, strong, smart and driven to challenge himself and succeed. After hearing about my plans and researching it thoroughly, Brian has decided (with the support of his wonderful family) to take the plunge and we will team-up to grind it out together. I am so thankful to have someone to work with to get through this adventure. We will work to push each other along with the hope of completing the Tour Divide in 25 days or less. I joked with him that the good thing with us doing this together is I no longer have to bike faster than the bear can run...I just have to bike faster than Brian!
My Team-mate...Brian - he is the one on the left!
Our plan going in is:
1) We will meet in Calgary and travel to Banff on June 10 with three days to prepare and get our final plans together before the Grand Depart on June 13.
2) Throughout, we plan to get up, pack up camp and be on the bike as the sun comes up. Mornings will be cold with frost on the ground unless raining.
3) Ride 10-12 hours a day with regular rest stops and food/hydration breaks.
4) Hoping to ride 160-180kms per day with good weather/terrain and with little elevation change maybe we can do more to get ahead.
5) Find a camping spot (after 10-12 hours of riding) along the trail, at an actual camp site, or on someones property. If it happens to be near a town we will set up camp and find a place to eat and eat lots before sleeping.
6) There are small towns along the route but they are few and far between. We will try to plan our daily distances to get to these towns to either sleep at a site and definitely refuel.
7) We will not be cooking food at campsites - cooking supplies adds unnecessary weight as does the food and cooking at the sites could attract unwanted visitors like bears!
8) Weather will be a major factor in how fast and far we can travel. Rain with wind will slow our progress and it is expected that we will be walking through some snow at higher elevations.
8) Motels - our plan is to camp. However, if the weather is real bad we will find a motel for a night if necessary to dry out and re-group/re-energize.
9) We will have to have gear for the cold through the first 2/3 of the race while north and in the mountains and change our focus to the warmer climate in southern Colorado and across New Mexico. We will have to pack with versatility in mind and keep gear light and compressible.

Let's hope we don't have too much of this!
The race is closing in on us. Much of what I've read suggests that you really can't truly prepare for this particular event - the distance, elevation, elements - and all the variables it presents. We will do our very best to put the work in prior to getting there but ultimately we will need to 'adapt on the fly' and remain cognisant of our body, equipment, and environment.

Bring It On!

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