Thursday, 28 June 2012

Tour Divide NOT a Solo Endeavour

So... it's done... I'm now committed to racing the Tour Divide from Canada to New Mexico covering 4400 km's in what I aim to be approximately 20 days...

I am 100% committed to making this dream reality but what of the path from here to there?

A number of conditions must be satisfied to ensure that this can be accomplished.

1. Set the goal firmly and irrevocably in my own head  - Check!

2. Timeline people and resources

3. Break into manageable steps and complete each step

4. Massivley re-think this order and replace 1. with Ask Wife Sher if it is OK for me to even consider embarking on this foolhardy plan!

And this is where the truth of of my plan to tackle the tour divide really comes out - despite the fact that riding the divide itself is a solo effort, carrying all of ones own equipment, no drafting, no assistance from friends and family along the way - the truth is that to get there in the first place will require help from a large number of people.

Firstly - my family. I am first and foremost a husband and a father to 4 young children. My indulgences already impact both positively and negatively on my family. I will need there support and I must return this to them along the way.

I am new to this level of endurance racing. I have a history over the years of cycle touring and I have tackled a few XC races over the last few years but to date my longest, toughest cycling experience was last years Great Southern Brevet. I will need to learn from the experiences of those I know and many I do not yet know over the next two years.

I have already begun amassing the equipment for the task. A new bike is high on the list. Prior to the current TD  I (and no-doubt others) have taken note of Ollie Whaleys Ventana, Gates Carbon Drive, Rholoff setup. Dreams as they say are free but despite completing the GSB my experience taught me a lot about how hard these events are on the drive-train. Minimising the impact of problem mechanicals is high on my list of things to do...

I used a Freeloader rack for the GSB. Great little rack but not what I expect to use in the future. While I am impressed with how simple the rack was to fit to my full-sus bike, the constant vibration and heavier hits have caused the nylon to aluminium joints to loosen. I would not be confident that the rack would go the distance without incident. I have asked Scott at Porcelain Rocket to make front and rear bags for me and when I have settled on my new bike I will likely get him to build a frame bag for me.

I am by nature comfortable undertaking solo activities - truth be told - I mostly prefer it this way! My preferred activities include paragliding/paramotoring, longer distance running (training for the Kepler Mountain run now) and of course XC race/riding. The 'escape' of a solo activity that takes up all the senses has always interested me. I do however enjoy the company of others but I am perhaps a little lazy when it comes to motivating connection outside of my role as a trainer. To amass the hours of training and the knowledge I will need to learn from others who have greater experience - fortunately not hard to find where I live. Great terrain breeds great riders and we have both in Central Otago, NZ!

While the ride itself will be my own experience getting to the start line will be a team effort!

Blue Dot Junkie

Sitting in my office at the gym where I spend most of my days... feeling a little guilty that yet again I'm not on the gym floor assisting the members... I've spent the last 19 days following the fabulous Tour Divide race (experience?) 2012.

Olly Whalley currently of ChCh has put up a new record time, fellow Kiwi Nathan Mawkes is pushing on and Chris Bennett also of NZ is not far behind. As is usual for this event - a few superhuman individuals have finished but the majority of the field has still to complete and 35 have fallen to broken bodies, bikes and spirits.


My morning routine for the last 20 or so days goes something like this:

1. Wakeup to annoying phone alarm - always thinking I must change the tone but never doing it...

2. Hit bluedot app (link?) and wait for screen to update rider positions...

3. Check the pedal packing site discussion for updates and to get a feel for what the dots are telling me...

4. Check Joe Polks fabulous MTB Cast for audio call-in updates - scanning for people I know or know of, the humerous and the sometimes painful accounts from riders as they relay the highs and the lows of their experience...

All of this before I get out of bed and no doubt to the annoyance of my wife as she tries to sleep on past the 5am that is the start of my day.

Coffee and some further scanning usually followed by a furious rush to dress as I get out the door and onto the bike to zip into work.

Yes - I am a blue dot junkie!

But where to from here?