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Friday, September 27, 2013

Tour Divide 2013, Ballin Halls | Bill Bryson is a Pussy

Why does anyone ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race? Why do I ride it? I have said many times, I am a cyclo tourer much more than I am a bike racer. Then why the hell are you racing this damn thing?
 
Hmmmm. Questions I have been mulling over for some time. Reasons for riding the gdmbr mostly fall into a few categories according to me.
 
1. The divide route is gorgeous, amazing, epic, scenic. It brings a rider out, OUT, into the west. Escape from society is not total, but much more than any other normal bike tour.
2. You’re a competitive son of a bitch who loves the idea of going hard and beating the shit out of your buddies. 3000 miles over 2 weeks, an epic race. Along with that are results. You were attracted to the race based on those insane folks who tore it up in years past. Your respect them for their accomplishments and results have stuck with you, and dammit, that could be you.
3. You’re a gearhead  Between the ages of 30 and 50. Hungry for an adventure. Slightly disappointed in yourself for the amount of time you spend on the internet. You love your bike and possibly have an online shopping problem. Pedal strokes < mouse clicks
 
I am willing to guess that those who are honest with themselves are a combination of those three reasons. I definitely choose to ride based on some combination of those reasons.
 
I know that the more of reason 1 and the less of number 2 and 3, the easier it is to ride the divide route. If you can appreciate the beauty in the entirety of the thing. The smile that can follow suffering. The comedy of the number of things working against you. And when the beauty of the ride smacks you in the face you can still appreciate the shit out of it. There’s beauty in pushing yourself to a limit that didn’t even exist even a year prior.
 
When I finished at the us-canidan border due to flooding, it really forced me to examine what the hell I was doing out there.  I rode until I needed to in order to feel I had completed my ride, and then I sat down outside the Roosville, Montana border crossing duty free, on a bench, and a drunk Canadian bought me a beer. Did I ride the tour divide this year for a beer? Nope. Did I do it be because I wanted to break the single speed record and see my name among those I saw come before mine? Yup. A little part of me did. Did I do it for my love of stuff? Fancy bikes and sick light tents with bike bags and gps, and fat wheels..yea, I did, a little part of me.
But those shallow reasons died in Roseville that day. I didn’t qualify for a record according to the archives of tour divide, despite recording (fact checkers welcome) a top 10 all time fastest border to border time, and stacking up 3rd with this years south bound idiots, not to mention a projected SS  record. (Tooting my own horn? Yep, but it’s my blog dammit)
 
Did i love tour divide every second of every day while I’m out there? Nope, but I think this year has taught me there’s beauty in all of it’s faces.
 
 
The tour started in Vail, Colorado for me this year.   I was offered a ride by my sweet girlfriend robin but we settled for camping outside of Leadville together in night 1. There’s nothing like starting a bike tour from your front door (or in my case, shop door). 
 
My time-frame was a little tight to make it down to antelope wells in time for the grand depart so I had to trade sleepy dirt roads for sleepy paved ones. Even though my time table was tight on account of finishing the fabrication if this year’s divide rig, I knew I needed to leave as much time as possible to fit another prologue tour in.
 
I road south along the east side of the collegiate  peaks and crossed the divide route outside of salida. I had the big 3 inch tires on for the first bit but elected to ride the same tires I had used for last year’s td to save the tread on the new rubber. (More on my gear for the trip I the next update.)
 
Continuing south I again skirted to the east of the San juans. I looked at a few maps and for my inevitable westward reach of the journey I could either tackle wolf creek pass or the mighty La Manga pass. Either way, it’d be a pavement cakewalk compared to what I knew the divide had in store.
 
I chose la manga because it was familiar and i thought it would be good to pick up more overlap along the divide route.
 

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