Tour Divide: why?
Perhaps a good answer to this question has been a long time coming: Why race the Tour Divide? Virtually all of the hikers I know think I’m insane. A race? With a bike? Smell-the-flowers types just don’t see the appeal in an event intended to be that fast. Virtually all of the bikers I know think I’m insane. Camping for days on end? Carrying bivy gear? Road bikers just can’t fathom how that seems like a good idea. There are, however, a few folks who understand the draw of a long pilgrimmage.
When Lexi and I finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in September 2004, we knew that it was an experience that had changed our lives. The thru-hiking lifestyle and peacefulness of a simple goal had become not only attractive, but intensely meaningful. I’d call it a personal spiritual awakening if that phrase didn’t suggest something more traditionally religious. One of our most difficult challenges in becoming parents in 2006 was how to achieve the benefits of epic travel while having a kid. Sure, at some point we’d love to hike the AT as a family, and we’ve had good success on some of our medium length trips in the last several years, but the lure of the thru-something always lurked.
I first learned about the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Tour Divide race four years ago. At that time my mid-90′s vintage Rockhopper had developed a crack in the chainstay and I opted to retire towards Sculptcycle instead of tempting fate. I knew that my friend Rick Molz had extensive bike touring experience and asked him for some advice on what replacement bike to get. He loaned me a pile of Adventure Cycling magazines that had various articles on how to choose a touring bike. My interest wasn’t strictly in a pure touring bike, but the magazines were really engaging. The ACA’s routes and stories were all about long distance travel which greatly appealed to me. The story about the Great Divide route immediately captivated me.
I’m not sure what Lexi thought about my intense curiosity of this event. Maybe she thought I’d like to do it sometime. A year ago I came out and told her that my obsession with this event was not going away, that I really wanted to do it. I know that watching me plan and prepare for this trip has been intensely difficult for her, as she is very drawn to it herself. Perhaps not the race format, but the rest of what its all about she is 100% attracted to. Despite the rainy weather on the Banff Airporter shuttle from the Calgary airport, the dramatic change in scenery from the plains to the Rockies made me realize exactly how amazing this is going to be, and how lucky I am to be here. Its not just that I have the time and willingness to be here, but that my life partner is supporting my efforts. I hope that I can repay that debt in some way.
Before my departure I did a lot of training. 3400 miles on the bike since January 1, plus a Canadian Ski Marathon, and plenty of other things too. I also tried my best to be there for Linnaea, soon to be 4. She will miss me in ways an adult cannot truly appreciate, and I hope that our love will not be weakened by my absence. I hope that local friends will come to play, visit, and support Lexi and Linnaea while I’m gone, so that their time without me is happy and fulfilling. In the meantime, I’ll remember a series of fun late spring adventures with Linnaea:
Tomorrow at 9am, Fairy Go will hit the Spray Trail and seek adventure headed to Mexico. Lexi and Linnaea, I love you both.