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Tour Divide: why?

June 10, 2010

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:

Linnaea's tree perch

Paddling to dinner on Wrightsville Reservoir

Linnaea scrambles near the top of Burnt Rock Mountain

Linnaea and Dave on the descent of Burnt Rock Mountain

The fairy sticker on my bike, now named "Fairy Go!", complete with small jewels.

Tomorrow at 9am, Fairy Go will hit the Spray Trail and seek adventure headed to Mexico.  Lexi and Linnaea, I love you both.

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47 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete Blumenthal permalink
    June 10, 2010 3:43 PM

    Go Dave Go! We’re rooting for you. Have a blast and try to enjoy every moment.

    Tour Divide why? – If if makes you happy – go for it! Sure I think you’re a little crazy, but if you and the family are happy and healthy, that’s all that matters.

  2. June 10, 2010 5:23 PM

    Best of luck on the race! It sounds like quite an adventure.. keep those wheels spinning!

  3. Fat & Hairy permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:05 PM

    Good luck! We’ll be cheering for you back in VT.

  4. Fat & Hairy permalink
    June 10, 2010 7:07 PM

    Oh Yeah forgot

    Cool Tree Pearch!

  5. June 14, 2010 8:44 PM

    Another Vermonter rootin’ for ya! You seem to be doing great so far!

  6. June 15, 2010 2:37 PM

    Go Dave! I’ve been following the tracker – nice to see you move into 4th place overall! Well done just training and finishing this thing. Kudos if you can hold on and podium!

  7. Sean Cash permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:44 AM

    Dave!

    Paul and I are the canucks who shared breakfast with you the morning of the start!!! You’re doing GREAT!!!! Currently in the top FIVE!!!!! Keep it up!!!

    Sean

  8. June 17, 2010 6:18 AM

    Hi Dave – glad to see you’re doing well, I just checked the leaderboard and heard your most recent call in. Seems tough out there, but still worth it I hope? As fellow long-distance backpackers (LT, JMT, and 1/2 of the AT), Tristan and I can relate to that thru-something mentality and we’ve tried hard to re-create it and keep it alive in our new 9-5 lives. We try to make every decision based on fun; that helps. So have fun out there! And please tell the one woman remaining, Cricket I believe?, that she’s my hero – she’s awesome, just for being out there. Even for the people who don’t finish or don’t win, they’re all awesome just for being out there today. Enjoy!

  9. Rick (Oregon Biker) permalink
    June 24, 2010 11:40 PM

    To Lexi and Linnaea:

    Very sorry for your loss. It is apparent to me from this site that Dave was an awesome father and husband and I hope and wish the best for you both.

    Rick from Oregon

  10. radair permalink
    June 25, 2010 12:14 PM

    I am deeply saddened by this news. I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain and emptiness. I don’t even know what to say.

    Take care

  11. June 25, 2010 1:35 PM

    On behalf of the Monterey County cycling community, deepest sympathy to Lexi and Linnaea.

  12. todd permalink
    June 25, 2010 2:07 PM

    Lexi and Linnaea, this stranger sends you love as you set off on your own epic journey.

  13. Jeff Hemperley permalink
    June 25, 2010 2:36 PM

    My well wishes to Lexi and Linnaea. Be strong in your loss.

    From a fellow biker in Colorado.

  14. June 25, 2010 3:09 PM

    My sincerest condolences. My thoughts are with you all in this time of loss…

  15. June 25, 2010 4:49 PM

    Dear Lexi and Linnaea-
    Cara wrote me today from Scotland about Dave’s accident. I am stunned and saddened for you all and for the Montpelier family of dear friends of which you are a part. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Elizabeth

  16. Tracey Petervary permalink
    June 25, 2010 7:31 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. I think of you both and can not imagine how strong you have to be to be able to deal with the loss of your most favorite person. I send much, much love and as much strength as I can.

  17. June 25, 2010 8:31 PM

    Lexi and Linnaea, Thougth I’ve never met you I am saddend by your loss. My thoughts will be with the two of you and your family.
    Sincerely
    Jeff Crowe

  18. Darlene and Jerry permalink
    June 26, 2010 10:51 AM

    To Lexi and Linnaea,

    Our deepest condolences to you for the sudden loss of Dave. We can’t even comprehend how your feel about your loss. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do for you.

    Darlene and Jerry (Green Mountain Masher)

  19. Andy and Terry Hunt permalink
    June 27, 2010 1:13 AM

    Lexi and Linnaea,

    You both have our most profound sympathy. While Dave has embarked upon the most epic journey there is, yours here, with the loving support of family and friends, can and will be accomplished one step at a time. Please let us know what we can do for you.

    Andy and Terry Hunt (Green Mountain Mashers)

  20. Phillip Fogg permalink
    June 27, 2010 11:23 AM

    Lexi and Linnaea,

    My deepest sympathy to you both. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Although I only talked to Dave once the day before the race, I feel as if I’ve known him longer; since I heard about the news It’s hard for me to think of nothing else. I wish you both the strength and faith to carry on and see this situation through. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

    Phil from Germany

  21. June 28, 2010 1:35 PM

    Dear Lexi and Linnaea,

    I struggle to find words that accurately convey the sympathy and sorrow I feel for your loss. It strikes at the heart of every adventure cyclist to learn that one of our own has fallen, because we know that it all too easily could have been one of us. I’m sorry Dave was taken from you, and from the world. My wish for you both is that you’ll find the strength to bravely move forward, embracing and celebrating the things he stood for with joy and enthusiasm. Though I never met Dave, he sounds like he was an awesome person. Thank you for giving him the freedom to live his dreams. That’s all you can hope to be able to do in life.

  22. June 29, 2010 11:03 AM

    I thought of Dave often while riding through the weekend. Be strong. Be of good cheer.

  23. mike permalink
    June 29, 2010 10:15 PM

    I send my regards from cyberspace.

    What a beautiful family he leaves behind! I hope you can find peace in knowing that your dad and your husband seemed to love life!

    If he’s like me, he’s looking around to make sure his bike is alright so he can keep riding!

    Peace.

    Mike from Colorado

  24. Student permalink
    June 29, 2010 11:02 PM

    I’m sorry. I’m just so sorry. I don’t know what to say. But know that everyone feels for you, Lexi and Linnaea, in this terrible time.

    I’m so sorry.

  25. Brent Kametz permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:17 AM

    For your loss, I offer my sincere condolences. For the reminder to live each day to the fullest, I offer my gratitude.

  26. June 30, 2010 8:27 AM

    I am so sorry for your loss. While Dave’s life clearly was taken too early, may you have comfort knowing that in those moments he spent with you he gave you a lifetime of memories and love by the sound of his stories and blog. You have my deepest sympathy and as a fellow biker and father of three young kids, my heart aches over this tragedy.

  27. Randy from California permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:41 AM

    Lexi and Linnaea:

    So very sorry for your loss. I read about this this terrible tragedy online which linked to Dave’s blogsite. He must have been a wonderful man. I am so deeply saddened for you. May you have the strength to embrace the oncoming days.

  28. June 30, 2010 10:50 AM

    My most sincere sympaties.

  29. Keith Pillers permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:50 PM

    Lexi and Linnaea,

    Very sorry to hear of your loss. People around the world share your sorrow. But we also share an inspiration that Dave provided through his zeal for life. He will be remembered.

    Keith Pillers
    Dallas, Tx.

  30. Chad permalink
    July 3, 2010 7:24 PM

    Fellow bike packers in Michigan express our deepest thoughts and prayers in your time of loss.

    Like Dave said,

    ‘There are, however, a few folks who understand the draw of a long pilgrimmage. ‘

    W

  31. July 3, 2010 11:30 PM

    Lexi and Linnaea,
    Your husband & daddy was doing what we all loved…, as he loved you too.
    The cycling community is there for you. If you need something, we’ll be there.
    live a dream!
    xoxo, gene, jen, hannah, alex, william, ben, karna, brad, mike, andy, carl

  32. Dave Preston permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:44 AM

    Hi Lexi and Linnaea,
    I knew Dave for less than a day, but rode part of the canadian section with him, and considered him a friend immediately. It was very apparent that the first thing on his mind was always his family as he spoke of your family adventures. He was an exceptionally strong rider who made frequent stops to take many photos, and even geo-cache (yes, I ‘caught’ him geo-caching between Sparwood and Corbin Canada). I hope you get his camera as he was very excited in chronicalizing this adventure and sharing it with you. He will continue to inspire all of us.
    -Dave Preston

  33. Annie Whyte permalink
    July 9, 2010 9:24 AM

    Dear Lexi & Linnaea,
    Just want to let you know how sad Matt & I were to learn about Dave’s accident. I hope that you are comforted by all the good wishes being sent your way. Dave was a great guy and I always had a good time judging with him and listening to his stories about your Pacific Crest & Alps hikes. He’ll be missed………….
    Annie & Matt Whyte (Mashers)

  34. Bryan Frantz permalink
    July 9, 2010 5:46 PM

    Dear Lexi and Linnaea,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I did not know Dave but read a bit about him on the TD site and came across a link to his blog. I can tell he had a great passion for life and, above all, he loved his family more than words can describe. My thoughts are with you in this tough time, stay strong.

    Bryan from Florida

  35. Brian Hahne permalink
    August 2, 2010 4:11 PM

    I was a friend of Dave’s in highschool and just learned of his passing. It’s strange, I hadn’t spoken to Dave since graduation as so many of us all go our separate ways… but just about at the end of June, this memory kept coming to me…I remembered a time I was at Dave’s house, I think for his birthday, maybe we were 11 or 12? But we were in his basement where his dad had the most amazing collection of tools and woodworking equipment. Being as most kids with no life experience are apt to do (no experience of actions vs. consequences) I had a wood file I was holding, as we all admired the tools and Dave showed us around. Standing next to a vice I set the file in there and I don’t know what I thought would happen, but I hit the handle, and *snap*. Dave said “Oh man my dad’s gonna be mad” or something like that. I remember being embarassed, but I didn’t think I ever apologized.
    Our 20th high school reunion was 2 weeks ago, and I was going to attend but couldn’t. Going into the planning of attending, which I was going through in June, this thought came to me of apologizing if I ever saw him there. Heck he probably wouldn’t even remember but I’m one of those who doesn’t forget stuff like that, and then I hold the guilt for years. Ugh.
    I couldn’t attend the reunion, and Dave passed in June.
    Who knows why that idea memory came to mind, in June.. who knows.
    So SO sad to hear of his passing.

    I’ve been spending the last hour reading his blog. So amazing. Such a wonderful collection for his daughter to treasure when she can finally understand…

    May God bring peace to his family.

  36. Marshal permalink
    August 26, 2010 11:18 PM

    Hi Lexi and Linnaea

    I am slowly writing up my TDR experience. Today I wrote up day 14, the day my wife had to tell me that David had passed away.

    David and I had barely met during the race but we had linked to each others pre-TDR blogs and I this evening I clicked his blog once again. I don’t know why but it never occued to me till tonight to read the last ‘comment’ section. So tonight I finaly did.

    I wish there was something I could write that could ease the pain but I know from losing my son that it doesn’t work that way. But I would like to say that David was an impressive man, and he pops up in my thoughts when ever I go for a long ride.

    Marshal

  37. October 3, 2010 4:03 AM

    • Steve permalink
      January 10, 2011 4:10 PM

      Thanks for the sound advice, Dave. I’m into maps, too. Happy Trails!

  38. Andrew Tripp permalink
    October 19, 2010 8:57 AM

    Every ride,run, hike, ski and beer reminds me of Dave.

  39. Hillary permalink
    November 8, 2010 8:42 AM

    Hi Lexi, just read about Dave in Harvard Magazine. What a wonderful person and a tragic loss. Even though you haven’t seen many of us HOCers for years, know that you are in our thoughts. If there is anything you need that a friend in Somerville could provide, please let me know.

    Hillary Holloway (HOC, K-House ’91)

  40. Abby Martin permalink
    February 2, 2012 6:14 PM

    Lexi and Linnea,

    I stumbled upon this website when planning a hike on the Long Trail, and in the intervening year I have returned time and time again. You need no reminders that you lost someone so special, but I hope my note now, some 18 months later, will be a reminder of how much good Dave continues to spread. I keep coming back to this site and your adventure logs to spend a moment with your family, hoping that my appreciation of Dave’s legacy might bring you healing in such trying times.

    May the years ahead bring good adventures to you both.

  41. March 5, 2013 4:36 PM

    I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at various blogs as I plan my divide race for 2014. As a husband and father of 4, I can perceive both the joy of exploration and challenge that Dave so obviously felt and the deep loss his family must continue to experience. Thankyou for leaving his posts here to remind us all that those of us that push the boundaries never do it alone. All the best.

    • May 10, 2013 10:32 PM

      It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at the comments on this site. (Obviously more than 2 months.) I’m glad to know that it still inspires people. Best of luck on your race.

      • August 9, 2014 9:10 AM

        I am always on the website getting inspired! I attended the GMC 2010 celebration with the intention of getting involved and back to living. Maybe even moving back to Vt. After listening to Dave’s presentation on hiking, I was inspired! I learned of his accident while I was shopping for hiking boots. It really upset me. I still follow anything I can online. Sad to see some photos taken down, but they are your personal treasures. I hope you are well, enjoy your life the best you can! You have inspired me, too!
        Peace and Love
        -Margie in New Jersey 2014

Trackbacks

  1. Pedal on Dave… « littlecircles
  2. R.I.P Dave « the unknown rider

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