Welcome to my tale about my 2015 Tour Divide Race from Banff Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on a cyclocross bike. This has been a work in procrastination. It was intimidating to try and make sure I got everything into every day. I’m sure I forgot some things and there are specific anecdotes that I don’t remember exactly where they belong. What you are about to read is true, as I remember them. The order of events might be somewhat scrambled because I remember things that happened, but when or where exactly. Some of the things you read here might be a little too much information, may be a little dark, or may have a little profanity. It’s all what happened so I’m including it. Most of the pictures seen here were not taken by me, but by people I met along the way and were kind enough to let me use their pictures. Also a huge thank you to my parents and Greg Hartman who made it all possible by helping me get to the start and home from the finish. (I guess I’m not as much of a badass as Lael Wilcox… one day.) From what I’ve been told, you might have been following my little dot on the trackleaders site as I made my way through the Divide. I honestly had no idea how many people were tracking me. I’m sure you’re curious about what follows, so here it goes.
The 2015 Tour Divide. What a ride. I mean it’s just riding a bike, right? No big deal, just eat, sleep and ride. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. For those of you who don’t know, the Tour Divide is a 2,753 mile bike race from Banff, Canada to the border crossing at Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Over the route you cross over 33 continental divide passes and numerous watershed passes adding up to the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 7 times. That comes out to somewhere around 200,000 feet of climbing. I’d tell people about this ride/race and many are left speechless, some don’t know how to respond, and some just say I’m crazy for attempting something like that. Maybe they’re right. I’d like to say that anyone can do it in their own time, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. I should say that anyone with the right mindset can do it in their own time. It takes a certain kind of person or mindset to do something like this. You can’t be someone that gets upset about things easily. You have to be able to roll with the punches, the setbacks and sometimes monotonous miles that seem to creep by slower and slower as the day progresses. I won’t say that you have to be in peak physical condition to start it because the ride will form you. Your muscles will eventually just accept what you’re doing and keep working for you. Your joints will complain but they’ll keep moving. Your mind is what keeps you moving forward and it needs to be strong (read stubborn) because the Tour will try to break you. It will test your wit, your will to continue, and your ability to solve problems under pressure. For a race like the Divide I’d argue that there’s no body type advantage. If you have a few extra pounds, you’ll lose them. If you don’t, you’ll still lose a few. You just need to be persistent, consistent, and stubborn. You can do it.
People would ask “why are you doing this?” And then I’d have to come up with an answer. Some days that was hard to do. I’d think “yea why am I doing this? I have no idea why I just rode 170 miles through the Great Basin. That was terrible.” Other times it was easy to answer. “To meet great people, to ride bikes with world class athletes, to take in the beautiful vistas that ColoRADo has to offer. To get high on life… or lack of oxygen climbing 11k+ passes and to exploring new places that I’ve never ridden before.” There were times like cresting over the top of Ute Pass that opened up into a deep green valley with snow capped Rockies on the other side, similar to the Swiss Alps, that made it easy to tell why I was doing this race.
I will be releasing my Tour Divide synopsis as a day by day blog so stay tuned for new releases. Hope y’all enjoy!