I’m not really sure when I decided to go for a 2nd Tour Divide. After the 29 days in 2015 that I spent riding my bike from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, I recall telling Joe Polk on my mtbcast.com recap call that ‘If one of my kids wanted to to TD, I’d do it in a minute, but if a good friend wanted to ride it, they would have to bend my arm pretty good’.
The TD is something that those that have done any of the route will tell you that It’s on your mind every day, it’s addictive, and continues to pull at you.
I wondered if riding the same route a 2nd year in a row would be boring, knowing what was ahead. Could I do the route faster, given similar conditions? At a pace just under 100/day in 2015, could I add just 10 miles a day and finish in 25 days? With a meeting obligation in Colorado, my plan was to be more efficient in my stops, ride a longer each day, and hopefully finish on July 5th in order to get to Denver by noon on the 7th. I sent in my letter of intent and I was set to ‘Ride the Divide’ for the 2nd time.
Well set to go isn’t quite right, I still had some preparation to do, training miles to put in. I think that most people doing the Divide, it’s truly difficult to be ‘ready’ for the ride. I think the best we can do is to be in good physical cycling shape. Be willing to gain some fitness and get your cycling legs on the route – hopefully sooner than later. At age 61, I didn’t want to arrive at the Grand Depart fatigued.
I pretty much had my gear dialed in from 2015 with a couple of changes. This year, I was riding a 2016 Salsa Cutthroat – Salsa’s new carbon fiber Tour Divide race bike that had been introduced at the 2015 race. I loved the Fargo Ti bike that I had ridden before, but there were some enhancements made on this new model. The bike is more compliant – more comfortable. The same size frame with it’s new design is able to accommodate a larger frame bag, able to carry more gear. My front charging wheel, with the dyno hub would fit fine on the new bike. With a smaller front chain ring, I would have a better climbing gear from the stock Cutthroat. With no stock frame bag available for the new bike, I reached out to Joe Tonsager at JPaks in Colorado who made a custom frame bag to fit the bike as well as a custom top tube ‘gas tank’ bag which I would bolt on. The fit of the bags was spot on, and by adding a bit of orange material to the bags the looked great on the bike as well.
Not liking sleeping in the bivy sack too much in 2015, I opted for a small 1 person tent. At 2 lbs, the Big Agnus Fly Creek UL didn’t add much weight over the bivy. With the benefit of having a dryer place to sleep incase of rain, the small weight and time penalty it takes to set it up would be a small cost.
For 2016, I felt I needed a better ‘dashboard’. I needed a more efficient way to mount a cycling computer, a gps tracking device, a headlamp and for this year, my map. I wasted too much time last year digging for, unfolding/folding, putting away my map. BarYak owner Joe Stiller makes a great bike packing carrying system – like aerobars, except these are made for bikepacking.
These changes as well as reducing my gear, fewer clothes mainly, the bike dry (no food or water) weighed in at 46 lbs. Not having weighed the gear last year I’m not for sure, but my guess is that I was 2-3 lbs lighter this year.
There’s so much more to come, I hope you’ll follow along!