The Great Divide

Posted by on Jun 13, 2008 in Bike | No Comments

Unsupported racing appeals to me on many levels. But none more basic than that it is unsupported. Yes, incredible insight I know. We live in a world of excuses. A world of finger pointers. Even a world where a village will blame a corporate conspiracy for bad weather.

We blame marketing campaigns for our children being fat. We blame the President for high gas prices. We blame video games and movies when a kid guns down his peers. We blame referees, umpires, doctors, teachers, cab drivers, politicians, our mothers, our pets and our old crappy cars for all that troubles us in this world.

But nobody wants to blame themselves.

Can you see now why the philosophy behind unsupported racing is so appealing? It is a wave of fresh air in a world gone stale with rationalizing away it’s failures. In a self-supported race there is nobody to blame when you can’t finish. Nobody to yell at when your bike breaks down. No bad course markings. There is no corporate conspiracy.

You are the one responsible.

This is why I still get steamed about the BLM dishing out a fine for the 2007 KTR. They stuttered and stammered trying to come up with a legitimate reason for fining us. Safety was continually cited. Safety? Safety? Really? Paying a fine will increase our safety in a 142 mile mountain bike ride? I don’t need the government telling me what is safe or not. Let me be the judge of that for myself. Let me decide if riding solo across the desert and into the mountains is something I can handle. If it’s not, then let me be the one to get myself out.

Something that determines which candidates I vote for more so than any other thing, is the principle of dependency. There are countless programs and initiatives designed to keep people dependent on the government. I believe that the Katrina aftermath could have been largely avoided had people been prepared to take care of themselves in such a situation. Instead too many men and women waited for someone, the government, to come and save them. Some of those people may have not had any other choice. But our culture of dependency is raising up a generation of people who have no idea what it means to be self reliant.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

~Thomas Jefferson.

The Tour Divide, and the Great Divide Race, The Grand Loop and all the rest are small but significant movements. They represent the idea that we can be successful on our own. That we don’t need a road paved with gold, cleared of all obstacles, and sanitized with parental connections, corporate string pullers and ivy league credentials to make a life for ourselves. They teach us that failure is an inherent risk. And that in facing it we will all be better off.

What we do need to be is prepared. It does nobody any good to set out in the wilderness (or into the real world) with no map, no fitness, no idea. Don’t be Chris McCandless. These races encourage and require us to be self reliant. Today the Tour Divide racers will set out on an epic adventure. Indeed, the epic adventure. No doubt each of them will return, successful or not, better off for taking a risk. Together, yet alone they put themselves out there, with only their wits, fitness, and maps, (electronic or otherwise) to get them through to the other side. It’s an endeavor that much of the world would look at with ignorant condemnation. But to me, these sort of expeditions are an echo of that great American spirit. The spirit of independence.

And that is a beautiful thing.


  1. Carney
    June 13, 2008


  2. Keith
    June 13, 2008

    Adam, thanks for validating my feelings and expounding upon our ride conversations in a more formalized and eloquent manner. I wish I had time during the day to write down similar feelings and observations. But for now, I’ll just be happy with our discussions while riding which seem to be some of the backdrop for your insightful posts.

  3. Emily
    June 15, 2008

    Well said. Though I feel like more of the world would look with condemnation at the ridiculous wastefullness of the highly supported racing (TdF, for example). I bet way more people all over the world could get behind unsupported racing as a true test of an individual’s strength and endurance. Unsupported racing feels elemental, timeless.

  4. UtRider
    June 15, 2008

    Dude, your new title image is the sweetness. Very cool.

    The post was good too.

  5. I am Matt
    June 16, 2008

    Well put. I feel very similar to this. Its too easy to blame some one or thing, rather than man/woman up accept responsibility.

  6. StupidBike
    June 16, 2008

    I blame guys with scraggly beards:)

    Seriously, I know that anything that has ever happened to me, good, bad, in the middle etc.. can be traced back to one or more decisions I made.

    That being said, the playing field is not level for anyone, one persons status quo is out of reach for the next, an expectation for me is a luxury for another. Choice still matters, responsibility still matters, but remember some people star a few thousand feet higher up the climb.

  7. Grizzly Adam
    June 19, 2008

    That is true Bob. But the beauty is that no matter where on the mountain you start, the opportunity to climb a little higher is there for the taking.

    Thanks for the comments guys. Good stuff.

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