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.