The 2017 Tour Divide is a long way off. It’s not until 2017. A long way–
It is 2017.
Indeed, it’s almost February. The race starts in June.
It was 2 years ago that I first seriously considered riding the Divide. At that time, 2017 seemed so distant, so unreal, that it was easy to dismiss any urgency or anxiety about the race. “I still have most of 2015, and all of 2016 to get ready!”* I said. “That is all the time in the world!” I said.
*And much of 2017 too!
Well, 2015 and 2016 are history. The time to study, to plan, and to test is fast disappearing. And of course, there’s the training.
“I’ll get into the best shape of my life in 2017!” I thought.
Well. Am I?
Not yet. But I am getting there.
In fact, the time has been well spent. I feel happy and excited to be in Banff on June 9th.
But there is still more work to do. More planning. More reading. More second guessing. And more pedaling.
A few years ago when I was preparing for the Colorado Trail Race I wrote:
“It’s still winter here in Utah, but I’m ready for another summer of dragon chasing and slaying. I’m looking forward to being a pin on a map, and a crackly, tired voice on a podcast. I can already see the long views, smell the wildflowers, and taste the cold water. I’m dreading the pain, and the nausea, and the hard choices. I’m craving the simplicity of riding my bike all day, every day.”
I feel much the same today. The last 2 years of preparation have been entertaining, challenging, and satisfying. And now, the remaining time is becoming laser-focused as the final weeks come into view. The Tour Divide isn’t a dream or an ambition. It’s reality.
And that reality isn’t always pretty. I struggled during my 6-day test run last year. But I learned a lot about myself, and how to be a better Divide racer. Despite my weaknesses, I kept pedaling. Despite the conjured fears (and the real ones too), I kept pedaling. Despite the fatigue, the saddle sores, and the doubt, I kept pedaling.
It’s good to know the location of Diagnus Well, or that the store in La Garita has wonky hours. But it is even better knowing that when I get to that store and it’s closed, that I can swallow my anger and keep pedaling. Even if I am dehydrated, hungry, and cranky.
With just a few months to go, the only and best thing I can do is to keep pedaling.
And that includes tedious rides on the trainer, bitter cold rides on the fatbike, and early mornings at the gym.
It also includes reading maps, race reports, and planning potential daily mileage goals.
But once I am on the route, and the rain starts to fall, and the snow hasn’t melted, and the bears lurk in the trees, I will have to keep pedaling. When I am tired, hungry, and cold, I will need to keep pedaling. When I want to quit, instead, I will keep pedaling. The only way to Antelope Wells is forward. And the only way forward, is to keep pedaling.
I will keep pedaling to Sparwood. And Eureka. To Helena, Butte, and Jackson Lake.
Forward to Pinedale, and Atlantic City.
I’ll cross the Great Divide Basin, and ride into the Colorado Rockies.
And then I’ll pedal up and over the mountains, past Kremmling and Breckenridge, and Salida.
Onto Cuba, Grants, Pie Town.
And on into the Gila.
I’ll pedal across the desert.
All the way to Antelope Wells.