June 2015 Update: I decided to back out of the race two weeks prior to the start. Do I regret it? Yes and no. I’ve written about it here: Tour Divide 2015: No-Show. The LoI will stay up for posterity.
I caught the Great Divide bug back in 2010. As a college student, I was fortunate enough to have time between semesters to ride the Great Divide that summer. At the time, I expected my parents to be hesitant to the notion of me riding a bike from one border to the opposite. I was supposed to be thinking of my future – getting job experience with a crappy internship or something. Oh yeah, I’ll also be riding mostly through remote backcountry, sometimes days between resupply and water sources. I imagined them going into “protection mode” (as most parents would) and try to convince me to rethink the trip. What was I to do?
I wrote my parents a letter with my intentions of riding the GDMBR before I knew LOI’s were a practice. It was my way of being stubborn and saying, “I’m not giving you a chance to convince me this is a bad idea.”
So here I am 5 years later, writing another Letter of Intent. This time because I am going to race the Tour Divide.
I rode the Great Divide in 2010 starting as a complete rookie. It was my first time riding on dirt for more than 10 miles…first time riding in the mountains…first time riding above 1,000 ft. I was on a heavy commuter bike with so much gear…oh so much gear! And I had only ridden a few hundred miles in the flat midwest as “training.”
But as the weeks went on, I had profound satisfaction knowing that I transported myself hundreds and thousands of miles over difficult terrain and through inclement conditions.
In Rawlins, WY I met Matthew Lee and many of the other Tour Divide racers soon after. I envied their light loads, but not their long days. They were the next level of hardcore! Could I do such an event?
Every year since then, usually in the winter when riding days are short, I’d get nostalgic about the GDMBR and think, “Tour Divide this year?” Well, now it is happening.
I want to climb the mountains, see the sights, descend the passes, overcome the weather, meet the friendly locals, and wake up in the middle of the night to a sky of stars. I want to experience the highs and lows of the Divide again. I want to see what I am capable of.
I expect I’ll suffer the same as before, but much faster this time.