No Tour Divide this year. I feel like I’ve said that a lot in the past few years.
Why not? I’m still not 100% sure that racing the TD is something I want to do. As you might have noticed, I go back and forth on a monthly basis. I don’t want to train for the race…and then back out a week before the Grand Depart again. It’s a waste of time, energy, and money!
I decided a few weeks ago to pursue other things this year. So far I’m very happy with it! Now that I don’t have to give so much of myself toward training, I have compiled a list of things I want to accomplish. It’s kinda fun to be able to think like this again. I want to:
Mountain bike for fun
Grinding gravel to build strength is getting a bit old. I have removed the aerobars and bikepacking bags and visited some singletrack. It is refreshing after so many paved and gravel roads. I’m nearly done servicing my Lefty fork and really look forward to riding with front suspension again.
Increase my freelance hours
I don’t know how people train for the TD with full time jobs and/or families. As a freelancer with a girlfriend sign-off on doing the TD, I had it so easy. I changed my work hours as training required on a whim. No managers to ask permission. No commute to/from work.
Sometimes the projects I work on aren’t the most fun. It is so easy to get distracted by the TD and internet. Last year I did lots of internet searches like “tour divide tires,” “tour divide water filter,” “tour divide training.” Basically “tour divide” followed by any/every piece of equipment. Countless hours of freelance time was sacrificed to this “research.” Deep down I knew it was far more important to accept that the gear I had was good enough, get on the bike and ride, and find out from experience whether certain equipment decisions could be optimized. But with no one looking over my shoulder, flexible schedules, and boring/frustrating projects, I indulged a lot.
Work on side-projects
Right before last year’s TD, I refactored my outdated-ish Great Divide Elevation Profiler with a TD2015 version. I’d like to combine both sites into one, where you can choose between the Tour Divide’s route and the ACA official Great Divide route. Eventually, I’d like to be able to make the web app powerful enough to let riders select between the numerous GRMBR alternate routes. It’ll be an interesting programming puzzle to solve.
Lots of other projects I want to work on, too.
Give backpacking a try
Backcountry travel without a mountain bike?!? I think it could be fun. There are lots of wilderness areas within an hour’s drive of Boulder that are off-limits to bikes. I wonder what they look like. Coming from a bikepacking background, I already have all the necessary lightweight, compact equipment. I just need to get a backpack to haul it.
Big Summer Plans
Maybe half of it. Maybe the whole thing. I think it would be fun to spend a week or more on the CT. I took a bus home from Salida in 2013 after finishing the first half. I wasn’t prepared for so much hike-a-bike and rocky ascents/descents. I didn’t know what to expect, but now I do.
It’d like to see if I can prepare better for the CT’s conditions. A lot of the trail I had to hike-a-bike probably was rideable with better technical skills. I’d also like to experiment with gear weight distribution that might make it easier. Less weight in the handlebar/seat bags, more into the frame bag and backpack might make bike handling easier.
Personal Tour Divide Sampler
Next winter, my mind will almost certainly wonder about racing the Tour Divide in 2017. It has happened for the past few years. I need to find out whether the TD is something I want to do.
I’m considering doing a 5-7 day trip on the Great Divide in TD style. Fully-rigid bike, aerobars, only and all of the gear/clothes I would bring for the Grand Depart. As many miles per day as I could manage. Hopefully 100+ miles. Ideally 125+ miles. That number isn’t as important to me as simulating full days and late nights in the saddle. Distance is more a function of strength, and I don’t know how much I want to or will be able to train for this.
Whatever it takes it answer: do I want to do this for 20+ days in a row? If so, how much training is necessary? How many days should I aim for? What is the route and climbing actually like? I was a completely inexperienced rider 6 years ago with twice as much gear. How will Dave version 2016 fare?
I can leave from Boulder and hook up with the Great Divide 80 miles west of here – just south of Kremmling. It is ~360 miles from Boulder to Del Norte following the GDMBR. Well, it doesn’t seem right to turn around just before the largest climb/highest point of the route, so make it ~415 miles from Boulder to Platoro. Turn around and take US 285 from Del Norte to Salida makes it a ~550 mile trip. Here’s the route on Strava
As an added bonus, I’d get to see the Del Norte=>Salida segment of the GDMBR we skipped in 2010.
We’ll see what happens. For now, I’m just itching to get the Lefty fork set up again so I can start enjoying (rather than just surviving) singletrack.