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Reisverslag Could I win the Tour Divide?
5 oktober 2017
Could I win the Tour Divide?
I started the divide August 14th, 2016, and finished it September 8th, 2017, so in total 390 days. Quite a bit slower than the fastest woman. I didn’t finish in Antelope Wells, to do that I would have to bike about 10 days more, so let’s say my total would be 400 days. Not exactly the fastest time….
But to be fair, I can shorten that quite a bit! Let’s start with no side trips. After the first day of biking (Banff to Canmore), I went to the Netherlands for my brother’s wedding before continuing in Canmore, which took 25 days, leaving me 375 days on trail. Next stop was Fernie, where I took a Greyhound bus to Calgary and went on to a conference in Norway. This took 12 days, which leaves me 362 days on trail. Then a very large break, in which I biked with Leigh to Mexico City, bike/climbed with my brother in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and spend some time with Leigh in Winnipeg before traveling back to Butte, Montana. This took 282 days, which leaves me with 80 days on the trail. Then a climbing trip with Greg, Denise and Shawn in the Tetons, somewhat on the way, which took 7 days. Then a little side trip to Scotland, leaving from Abiqui, New Mexico, which took 13 days. So, I was on the trail for 60 days. I estimated it would take me 2 months with this somewhat leisurely speed, so that seems about right.
Rest days replenish the energy, but are not always that necessary. For example, on my birthday I took a day off to go see a rodeo (-1 = 59 days).
Sometimes I stop early. For example, somewhere in Colorado, a couple of hours before I was planning to have a break, I met a couple who were riding parts of the Colorado trail on horseback. They had made little corals for their horses next to their trailers, and of course I had to go chat with them to investigate their set-up. This let to me being offered a glass of wine and a very lively conversation. When they told me that about 100 meter away was a mountain hut in which you could sleep for free, I decided to join their campfire and be done for the day. A little later a girl with 2 mustangs came out of the forest and started chatting with us, leading to an invitation to ride a part of the Pacific Coast Trail with her and her mustangs next year. Definitely worth it, but also another delay (-0.5 = 58.5 days). There were other days where I met people and got invited for wine, campground sharing, or just got lost in chats (-3.5 = 55 days)
In 2016 I biked in the fall, which means days were cold, wet and short. Usually I couldn’t get out of the tent before 9.30/10 ish because it was simply too cold outside. Because of my nervousness about grizzly bear country, I preferred making camp in the light, so I had to stop early to first cook and hang stuff bear proof, then make camp at a spot a little way away. This lead to short days of about 5 hours of biking a day. I liked doing 7 hours a day during summer times the next year, so that is 2 more hours * 42 days / 7 hours a day, leading to 12 days that can be subtracted (-12 = 43 days).
Also during fall time, clothes wouldn’t dry. So when I passed by a possibility to do laundry I had to stop and clean the entire smelly, stinky, moldy bunch (-2 = 41 days).
There was this day that my break stopped working and I couldn’t figure out how to change a disk break. I realized I should have practiced this before leaving. Of course I was in the middle of the forest, so I had to bike to a town with a bike store while being careful at the downhills (-1 = 40 days).
In New Mexico I got a bunch of flats, making me realize that in a state full of cactuses and other plants producing needles, one needs appropriate tires. My back tire had an anti-leak layer in it, the front however not, and I think I patched it maybe 7 times. With that, putting on a new tire, carrying with me the old tire (that I still found too good to throw out), and the temporarily decreasing moral after each patching session, I feel like I can subtract -1 for that (-1 = 39 days).
In Montana in the fall there was snow, making the passes extremely time consuming. There was no biking anymore, it was just walking up through an increasingly higher snow layer. My shoe covers were not the best quality and fell apart quite quickly (for the second leg of my trip I made some myself that are meant to be undestroyable) making for cold wet feet. There was also no biking down from mountain passes, because the snow was giving too much resistance to paddle, and the unpaved paths turned muddy. This definitely caused a lot of delay (-4 = 35 days).
The first 42 days I was on a tandem. Not the most practical or lightweight bike for this trail (-1 = 34 days). The rest I was on my steel giant. Going up all those mountains definitely makes weight count, so the bike can be a lot lighter (-3 = 31 days). Neither of my bikes had suspension, which was not the worst problem, but caused me to go slower on certain roads than I would have otherwise gone, for example wash boards were painful, or rocky downhills (-2 = days 29 days).
Let’s have a closer look to the rest of my gear. Who needs a 2-person tent alone? Comfy yes, but not the lightest. A tarp is the way to go (-1 = 28 days). A kickstand is handy, but heavy (-1 = 27 days). A stove, also very comfy especially when it is cold, but weight reducing junkies will agree to me that it is not absolutely necessary (-2 = 25 days). In fact, who needs to brush their hair, brush teeth, and need Vaseline for saddle sores? Maybe a menstrual cup and not the usual stuff (-1 = 24 days). Also, who needs warm pants, a sweater, and a down jacket? Bike in shorts and t-shirt, and if it gets cold just put on your rain clothes (-2 = 22 days). And then don’t stop to take pictures or look at nature! (-1 = 21 days).
And, in addition, is it really needed to take two rest days to apply for a job? Bike now, work later, right? (-2 = 19).
See, I can bring it back to 19 days. I CAN WIN THIS :)!!
But, to be quite honest, I don’t know if I could do that nature point. To me, being on a trail that goes through so much wilderness and then just racing through without experiencing might not be it. Some examples:
Often in the morning I heard the sound of a hummingbird approaching while getting ready for another day of biking. I would stand completely still for a while. Often the hummingbird would come really close and check me out. So close in fact that I wondered if it would take out my eye with it’s long beak. One day, a hummingbird clearly thought it had found the holy grail of the humming birds in my red jacket (a gigantic flower!) and started licking my jacket. I could see it’s long tong gliding over the material. Until it discovered there was no honey taste to it, and it moved on. I briefly thought about buying some honey and put some on my jacket in the morning, but with being in bear country and all that, I decided not to :).
There was the day that I was biking close to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and saw a black bear running on the other side of the river, going the other way. I stopped, turned around, and had another look at it, and then it jumped in the river and started swimming towards me. I decided that was a good time to start biking again.
There was the time I got rattled at by a rattle snake, but that just sped me up, so I don’t think I got any delays there. Except for about an hour I did not want to bike too close to the sides of the road.
There was the time up in a mountain pass, that I saw a bunch of cows acting differently than usual. This was just a feeling, but it got me to stop and have a look. I didn’t see anything special for quite a while, so I just decided to keep going again, when I saw a quick movement and a mountain lion jumped from the field into the forest into hiding.
There was the time that I heard some weird honking sounds, so stopped to investigate and was rewarded by a couple of cranes that were dancing around each other, flapping their wings and jumping up, chest forwards.
And the Elks that were walking around my camp slowed me down too.
I’m almost forgetting the conversation I had with a squirrel in the forest. And all the times I stepped of the bike and walked through the flower meadows at the higher elevations, thinking how lucky I am to see all this beauty. Did you know that thistle can grow higher than me? It’s just amazing and wonderful. And the rock formations were pretty, for example a hole in the rock, that took an extra couple of miles of biking.
So let’s say 19+1 = 20. I guess I’m ok with being second :).
Foto's bij verslag (10)
6 oktober 2017 07:40 | Door: Jan Roelof
It is always pleasant to read your stories. And this one certainly shows a very philosophical insight.
You rather enjoy the ride itself, life so to speak, and keep your eyes open for the beautiful things, nature and meeting people than just rush to the meet without experiencing anything life has to offer. Making a detour of 6 kilometers for seeing a beautiful hole in the maintain is absolutely worth it. And keeping an eye open for what life has to offer makes your life worth living.
Suppose you did the ride in 19 days. How many days would you have to add for the preperation, and how many days for the recovering. For it would be a true assault to the body.
Enjoy life, nature, your friends, enjoy the ride.
6 oktober 2017 21:42 | Door: Marc
One (1) day to write this latest entry, so....
20-1=19. First place!!!!
8 oktober 2017 14:20 | Door: Ton van der Weerd
Annette, met een goede producent kun je er een boek of film van maken. Ik ga volgende maand 10 dagen naar Finland, vrienden bezoeken.