It blows my mind that the Tour is only 50 days out…crazy. It has crept up like a ninja, but I have been training well and feeling the results in my efforts. This past weekend I traveled to the Mountain Lake Resort in Virginia and launched alongside fellow Tour Divide racer, Chris Tompkins, on a simulated Tour experience. We rode for 2 days and spent one night out in some of the most rugged terrain alongside the Virginia/West Virginia state line (east side of the Allegheny Mountain Loop).
We covered 235 miles and 22,000 feet of climbing in 20 hours of riding. The course and experience with Chris was both adventurous and very similar to the Tour Divide course. The Sette Razzo SC XX performed flawlessly and I was very impressed and solidified on my choice for this years Tour bike.
This training session was an opportunity for me to try out my full set up that I will be using during the Tour Divide. I assembled my bike with all of the bags, lights and props needed. I was able to test out my sleeping gear. That leads me to an interesting adventure that is very Tour Divide. After riding along a rugged mountain ridge for 20 miles at 4000 feet elevation, the cold began to creep in and warmth became the order of business. We descended down off the ridge and intersected a highway and lo and behold there was a house that seemed vacant. As you do, we set up camp on the front porch of this house and I figured we had a great story that would back up our reason for commandeering this porch.
It dropped down to the low 20s that night and no one ever showed up at the house.
We woke to the sun rising and packed up while our water began to thaw. I would like to personally thank whoever owns that house for placing it where you did and you can use my porch anytime. I must say the porch was quite nice as it kept us off the frozen ground.
The bags, equipment and gear that I have chosen to use for the Tour this year performed and served well on this training ride. A couple of highlights:
my prototype sleeping brace system worked great (keeps the system off the cables and from bouncing up and down), the feed bags on the handlebars are very useful and handy (snacks, drinks, sunblock, chap-stick), the seat bag carries all of my extra clothing, first aid and spare parts, the top tube bags carry food, batteries, chargers, tools, lube and phone (things that you need quick access to), my GPS was mounted on a head-cap mount and I have since replaced it with another one that is more durable and less flimsy with one made by Purely Custom. Between the GPS and handle bar mounted sleep system I have room to mount my tire pump and stuff my rain jacket.
The idea is to set your ride up to be very efficient, which means easy access to the things that you need regularly or in a pinch. During the Tour, you get so tired and the simplest task can seem like such a huge undertaking. Setting your bike up right to begin with can make a big difference and increase the odds that you will apply that sunblock and lube that chain, trust me. The only way to know how to set up your bike for something like the Tour is to get out and train with it loaded on an overnight, multi-day experience.
Chris was a trooper out there and we rocked a hard course and I was very pleased with my bike and setup. I will continue to train around 20 hours/week through May as I have since Mid-March. I have a few more tweaks here and there on the setup, but for the most part I’m pleased with it. I have a few more odds and ends things to get like rain pants, maps, etc. The anticipation is building and I thrive on it. It should be an adrenaline filled approach to the line in Banff and then the suffering will begin in full force. I welcome it with open arms. I will do one more review of my equipment in 3-4 weeks that will outline all of the individual pieces (clothing, tools, lights, sleeping bag, etc) that I’m using during the race across the continental divide.
To that lady that threw a french fry at me, I will only say that I will let karma run its course.