Monday, June 9, 2014

Tis The Night Before Takeoff.....

As I sit down to write my thoughts before I head out on my bike for 2700 miles, my oldest friend Wheels is lying next to me on my bed snoring away and farting like normal. She was a bit more sore than usual today and the fact that I won't see her for a month makes me worry about her. She has her good days where she navigates the stairs up to the door pretty well and motors around sniffing all there is to be sniffed and she has her bad days where she is really not too interested in anything but sleeping in the sun since the stairs are just not happening that day. This is when I must pack her up and down. (Note: plans are underway for building an old dog handicap ramp) Her bad days are not for a lack of try, rather her old legs and hips just don't work or have the strength that they used to anymore. It breaks my heart to see my old friend unable to retrieve bumpers and birds at warp speed or plunge in the water or even get up and down stairs on her own, but what inspires me is that she has no idea that she is 13 years old and her heart is still that little black puppy I picked out of a litter of twelve so many years ago. She only knows two things: the first is how to love no matter what and the second is to seek attention at any given time. Her nickname is "The Black Hole of Attention" and it is spot on. She really has no interest in other dogs, but rather their owners who are a potential source of petting.

God, I love this dog. She understands my passion, my fire, my intensity and my mood more than I do I think. She also understands English and listens better than most humans, I am fairly convinced. Thus, tonight as I sit here in my bed, trying to convince the overly stressed, rushed, worry-wart side of my brain that wants to keep me feeling nervous about riding to Banff to shut the fuck up because I am trying to fall asleep in my comfortable bed for the last time for awhile, Wheels props her gray chin between her two front paws up on my leg, looks up with her cateract-laiden blue eyes and sighs.

I melt.

Tension is gone and instantly my worries about finances during and after the race, my worries about getting all the last minute crap done on time and driving to Sierra Vista in the morning and my silly little insecurities vanish. Like shedding a heavy load, I take a huge breath in, let it out, smile and remember why I am doing this race. Wheels knows. She knows what I need and when I need it and tonight it was a reminder that there is no place for worry or nervousness anywhere in the miles I am about to ride. They only serve to ruin a good time.

I think back to October and my own words on the forum (walkurtalk):

Here it is June, and honestly, I really have nothing more to add. That says it all.

So, now its time to plunge down the Rabbit Hole to see what I can see. Sounds like a pretty damn good time ahead.....

There are so many people I want to thank who have helped me in one way or another to get to the start line of this race: My family who has been supportive even though they think I am insane. Some have reached out with encouraging words and love, some have not shown any interest, but it is uplifiting, motivating and awesome to have my own blood believing in and supporting what I am doing from 1200 miles away. My friends who have encouraged me, pushed me, challenged me, helped me, loved me, contributed to my effort or just reached out with kind words via email or Facebook. Strangers who have read my blog and contacted me, befriended me, believe in me, read my ramblings, encouraged me with the right words at the right times and contributed financially out of the goodness that resides within. I don't make it a practice to use names without prior permission, but you all know who you are and I love you all. Please know that you were in my heart back in April from the first turn of the crank in AZ, and you will be in my heart on Wednesday night as I pedal north to Banff and again when I roll out for Durango from Waterton Canyon in August.

I am living my dream.

I want so much to see you all live yours....


 Here is all the info I can think of one may need:

Tour Divide Tracker:

Map of the Route with Elevation Profile (zoomable):

MTBCast website: (riders call in an leave messages about their experiences. I will call in here and there)

The Spaceship: Pre-Launch

I could tinker around and fiddle with my bike and gear set up forever. Something can always be changed or improved slightly after some thought. This past weekend I really did not do much else. Rain and mud since Friday put the kabosh on any motivation to be outside on a horse or a bike so my weekend was spent building up, refining, tinkering and re-refining the two-wheeled spaceship that is going to carry me to Banff.

I finally just got to the point where there was nothing more to do. All the things on my list were crossed off, there was no more little things like zipties or bandaids to add to any pockets, my aerobars had been adjusted and readjusted a hundred times, I added a runners belt to my seatbag to get my waterbottle out of my face and give myself another small camera/food pocket and the menagerie on my handlebars was finally symmetrical to my eye.

Time to take a picture and relax, reflect and spend some more time with my maps. I have really grown fond of studying on the route maps over the last month. I love to picture in my mind the places I know and imagine myself riding through the places I am going to see for the first time. I see the vast amount of pavement and dirt roads I am going to ride and have to remind myself that this is a totally different race than both the AZT 750 and the CTR where riding pavement and dirt are rest days from the rugged and slow singletrack.

I will start the 2014 Tour Divide on June 11, 2014 at 6 pm from Antelope Wells, NM. I will be riding my Superfly 100 which is powered by SRAM components. XO 3x10 crank,  11-36 XX cassette, XO derailleurs, Avid XO brakes, Rockshox SID fork and Rockshox rear shock, XTR pedals, Specialized Phenom seat, stock Bontrager wheels and 29x2.1 Specialized Ground Control tires. The aerobars are Profile Design T+1 which I scored for $40 on ebay and chose them due to the fact they are very adjustable.

On the AZT 750, I used a custom framebag, made by Nick, owner of Rogue Panda Designs and was very happy with it in every way but since I am not carrying a backpack on the Tour Divide, I had to go with my old, larger framebag to fit my hydration bladder on my bike. This old Revelate framebag is the first piece of bikepacking gear I ever bought. I paid $20 for it from someone who rode a hardtail. A few intelligent cuts made it fit my bike well.

The water bladder and the shock and food fit in the top compartment and everything you see here plus zipties, chain lube, a roll of electrical tape and sunscreen go in the bottom compartment:

I actually went with a Platypus hydration bladder which was smaller. Nice to get the pack off my back for this one....
A look at my Rogue Panda framebag used for AZT 750 and will go on the 2014 CTR...

The handlebar bag quality is no different. Nick put some thought into it and added some adjustability and a few changes from the mainstream in the way of straps and velcro placement. His communication and service is prompt and reliable and the pricepoint is significantly less.

Early stages when I still had the water bottle on the bars.....
Sleep system, base layer, gloves and warm socks went in the handlebar bag. I ditched the shoe covers in favor of small hiking gaitors for the snow pushes:

My seatbag is from Revelate and was actually an early birthday gift. I bought a runner's belt to get the water bottle out of my face, as mentioned and strapped it around the seatbag. It also had an additional pocket which is perfect for camera and food.

Inside the seatbag is my raingear, puffy coat, electronics and chargers, steripen, food and first aid items:

A view of the mission control panel:

And the finished project weighing in at 39 lbs. This is including all the food and water I will start out with:

Final thoughts and all the tracking info you will need in my post coming tomorrow. Clock is ticking.....