Ahh yes, it’s outage time. You know when you fill up your car, turn the engine off, get gas, check the oil, clean the windows, buy a bag of FunYuns, and take a quick leak? Outage is the nuclear equivalent of that. The bad news is that means very little bike time. The good news is… it’ll be over in a couple of months?? Yeah. Actually there is a positive to having ~125 hours on a paycheck, and that’s reflected in a pretty healthy paycheck. In context of the Tour Divide, that means not having to pinch pennies, or being forced to camp out in the rain rather than having a hot shower and hotel bed for the night. It also means I can spend a little more on gear to go truly ultra-light. Ounces equal pounds; pounds equal pain. This saying not only applies to gear weight, but also to body weight. I’m…getting there.
So far I’ve been doing really good about generally eating right and I’m getting a solid hour a day on the bike trainer. I have the next couple of days off and I’m hoping to get a long ride (100+) on Wednesday. Last Tuesday I went out and hit around 110 miles, with every hill I could find.
These were taken at Teterville. It was an oil town in the 1920’s and 30’s, but is now abandoned and all that remains are the big rock and a few building foundations. It has an amazing view, however, and is stunning when everything is green. In the bottom picture, you can see part of a large herd of wild horses that graze this area. It’s south and west of Madison, and due east of Cassoday. I HIGHLY recommend making this trip, and when you do, go up the hill. It makes it seem that much more worth it. (I want to have my ashes tossed into a strong south wind here. That way, they blow all over all three people at my funeral, and they can get a piece of my mind and kiss my ass at the same time. Ha!)
I’m going to need every inch of climbing I can get, because there’s a LOT on the Divide, as in enough to go to the top of Mount Everest seven times. Like I said, a lot of climbing. Ohh, did I also mention it’s 2,745 miles long? I digress.
Another thing I really need to get up to speed on is the maps and route. I’ve got the GPX file, the Adventure Cycling route maps, and cue sheets, and I’m also working on a towns and services directory along the route. My navigation plan goes like this. Redundancy will be key, but with as little weight as possible. My primary means of navigating will be the GPS. Secondary will be using my iPhone as a GPS. If my primary GPS goes down, even without cell reception I’ll still be able to see if I’m on route or not. I’ll just be following a red line on a blank screen, but if I’m not on that red line, I’m off route. Third will be maps. I probably won’t carry cue sheets, b/c the maps have cues on them, but I will upload the cue sheets to my phone, as well as having pictures of the maps on there as well.
Along with navigation comes the playbook. I need to come up with a plan of how best to tackle this thing. I’m going to look up as many people who have completed it in 24-25 days and try to figure out what I feel is the best way to do this. Distance per day, riding times, etc. These will be different for every racer, obviously, but at least I’ll have a general idea of what lies ahead. Personally I feel the way for me to do this is to break the race down into different sections and tackle each, one at a time.
For now, I feel I have a pretty good setup for doing this, but here’s something I found that I think will alleviate my last big worry, and that was water storage. Salsa has been making their Anything Cage for a while. It’s a large water bottle cage that mounts on certain forks. The guy who made my frame bag, Jeremy Cleaveland, came up with what he calls the “Everything Bag.” It’s a redesign on the Salsa cage, and with one on each fork holding a 48oz Nalgene bottle, will enable me to carry an additional three liters of water, and not on my back.
There’s a nasty rumor that you can also fit a handle of whiskey, but I’m sure it’s nothing more than just a rumor. Has to be.
With these, that means I won’t have to carry any weight at all on my back, although I will still pack a small ultralight backpack to hold extra food or in case of emergency and I have to walk a few miles. I’ll be able to hold four liters in my framebag in an MSR Drom-Lite, three liters on the fork, and another 24 oz in a water bottle. I can also use the bottle for mixing up Emergen-C or gatorade or what-not. I’ll also bring a 2-Liter Platypus bladder for emergencies or extra dry stretches, and keep it in my seat-bag. That will put my total water capacity at just under 2 1/2 gallons, although I won’t be carrying near that much most of the time.
This race seems to have taken over most of my free time. For example, tonight, instead of watching the KU – K-State game or the State of the Union Address, I’m writing this blog, and then will read over the maps, head to bed, and dream about a very large slice of apple pie in Pie Town.
See you down the road,