In 2019 I raced the Tour Divide, a 2700 mile off road route following the continental divide from Canada to Mexico. The preparation, race and aftermath had a profound affect upon me as an individual and weeks later I am sat here still trying to process it all. I have many thousands of words yet to write about the route, my experiences and the individuals I met along the way. But in the meantime I’ve published this taster blog to give a feel for how things went for me day by day.
Anyone that knows me will understand that cycling married with adventure is a major part of my life. I think it is fair to say that I’m a fairly driven individual and always looking for something to take on and conquer. But this comes at a price, my thought process tends to forward project success and glory without considering the price that needs to be paid and more importantly the stuff that can go wrong.
I’ve been fairly successful in my forties in both business and my cycling. Creating things from nothing that have achieved apparent success. This started to unravel as I entered my fiftieth year. I made mistakes in my business and suffered the consequences financially. I made mistakes in my cycling and abandoned a number of routes that need a little bit more personal resilience than I had. Worst of all I lost the motivation to write. Book projects fell by the wayside and I procrastinated left right and centre every time I had a decent writing idea.
To compound this I saw my parents decline with illness culminating in the death of my father. In the company of my brother and sister I watched him struggle to slip away. This compounded a sense of real mortality. I saw my future in my ailing father and worried that I’d begin to decline now as all of these pressures eroded my sense of worth.
Time for a reboot
I needed something to help me rediscover a personal sense of worth. I’m not really a pills and counselling kind of fellow. I know that the best therapy for me is trying to achieve something personally inconceivable. I relish the planning, build-up and (sometimes) the challenge itself. So it was time to scour the memory banks for something suitable which lead me right to the door of The Tour Divide.
The Tour Divide first came to my attention at a bikepacking event in 2014. I was new to bikepacking and had broken myself dragging far too much gear around the hills of north Wales. I’d bloody loved every minute of it and was discussing various routes with Andy Lawrence at the end. His year was focused, he’d decided to throw himself at The Tour Divide. I went home and after a bit of research thought “Fuck that”. 2700 miles self supported, long sections with no food and water, bears, snakes, Americans with guns and more climbing than a country full of Ivy. Good luck Andy! But I don’t think it’s for me.
Well now it was (sic).
I fully committed to the ride by sending a letter of intent, loosely planning some training oh… and ordering a new Salsa Cutthroat from the wonderful Rich and Shona at Keep Pedalling in Manchester. These actions were immediately cathartic and I began to feel a little more “Dave” than I had for many a month. There’s nothing like a good old mission to mobilise a Barter. I got this from my Dad who’d spent his working life as an RAF pilot doing lots of dangerous shit up in the sky. I know Dad would have loved this mission as he’d enjoyed following my progress on previous long distance rides.
Anyway that’s quite enough prelude. I’ll save the gear selection, training, packing and preparatory gubbins for a much bigger write up. Let’s whizz you forward to the start line as a very nervous me arrives in Banff on the 12th June 2019.