Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Start...

Now then chief

Today's the day.  On the 19th of June I've made the decision that I'll be turning up on the second weekend in June 2014, in somewhere called Banff, to start racing the Tour Divide.  All 2745 miles of it (or 4418km but no one really knows how far a KM is - however it sounds further which can only be a good thing).

Tour Divide?  Yep, a self supported single stage race that basically races from Banff in Canadia (how 'bute that) to Antelope Wells in New Mexico (hombre).  Racial stereo-typing aside that's a flipping long way.  For those wanting a more detail explanation see here.

There are two questions here that need answering.  'Why?' and 'How'.

The 'Why' is a little easier to answer.  I've raced XC and road races for years now, starting out racing time trials when I was 'just' old enough to be allowed to enter and moving to XC MTB races later on.  In between I've raced in road races, cycle-speedway (I KNOW!) and DH events, I've even turned up to a round of the Essex bike trial where it turns out that just doing a few skids and wheelies isn't really enough to win the event.  Who'd have thought....Anyway, I've got bored of it all.  Riding around in circles for an hour and a half on what amounts to little more than a field year after year has lost its charm recently and I've all but stopped racing.  In the last year I've got especially good at turning up to races only to pull out after a lap or two.  My training has pretty much stopped and combined with a bad back I've just got...well rubbish.  More rubbish than I was.

Don't get me wrong, I still love bikes and cycling.  But the racing side of it has got old and with that, the OCD act of repeatedly training on the same routes week in, week out has stopped.  I need a new challenge.

So, the Tour Divide (TD).  I've been watching the event from my computer screen for about three years now.  As the ever diligent IT worker I've spent hours scanning different websites for info and sat day dreaming about racing it as I've typed out SQL code and got fat on the company Kit-Kats (yep, free Kit Kats here).  I've done the standard thing of wanting to do it but put it off, over and over again until June rolls round each year and I've missed it again.  Bouts of depression (I'll not bore you with details), the breaking up of relationships and work have always provided ideal excuses to not do it.  I've slowly become an armchair biker, collecting mountains of gear that I'm never going to use but looks nice hung on my garage wall.  At one point I even had an Audi and an Orange 5 - that's how bad it got.

Recently I've just started riding routes I haven't ridden before, both on and off road and its got me excited about riding again.  Even riding the Red route at a trail center that I haven't done before, normally because I think I should be doing the Black has just made everything more enjoyable.  The riding of a trail I've not done rather than taking the easy option of a familiar route is something that I get a buzz from.  Exploring if you will.  This, combined with the amazing efforts of a Mr Mike Hall (he who rode round the world) have inspired me to look at this event and not only day dream about it but actually do it.

So on to the 'How'.

Currently I'm fat, I've got back problems and I struggle to ride anything over about 3 and a bit hours.  I also drink waaay to much coffee, have the occasional ciggie and yes - at weekends I do drink to excess.  I know what you're thinking - Athlete.  So not a good start.

However, I'm single and have a LOT of time on my hands.  I've also got a stable full of bikes and with no fixed agenda I can go and ride them as and when I like.  Experience wise I've consistently pulled out of Dusk til Dawn for the past 4 years - a fine record I'm sure you'll agree.  I've also bike-packed around the Isle of Harris which was a miserable experience due to midges and...well it being Scotland.  So as you can tell this race is the obvious choice.

The TD is currently underway and as I type Mr Hall is about 50 miles behind the race leader.  So realistically I've got about a year to turn flab into speed and become an all round machine.

The purpose of this blog is to document my training and preparation over the next year.  I'll try to make sure its mostly facts and has as little whinging as possible.  If you've seen the film Ride the Divide you'll remember that bloke that cries a lot and talks about how emotional he is all the time.  I'm not that bloke.  Honest.

Think of this as a Dear Diary.  Like Adrian Mole but more cycling based and less romance.  I doubt anyone will read it but at least I'll have something to read as I'm waiting for the Air/Sea Rescue helicopter..


  1. Well I have read it and pledge to continue to too... hopefully...

    Good luck with getting in shape to the level you'll need to be. I'm hoping to get into 12hour+ racing next year so I'm going through a similar process of stepping up big time in endurance levels. Really enjoying it at the moment though. 6-8 hour rides seem a bit daunting but as long as you break it up into lots of smaller mile stones then it becomes a lot more manageable mentally.

    What area of the country are you based in by the way?

  2. Hi Composite

    Many thanks sir, much appreciated. I've found the move to longer endurance racing a fair bit harder, having always focused on stuff around the two hour mark. I think I'm going to set myself some targets this year (D2D included) to gauge how well the move is going. Fingers crossed!

    Advice is much appreciated. It's a mental hurdle to get over!

    I'm based in Guildford (or just south of) but make regular trips to Suffolk. You about this way?

    1. I'm in the Midlands, south Birmingham.

  3. Nice one!

    Found the link on the Singletrack forum. I've subscribed and will take over as the armchair cyclist to track your progress. Good luck mate.


  4. Cheers Marc, much appreciated!