One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Category: Tour Divide (page 1 of 2)

Preface to the Tour Divide

The Tour Divide is the world’s longest off-road race. It is also the world’s longest self supported race. From Banff Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico. It covers almost 2800 miles with 200,000 feet of climbing and descending crisscrossing the continental divide. You have to navigate on your own. There are no check points or aid stations. You ride as far as you can everyday. You sleep where ever you can. Showers were a luxury. Some days had temperature swings of almost 100 degree Fahrenheit. How did I ever decide to do this? I am positive beers were involved. Lots of beers and shit talking. I love a good challenge. If I really want to tell people that “Impossible is nothing” I have to live by those words too.

What I want to share with you are some of the stories, both good and bad. There was heartache, happiness, feelings of being the strongest person alive, and also times that I wanted to lay down and never move again being a failure to everyone I ever tried to inspire. Some of the stories are 100 percent factual, some of them are probably a little skewed due to fatigue and being concussed. If you get anything from this adventure I went on, I hope that it is the fact that I am a normal everyday guy that refuses to quit. I am not a natural athlete. I am surely not the smartest. My gear was not all top of the line, best you could get. I just want to show people that you can do anything that you want to. The two ingredients are hard work and consistency. Relentless forward motion. You will have times that you are on top of the world. You will all so taste the bitter sting of defeat. If you keep moving no hardship can last forever. So join me on this journey.


Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. If you like what you read give it a share.

Thanks Mucho,


Begin Read the Story

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Day 1- Tour Divide

Read the Preface 


Day 1 of the Tour Divide


I might have made a bad decision. When I woke up I had the prerace jitters times 2800 miles of unknown. I seriously considered drinking a beer before I left for the race and it was 5 in the morning. When I arrived at the Banff hostel to await the start of the race, everyone looked like they were a seasoned veteran and I was the only rookie on the line. I knew this wasn’t true, but it certainly felt like it.


My Garmin eTrex 20 had yet to sync up and kept telling me I was off course. None of this is helping my nerves at all. Crazy Larry comes to the front of the crowd and gives his speech on the race. It is a gentleman’s race. No one is out there making sure you follow the rules. The grand prize is nothing.You race the race the way you live your life. If you are willing to give your integrity and cheat, that is up to you. We are instructed to follow behind Team Rice Burner (Billy and Lana Rice) and JP (Jay Petervary). We all take off in a nicely organized blob. When we hit the fence marking the official start line, there is a mass of people putting the hammer down like it is a 9 mile cross county race.

DSCN0014 Three wide going down hill around corners, making hard passes in the brush. I am in the back in almost dead last trying to ask everyone pedaling past me what type of GPS they have and if they can figure mine out. No luck. I have a bag of nuts with me, some chocolates and water. It is only 60 miles to the first area with food and resupply. 4 hours tops. I cruise along trying to decide what I am going to do about my GPS. Eating snacks. Couple of hours in I stop to refill my water and use my filter. I have a Sawyer Mini filter, so it takes a few minutes but is very light weight. The terrain is tough. Really tough. After I get back on my bike and start to pedal it starts to sleet. I get out my rain jacket and rain pants.


Within minutes I tear the crotch out of my pants. My crotch is getting wet. My food runs out. This is getting miserable. Really. I get to the first resupply. I am soaking wet from the waist down. I am starving. I am shaking from the cold. I am super dizzy. I really miss home already. I go in to buy food and warm up. I ask if I can sit inside until I quit shaking. I am told it is too busy and I will have to sit outside in the rain with everyone else. Defeated, I go outside, strip down to my underwear and put on every piece of clothing I have. After what seems like a few hours, the sun is out, I am not shaking anymore and I am sure to be dead last and way behind the cut off pace. I get back on my bike with double the food I thought I needed to make it the next 60 miles to my goal stopping point for the night. I hit the road and run into two cool guys and chat and ride with them. Great news, my GPS hits the first way-point and it is tracking fine. We chat about the 2014 Tour Divide. There was pouring rain the first week. I will pass on that. As we approach the power line section which is supposedly the make-or-break point for the first day of racing, it starts to sleet again and harder.


As we drop down elevation it gets warmer and the sleet turns to a drizzle. This is nice but the trails are quickly turning into mud with the consistency of peanut butter. The three of us choose lower gears and keep on pedaling. I luckily had a rear derailleur that was set up to scrape the chain as is passed through. This keeps me shifting smoothly. I am getting tired and weak. The sun goes down, we are still no where near the first town, which will be 20 miles shy of my goal. I run out of food again. The three of us drag ass into town at almost midnight to get food and a hotel room. We have decided to split one. There is a Chinese restaurant connected to the hotel. They are closing up shop but are nice enough to let us get take out. My stomach feels raw from being empty for so many hours. We find out the hotel is all booked. We are going to have to sleep outside. Devin says he is going in to make magic happen. 20 minutes later our food is all ready and we have a place to sleep. Only $30 US each to sleep on the floor of the banquet room. No showers. Don’t care.


I try my best to eat what I can but I feel like I am dying. My heart is racing from the day’s beating. I drink water and lay on the floor. What have I got myself into? I wake up in the middle of the night to my heart still pounding. Drink more water. Still no pee. Fall back asleep.

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Read the next day

Day 2- Tour Divide

Read Day 1

I wake up around seven in the morning. I am feeling better. I am exhausted but, I am now mentally prepared for what the ride is going to be like. I know that I have ground to make up. I get my clothes together and dressed and head down the hallway to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The hallway is almost empty. The night before it was absolutely packed with bikes. Not only am I slow, everyone got a head start on me today. Oh well. I am relentless. I will not stop. I get my bags packed and ready to put back onto the bike.


I go outside to realize that I have locked my bike to the pay phone that I couldn’t find last night. My bike is a muddy mess. The drive train is pretty clean thanks to my friend Moon setting is up with a chain scrubber. I pick up the pay phone and get a hold of my girlfriend Alex. She was concerned because my tracker stopped sending a signal. I had shut it off. She tells me I am behind the pace to make the 25 day cutoff. Not a surprise. I will make the time up today. When I get off the phone I see some trail magic. The person who owns the house across the street from the hotel is letting everyone clean their bikes with the hose. I clean my bike, say goodbye to the boys and head over to the gas station for food. I see Billy and Lana again. Billy is a TD veteran and has even rode the course yo-yo. South to North to South. I ask Billy how long it is going to take him to finish and he say 21 days. I must be on track then. I double up my food. My hydration pack is absolutely stuffed with food. I take off and climb a monsterous hill leaving town.

My GPS is good. I am feeling good. I have tons of food. This show is on the road. I hit some of the fire roads I have heard so much about. I am dodging ruts and having a good time pedaling. The mud is like peanut butter but I will catch these miles up. We get to the end of the fire road and start to go into the woods. This is when I  come to find out the GPS isn’t always right on point. The fact the the race is 2800 miles and the GPS can only hold 10,000 points of reference means that there has to be some averaging on the route. Some of the time when the route is a horse shoe shape, instead of having a nice curved line, it will be an arrowhead of sorts. It will show a line out to the apex of the  curve and then shoot an angle straight back on the other side. This makes for some real fun when there are three routes that come together in one spot. I zoom out the screen and take my best guess at which route it might be. I guess wrong. I come back to the intersection and choose the next route. I guess correctly. I bounce around enjoying the trails and eating food for the few hours until I hit pavement going into the next town. 


When I make it to town I call Alex again. I just wanted to hear her voice and I have her tell me that I been riding strong. Things are looking up. I eat at Subway, stuff my hydration pack with food, and set sail. I am 200 miles into the ride and less than 100 miles from the US. I am going to make it to the US tonight! The going gets rougher. After a short amount more on the pavement we go into rolling climbs. You climb for 5-15 minutes decend for two minutes and then climb again.


The terrain gets progressively worse and I get slower. Every few miles I am crossing water and getting wet. I am burning through my food quickly. I should be taking more time to enjoy the views and take some big sniffs of the beautiful mountain air but I am too focused on catching up the miles. Head down, spin hard. I’m not stopping often enough to enjoy this amazing life experience.


By the time the sun is going down, after 10PM, I am catching up to a few people.  I throw on a jacket and rip some amazing down hill sections. I actually catch up to a 70 year old man. A man that could have been my grandfather or great grandfather was ahead of me……… Knowledge and skill beats strength and effort. This is when the fun for the day really starts.


Little climbing, blast down. Little roller, rip some turns and get skeezy. This is the life. Blasting down the mountain at 25 miles per hour with an amazing sunset in the background. You are only granted so many days in your life and this night is a sunset I will never forget. When I decide to crash for the night I find a cool group of dudes in a real campsite. I am still 30 miles from the US border. Then the bad news sets in, I am down to one half of a gas station sandwich, I have a handful of nuts, and some chocolate pieces. I have to make the decision to wake up and be starving or go to bed starving. I eat half of everything and decide I can make it to the US in the morning in three hours tops. There is a big town there and I can grab a bunch more food. I go to bed thinking things are on the up and up. I wake up dry heaving. My heart is racing and my stomach is painfully empty.  I might not have got the fueling part of the race down yet. Back to sleep………




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Thanks Mucho,


Read Day 3

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Day 3- Tour Divide

Read Day 2

Wake up in the morning feel like Pee Diddy. I wake up a little sad and disheartened by the amount of food I have been eating over the last couple of days. I am still smiling. The worst day on an adventure is better than the best day sitting in an office chair.


I have been on feast or famine mode. I really need to lock things down for nutrition and get my poop in a group. I eat the other quarter of a sandwich, finish my pistachios and half of the chocolates. I am camping next to some super awesome gentle dudes. Josh hears me grumbling about having too little food and he offers me some Kind Bars. This really makes my heart happy. I might actually live. My body is a little tired and sore but I get moving. The climbing is steep. Then it gets gangster. I am riding in gears 1-3 out of 30. What in the world? Really. Before I left for the race I remember thinking that there was no way on any terrain that I would ever drop below 10 miles per hour. Here I am, spinning my heart out and climbing at a whooping rate of 3.5 mph. Then it gets better.


The trail turns into mud stairs with a nice stream rolling down. I shoulder my bike and climb. I don’t care. Nothing will stop me. My motto is “relentless forward motion”. It doesn’t matter how fast you move. If you are moving, you are making progress. It literally all cannot be up hill. At some point it will go down. Back on the bike. Back to pedaling about the same pace I can walk. Food is gone. Oh well. I run into a crazy guy from Austrailia on a single speed bike. A GUY ON A SINGLE SPEED WAS IN FRONT OF ME! He is standing on the pedals, riding side to side on the road to make it easier. I ask him how it is going and we chat for a while. The chatter makes it go faster but, I am still hungry. I find out what a front bum is (Take your pick- NSFW). Then we get to the glory! Hit the top of the pass. The descent is just as steep as the climb and just as rocky. I am ripping. I try to relax and take in the good graces of gravity. From the ridge line I swear I can see the border crossing.


I can smell and taste the food. I hit pavement, take a left and head to the good old US and A. It is an easy transition for me. There are a few other riders from other countries that have to go inside and fill out paperwork. The gate agent looks at me, gives a smile and a wink and says “sweet ride” and then starts chanting “U.S.A….U.S.A….U.S.A…”. This really didn’t happen. I show them my passport. They look at me with a little concern for my safety and I ride on.

There is a duty free station about a half mile up the paved road. I go in, turn on my phone  and order a bacon cheeseburger, a gallon of soda and a gallon of water. The first person I call is my girlfriend, Alex. I can’t wait to hear her sweet voice and find out how much I am crushing the race. She does the polite thing and asks how I am doing and says she is glad that I am ok. I am almost in tears as I get my food. I am so hungry. I take my first bite of french fries and Alex says “You are way behind the cut off. You are pacing 27-28 days. You need to hurry up.” I really love Alex with all of my heart. That did not stop me from thinking horrible profanities about her. We stop talking and I start devouring my food. It is tasty. That unbelievable rush of emotion you get the first time you have sex – my stomach had that feeling.

I pack my phone, jump on my bike and head the five miles to town to get resupplied. When I get to the store I try to figure out how to pack any more food in my backpack. No matter what I tuck in there, it isn’t enough food. I buy mountains of food. I will figure it out. When I get outside I see a racer with a dry bag filled with food, rolled and clipped shut over his aero bars. Thats it! I go back in and buy more food to fill my dry bag. My tank is now full, my bike is loaded to the brim with food and I am ready to rock and roll. I head back out on the course and I am making some great time. My speed picks up and I have a tailwind. I am taking a break now and again to look at the map and cue sheet. I see one of the sections tells you to enjoy the view of the lodge pole pines that line the road. When I get to this point, is is magical. I am too overwhelmed and forget even to take a picture. It is the type of place that makes adventuring seep down into your soul and fill your spirit.


I ride until sunset and see an RV parked by a lake with someone in their bivy sack, already sleeping. When I pull up the gentleman comes out, offers me food and beer and says I can set up anywhere I want. I pitch my tent and ask about the bear situation. He says it is cool, they have a fire and a big dog that barks whenever they are close. I really couldn’t care. If I see a Griz, I will start my camera, whoop his ass, then go back to sleep. Night night.



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Thanks Mucho,


Read Day 4



Day 4- Tour Divide

Read Day 3

I wake up with the sunrise and I am ready to get back at it. I slept like a baby. I pack my gear and get on the bike. I have this terrible feeling in the tops of both of my patellas and my feet are hurting. They are on fire.


When I make it to the next town, I gobble up as much food as I can and get some Excedrin. When I am leaving town I swing by the bike shop to see if I can get some type of bag holder for the front of my bike to carry more food. No such luck. When I am leaving, I first meet Jeremiah Johnson. Not the wilderness man. This guy is one hurting unit. He smells like he might have recently sharted and then rubbed on a whole tube of Icy Hot. He tells me the first two days, he crushed the race, Yesterday he blew up and couldn’t pedal anymore so he just stopped in the town and crashed on someone’s porch. I feel bad when he says he is thinking about dropping. I need to keep moving though. I pop some painkillers and get back on the road.


Now that I have cell service I ring Alex and ride with her on speaker phone and chat. It feels nice being able to talk to her. The pain in my feet isn’t really letting up. After an hour or so they are in so much pain I cannot pedal. I stop on the side of the road and put my feet up on the bike for 5 minutes while I eat. This pattern will repeat. 55 minutes of riding until horrible pain, feet up, and eat. I am actually passing people. I must be catching up on the pace. Late in the afternoon I pass another rider climbing. He says that he cannot take this much longer and he is probably going to drop. That sucks. I will not quit. Relentless forward motion.


 I run into two guys named Will and Nick. Will is from California and Nick is from England. Will’s buttcheeks are raw and on fire and Nick isn’t feeling like being alone so they are riding together. They drop me. As they climb off into the distance I stop and put my feet up and eat. I get to the crest of the mountain and am ready to descend down to the town that I will stay in for the night. There are some nice flowing switch backs and I am grooving. I swing out to the ride and get ready to rip into the left turn, when over the brush pile I see a huge grizzly. I slam the brakes shut, my butt cheeks slam shut and my mouth drops open. Before I left for the race I loved to tell people that I would get my camera out and take a video in case it eats me so they can make some money on it. The night before I was one hundred percent sure that I would uppercut a bear in the genitals and stand over it while it lays there in defeat. I did neither of those. The bear was 30 feet away. That is a long way. It is also really close for an angry bear. I get my bear spray out, which is guaranteed effective if the bear is within 10 feet. 10 feet is piss your pants close for a bear. So I stand there. My face is somewhere around armpit height on the bear. It is a damn monster. It growls. I stand there shaking. It paces back and forth. I stand there. It growls. I yell. It paces. I talk calm. It growls. I blow my whistle. It paces. This goes on for what seems like a month or two. It has been five minutes. The bear loses interest and trots off into the brush. I pedal like I am in a 60 second time trial. My legs are on fire. Every time I can catch my breath, I yell “HELLO” or “HEY BEAR”. I do not want to run into another bear. EVER. After an hour or so I catch up to Will and Nick checking maps on the road. I tell them the story and ask if I can ride with them. They say sure. It takes every fiber of my being to keep up with them but, I do. We get to a campground and try to decide what we are going to do. I know what I am doing. I find a Montana Hilton. If you do not know what that is, it is a concrete outhouse with a steel door. As the other two discuss tea and crumpets. I take myself shaking inside, lock the door, and set up my sleeping gear. I eat like a king by the light my headlamp and fall asleep.


Above is a picture of bunny I took for Alex. She loves them and I love her.


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Thanks Mucho,


Read Day 5

Day 5- Tour Divide

Read Day 4

I wake up to the beautiful smell of sweet flowers. It just happens these flowers smell like B.O. and a toilet next to my face. I haven’t showered yet on the race. When I try to stand up, my feet won’t even take the pressure. They hurt bad. So I sit up and lean against the wall. I eat some food and take some pain killers. I then put my shoes on as tight as I can. With the assistance of the toilet I get up off the floor. I take a pee and hobble outside. There is a gorgeous lake that I didn’t see the night before. I hobble around for a bit and decide I better get moving.


The other guys are just starting to rustle around. I hop on my bike and slowly pedal off. As I start the climb up the pass I meet Jean Michel. He has been getting lost over and over because he does not have a GPS. Only the paper maps. He took the race on short notice


Jean is from Tahiti and is riding the race for a friend of his. Just one year ago his friend and training partner were in Europe racing a sky run. Fast forward a few months and his training partner was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was always his dream to race the TD and would never get the chance now.  So he decided to ride with me. We pedal up and over the mountain pass sharing stories of life and adventure. He loved sailing and the ocean. We descend into a small, hot, dry town. There is a lady checking names off a list and getting pictures as they came into town. They love the racers here. We go inside and have an ice cream cone or two. After we get more supplies we head back out on the road for more tall tales and pedaling.


The route today is a mix of gravel farm roads with mountain passes mixing in between. While spinning down a gravel road and looking at  a mountain in the distance a dually farm truck pulling a huge trail decides that our bikes are taking up too much of the road and heads straight at us. At the last second he swerves even closer to us and we swerve off of the road. What a jerk. Jean looks over at me as the dust is settling and says “You have to have a really shit life to do that to another person.” I giggle and think of what happens in his day to day home life. I picture his wife with a thick mustache, standing over him yelling about his shortcomings. His dog ignoring him when he tries to give him a treat and petting him. Then I think about how great of a life I have. I have a wonderful support network including the amazing Alexandra, who is keeping the home life going while I am off playing in the woods for weeks on end. All of the great people who have supported me to get me to where I am at. Life is grand. When we reach our stop for lunch we go inside and cool off while eating pounds of food. Jean rings his friend on facetime. I am almost in tears when I see him. Not one year ago he was loving life and adventuring around the world. Now he is in a wheelchair with a breathing machine. It is almost too much. At this point I am very thankful for the opportunity to race. Even if everything hurt . I still have the ability to do what I please when I please. After lunch we set out to make the push to Lincoln Montana and the first shower in 5 days. The going gets rough. The more I pedal the more my front shock collapses. It gets to the point where even if I lock my fork out on flat ground my face is pointing toward the ground. On any climb all of my power is going into bobbing up and down. It sucks. We finally crest the last pass and see Lincoln in our sites. We bomb down, hit the pavement and cruise to a bar and grill.


At the grill Jean schools me on proper food, why Americans are fat and how all of the selections are shitty. We both get double cheese burgers. I eat mine in a flash. He takes only a few bites. I then eat all of his. It feels good. Will shows up just as the place is closing. They are kind enough to fix him a plate of pasta. While Jean goes and gets us a room, I call my palio Moon and asked what I can do to fix the shock. He informs me I needed to buy a pump and live with inflating it everyday or wait for it to be rebuilt.. DAGGIT. The next town with a pump is Helena and is 60 miles away. Such is life. It isn’t an adventure without adversity. As I head towards the hotel, Will asks if he can crash with us. Hell yeah. So we go around to the room, take showers and crash. The shower is glorious. A bed is amazing and my stomach is packed full of cheese burger heaven. Life’s simple pleasures.

Read Day 6

Day 6-Tour Divide

Read Day 5

Sleeping in a bed was blissful. I wake up refreshed and ready to attack the day. All three of us get our gear together and head to the gas station to eat, resupply and head out on our way. After eating Jean says that he would be waiting around for a while to let his stomach settle. He hasn’t eaten a fair portion of food in almost a week and is feeling drained. I have to roll. We take some photos together and walk out the door.


I try to keep pace with Will. The front shock on my bike isn’t going to let that happen. I bob up and down like a cowgirl on a mechanical bull. A couple of other riders catch up. Shortly after all three of them drop me. I run into one other person the whole time. I ask how he was doing because he had no real gear to speak of and I can hear him screaming as I ride up. His answer “I”d be f*&#ing better if you quit asking” Fair enough. I struggle bus it all the way over the pass.


Hours and hours of all of my power going to the bobbing up and down like a seesaw and not the rear tire. I get to what is a glorious decent. Even with a flat shock I am ripping down the trails. It seems like a good hour of descending. Then the downhill all the way into Helena. I feel like I am going to make it. My legs are beat but my spirit is strong. I’m singing as I roll into town and try to find the bike shop. I pedal in circles looking but I don’t care, I am ready to get my power back. I find The Great Divide Cyclery. It is not my type of place. Everyone is wearing a polo and or a tie. These are not bikers. These are salesmen in a bike shop. I walk right back out the door. Lucky for me on the same block there is a killer bike shop. It has stripped down walls, tappers at the bar that look into the bike repair shop, and all of the guys look like they are ready to hit the trail at the drop of the hat. I stumble in and tellthem my troubles. They tell me to sit down and they will get me taken care of and get me a pump. They now steal my  heart as well. They ask if I would like a beer. YEAP. That frosty golden goddess caressed my mouth and made sweet sweet love to me. It was fantastic. After saying our goodbyes I head over to the grocery store and then the bar for food. All I want to do is drink a beer and get a hotel room but, I have riding to do. I get back on my bike and hit the road. My legs are shot. They feel heavy and don’t want to pedal. All of the bobbing has taken away my strength. I still have 60 miles to hit my goal. I give it the old college try. That is until I can’t pedal at all anymore….


I get off my bike and walk. I would camp here if it weren’t all mountain side with nowhere to stop. I run into the Rev. Greg Locke. We make some small talk. He had fallen asleep, wrecked his bike, and had to catch a ride back to town to get his handlebars replaced. After that he rides off into the sunset away from me. I walk and ride until I can’t take it anymore. I call Alex to see if there was anything around me.  She says “two miles”. Two miles until I am at a campground. I hobble there.


When I make it to the campground there is a group of guys fishing and drinking. I ask them where the actual campsites are. They point “Over yonder”. Thanks. Then they older of the two asks me what I am doing. I tell him I am racing the divide. He says “cool” and slips me five bucks for my trip. Sweet. He asks me how my legs feel. I say, “they hurt”.  He says “No, How do they feel?” “Huh?”  “All of that riding you must have pretty muscular legs.” He  explains to me he used to be in the military and they used to take care of their own. You know, rubbing each other’s legs. I have got to go. I try to brush him off and hobble away quickly as he tries to rub my legs. I can barely stand enough to walk. Sweet baby Jesus don’t make me stab a man. I would have no other option. If you think you would have gotten into a fist fight, I would recommend you go outside and run or bike for a few hours, have someone beat your legs with a stick and then see how much fighting you are doing. I digress. After 15 feet or so of him rubbing my hammies, he gives up  the chase. I  hobble my way to  to the campsites where there is a guy putting up a legit Tepee. It is pretty cool. He says he bought it at a thrift shop just to see if he could get it figured out and set up. I ask him where the pay station is and he offers me a spot of ground on his site. Free of charge. Whew. I set up shop and lay down. It is one of the shortest distance days and hardest days of riding I have had. I fall asleep exhausted.

Hours later I wake up sore and tired. The tent is covered in frost and ice. I don’t want to get out of the tent to pee. So I grab a Gatorade bottle and kneel to pee into it. I am half asleep peeing in the bottle when I feel my thighs getting warm. What is this? OH NO. I am pissing all over myself and my sleeping bag. Crap. I unzip the zipper of the mosquito net, slide my unit out through the hole and pee on the ground under my rain fly. DAMN IT. Well there is nothing I could do to clean or dry it. So I give the sleeping bag a couple hard shakes, climb back in and go to bed.

Read Day 7

Day 7- Tour Divide

Read Day 6

Today is the day. If you make it to day seven and Butte Montana, you are more than likely going to finish the race. I can make it. I can make it. I can make it. I wake up smelling like piss for some reason. I pack my gear, eat some food and hit the road. I have miles to make it to Butte.


The miles are rolling. I have came to terms with having to walk my bike up some of the hills. The idea that I am going to be able to maintain 10 miles per hours is out the window.I am feeling good and the temperatures are warming up. Around midday I make it town and take a photo of the icon Butt Stuff Shop. Giggle.


I casually pedal toward the downtown area and scope out the restaurants. There is a pizza shop that will do just fine. I eat and nap for an hour or so. It is very pleasant. Up until this point I haven’t had any music and all I have is my phone. The hours on the road have been getting lonely. On the way out of town I stop at a gas station to resupply and buy some headphones. The sound of something other than my heavy breathing is nice. Heading out of town there is a cyclist headed toward me. This is a long steep hill that I will not ride twice if I don’t have to.


I stop to make sure I am not headed in the wrong direction. He comes back down the hill to me and he stops and asks if I have seen his glove. Nope. He zooms off back into town. Screw that glove. I would have never went back for a glove. Especially down a hill like this one. I slowly climb and enjoy the view. As I crest the first set of hills I am passed by Brian. He is a TD veteran and is also in the Inspired to Ride movie. His first TD he finished the last 2000 miles or so with a broken wrist. Badass. He chats for a bit. He has been laid up sick with some sort of respiratory problem. He now has a bandana over his face and is trying to keep the dust down. We also chat about Fleecer Ridge. It is coming up and is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. He reminds me how lucky I am to be riding the ridge as the sun is setting. “Once in a lifetime dude”. He pedals off into the distance. Even sick he is one bad brother on a bike.


As my songs shuffle and I enjoy the ride, Mumford and Sons comes on. It breaks my heart. All I can think about is my buddy Flynn. We were supposed to ride this race together. He passed away in an accident a couple years before. I am currently pedaling the Lynksey Frame and lefty fork he purchased for it. I stop and sit on the side of the road sobbing like a baby. I really miss Flynn. He was one of the best men you could ask for as a friend. I remember that I am going to die at some point too. Now I am crying more.


I finally shake the feeling and remind myself that I need to keep pedaling. As I make the climb up the hill the sun is going down. There is a part during the Ride the Divide movie where they show people crashing riding down the trail on the other side of the ridge. I won’t, I am a way better rider than that. As soon as I start the descent, I flip over my handlebars and crash hard. I lay there for a minute or two trying to catch my composure.


When I get up I notice that there is only a few minutes of light left. I am not going to risk flipping again and decide to set up camp. I walk off the trail and across a wide open field to a tree next to a fence. When I get everything settled, I remember we are in bear country. I could hang my food from the tree. Right above my tent. So I do the only thing I could think of. I threw my dry bag full of food out into the field. At least then if a bear came I would hear it eating my food away from my tent and not directly next to it. Sleep comes easily.

Read Day 8

Day 8- Tour Divide

Read Day 7

I wake up and remember that I still have to ride down off of the ridge. I go out into the field and get my food bag and eat as I break down camp. After loading the bike I head back to the trail and get on my way. Quickly the trail gets steep and loose. It is what I am thinking are pieces of slate. It is like tiny ice blocks sitting on top of one another and the hill is as steep as a half pipe. I try to get back behind my seat as far as I can. My seat bag, filled to the brim, prevents this. So I ride it out as long as I can. Which isn’t very long at all if you are wondering. I let go of the handle bars and jump off the side of the bike. I slide and roll and there could have even been a cartwheel in there. I survived. I crawl back up the hill on all fours to retrieve my bike. The rest of the way down, I hold both brakes as tight as I can, dig my heels in like I am in snow, and make the least graceful slide descent you could imagine.


 Back on flatter ground, I get back on my bike and ride into town. The gas station has a pile of breakfast burritos. I grab three of them, fill my bike with all the food I can and go outside to eat and read the maps. One can only assume from the taste that 50 percent of the ingredients in the burrito were salt. They taste like licking a salt packet. I am a problem solver so I go back in and get hot sauce. Problem solved. I choke them down and hit the road. There is actually a very nice inn along the way that offers racers all kinds of wonderful things. Wifi, AC, food and comfy couches. I want nothing to do with it. If I stop I will be there for hours. So I keep on pushing right past it. I am staring the whole time riding by, but I not going to stop. Five minutes down the road a Jeep Cherokee flies up next to me. “Are You Mike?” Confused I say. “Yeah”. “Pull over. I have a message for you” He then proceeds to tell me that he monitors a message board for the race and a that a friend of mine from home asked him to relay a message. Shaner wanted to tell me they were all rooting for me and that I was crushing it. My heart is once again happy. He gives me a couple bottles of water and I am on my way. A little ways down the road I meet Steve. He is actually a pretty cool guy and lives only a few hours from my home town. We chat for a few minutes and he is off into the sunset. I ride this dusty trail for hours.


It is not a busy road by any means but there are steady farm trucks coming from both directions at a regular intervals. That is when it hits me. My need to take a poop goes from 0-100 instantly. There is a log banging on the door full force as I slam on the brakes and for the second time today leap off of my bike. The bike is ghost riding down the road and I am tearing my pants down just in time for a whole turd to fly out of me. It looked like  I flipped a Snickers bar out of my back pocket. I was completely finished. My need to poop goes from 100-0. I get a wipe from my backpack, clean up and get back on the bike. I would estimate the whole chain of events was under 1 minute. Efficiency. Back on the bike I go. I pedal off into the dust horizons. Climb, descend. Climb higher, descend. The rollers are getting higher and higher. It is getting hot out and I need to filter some water. It isn’t as available as it was in Canada and Northern Montana. As I head through a cattle farm (lots of the trails cut right between ranches) I see a nice clean stream running. I stop and take off my pack and get my filter and bottle out to fill up the bladder. I run one cycle through the filter. When I look up the cattle are closer to me. Weird. I take my helmet off and fill the bottle to filter more water. I hear the cattle mooing. I look up and they are walking closer. I start to filter water. Next thing I know there is a cow jumping, I know it sounds crazy, it was jumping around and going wild. The rest of the cattle start mooing and closing in on me. I quick fast and in a hurry, throw the bottle with the filter still attached in my pack, grab my helmet with one hand and bike with the other. The cattle follow me, going nuts all the way to the bottom of a little hill. I drag my bike to the top and look back. They are all standing in the road looking into my soul. I shudder and get my gear back on and ride.


I ride for little longer and then I get to a beautiful decent in between spectacular bluffs. As I cruise down the mountain I am in awe. It is fantastic. Near the bottom and about 20 miles from town I stop because I am out of water. Damn cows. I climb down to the mountain stream and get ready to filter some water. It is right out of a painting. There is even an old man fly fishing. I am trying my best to use the Force mind control trick to get him to invite me to his house for fish chips and beer. He doesn’t. After I get the bladder filled up I roll the rest of the way into town. I have to ride down a paved access road and then under the interstate.


When I get to the other side I can see a gas station, motel and a restaurant. What more could a man want? I go to the motel office to get a room. They are booked. All of the rooms are doubled up already too. Crap. So I head over to eat and make plans. When I walk in, I see the whole gang is there. I eat as much food as I can and there is talk of everyone staying in the park. The town is ok with that. I ask if we could stay out behind the restaurant and use the electric outlets to charge our gear. That isn’t really something they want us to do. A few minutes later, they come back and tell us that we can rent a cabin. The guys are milling it over and I say I will take it. I don’t care how much it costs. I have taken one shower in eight days. Not to mention not taking one after peeing all over myself. All the guys agree they are down to split the costs. So the four of us go over to the 1950’s cabin. We take showers. Number 2. Talk about tomorrow’s ride and all pass out in short order.

Read Day 9

Day 9- Tour Divide

Read Day 8

I wake up and hit the gas station to resupply before hitting the road. It is a few minutes until they opened so I give Alex a call. I am just pedaling through the day. I have the normal aches and pains. As I spin, my legs start to loosen up and I am back in the groove. I am riding alone most of the time now and it becomes a blur of emotions. I am super happy climbing and descending.


I start singing and twerking on my bike. Then I am sad. The only thing I am thinking about is my pedal stroke count. I am counting to 100 over and over. I start dreaming about riding my bike everyday for the rest of my life. I really could do this everyday. I love it.


I am pretty sure I have turned my pedals millions of times to day. I really want to get off my bike and stomp the wheels and never get back on.  As I am thinking of horrible things, I am pull into a campground, pass through a fence and hit some single track. This is more like it. I am not just spinning any more. When I blast out the outside, I hit pavement and turn to get to the next town. I pass a family out hanging around in the yard. They look like they are having a blast relaxing and playing. There are road cyclist out on a ride that pass me with ease and smile. I sit down to eat and take a break.


When I take my bag off it looks odd. Something is missing. I realize that something is my tracker. The only way I can prove I did the race and the only way I can be counted as a finisher. It is GONE! Panic sets in. I turn my phone on and call Alex. She asks me why I have been sitting by a creek for an hour. AN HOUR. My tracker is an hour behind me! I have to go find it. How am I going to find it? I calm down and make a plan. I will have her tell me the general area it is in. I start to pedal back down the route. 45 minutes later I call her again. I ask her for more specfics on where it is. Is it before or after the campground? Is it before or after the bridge. I keep narrowing it down and find it. I have lost an hour and a half. Plus the hour it will take me to get back to where I was. I zip tie the tracker to my seat with 2 zipties and re-attach the velcro strap. It isn’t going anywhere now. I head back out. Now that I make it to the town I was already right next to, I am super bummed. I get to the grocery store and have a craving for bananas. I eat a whole pound of them plus various random food items and a chocolate milk.




Time to hit the rail trail. Everyone has described it as a slow push through deep snow. I am from the Midwest and I am used to snow. Choose a low gear and spin until you are sick of it. Stand up and pedal. Sit and spin. Repeat until complete. I have got this. It was a slow slog for being on flat ground but the views were amazing. I even got to see a moose.


I get near the end of the rail trail where the path smoothed out and it gets tricky. As soon as I could pedal a normal (What is normal on this trip?) pace, the grass is over the handlebar height and the sun is setting. No worries. I click my headlamp on and get to cruising. The trail is running with mountains to the right and cliff that drops a few hundred feet to a river on the left. Pedal smooth and all will be well. I am zipping through the grass when I hit something with just my back tire. Large enough to be a skunk and too small to be a dog. My stomach feeling like it is going to fall out. As I tumbled off my bike into the tall grass all I can think is “I hope I hit the mountain side and don’t shoot over the cliff”. All is well. I get up with just my dignity hurt, retrieve my bike and finish the downhill.


At the bottom the trail cuts down the middle of a camp ground. I don’t have the willpower to push on. I see Steve’s bike. He is already sleeping. He wakes up enough to say that I could share the site. To bed I go, thinking about the hours I lost dropping my tracker. Tomorrow is an other day.

Read Day 10

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