A few weeks ago Bikepacker UK kindly wrote a post about me entitled 'A not so Rookie rider'. ( the post can be found at http://bikepackeruk.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/a-not-so-rookie-rider.html?m=1) So firstly a big thank you to them for the shout out and please check out their page if you can and give it a 'like'!
But it got me to thinking... a lot and with 2 weeks till the Grand Depart (GD) of the Tour Divide (TD) and 4 weeks till I fly out and chase the other riders down the trail .. I am probably overthinking.
A friend (who also happens to be riding the TD .. only on the GD) said that he underestimates the difficulties and overestimates his ability .. which is what got him into this CraZy ride to start with and I wonder if a) Im guilty of that too and b) does it matter (there goes the overestimating again).
As Bikepacker UK rightly pointed out... im not a Rookie to this long distance thing. All my rides have been self supported and I have always carried all my kit... although I have finessed the art of travelling light... BUT and this is a BIG BUT... The TD is not just any ride. Super tough... super isolated.
The bike and kit are sorted bar the shouting... the logistics are in place... all that is ready for me to turn up and pedal but will my legs and body follow through on the cheques my big mouth has written.??
My training has been patchy at best due to work and charity commitments and in June before I leave I think I will be able to fit in 1 bike ride... 1!! I will be exercising in the guise of the 'By Your Side Walk'... some of which I am able to do in between my numerous night shifts. Not only the general exercise but good training for the sleep deprivation I will encounter. This means that my legs may not be 'bike fit'! So once again it will be a case of Suffer and see 😁
To be fair... Ive never been good at training...I get bored of the same routes.
The bonus of this is that I certainly will be eager to get on my bike when I get to Banff and my mind will be fresh and ready to explore new terrain ... but more of that in a minute.
The other problem... going back to the overestimation thing... is that I have little to prove. I dont mean that in a big headed way... only that I am quietly confident... probably too much so (back to the underestimation thing). I know for sure that I can keep going day after day. Last time in New Zealand I rode myself through a chest infection which was not easy but there was no choice... or rather I gave myself no choice. And that I guess is where the non-rookie status comes in.
However this sort of thing usually comes back to bite me in the arse (yup we are talking about my beeehind again)... almost literally on some days where it is too painful to sit on my saddle for more than 5 mins (2 cheek shuffle time!).
I have sat in the rain... on a climb... in the pouring rain... and cried at my apparent weakness... I have sweated into 60mph headwinds for hours at a time with the tumbleweed flying straight at me and I have shouted at the Thunderstorms as they chase me across the plains. But yet I have peddled on... why??
The closer I get to any challenge and my avowed aim to see if I find my breaking point... the more the fear sets in... I just want to go ... Now! I know that as soon as I start peddling.. the fear will dissapate into a simple life and mind ... eat... sleep... navigate... ride.
The basics of life... surrounded by majestic scenery and breathing unspoilt air. It is these things that propel me on.
Best laid plans however... today we found out that the route... so carefully studied... has been altered (due to bridge repairs)... throwing out any plans for day 1... forcing me to throw out plan A (already) and start my flexibility early. The new section looks even tougher than the original and bypasses a planned stop. Oh well! Never has Go With The CraZy been more relevant!!
All this will add to the excitement... the fear... the wonder... the challenge. We (TD 2017 riders) are embracing the unknown... eshcewing the well worn path and opening our minds to something new.
At least thats what Im telling myself now.
Standing on the opposite shoulder to the overconfident angel is the annoying devil... whispering quietly in my ear "you're not going to make it past Day2" he says.
And I may well not... A Tour Divide Rookie I certainly am!! Facing me are all the unknowns... the weather... the climbs... the decents.. the backcountry bivvy.. the wildlife (yup those damn bears again!!)
Will the mind be stronger than my body?? Will my body break down despite the shouting of my mind... or will my mind give up 'without a fight'?
I am sure however... that watching me try to reach Antelope Wells will be bloody entertaining for my friends and family. There wont be many 'A to B where nothing happened days' for sure.
And here is why im glad of that....
The more entertaining my ride is ... the more money I hope to raise for Love Hope Strength Foundation. Inspired by Mike and now Jules' fights against Cancer... my suffering on the trail is well and truly put into perspective. NOTHING I will face will even come close but if I can raise a few £ and awareness for the charity and the LHS family then the pain will be well won.
Love Hope Strength Foundation raises money for and awareness of blood cancer and we swab people at gigs and festivals to recruit them for the bone marrow donor registry. We have Saved Lives One Concert At A Time and I am proud to be a part of it. Through the fundraising LHS has donated to a hospice in Scotland... built a children's cancer hospital in Africa... donated equipment to the hospital in Kathmandu and supported cancer care in North Wales... to name a few projects.
(Go to www.lovehopestrength.co.uk to find out more about LHS)
And so I will peddle hard.. and far.. and to the edge and beyond to try and entertain and raise money for the cause. If you feel able to donate please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/OneChallengeAtATime
Like many people I have loved and lost to cancer and the space in my soul is still there but the Phoenix flies high urging me onwards... away from sorrow.. to make the most of 'Time'.
I will never give in
Without A Fight!
Ways to Follow the journey:
Trackleaders (race dot watching): http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide17f.php
SPOT shared page (my own tracker page)