My Race Story and Photos

See the following pages for “My Brutal but Beautiful Tour Divide Race” article for the Cordillera and Photos with slideshow text.

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Greg Rides The Divide — The brutal but beautiful Tour Divide race — in 28.2 days!!!

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Finished 2,859 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing in 28.2 days (6/14/2013 8:00 AM to 07/12/13 12:08 PM), averaging 101 miles per day. Finished 64th of 144 starters (mass and itt). Currently 55 have scratched. Thanks to everyone’s prayers my bike, body and mind held together enough to complete this incredible “brutal but beautiful” Tour Divide race. I had to replace my bike’s rear tire about half way due to some rock cuts. I also replaced the chain at the same time. Thirty miles from the finish the left peddle bearing disintegrated and it came off the spindle…but I was able to use inward force to keep it on the spindle while I peddled to the finish. My right ankle has been swollen and painful with Achilles tendinitis since day 2…but ibuprofen kept the swelling and pain in check…ibuprofen also kept the pain in my ass in check too :-).

Huge shout out to my family of supporters, for your prayers and support gave me the energy to complete this “brutal but beautiful” Tour Divide race. Special thanks to my Annike and Merike for their GregRidesTheDivide.wordpress.com blogging and their words of encouragement on our occasional phone calls.

Huge shout out to all my friends and supporters (including people who I met literally on the trail) who donated $3,425 (or 17 x $150 bikes) for Bikes Without Borders, that provides a bicycle to a health care worker in Africa, so they can reach many more patients! When I get home I’m looking forward to emailing you all a big thank-you.

Huge shout out to all the other TD riders who I met and shared this brutal but beautiful ride with…including Richard, Brian, Val, Rick, Mike, and many more.

A very special thank you to all the trail angels (met and anonymous) along the way that helped me with place to stay, a bottle of water (five actually left on the road for me and four other riders), a sign beside the road with my name and some other racers saying “way to go”, a women who gave me dinner and sang O Canada on July 1st, a 4×4 driver who gave me some bug spray on a slow tough rocky road climb where I was being eaten my mosquitoes, a wife who got me ibuprofen while her husband added a bungee cord to hold my water bottle…and many more acts of kindness.

Special thanks to my main sponsor Cyclepath Oakville (the best bike shop on the planet) and also to Altum Health, BMO Guardian Finds, Luxaire, Schwable, eLoad, Cameron’s Brewing, and Netinstinct.

The night before I finished Mike Cleaver (friend I had ridden several days with and thought was ahead of me) arrived late at the general trading store where I had decided to spend the last night on their porch before riding the 75 miles to the Antelope Wells Mexico border crossing. We had a mini bottle of tequila each and went to bed on benches (attached photo) so the tarantulas (attached photo) and scorpions wouldn’t get us. Big lightening storms were all around and the noise from the highway and railroad lasted all night. Around 3am I noticed that yesterday’s north tail wind had changed to a very strong south headwind, which would make for a very tough day of riding. Luckily when we started riding the last 75 miles to the Antelope Wells border the wind had shifted to a north tailwind and we did 15-20 mph all the way. About 30 miles from the border my left peddle broke and came off the spindle (attached photo), so I had to carefully ride pressing the peddle in on the spindle. Local Roger Payne who I had arranged pickup with met us at 25 miles with pop and took our cameras for the finish photos (attached photo). The senior border patrol guard who has lived at the base for the last several years gave us an ice cream bar and candy (a tradition he started). Mike brought out a bottle of champagne he had in his bag on dry ice…but due to police regulations we had to wait until we were back at our hotel in Lordsburg before enjoying it. Staying here tonight. Bought some clothes at the local dollar store. Had a great dinner that we didn’t have to wolf down so we could be riding again. Tomorrow I will take the 10:30am greyhound bus to Phoenix, where Annike has arrange for me to stay Saturday, Sunday and Monday with Hilja (Holpus) and Steve Martinis (Anneli’s and Viive’s Estonian friends). Hilja already called me and I’m looking forward to relaxing in their hospitality.

Here’s the link to my Tour Divide photos. I could have finished this race sooner if I didn’t take any photos, but I think you’ll agree after seeing the them that the photo stops were worth it :-) .  I’ll post a blog when I’ve finished organizing and adding captions to the photos.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0Byo54po7547VN094dkJsb0hiMjg&usp=sharing

 

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FINISHED!!!!

Still haven’t heard from Greg yet, but the spot tracker shows he has NOW COMPLETED THIS INCREDIBLE AND CHALLENGING ADVENTURE!! GOOOOO GREG!!!!
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Counting down to the FINISH LINE!!!

How far you’ve come…
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And as you race towards the finish line…
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KNOW WE ARE ALL THERE IN SPIRIT CHEERING YOU ON AS YOU COME AROUND THE LAST BEND!!! INCREDIBLE!!!!

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ALMOST THERE!

It’s Annike writing (again, disclaimer: Merike and Annike, Greg’s daughters, have been blogging throughout his race, ‘transcribing’ his sporadic calls and texts and posting his photos on behalf of him) and I have exciting news to announce – my dad *WILL* be finishing the race tomorrow. There were concerns earlier on that he was behind his original goal, and even as of a few days ago, talk of maybe having to reschedule his flight home, BUT he left those concerns in his path of trail dust and dirt and proved to us that come hell or high water (though let’s all pray for no rain, or rather, r**n as he writes the ‘four letter word’, for his last stretch) he is finishing this race …TOMORROW!
Yesterday, after having camped out in the open the night before, with winds so strong it felt the tent would nearly be blown away, he biked 130 miles, (nearly 10 extra because he went off course…) to arrive in the the much anticipated namesake Pie Town, where he stayed in “Toaster House” (photo is self explanatory) – a unique place welcoming backpackers and cyclists, and to Greg’s delight, well stocked with lots of food, most notably, pies!  His dinner and pack-away food for today, that fueled him through 120 miles of biking was hotdogs with nutella (I’m not surprised – my dad eats anything!), boiled eggs, and 5 pieces of apple pie.  
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Tonight he sent an email, probably the last while he’s still on the ride, with the following:
Rode about 120m today to Separ which has a single trading post style store and nothing else. Only 70m to Antelope Wells Mexico border and the finish of this “brutal but beautiful” Tour Divide race. Have arranged pickup from border, bike shipping, and grey hound to Pheonix for flight home on Tuesday or sooner if i can change it. After listening to other riders voice concerns about camping out close to mexico border have decided to sleep on porch of the trading post. 

Will probably sleep on bench off the ground after seeing a tarantula at the store by my bike. Also to avoid the potentially deadly brown scorpion and snakes. Will email and call you all tomorrow after finishing.” 
All four food groups, right?
I’ve told him to promise to call into MTBCast like the other riders have with a “finishing call”, so I’ll be sure to post it when he does.

SWEET LAST STRETCH TOMORROW, DAD – *ONLY* 70 miles left – CAN’T WAIT TO CELEBRATE WITH YOU BACK IN TORONTO! 

 
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Just a couple more days to the finish line…Keep your fingers crossed folks!

To hear a bit about what a regular day in this crazy adventure has been like listen to some of my fellow riders HERE.

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New day, New Mexico!

New day, New Mexico!

Rode late into Friday night, slept out in a field. Huge, huge climbs the following day – the largest I’ve done (I know I said that before, but this time was a climb of 5000 ft to a total of 11,900 ft!) – didn’t help that the road was gravel most of the way, not too gentle on the backside…
Crossed into New Mexico on Saturday, and did a climb in the pouring rain, totally soaked and pretty cold but the sun finally came out.
Pretty interesting at this point to see that there are more riders who have “scratched” (53) than those that are still trucking (45) – or trailing, rather, and exactly the same number of racers that have finished (45).  Even steven!  I can empathize with the riders who decided to call it a day, this ride is far tougher than I ever imagined.  And I’ve put up with much more pain and physical discomfort than I anticipated.  Besides physically, mentally, it’s the biggest test of my life!
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One more day riding the divide = one less day away from the finish line!

Yesterday I departed Salida after a hearty breakfast.  Climbed 4000 ft over Marshal Pass (10, 842 ft.) A big lunch in Sargents. And camped out in the Canyon in Rio Grand National Park with Milk Cleaver who I rode with most of the day for a grand total of 109 miles. Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in US to the Gulf of Mexico, forming the Mexican-US border along the way. The target tonight is Plata. 

And…WOW…THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU all of you, for contributing to BWB — 
Highlight of my day was finding that we met (and went beyond) the $3000 goal!!!

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Rocky Mountain Climbing in Colorado

Shorter but still very tough day with two hard climbs, one almost 10,000 feet! Exhausted today and have been climbing at a walking pace. Staying at rustic Crooked Creek Ranch in shared cabin with other riders. Tomorrow about 100m to Pinedale god and body willing  🙂

By the way, this is now Greg’s daughter, Annike, and I am thrilled to say, that I just checked in on the Bikes without Borders donations page and it has reached, no SURPASSED!, the $3000 goal!!!  My dad’s fast asleep so he doesn’t yet know about the latest donations but he’ll find out tomorrow and I have no doubt he’ll be absolutely overjoyed, and the news will give him an extra push in this last stretch to help him keep going.  Your generosity and moral support is what gets him up those climbs, what keeps his spirits up in the less than fun stuff, like tendonitis & nosebleeds  ^_^  Knowing that no matter what his final mileage, final end point, final place in the race is – 150 bikes will be put to use to save lives, is a cause that is far greater and pivotal to many more lives than the experience of the race is to my dad. That said, Tour Divide has been and continues to be an epic adventure, and will no doubt go down as the bike ride of a lifetime for him.

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Update from Colorado – nearly 3000 kilometers!

On day 18 of this crazy race I can count the following numbers:

1 exhausted bike rider (me)

10+ pounds lost 

1 pair of broken glasses (mine, after sitting on them in the middle of the night in the dark)

31 bike racers who’ve had to pull out of the race for various reasons

2 nosebleeds

1 achilles tendon injury

1680 miles/2703 kilometers

2 Canadian provinces & 3 U.S. states

And too many to count of the following

  • Helpful and friendly people in mostly tiny towns
  • Incredibly difficult ascents and incredibly awesome descents
  • Amazing co-riders who help keep me sane after frequent extended stretches of solo riding where the only life I see might be a bear or cow in the distance
  • Multiple “Trail Angels” – those individuals who support the racers year after year as they roll through their mining towns, small post offices, community centers, motels and restaurants…at one town I road down a hill to see my name someone had written on a sign to welcome the riders which was awesome! 😉

Throughout all of this I keep trucking on, just trying to continue to pedal no matter the speed and continue to be awestruck by the land I’ve been riding through. And along the way I’ve stopped now again too to take some pictures…check them out below!

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Many, many thanks to those who have contributed to my goal of $3000 raised for Bikes without Borders – and if you haven’t already contributed please consider donating to help support health care workers in Africa! Click here to donate and wish me luck for the next 1000 kilometers 😉

 

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