Monday, January 25, 2010

Tour Divide: Frequently Asked Questions

While I have a small (but growing!) group of folks who have read every damn word I've blasted onto this blog over the past 5+ years, many of my readers are people who stumble here via Google or some other search engine. I think Walter said it best in The Big Lebowski:
"So you have no frame of reference, Donny. You're like a child who wanders in in the middle of a movie and wants to know..."
Lacking the frame of reference, questions arise. Often, the same questions, over and over. Many of those questions have to do with my racing the Tour Divide this year, so I decided to create this little list of questions and answers. It should prove handy to at least a few of you.

Q: What is the Tour Divide?

A: A one stage, 2745 mile self-supported mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta to the northern border of Mexico along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Details at:

Q: Who are you?

A: I'm probably not the best person to answer that. Back when I launched this blog, I wrote an introduction here. Much of it still holds true.

Q: Why are you racing the Tour Divide?

A: The best answer to that is here.

Q: Didn't you do this before?

A: Sort of. In 2005, I was the first person to complete the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race on a single-speed bike. I wrote the story of that trip in a Dirt Rag article and an online book called The Way of the Mountain Turtle.

Q: What bike are you riding?

A: A Redline Monocog Flight, courtesy of the wonderful folks at SBS. Details here and here.

Q: Why a single-speed?

A: I don't have good enough balance to do the Tour Divide on a unicycle! Seriously, I prefer single-speeds.

Q: What gear ratio are you running?

A: Probably a 32*18. I ran 32*17 on my 26"-wheeled Monocog in '05 and Chris Plesko ran 32*17 on his record setting Tour Divide Race last year (he rode a 29er). I rode the first 6 months with a 32*17 on my Flight, but I recently knocked the gearing down to 32*18 and my overall speed actually went up! The slightly lower gearing lets me spin a bit more.

Q: How are you going to carry stuff?

A: My main luggage is a home-brew coroplast trunk and a small stuff bag up front. Details here. Aside from making stronger stays for the trunk and getting a slightly bigger wedge bag in the frame, the kit is pretty well dialed in. The contents of the front stuff bag are detailed here. I also talk some about gear in an earlier post here.

Q: How do you train for something like the Tour Divide?

A: I don't train, I practice. Details here. A couple of ride reports from practice runs are here and here.

Q: What kind of food do you eat on long rides?

A: As I have said repeatedly, I am not a nutritional role model. That said, I queried a bunch of other long-distance cyclists and the result is this article.

Q: What about water?

A: Various Divide racers use filters, tablets, etc. My current plan is outlined here.

Q: How can you afford to race the Tour Divide?

A: I get by with a lot of help from my friends.

Q: My question isn't on your list.

A: That's not a question! But if you have a question that you don't see answered here, first use the search function on the blog, I may have covered your question in the past (I've written thousands of words about lights, for example). If you come up empty, it may be something I'm still figuring out or I may just not have gotten around to writing about it. If so, email me (kentsbike [at] gmail [dot] com). I can't promise I'll respond (it's amazing how damn much email I get!) but I'll try. A lot of blog posts come as a result of questions. If something is part of my secret, race-strategy I may keep mum or be cagey in my answer, but I try to be a pretty open guy.


OK, that's it for now. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates and keep 'em rolling,

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