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,



chatty cathy said...

wow i musta read evrything u wrote cause i knew all that kent

Bob said...

Hi Kent,

Nice summary.

"If something is part of my secret, race-strategy I may keep mum or be cagey in my answer..."

So, competitiveness does enter into the equation and the sly old fox isn't going to give an edge to the youngsters if he can help it!


Unknown said...

Man 'o man alive! Quoting from TGL - The Dude! I know I'm in the right place now for sure!

Excuse me while I go have a White Russian and contemplate this!

- Zeke

Anonymous said...

Why not do it fixed? You would probably be the one able to do it, and be the first ever to do so.
Breaking the SS record would be difficult.
Do it fixed! Be the first! Do it for us readers!

Kent Peterson said...

Deanna Adams pretty much did it fixed last year. She got DQ'd for an inadvertent course deviation. Matt, Rudy, Dave and others have taken a shot at fixed and I'm sure somebody will do it unasterisked.

But I like coasting in the mountains. And as for "breaking the SS would be difficult..." I don't think anybody takes on the Divide because it's easy. We chose our challenges. I'm sticking with doing some coasting this time.

riviera maya wedding said...

Its been a pleasure to read hear from you always. I wonder how much strength it requires to complete the tour. Certainly I'm not the one who can do this. That is why I am fan of this.

Robert H said...

Question: Shouldn't you just drive it? It would be easier!

Question: How many Payday bars will you have on hand?

Unknown said...

Hi Kent,
How much do sleep on a race like this? I can see going deep into sleep-debt on an 80 hour randonee, but working that hard for that many days must mean some serious sleep need.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by the interpretation of one rule: 3a, where it states "no collaboration on equipment or supplies."
Please clarify; does that just mean no team gear splitting (i.e. two riders travel together, one carries the tent and sleeping bags, the other carries food and cooking gear), or does that literally mean you're not allowed to spare someone a patch if they've run short of tubes.

I read about the Tour Divide last year, and it sounded like you weren't even allowed to assist fellow competitors, which seems kinda mean-spirited in an event such as that. Although, I don't race; I only ride brevets, so lending a hand is just understood to be the polite thing to do. The TD *is* a race after all, so maybe a sympathetic look is all somebody gets as you roll past 'em.

Bob said...

Hi cliftongk1,

Not to butt in on Kent's space (which I guess I am), but I wrote to Matthew Lee about this a time or 2. Here are his responses:

"as for the hotels sharing, tube sharing, tools, etc., that's allowed as long as not preplanned. each racer must carry their own separate kit."

"the short answer is that "third party" refers to non-participants and does not include fellow racers. racers can shadow each other both for navigation (if they so desire) and for lighting (in the event of light/battery failure)."


Anonymous said...

"I don't train, I practice."

Well, yeah. Exactly.

Riding a bike IS sort of like playing an instrument, at least on the better days.