Thursday marked two weeks since I finished the Tour Divide. Fourteen days had passed in what felt like an instant in comparison to the twenty days spent on the Divide. There is something to be said about waking each day before the first rays of sun have crept over the horizon; pedalling, eating, and walking your bike for fourteen hours until it sets, then riding for a few more hours before bedding down. Bedding down makes it sound so nice. Crawling into a festering pit of stench and moist kit is more realistic. Unless you’re lucky and are sleeping in a Montana Hilton – read: enclosed pit toilet for translation. Luxury.
The Divide was a place I’d wanted to visit for years. I still do. Every day since my return my brain thinks of the open spaces. The solitude. The lack of any distraction accept riding a bike, eating some food, finding more food, watching the weather, and grabbing some sleep. Simplicity at it’s best, until it suddenly is not.
Simplicity can be removed by happenstance – a mechanical, a crash, a bear deciding you look like a tasty treat. Or the removal of simplicity can be self imposed – choosing to divert off route, riding with others, hanging around long enough that people try to talk to you – note ‘try.’ Mostly you’ll sound like a gibbering fool.
For me, the Divide was a place that was full of choices, too many, not quite as simple as I wanted, mostly due to the latter form of self-implicated removal of simplicity. But does it need to be that way? Could it have been just ride-eat-water-sleep? Probably not. For me anyway, the reality of being a pack animal (admittedly a well-trained one) is that I seek out the contact of others. Chatting with this years Divide winner Mike Hall the other day, this does not appear to be the same for all of us. Some of us can wear this profile like a glove and live the life that it demands for fourteen hard and fast days.
We may not be aware of it, and we may like to think we are Lone Wolves streaking across Wyoming – but the reality is that you’re probably part of a pack. I certainly found that I was. One that is watching you from afar, knowing your moves and waiting to make contact with you. Why not run with that pack? Howl at the moon. Tear apart the prey. Relent to what you really are. It may be the easiest option in the long term. Not the fastest. But there is certainly time to come back and to move up to the front of the pack.
Beer of the Week
Cutthroat Pale Ale ABV 4%
“Cutthroat Pale Ale is a Utah classic. Brewed with caramel malts and piney American hops, our flagship beer goes well with anywhere.”
I rode an overly niche bike of the same name down the Divide and I figured it was a moment of Karma when I saw this in the drinks cooler at the supermarket in Moab after the Divide. One for you good bike, one for me…well ok, maybe a few for me. I deserve it. Don’t I?