Tour D’what??

In 1998 the Adventure Cycling Assiciation published the world’s longest off off-pavement cycling route called the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.  The Tour Divide is an unsupported, unsanctioned race that mainly follows the GDMBR route and begins with a “Grand Depart” the second Friday every June.  The route starts in Banff, Canada and primarily follows long dirt roads, jeep trails, some single track and the occasional bit of pavement through the provences of Alberta and British Columbia in Canada before crossing the US border and passing through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to get to the finish at Antelope Wells on the Mexican border.  It covers approximately 2,750 miles with over 200,000 feet of cumulative ascent (like climbing Mount Everest from sea level 7 times).  Details on the Tour Divide can be found at

I first heard about the Tour Divide when a friend rode it several years ago. You are required to use a Spot personal satellite locator with real time tracking enabled to show where you are at on the course. So I was able to follow my friends progress on this epic course and knew I’d have to do it some day. Definitely a bucket list item!

I’ve done a lot of ultra distance road cycling, but had never done any long distance mountain biking, so this would be a new experience for me.  Leonard Zito has the same event on his bucket list and we have been talking about when would be a good time to do it. We tentatively planned to do it in 2016. Preparing for this type of event requires a lot of time, effort and commitment.  And you have to be able to get a full month off of work!

Both Leonard and I changed jobs in 2015 which unfortunately pushed Leonard’s timing for the ride out, but I still wanted to do it. So I started focusing on the training to make it happen.  The job I had didn’t pan out, so I found myself in a position where I needed to make a decision to find another job and try to negotiate a month off right after starting, putting off the Divide or waiting to find a new job until after the Divide.  I was almost at the point of pushing the ride out when my wonderful wife Annette told me I should do it. Luckily we’re in a financial position where I can take a few months off of work. 

Training for the divide has had a huge positive impact on my health and well-being. Riding the Divide is going to be good for me in a very real physical sense.  So the decision has been made. I’ll be looking for a new job sometime in mid to late July. In the meantime, I’ll be on my bike.

My original goal for completion was 25 days (averaging just over 100 miles a day).  But I no longer have a time restriction on me like I would have if I was taking vacation time. So I plan to be more flexible about the time.  People who know me will laugh, but my plan is to take the first week slow, keeping my heart rate below 145 and preferably in the 120-135 range.  I don’t want to start this ride too hard. I really don’t want to be part of the 50% failures!

I’ll be riding a 2015 Niner Air 9 RDO, full rigid (no suspension at all) loaded with Revelate Designs bike packs.  I have a Sweetroll handlebar bag that will contain my stove, cold weather gear, a change of clothes, my tent poles and tent ground cover. Strapped to that is a “Pocket” that will have some food and quick access items like sunscreen, bug spray, first aid kit, etc. My tent is strapped between the pocket and Sweetroll. I also have a pair of Feedbags. One will have quick energy food (bars, gels, gummies). The other will have two 11,000 mah portable power units with short charging cables for my Garmin, cell phone and for recharging the portable power units.

On the frame I have a frame bag that I bought from someone who rode an Air 9 RDO on last year’s Tour Divide (is it good luck to have something on your bike that has already gone the distance?).  The frame bag will have 2.5 liters of water. It will also have a pump, cassette cleaning tool, chain oil and a few miscellaneous other items.  On the top tube is a “gas tank” that will hold my wallet and cell phone, a micro fiber cloth to clean my glasses, and other miscellaneous stuff.  Under the seat is a Jerry can that will have spare batteries, tire repair tools and plugs, a multi-tool and whatever else I can pack into it.

In the back I have a Terrapin dry bag holster with dry bag. It will contain my sleeping bag and pad, a change of everyday clothes, and anything else I don’t want to risk getting wet. The idea when it’s raining is to get my tent setup and unpack the drybag in the dry tent.

I’ll also be wearing a camelbak Mule with a 3 liter water bladder. The camelbak will also be my pantry and hold the majority of my food.

I learned on my ride across the Mogollon Rim to strap a gallon water jug to the front of my bike which would give me a total of over 9 liters of water for the long stretches between water points (I sweat a lot, so I tend to drink a lot).

The ride starts on June 10th and I head to Banff on Wednesday the 8th. You can follow my progress on the Track Leaders website. Rain is in the forecast this week. I’m looking forward to amazing scenery and an absolutely epic ride! Journey On and Live Your Adventure! 👊👍😊

    1 comment to Tour D’what??

    • Galasso

      Go Mike!
      I can’t begin to tell you how awsome i think this is…
      Be well cousin, as i live vicariously thru…u