2019 Tour Divide – Declaration of Intent!

2019 will be the year of redemption! I will once again toe the line in Banff to ride the Divide!

A year and a half to prepare. Will it be enough? I returned from the 2016 Tour Divide broken and disappointed. I was having such a good time on the ride only to have my body fail me. I have to admit it has taken a long time to heal and get motivated again. The tendonitis in my left leg took a while to heal, but really I sat on the couch and became lazy and fat. Seriously.

As I watched the dots during the 2017 run, an idea formed in my head around how to get back. Bold moves would be required. I knew I didn’t train properly for the 2016 run, mainly because I had no idea how to train for this kind of event. Sure, I was on my bike everyday and did the occasional multi-day bikepacking trip, but I did almost no hiking and no real altitude training. It was enough for me to enjoy the ride until tendonitis set in. Why did I get tendonitis? Age? Lack of hiking during training? Poor shoe choice? Poor nutrition? Who knows, but it killed my ride.

So what to do differently should I decide to try again? Definitely more hiking. Better shoes. Lots of training at altitude… hmmmm… bear with me while I ramble a bit…

During the 2017 Tour Divide, Annette and I were in the process of selling our home in Mesa. It was in a gated community and living there just didn’t meet our expectations (and with 2 kids in college, we really got tired of the expense). After selling, we had originally intended on renting a place in Mesa for a year while we looked for our ‘ideal’ home. Unfortunately it was taking way longer than we expected to unload the place.

We owned a vacation home in Show Low, AZ for about 5 years, but sold it when cash flow got tight after our daughter started college. We loved our time in Show Low. We mostly hung out at the ‘chalet’ but I did get the occasional mountain bike ride in. I’ve also done several brevets on the road bike in the area. I had even ridden my road bike from Mesa to Show Low.

So the idea that popped into my head was that Show Low would be ideal training ground for my next Tour Divide attempt. It sits at over 6000 feet with mountains reaching 10,000 feet close by. The temp rarely gets over 100 degrees, so training in the summer wouldn’t be as hard. 100s of miles of mountain bike single and double track just outside of town. My brother and sister-in-law live there. Ideal.

I mostly work from home with my job. I do have a desk at my customer’s offices and would go in a couple times a week, but really just to check in with people, not because the job requires it to actually do work. So I didn’t see an issue with making the move for my job. So I floated the idea of moving to Show Low past Annette. She was immediately on-board with the idea! Yes! In fact, she was so on-board with the idea that she gave her notice at the elementary school in Mesa and lined up a teaching position at an elementary school in Show Low … before we had the house sold in Mesa or had found a new home in Show Low. Pressure was suddenly on to make the move (and let my boss know).

So I scheduled a 1:1 with my boss to discuss it (remember at this point Annette had already lined up a new job…this move WAS happening). My boss talked to his boss and they were ok with it as long as I was able to visit my customer in Scottsdale a couple times a month and my customer was ok with it. My customer was not ok with it. Dunno why, but the job became iffy. I let my boss know the move was happening either way and mentally prepared myself to do some remote-based job hunting (check http://remote.com if you are interested in working from home).

Annette and I are very similar in terms of what we like in a home. We spent a day with a realtor looking at a short list of homes that I had come up with from researching on Zillow. One house stood out from the others. And when we looked at it, we knew we had found our next (and hopefully last) home. It sits right at 6500 feet. Natural, low maintenance landscaping and exterior. Great kitchen and a lot of room in general. Done. Luckily we received an accepted an offer on our house in Mesa within a few weeks of making the offer on the house in Show Low.

The house is perfectly situated for easy forest access which is right at the end of the street. I’ve explored a good portion of the forest and have found some great little 3.3 mile loops along game trails/single track that I walk daily during my lunch break.

Unfortunately the tendonitis in my left leg turned into Plantar Fasciitis. You would not believe the amount of pain in your heal and bottom of your foot unless you have experienced this yourself. The pain is worse the longer you are idle. I could do the 3+ mile walk with some discomfort, but no real pain. But if I sat for any extended time, Pain would flare as soon as I put weight on that foot. It has taken a REALLY long time for the pain level to come down.

I optimistically thought 2018 would be the year to try the Tour Divide again, but I’ve gained a lot of weight and there’s no way I’ll be able to lose it and train for the Divide (not to mention getting through some unexpected expenses). I’ve been doing that 3+ mile walk damn near every day since we made the move to Show Low in August, but my weight hadn’t come down at all. If anything it has gone up. So I’ve also decided I need to change my diet and have done quite a bit of research. I’ve dieted before, but the weight keeps coming back. I wanted to try something different. The answer? Keto. Keto is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. The idea is to teach your body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose (sugar). I’ve been on the Keto diet for about 2 weeks and have been super impressed with the results so far and not just around weight loss (I didn’t step on a scale prior to starting so I have no idea how much weight has come off so far).

I was in tight size 40 work pants and was close to needing size 42. I went to Scottsdale yesterday and those size 40’s are now loose. Can’t get into 38’s yet, but I can tell I’m headed in that direction. I’ve been wearing a Garmin Vivoactive3 to bed and my “deep” sleep has increased from about an hour and a half a night to over 3 hours a night. I also wasn’t able to sleep on my back without getting really congested. The congestion is gone. And I’m not nearly as gassy as I was. The diet really isn’t that hard to stay on, but when you see fast results it makes it easier for sure!

We’ve been in Show Low for several months and my customer has accepted that I work remote now. I still visit them a couple times a month (which also allows me to make a couple Costco runs), but the job feels secure again.

Now I need to break the news to them (and my boss) that in June 2019 I’ll be taking a month off to Ride the Divide!

    1 comment to 2019 Tour Divide – Declaration of Intent!

    • Ken olson

      Mike. His is Ken Olson and I also live in Arizona. I attempted the divide in 2018 and got tendinitis in my left knee. In the back of the knee. Not even in the capsule of the knee. I’m rehabbed now and training again for the TD 2019. I’ll be there again as I already purchased my flight. I excited having done this and now ready to make it all the way this year. I train all the time and am doing some strength work in addition. Get in touch with me and I can go over some things to get ready for this. Reply then I’ll know we can communicate. Talk soon