Tour Divide 2019 Update

“Wilderness is a necessity… there must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls…” — John Muir

Today is the Winter Solstice! Most hopeful Tour Divide riders know today is the day to officially send your email to tourdivide@gmail.com with your letter of intent for the coming year’s unofficial Grand Depart! Here is what I sent this morning:

—————-

Greetings 2019 Tour Divide!

I am ALL IN for the 2019 Tour Divide and will once again toe the line in Banff on June 14, 2019 to challenge myself on the Divide.  In 2016 I failed in my rookie attempt coming down with a bad case of tendonitis several days outside of Helena.  Unfortunately that year I flew out of Helena in an immobilizing boot with much greater knowledge about the Divide and how one needs to train for such an epic ride! 

I am mentally and physically prepared to not just RIDE the Divide, but also to tackle the many hike-a-bike sections (something I was completely unprepared for in 2016).  I apologize in advance to any who hear the eclectic music coming from the mini Bluetooth speaker I will be using through areas where the bear population is high (in 2016 my thumb got a bit tired of ringing my handlebar bell).

My goal is simple:  to finish without injury.  I will not fool myself with too much pre-planning on distance or lodging, I know the Divide will quickly destroy those delusions.  I plan to ride as far as I can each day which will vary considerably based on weather, terrain and my own physical and mental limitations. I look forward to finding quiet spots off the trail to pitch my tent and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness when I am ready to stop for the day and enjoy some of the comforts of the towns we pass through, especially the hot meals!

See everyone in June! 

Mike Enfield

————

5 months 24 days until the start of the 2019 Tour Divide!  It is time for an update on my training and overall readiness.  There are four major areas I’m working on:

  • Recovery from 2016 injury (tendonitis in left leg)
  • Weight management (hit an all time high somewhere between 270 and 280 pounds in 2017…ouch)
  • Endurance / overall fitness
  • Logistics

INJURY:  I honestly believe the injury I sustained in 2016 was a direct result of lack of cross training and poor shoe choice.  So, for the past 15 months I’ve been doing a lot of hiking and walking to build up some muscle memory for walking in my legs.  I usually go on a 3-5 mile hike with my dog at lunch, occasionally walk on my tread mill desk for an hour or so in the afternoon at 1.5-2.5mph and go with my wife to the gym in the evening for half an hour on an elliptical machine and half an hour on a treadmill at 3-4 mph with the incline set at 6-10%.  I’ve been building up to 12,000 – 20,000 steps per day.  The tendonitis and plantar fasciitis in my left leg/foot appears to be completely healed.  I haven’t had any pain in several months.  This is great news!

WEIGHT:  I mentioned before that I really let myself go after the 2016 Tour Divide.  I sat on the couch and pretty much super-sized myself reaching a peak somewhere between 270 and 280 pounds, the most I have ever weighed by far. It is amazing how fast weight goes on and how slowly it comes off, especially as you get older.  And it didn’t help that I didn’t change my eating habits from when I was training/riding every day to when I was sitting on the couch super-sizing myself every day. 

In December 2017 I decided to try a Keto diet.  Keto is a moderate-high fat, moderate Protein, low carb diet.  I made great progress from December to June, dropping about 50 pounds on the diet, but took a step backwards in July between a week long vacation and some business travel the other three weeks of the month and put about 9 pounds back on.  Way, way too much beer and wine during vacation and at work social events. 

In August I doubled down on weight management.  I signed up to ride the Tour de Tucson in November to give myself a reason to get back on my bike.  I also signed up for a local gym and scheduled sessions twice a week with a trainer for some high intensity workouts and decided to abstain from alcohol except for a few events (like my niece’s wedding and Thanksgiving) all while still maintaining my 12k-20k daily step goal.  The weight is coming off again and I’m now down under 210.  I set the AZ cross state record when I weighed 205, so this is great progress.  My goal is to get down to 185 for the Tour Divide. 5 months 24 days should be enough to drop that remaining 25 pounds if I stay focused.  I certainly feel better in my clothes and the diet really isn’t that hard to stick with.  Nothing quite like a nice steak smothered with butter sautéed mushrooms!  I’ve also found a really good Chicken and Sausage jambalaya recipe that uses cauliflower rice.  So good.  My wife loves the keto muffins I make (her favorites are lemon poppyseed, pumpkin spice and orange cranberry).

ENDURANCE /FITNESS:  With the decision to ride El Tour de Tucson, I’ve been back on my road bike most days.  Before the temperature dropped into the teens in the morning, I would be on my bike from about 6AM to about 7:30AM on weekdays, putting in 20-30 miles a day during the week and still maintaining my step goal.  Now that it’s frigid in the morning, I’ve been riding my rollers for 30-40 minutes before work.  My riding legs are coming back fast and I was able to complete my first century of the year at the beginning of September, riding from Show Low to Springerville and back (102 miles with 6k feet of cumulative climbing in about 7:30 total time, 6:44 moving time … started in the rain and wound up with three flats).  My sustained power is off by about 40 watts, but improving steadily.

In Early September I did back to back 50 mile rides with about 3k feet of climbing each.  Definitely started to feel good on my bikes again.  In late September I did another century with a big loop to Springerville, but going over the mountain (hitting 9500′ at the top) on my way back to Show Low. There is a 20 mile 2-3% sustained climb (with a few sharper grades) outside of Springerville to get to the top of the mountain.  That tested my climbing legs for sure and I really enjoyed the ~35 mile descent back to Show Low afterwards!

In October and early November I did some 85 mile loops on the road bike going from Show Low to White River to HonDah back to Show Low.  Good climbs along that route and beautiful scenery. 

Just before Thanksgiving I rode El Tour de Tucson and finished in 5:08:20, just off a “platinum” pace.  My goal was not platinum, so I was bundled up at the start with quite a bit of cold weather clothes.  I stopped about 30 miles into the ride to use a port-a-potty, shed the cold weather clothes and get my bottles filled.  I stopped again at about the 70 mile mark to fill bottles again.  I realized at that second stop that I was close to a platinum pace, but I was no longer riding with platinum level riders, so I spent a lot of time on my own bridging between groups.  But El Tour de Tucson proved my legs are back!

My plan is to continue with my daily step goal and put in a lot more base miles (or roller miles) on my road bike between now and January (with the occasional mountain bike ride thrown in).  In January I’ll transition to more mountain biking on a loaded bike and continue my 15k-20k daily step goal.  I’m probably risking some over-training, but I’ll take that risk to be more prepared than I was in 2016.  I know what to expect this time around!

In the Spring I’ll start doing some weekend bikepacking trips. I’ve already started looking at progressively harder routes that should give me some realistic Tour Divide days on the bike.  But overall, I’m pleased with my progress and expect to be significantly more prepared physically than I was in 2016.

LOGISTICS:  I would say I’m ahead of schedule in terms of Logistics.  I have both my flight and hotel in Banff booked and paid for.  I just need to schedule the shuttle from Calgary to Banff (waiting for the discount code to become active).  My wife and I have also been squirrelling away some money to help fund a month on the bike. 

There are a few things I’d like to change about my bikepacking setup to correct some issues I had in 2016.  I’ve purchased a Salsa “Anything” cradle for my “sweetroll” handlebar bag to move it away from my brakes to hopefully avoid the interference I’ve had before.  I’m also considering a lighter sleeping bag.  I tend to be hot when I sleep and wind up throwing the sleeping bag off.  Plus a lighter sleeping bag should pack a bit smaller.  I’ll probably also look for another air mattress that doesn’t take quite so much air.  And I bought a small Bluetooth speaker to stream some music through some of the more secluded areas where the bear population is high.  The only other thing I’m really debating is whether or not to invest in a generator hub wheel for power.  Power was definitely an issue in 2016, but I’m not sure the $1000+ cost for the setup I would want is worth it considering that I don’t plan to spend a significant amount of time riding in the dark.  Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with my setup and won’t be changing too much else.  Of course that could change in the spring when I start doing some shake down trips.

June 14th is going to get here faster than I can imagine, but I believe I’m on track and doing the right things to ensure I will finish the 2019 Tour Divide injury free!  I wonder what unexpected things life will throw at me between now and the start? Hmm…

    Leave a Reply

    You can use these HTML tags

    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

      

      

      

    Solve : *
    17 + 18 =


    *