Fear shifting

Thoughts on the impending Tour Divide race

It’s too late, you said you would do it

That follows pretty much every doubtful thought I have about competing in this year’s Tour Divide race. It’s a big thing to take on, and no doubt I haven’t got a clue how big. Having never been further west than New Jersey and having hardly spent any time in mountains, or wildernesses, I’ll be out of my element. Yet I’ve always yearned to be in these places. I’m also an obsessive person, and when I decide to do something, it has to be big. So I couldn’t just go and spend a few days in the mountains, I had to go and race, unsupported across Canada and the USA.


Organisation, hours and days in the saddle, leathery sit bones, a strong mind, the ability to block pain, these are all things I’ve been working on. I’ve dropped around 20kg of body weight in the last 2 years, my fitness has come on massively, and I feel confident about being able to ride the distance. However, something is still nagging at the back of my mind.

Nightmares about bears and mountain lion encounters don’t help. So I watched seminars about how to behave during a bear encounter, and how to use bear spray properly. That doesn’t mean I’m much better equipped if it really comes to the crunch out in the middle of Montana. At least some knowledge helps with confidence I guess.

Food is another concern. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, that’s not the worry, but I really like to know what I’m eating, and where it came from. I’m going to have to leave these preferences behind, and tuck into some utter crap at times, and indulge when the going’s good.

Navigation shouldn’t be a worry, but my obsessive nature means I want to study every twist and turn, but I can’t, it’s just so massive. There’s just a line to follow, and maps to read, end of.

It all boils down to fear versus rationality. Most of these things are irrational. What are my chances of getting eaten by a mountain lion? Or struck by lightning (it has happened).

Best thing I can do is keep riding, test all the kit, change things that I’m not happy with, then ride more, sleep out more and just get on with life until the big day comes. Fears have to shift aside, it’s actually really exciting.

In terms of the race, realistic goals are being calculated in my mind. I’m not going to shit talk here and say I’ll do it in n days, or beat this person or that person, but I’m hoping to be quick, and competitive. It’s a race, not a tour. I’ll ride as far as I can each day, and start riding when I wake the next morning, that’s all I can promise myself.


Image courtesy of Steve Stevens

You may also like