This winter I’ve rediscovered many things, like the value of taking nothing for granted and appreciating what you have one day at a time. Watching your daily routine suddenly vanish overnight can do that. It also lets you refocus your attentions on pursuits that get pushed to the bottom of our “to do” drawers. Plus with age comes a natural rethinking of ‘bucket’ lists. Throw in a big pinch of idle time and you have a recipe for something crazy, unorthodox, perhaps downright wacky.
Before drifting too far off point here let me be blunt: I am seeking to separate you from some of that hard earned cash you have in your pocket. Not a lot mind you. In return I’m promising to provide those who opt to come along, plenty of real life entertainment and of course laughter. So read on at your own risk. I take no ownership if suddenly you find yourself doing something irrational in your own life.
This past December I learned that the father of one of my UNH skaters was beginning preparations for something called the “Tour Divide”. I’d never heard of it. Unless you have a few loose screws, I’m guessing you haven’t either.
Following many hours of online research the magnitude of his latest undertaking took hold. The Tour Divide is an annual ‘race’ that starts on the morning of June 14th in front of the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff Alberta and ends in Antelope Wells, a dusty border town lying along the New Mexico and Mexican border.
Participants, if you choose to call them that, must navigate their way in a self supported ultra cycling challenge covering 2,745 miles, along the longest off road mountain bike route in the world. Surfaces range from pavement, good gravel fire roads, four wheeler roads, single-track paths and old railroad beds. No support is provided. There are no race organizers or official checkpoints until you finish in Antelope Wells. That is, if you finish. Here’s the on site description of this event:
Divide racers must not only be conditioned to endure weeks of consecutive 16+ hour days in the saddle, they need to bring other skills to the trail.
The route is unmarked and circuitous, requiring navigational acumen. It travels through remote backcountry with Grizzly and Mountain Lion density. Intervals between services are frequently 100+ miles and demand calculated food/water resupply–or else. Riders must also find shelter each night or bivouac trailside. In minutes the Rockies’ dynamic mountain weather can wreak havoc on route surfaces, skewing even the most near-term travel projections.
After several weeks of back and forth contemplation, I realized that this was something I wanted to do. Why? I can’t put it into words. If you’ve read this far, you likely know me. You’ll just have to take me at my word. Adventure, risk, unpredictable outcome, challenge, perspective, escape, foolishness, testing ones limits, fear of getting old, or insanity. Pick one and you’re likely to be half right.
After deciding to participate, I took a page out of my riding partner’s book. This would only be worthwhile if I turned it into a “win – win” affair. I thought long and hard about making this about giving back to something valuable and worthwhile. I picked a charitable cause that I wanted to ride in support of, something that would elevate this challenge beyond a typical adventure pursuit. In keeping with my life’s passion, I wanted it to be about kids. I’m riding in support of Best Buddies, a non- profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for one on one friendships and leadership development for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Every summer my close friend and Dartmouth classmate Mark Berthiaume organizes a large team to participate in the Boston to Hyannis Port Century, raising funds for this wonderful organization. If you’re a New England native you likely know Best Buddies from the many ads featuring Tom Brady, the official spokesperson for the event.
Karen and I will be riding from Boston to Hyannis in the annual Best Buddies Century on May 31st. I’m asking for your support via the link below. I’ve chosen as my Best Buddies identifying name: Brian4TD. My goal is to raise $27,450 or $10 for every mile in the Tour Divide. The May 31st Century will be a warm up for what is to follow two weeks later on June 14th. Here is the link to Karen’s and my donation page:
In return, I am pledging to entertain you! I’m set up to file a nightly Blog report from the spine of the Rocky Mountains as we pedal our way south towards Mexico. The Blog address: TwoWackyCanadianOnThe TourDivide. You can click on this link to subscribe and get notifications every time I post:
We have set our magic number of 25 days to complete this epic ride. That’s almost a full month of non-stop saddle sores, bear escapes, flat tires and hail storm reports to entertain you nightly while sipping margaritas from the porch of your summer cabana. Hell that’s better than the nightly Sochi updates since there’ll be no cheating to see if we made it past Grizzly Adams via the web! My beautiful 10-year-old daughter is beginning to think I’m clairvoyant for picking the gold medal winners each night with staggering accuracy!
I hope you will join me in supporting this great cause and sharing what portends to be an epic of comic and humbling proportions. There won’t be any media filters in play here shaping our message. Just the facts as we learn the real meaning of the phrase “roughing it”. Onward.