I’m becoming used to conversations with Luke about Tour Divide and what it will take to finish it. Its all theoretical for me, since I’ll be following his progress from the comfortable chair at my desk, but for Luke its becoming a question of survival. For example, tent vs. Bivy sack. I couldn’t imagine sleeping in a waterproof bag night after night, but Luke was seriously thinking about taking a bivy over a tent since it would be easier to pack.
Luke’s preparation could be broken down into 2 distinct areas, body and gear. He began his body training about 8 months ago when he started pursuing longer rides over fast rides. Over the fall and winter this has morphed into weighted down endurance rides on hilly gravel roads in awful conditions, usually around 50-60 miles, and often times after a 12 hour shift. Now that he’s down to 3 months he’s planning on putting in some consecutive 100 plus days in similar conditions.
He has avoided any sort of “structured training” such as the intervals recommended by our local racing guru. He has become somewhat worried about the extend of his training. Many of those who have been blogging about their Tour Divide preparation have hired coaches and done extensive structured training. One rider even commented on how his coach banned music while training because it would take his mind off his pedal stroke.
As both Luke’s technical adviser and secondary coach I have told him not to worry about those dorks and continue riding. I recommended he strap more weight on his bike and ankle weights on his legs. I keep reminding him how Rocky trained to fight Ivan Drago, he didn’t rely on the man and his machines, he got country strong by running in the snow and lifting heavy rocks.
Now just as important as training your body is the logistical preparation to complete the Divide. Luke has pretty much wore every part on his bike out in the last 8 months getting ready for the Tour. I have personally supplied him with two Shimano Bottom Brackets afters he’s grinded the bearings out of his. We’ve discused the ins and outs and bar end shifters, brifters, in comparison to standard trigger shifters. We’ve looked at alt handlebars like the Salsa Woodchipper, and I even supplied him an old wore out set of aerobars to use.
Luke has trained his body to be so efficient with calories that he will need almost no food on the tour. Just the other day he did 55 miles on one half eaten granola bar that he borrowed from me. He has been learning to breath through the mouth to extract water vapor from the air. He’s learned how to pack everything he’ll need into 3 small bags that will weight about 35 pounds when he’s loaded down.
So is he ready? I don’t honestly think there is anyway to get ready to do Tour Divide, you just get as tough and prepared as you can. I’m sure that there is little more physically possible Luke could do to get ready. He’s got some week long tours planned for the Spring to test his setup out, which should reveal what needs to be worked on.
So here’s a question for you, what one non essential item would bring on a 2700 mile bicycle tour?