Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Post Tour Divide Answers

Well, the Tour Divide is over for me in 2010. It was an outstanding experience. From meeting other riders in Banff, to the varied environments of the trail, to the many people in businesses along the trail who encouraged me despite the smell and the voracious appetite, it was great. I'm going to try to tie some thoughts together more coherently over the next few days, but first some answers to questions people asked on here or elsewhere while I was riding:

What the heck happened in the first few days?

As a few people guessed, I forgot how to set up the SPOT in tracking mode. My brain was pretty addled, and they're not super accurate in some situations anyway so the track the SPOT showed didn't really reflect where I had gone.

My rear tyre, a Kenda Small Block 8 tore away from the bead about 15 miles out from Elkford. It had been a very tight fit on Stans 355 rims (tyre levers required to fit it) and just went bang on a flat gravel trail. I bodged it with gaffer tape and toothpaste tube to get to Elkford but when I got there I was told there was no bike shop. In the words of the woman at a campsite, "We have to go out of town to buy underwear". As it turned out, there is some bike servicing there from Shem at Elkford Bikes. He didn't have any 29er tyres, though (he will for next time!) so I had to stop early for the night and he gave me a ride to Fernie in the morning. I managed to get a Maxxis Crossmark which fitted much better and I was back on the road from Elkford by 12.00pm.

It was frustrating sitting in Fernie, waiting for the bike shop to open but it was great to meet Shem and being at the back gave me a chance to meet lots of other riders and I made my way up the TD.

Why didn't I call in much?

To begin with, I just wanted to get going and get into the race. After that, I was finding it difficult even when I wanted to. Thinking about what to say on a call-in was something that passed the time on some boring sections, but then it would be ages before I could manage to call and I would forget everything. I think it's one of the difficulties of not being American when you're doing this. I don't automatically know where to look for phones and I didn't have a US mobile phone to call in from.

I know that the call-ins add to the race, but I just found it hard to do!

The bike and the recovery drink

I took about 2.5kg of recovery drink with me because I've found it makes a big difference in training. It was good to hear from Matthew Lee in Banff that you can't really train for the Divide, but the first week adapts your body to the demands of the trail. That had been my thought with the recovery drink, and that's why I carried it. It was also handy to be able to sup a few hundred calories straight away to keep the stomach-beast at bay before going on to find real food. I was using chocolate orange Torq Recovery, which usually seems quite thick but just seemed like a normal drink on the Divide :) I did ask them for freebies and they said no, but you can't deny, it's good stuff!

The bike was an absolute joy. The Singular Swift is a well finished, lightweight, lovely handling steel frame. The EBB performed perfectly, I tightened the chain once during the race (and it was getting a bit slack again by the end). Tyres aside, that was all of the maintenance I did. To be on the safe side, I got Orange Peel Bikes in Steamboat to replace the drivetrain and I absolutely needed a new rear tyre by then. The full spec was:

  • Singular Swift frame w/ Phil Wood EBB (standard on the frame)
  • On One rigid carbon forks
  • Hope Pro 2/Stans 355 29er wheels
  • Kenda Small Block 8 tyres, then Maxxis Crossmark, then WTB Vulpine. Crossmarks were the best
  • Chris King headset
  • Hope 90mm stem
  • Easton EA90 bars
  • Cane Creek Ergo bar-ends
  • Thomson post
  • Flite Saddle
  • XT disc brakes with 160mm Ashima rotors and Ashima pads
  • Hope BB
  • Shimno XT cranks
  • Shimano M520 pedals
  • On One 32t steel chainring (swapped for Salsa 32t at Steamboat)
  • On One 18t cog (swapped for Surly 18t at Steamboat)
  • SRAM 9spd chain
Tyres aside (again!), there's nothing I'd really change from that. Money-no-object, I could shave off a few grams with lighter cranks, pedals, and brakes. Tyres-wise, I'd start with Crossmarks or maybe Nanoraptors. The Vulpine is too much of an XC race tyre and didn't have enough grip for the odd bit of steep dusty/gravelly climb on a SS. The Small Block 8, clearly let me down badly but maybe I was just unlucky.

That's it for now... Thanks for all the encouragement!

3 comments:

phil_rad said...

Aidan,

Congrats man! That was an awesome ride you put in! I watched you and the others everyday after I scratched.

Cheers!

Phil

pedalhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marshal said...

Hi Aidan,

I enjoyed having a couple of meals with you. When ever I talked to my wife I always got her to update me on your progress—you put in an amazing ride!

Marshal