“The Tour Divide. I had no clue what I signed up to do. I sit here now shaking my head thinking about it. This IS BIG!” – Greg Gleason
Salsa sponsored rider Greg Gleason just turned 50, and as a birthday present to himself, he’s embarking on 2017’s Tour Divide Race. But his route to the start line of this monumental endeavor has had a few turns along the way.
Gleason keeps a blog about his racing life, and in 2015 he shared, “A moment of inspiration came to me while watching "Ride the Divide" – a movie about the Tour Divide, the longest mountain bike route in the world that traverses over 2,700 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border.” He set 2017 as his goal to sign up. “I turn 50 that year, so I wanted to celebrate 50 years of life by doing something epic. One thing to note is that the thought of doing this event terrifies me. But I love thinking into and about the future, and all the prepping I will be doing to go on this amazing journey.”
There’s the saying that the focus isn’t on the “destination” but the “journey.” Gleason’s journey to this point has seen ceiling repairs, countless mile markers, loads of determination, and an awesome attitude.
Pedal Backwards a Bit
Mid-30's and the whole family has matching kit...
Over the last ten years, Gleason has amassed some pretty impressive bike racing results in some truly grueling events. But getting to the place he’s at as a cyclist wasn’t a straight shot by a long shot.
Throughout his early years, he was drawn to the experiences that riding his bike provided him. “Growing up in Rapid City, South Dakota, I spent all my days riding my bike out in the open prairie and Ponderosa pine forests. I loved wandering, discovering, being free...I guess today we would say I loved adventure!” He ran in high school and enjoyed it, and in college, he bought his first mountain bike and was immediately drawn to riding in dirt.
In his early 20’s though, the athletic course he was on took a bit of an all too common detour. “I stopped biking and got very busy with a career and a young family. I went from 180 pounds at 24, to 245 pounds in my 30’s. I had a knee that was giving me fits from a torn ACL that I had never repaired, and I missed how I felt when I was in shape.”
Once I'm done with this I think I'll head up into the attic...
The motivation he needed to take control of his health came rather unexpectedly. “With the bad knee and all the added weight, my quality of life was being negatively affected. I discovered just how much one day in the attic of my newly built house. My knee buckled and I fell partway through the ceiling causing a lot of damage. Not good! Time for some changes.”
Gleason tried dieting, weight lifting, and even some running, but saw little success. Changing the habits he’d adopted was hard. He needed “a thing.”
Hidden in plain sight was the solution. “One day cleaning out the garage I looked up to realize I still had my old college mountain bike. A flood of memories of riding my bike everywhere while I went to college rushed through my head. I remembered a race I did back then called the Chequamegon 40 – a 40-mile mountain bike race in Hayward, Wisconsin. At that instant, I realized my new thing to try: I would train to do the 2006 Chequamegon 40!”
Gleason’s life on two-wheels was about to get back on track.
1989 Chequamegon Forty...the first major course adjustment...
Check back Wednesday for Part Two of Route Adjustments: Greg Gleason and His Tour Divide,,,
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I had to live on both coasts a couple of times to realize that maybe being born in the Midwest wasn’t just arbitrary. I’m drawn to the terrain here, and if you catch me with one of this region’s supreme IPAs in hand, I’ll talk your ear off about my favorite spots. I’ll always take every opportunity though to explore every nook and cranny anywhere I can on a bike, because that’s what makes me feel most alive.