I've been back from the Tour Divide Race for a bit now and have a range of thoughts to share.
Special Memories From My 2012 Tour Divide:
Realizing my shoes were to narrow when my feet swelled up was an issue I had to deal with for most of the race. I wound up walking through snow covered passes in Canada with bare feet in my shoes, as socks made them impossibly too tight. The screws from my cleats were coming through the bottom of my shoes until Steamboat springs (1500 miles later) where the bike shop ground them down and wondered how I made it there. Reluctantly cutting the sides of my shoes to relieve pressure as I was going over Union Pass in Wyoming, where I also drank my first and only RockStar lemonade. It was good.
Finally getting over leg swelling due to salt imbalance after three or four days. My legs swelled to twice their normal size and I could feel my calf hitting the back of my thigh. I was definitely worried but knew it would go away.
The sections from Pinedale to Atlantic City, and through the Great Basin. I was blessed with an amazing tailwind for close to two days and had ridden this section with Jay a couple times so it was fun reminiscing.
Story time was always fun: People would ask what I was doing, and then proceed to tell me how they once rode a bike half a block, or how their friend did a race somewhere one time.
Some people would offer water or drinks, which we aren't suppose to take. One man asked me if I needed some water, when I explained to him we weren't suppose to take any help he replied "Would you like to borrow my tool?"
Seeing my friends in Wyoming. Several people came out to cheer me on and even had a banner with my nickname T-Race on it.
Getting food poisoning and then getting sick in front of this touring couple who convinced me to go two miles back to the reservoir and to jump in to cool off, passing out for five hours, then riding ten miles to the next campground, sleeping for the night, waking up, and not having any food for 24 hours/60 miles to the next town.
Meeting a Texas couple after dark in a rented mini van on the rugged back roads of New Mexcio. I hadn't seen a car for hours and this lost couple pulled up in a mini van and asked if the dirt road I was on went to the highway, which it did (but was 30 plus miles away). They said they had followed my tire tracks for miles and miles and were relieved to finally see me. When the woman asked me if I was afraid, my response was "Afraid of what?” She said "Bears or cougars?" When I returned home I received an email from this woman who said she would never forget what I said and how I inspired her.
I loved being so engaged with the maps and cues. My sense of direction is pretty bad, so this was a great learning experience for me and I really enjoyed it.
Snuggling with Magic Wanda (my El Mariachi Ti bike)
Favorite foods: Monster Mocha Java, Milky Way Simply Caramel, Mike & Ike's, french fries, mozzarella sticks, milkshakes
My gear list probably does not differ much from everyone else's and Jay gave me LOTS of guidance as to what to bring and where to put it.
Sleeping Setup: MontBell bivy, MontBell quilt, Neo UL Therm-a-Rest
Clothing: MontBell rain jacket, pants & gloves. I lost my rain gloves the second day and replaced them with yellow rubber gloves for $1.89. Worked great! MontBell UL puffy a.k.a Grape Ape, lightweight wool top, tights, arm and knee warmers, warm hat, long and short finger gloves, socks, two buffs, extra sunglass lenses (dark and clear).
Miscellaneous: Chain lube, rag, flat repair kit, two tubes, pump, extra batteries, chain links, zip ties, duck tape, Leatherman with scissors, bike tool, extra Velcro straps, sunscreen, chamois cream, vitamin I, amoxicillin, bondo for teeth (I started the race with a half a root canal), tweezers, nail clippers, birth control pills, chapstick, camera, bug spray, toilet paper, odometer, GPS, Spot tracker, aerobars, bell that I could ring (bear bells that you wear are SUPER annoying!), and a whistle.
Bags: Handlebar bag for sleeping system, two Mountain Feed Bags on handlebars, two toptube bags, frame bag, seat bag, and a backpack for water only.
Bike: a.k.a Magic Wanda: Salsa El Mariachi Ti
Tandem vs. Solo:
I loved my expereince riding the Divide on the tandem more than solo. I would solo it again, but I'm not sure if I would tandem again (unless someone broke our record). I liked the adventure Jay and I had on our tandem ride. The things we learned and saw, the laughs, the hard times and all the challenges we conquered. Sharing such a huge accomplishment with someone you love is a very special treat in life.
On Returning To The Real World
Very excited to see JayP and my babies (dogs) Rippin' & Chillin'.
I'm happy to be cooking again as I had a hard time eating out because I'm not really use to it, nor do I like it. I'm not good at scarfing down my food, which is part of racing the Tour Divide. It gives me indigestion and actually hurts my stomach.
Now I am back at the farm one day a week, and LOVE it! Eating two salads a day. I'm not overly hungry, and I am definitely done eating candy bars. Ugh!
Back to work is busy, lots and lots of paperwork, but my boss and co-workers are happy to have me back and things are getting done.
I started back on the Monday night ladies ride, just one week after finishing the race, and am happy to be back on the bike. I'm feeling good and am looking forward to some of the upcoming local races this summer.
This ride was uncomfortable a lot of the time as far as my feet, legs swelling, and running out of food and water at times. Riding all day and then having to find a place to sleep wasn't always fun (although I really did start to enjoy that towards the end) and I felt like I was always chasing something down: gas stations, restaurants, bikes shops, and people.
But I do miss the freedom of just being able to ride everyday, the beautiful places I got to see, and if given the opportunity I would definitely do it again. I would also like to just tour parts of the route. Colorado was my favorite due to the abundant lakes and campgrounds.
Despite being on a long journey, I don't feel weird or misplaced being back. I am happy to share stories and answer questions (which I get a lot of). If you've got questions, ask away!