Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tour Divide: The final countdown begins!

A break in the Boulder weather provided a chance to photo the loaded El Commandante
After a fabulous road trip from San Franciso to Boulder, via some of the best riding spots in the western USA, we've landed on our feet in Boulder. Thanks to some amazing generosity of some friends of friends we've got a sweet place to stay only a block from the hills and a short drive from the proper mountains which will become a recurring theme of the next month or so.

The name of the game for the next few weeks is acclimatisation, with Boulder sitting at 1800m above the sea level where I usually dwell, it will encourage the body to develop some red blood cells which are a response to the thinner air which smothers the Divide route.

Tiffany and Heidi scope some lines on Boulders Flat Irons
I'm like a sweet toothed rhino in a candy shop with all the fantastic trails and crags around, but I'm taking care not to overdo the exercise as I want to ride south from Banff in two weeks with the freshest set of legs and lungs possible.
Mindful of this, when the omnipotent weather DJ decided to lay down a proper stormy weather mix for the first time on our trip, I took an opportunity to step back and look through my gear list.

I'd started the Great Southern Brevet in January this year with block of metal billet, the Kiwi Brevet machined off shards of swarf to give the rough shape and now I'm at the pointy end, deburring edges and polishing it to a high sheen. The aim is to find a balance between comfort, reliability and weight, a thoroughly personal balance which can only be found by testing and deep contemplation.

I have put huge importance on sleeping comfort, opting for a thick mattress, relatively large tent and warm sleeping bag which will allow me to hunker down in decidedly average conditions, resting easy without the thoughts of bivy mould, scorpions or snow invading my cocoon of sleep.

The toughest part is the unknown. For example, spare bolts are a given, but what sizes, and how many? In my years of biking I've only broken a bolt once, but thoughts of being stranded seatless at the top of a remote pass quickly swing the risk equation into alert territory. Two sets of brakes pads are a given, but what about cleats? Is one pair of Ground Effect Excocet shorts really enough for 4400km? Questions like this which will circulate in my mind till the Grand Depart on June the 8th, where I'll be forced to live with my decisions.

For now I'll keep polishing the spreadsheet, working to find the ultimate balance for the huge adventure only a few weeks away.

Mountain Pedaler out...


Kiwi Biker said...

Hey, looking sweet. I don't see the front ATM bag, is that going on later????

Haven MTB Park said...

Have a great ride, what a hell of an experience!

nathan mawkes said...

Looking good, always interesting to see the different approaches to gear selection.
What is your final tyre choice ?
See you in a few weeks

Simon K said...

Maybe a spare chainring bolt?

What will you wear while your shorts are drying out? I ended up buying some light and airy running shorts in Wyoming. Nice to let things air out.

No Voltaren? Talc powder? (by day five you will want this).

Mini bike lock? (bikes have been stolen twice in GDR racing).

Up to two days worth of food!!!

Good luck! So looking forward to following your progress (you and Nathan).

Oliver (Ollie) Whalley said...

Front bag to be added.
Nathan, Will be running WTB Vulpines which I've found to be uber durable. Simon, will be carrying two chainring bolts, and some PJ shorts after your recommendation. Voltaren and Panadol are also more recent additions.
Thanks for the support everyone!