Tour Divide: Part 2, Cost and Food

Continued from yesterday. Part 1



I saved about two grand for the race including travel costs, and it wasn’t enough. But after graduating, moving to Colorado, and barely making rent all winter, it was the best I could scrape together. Just one area where my friends and family deserve a huge amount of credit.

Food costs were the biggest killer- going as far as possible everyday is like driving all the time with the a foot to the floor. It’s impossible to say no to the stomach. Every time I went into a gas station to resupply (which was usually once a day) I spent $20 to $25.

Add a hot meal onto that most days at $10, and I was probably consuming around $30 a day. I’m sure that varies from racer to racer, but I was always hungry, and I didn’t lose a pound over the 22 days. So I was eating what I needed to.

Bike repairs weren’t too bad- I went through a bottom bracket, and had to buy two sets of flat pedals. Total of about $300. I know a few people that spent close to $2000 (replacing tires, brake pads, entire drivetrains, and servicing freehubs).

I wasn’t planning on any hotel rooms, but the freezing rain forced me inside three times. The night we crossed the border back to the US, Dan and Paul let me stay in their room for free (I’m super grateful to those guys for that- because I would have been too cheap to sleep inside that night). A few nights later, I split a trailer with a few guys in Basin ($30), and the third I booked a room and treated myself to my second shower in Steamboat ($90). So total of $120 on lodging.

Miscellaneous stuff like a pair of gloves, a replacement rain jacket after my zipper exploded, and sunscreen probably added up to another $200.

So just during the race, not counting travel to and from the start, my fairly frugal racing style set me back $1500. Travel costs were about $500. So by the time I paid rent in July, I down to no money (actually a couple hundred in the hole, which Colleen made up for until I got my first paycheck. She’s so swell).

We drove back to Colorado on a Sunday, I slept all day Monday, then I rode into work on Tuesday, even though my hands were so fried I could barely hold a wrench. The things we do for fun.


Tasty beefs roam the length of the route.

I set half a dozen Big Texas cinnamon rolls and a bag of M&Ms on the campground store counter.

“Oh my goodness, John, would ya look at the carbs he’s eating? Honey, how long will it take ya to eat those?” says the woman running the store to her husband.

“Hopefully I’ll have one left for breakfast tomorrow.”

“Oh my gosh! I’ve never. Well bless you.”

The food was really bad. I think I had two or three opportunities to buy a banana. If you want to do this race, better have the stomach for hyper processed snack cakes.

Hot food was always in the form of a hamburger, and usually they were charred frozen patties. Although I did have one really excellent bacon cheeseburger- named the Moose Burger, in Lincoln, Montana (home of the Unabomber).

And with the exception of the 20 miles of route from Silverthorn to Breck, every cup of coffee on the route was redneck coffee. Which like redneck beer, is light, flavorless, and makes you pee faster than it performs its function as a mood altering beverage.

Resupplies were sometimes 180 miles apart, and with my race setup, I could carry a maximum of a day and a half’s worth of food. That put the pressure on to make it the next town more than a few times.

Carrying food is a tough one- if you carry too much, you go slower, and then you need to carry more, which makes you go even slower. Carry a little bit, and you can ride fast, but you need to go fast and make town before you run out.

There were a few times that I made town with enough food but needing a resupply, and the store was closed. That’s a real bummer. At that point, I had to decide whether to wait until the next morning, or push on and hope I came across something.

After Fleecer Ridge in Montana, I made it to town ten minutes after the store closed. I was on empty, and it was another full day of riding to the next town. I decided to go for it- because bike race.

I rode for a couple hours, camped, ate my last Hostess Fruit Pie for breakfast and started up the pass, hoping I’d find food somewhere. And sure enough, at the top there was a huge banner “Tour Divide Riders Welcome! High Country Lodge.” Saved. I caught Paul on the descent (a loaded Krampus drops downhill like a rock), and had a huge breakfast with Dan and Max, who’d made it there the night before (I think).

Sometimes chancing it pays off.

Route and gear stuff tomorrow.        

4 thoughts on “Tour Divide: Part 2, Cost and Food

  1. Yeah, I recall hearing you coming up behind me on that drop down to the High Mountain Lodge and moving over for what I thought was a pickup truck. Nope, just a big set of Knards rolling like only they do. Well done, Montana.

  2. Food was a tough part of the divide. I think were I to do it again I would take the weight hit and carry food from grocery stores, with some anything cages or something for capacity. Eating gas station food for more than a snack is miserable.

    1. Yep, sure was. The ulcers in that I acquired from all the sugar certainly didn’t help. But man, you’d have to carry a lot from grocery stores to make that work


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