Tour Divide: 5, Mistakes

Last post on the Divide for a while, then I’ll stop smacking on this dead horse meat.

These are things I screwed up, that cost me time in the race.



The first day, it was snaining, cold, and I was wearing shell pants without any insulation. I was about ten minutes late for the group start (pretty typical), so I was already feeling rushed. Then I got in a group of a 130 people, sloppy conditions (my favorite), starting making passes, and oh boy, it was bike racing time.

I couldn’t stop to pull wool tights, because that would cost me two minutes, and I’d lose places. Goddamn, I was fighting for the lead in the single speed race. Had to drill it.

After about 200 miles of turning a big gear through the mud in the cold, my knees were shot. I started up a climb, and had unbearable pain around both patellas. I couldn’t ride uphill. At all. But there wasn’t a chance of quitting- I’d already put too much into getting to this race over the past year.

So I started walking. I soft pedaled and walked about 600 more miles, tried a stretchy knee brace (made things worse), handfuls of painkillers (no effect), and some icy-hot cream (actually helped a little).

Then I found some flat pedals, sent the SPDs home, and started pedaling on my heels. That helped a bunch, but also made me ride a lot slower than I’m used to.

The decision to ride without any knee insulation saved me a couple minutes on day one, and probably cost me a couple days by the end of the race.

I was in damage control mode for the rest of ride. Things did start to get a little better in Colorado, but those first 1600ish miles were incredibly painful. Real breath-taking pain that had me wheezing a bunch of times. It felt like someone was wrenching a hot butter knife under both knee caps, and trying to pop them off by working in a circle, then starting again the other way.

And my achilles also gave out up and started to creak (pretty common in this race), but I just ignored that one and it eventually went away.



Every time I went into a restaurant, I ordered some coffee, and stared into the light brown tea-looking stuff a long time after I was done eating. I’d get lost in the cheap white mug, think about how nice it would be to just keep sitting. And it was nice. So I sat, and my greasy shorts fused to vinyl seat cover.

The coffee staring might have been related to the intense pain that bike riding caused me at the time. But more than that, a fondness for looking at coffee is just one of my many weaknesses. I wake up a 4:40 every morning just so that I have enough time to examine at my mug before I leave for work at 6:15.

So, 45 minutes a day wasted on looking at coffee over 22 days- 16 lost hours.

Slow night riding

The last hour of everyday, I think I averaged about 3 miles per hour. Almost asleep on the bike, I’d keep pushing along, barely making any progress. I probably would have been better off if I would have slept sooner and covered that ground four times as fast the next day.

Or maybe I would have been better off if I would have sucked it up and rode at a reasonable pace for that last hour. Hard to say.

Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with how I coped with things out there. But I really should have put on some tights or knee warmers that first day.


2 thoughts on “Tour Divide: 5, Mistakes

  1. Nice, Montana. Totally respect the coffee mistake. I suffered greatly from that during my tenure, too. Largely, as you allude to, my lingering was waiting for the weak brew to kick in in a way a triple espresso might, but never would. Alas, drinking the local coffee is part n parcel to the challenge, I guess. Next time, carry your own grounds! ~Matthew


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s