Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 4. I work out.

To get things going in the morning, we have established a break of dawn dance party. I've abandoned the depth of my 70s and 80s hits and moved on to something more simple.

...This is how I roll, come on ladies it's time to go.....I'm sexy and I know it.

Kim and Anders get right into it. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah.

Today's lesson was pronunciation. We are having a bit of a disagreement about how to say mayo. I suppose it is like potato, potato and it doesn't matter; however, it seems to me that most people that I know say it "may-o", rather than "my-o". I proposed a saying to help them remember; "Give me some mayo, or I aint gonna pay-o". I thought this was fool proof, but Anders pointed out that "Give me some mayo, or I'm gonna cry-o" could also work.

Going up our first pass after Eureka, we met another rider; Leon from Misoula. He had a slightly different set up than us. He was carrying what looked to be a tank in the back. I'm not sure this bike is going to make it to Antelope Wells. Or Whitefish. But he was very friendly.

I'm in some need of a bike shop again; front shifter and derailleur are broken. Whatever. I'm not in a hurry. It gives me an excuse to visit Rob at the Outdoorsmen in Butte in a couple of days.

We are staying in Columbia Falls for the night. We are a day behind my pace from last year, which feels about right. Good days of riding, with some energy left to have fun at night. Music time now. I work out!
Sent using a Blackberry that I'd better not lose.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 3. It's that Kind of Party

It was a late start to the day (by comparison to my dawn departures last time around and considering our pre-tour motto of 'we ride at dawn'). Aside from our coffee dependency, there was a good reason for the decision; bike repair. Kim's fork and my brakes required the attention of someone more skilled than ourselves. I have rim brakes on my bike. They are about the most simple-to-fix choice one can have on a bike. Unfortunately, I'm even more simple than these brakes. Despite some tinkering on my part to fix them, I have managed to rub through most of my front brakes in only two days of riding because my efforts to find the precise problem have failed. Enough resistance training; it was time to get them fixed.

The morning ride was fantastic. Beautiful weather and a stop for milkshakes and humming birds at the 3&93 Dairy Bar as we head south to the border. One of the best things about riding off road is that there are so few cars that you can go two or three abreast and talk up quite a storm.

Sometimes, though, it is difficult to chat on the road. The wind creates gaps in speech and active listening is a total necessity. Rather than taking it as a source of irritation, we have made it in to a game. It goes a little something like this;

Anders: Kim, do you want some cream for your knees?
Tori: Did you just ask him if he wants sun cream for his niece?
Kim: No, he asked if he should say something when I sneeze.

Ok, maybe you need to be there to enjoy the game.

As we rolled in to Eureka, I had flashbacks of how shattered I was last year on that road. It was much better this time around. Clear skies and smiles. I hope the whole trip will be like this.

We took a small cabin for the night, off course in Grave Creek. Kim and Anders celebrated their arrival in America with a dessert of twinkies while watching a workout infomercial (soft porn). .

My final moment of laughter for the night came when Kim and I were applying sudocreme. Anders walked in just as we each had our hands down our pants and said...

"Oh, we are having a party?".

Yes. Yes, we are.
Sent using a Blackberry that I'd better not lose.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 2. The small things.

One of the really great parts of this type of adventure is that it makes you treasure really small things.

No snow! No Puddles! No cars! Wine gums! Pants!

I don't know where my aversion to pants came from. I think that I've had it since I was a kid. Yesterday, I was stubborn and wouldn't put pants on, even though it was cold. And then, when it was wet, I rationalized my bare skin with the logic that dry pants would be more helpful as a means to help me warm up and recover at the end of the day. Foolish. This morning, I started out with pants. So warm. So luxurious.

It was "downhill" to Elkford for breakfast. 60km in 4.5 hours, due to washed out roads and mud from the rains yesterday. This brings me to another small thing that I've come to treasure in the last day. We set out on this trip with the intention to do this in the spirit of the Tour Divide Challenge; however, there is something very different about this ride that doesn't exactly follow the spirit of the race. So, we ultimately decided instead to just ride the Divide on our own terms.

The best part about not doing the race is that it liberates us to make decisions such as...taking the Fernie alternate this afternoon. Our weather situation yesterday presented a logistical challenge that would have made the Flathead even tougher. So, we opted for a different route. Fernie!

This provided an opportunity for our third bear encounter. And then a handful of moose. There is something a lot more enjoyable about this experience when you are with people.

I'm glad that I'm here.
Sent using a Blackberry that I'd better not lose.

Day 1. We Ride at Dawn! Almost.

Beeep. Beeep. Beeep. Beeep.

"I don't want to ride at dawn!" - Anders.

We woke up in time for first breakfast at Macdonalds. 5:00am. $41.99 later, we were getting ready to leave and Crazy Larry showed up for a farewell. He rolled out with us for the first few kilometers, as he does with the Tour Divide riders. What a treat.

Not long into the ride, we spotted an animal on the path ahead of us. His name was Benjamin Cyprus and he was riding a unicycle. To Mexico. Solo. Awesome.

That was not the only wildlife for the day. We spotted two bears in our path, within 25 km of each other. One brown. One black. Crazy Larry was still with us for the first. For safety, he kept his bear spray out and ready to go after that.

This is a tricky thing to do on a bike on a bumpy road; even for a pro. So, it wasn't too surprising when he rolled up shortly later with a brown coat of bear spray covering his wool pants.

Larry turned back after that and we carried on, eventually crossing paths with the Tour Divide northbound leader, Chell. He was packed extremely light and in great spirits, particularly considering that it was raining by now.

The rain became heavier and the road slower. Then the snow started. We carried on. Elk Pass was a mess of fresh snow and puddles and mud. Kim changed our motto to "WE RIDE TILL DAWN!"

At the 114km mark, just a little after the Pass, there was a small, open cabin with a fire going in a wood stove. Short of our destination for the day but we decided to camp inside. So that we could dry things out and get warm.

There was a bird surveyor ad his dog there, but the bird man man room for us by the fire. Ah, to fall asleep warm and dry!

Sent using a Blackberry that I'd better not lose.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It begins

Hello darkness my old friend...
...I've come to talk with you again

I can't believe that I'm doing this again.

I couldn't fathom doing this alone. Kim and Anders are a big part of it, but there are others. Marty from Bow Cycle was an angel, getting our bikes together. Tom, Jesse and Roxy at GPS city, also very helpful. Erik, Cindy, Mom, Dad...helping in so many ways.

Despite all of the help, today was hectic; getting my life together after returning from abroad last night. But I work better under pressure.

We got news that Craig pulled into Antelope Wells. So strange that I feel that I've seen him so recently, and yet he is finished before I even get started.

We made it to Banff in time to have dinner with Crazy Larry. The rain had stopped and it was a perfect, calm evening to pull ourselves together for the big departure.

Quote of the night comes from Anders, on our late night shopping trip:

"Why do they put kittens on the toilet paper here? You don't wipe your ass with kittens. Or least you are not supposed to. Call me old fashioned."

Kim and Anders have been chanting "we ride at dawn!", perhaps I should put this thing away now.
Sent using a Blackberry that I'd better not lose.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Partners in Crime

It's hard for me to understand, but not everyone thinks that riding 4,400km in less than a month. Fortunately, I've got some very special friends.

I'd like to introduce you to Kim. We rode across Africa together. He's from Denmark. Any guy that thinks that white bib shorts are appropriate attire for a four-month bike trip in the kind of guy you want to camp and ride with for a month. 
This is Anders. Another Great Dane. I've got a thousand words that I could say about Anders...but I think that this picture does the trick. Oh, Botswana...those were some good rides.
This time next week, we will already be on the road. I know from last year that it isn't going to be easy...but I'm determined this year that it's going to be fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On the Road...Again

I like biking and camping; being outside and having a simple life. I rode the Great Divide last year because I thought it embodied exactly these things that I enjoy the most. A true recipe for happiness, no?

Something was missing. Something big.

It's no secret that I struggled with the ride. And, because of my experience last year, I was sure that I would never ride the Great Divide again.

Well, I have a confession to make. I've decided to do it again...because of my experience last year.

My experience on the Great Divide made me realize how important it is to share these experiences with friends. When two of my friends contacted me for advice on riding the Divide, I first advised them to pick another adventure.

That didn't work.

I looked at pictures from last year; at the mountains, the big skies, the lakes. I became frustrated that I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I did not enjoy all of the magic around me. I also thought about the good times that I've had riding with these guys and imagined what it would be like to ride together again.

I realized that I had to join them.

My decision to do it again has little to do with the route and a lot to do with the people. It is going to be different this year. I'll have my crew. We may take more time. I might not even finish. I just want to bike and camp and enjoy the beauty of this world with friends. I'm going to find joy in the Divide this year.

I'm excited and terrified.

As I prepare again, I get flashbacks of some very dark moments and wonder why I'm doing this again...but then I remember great times with my friends and I know that there is nothing I'd rather be doing. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Coming out of Hibernation

For six years I kept this blog up to date....and then...who knows. I could blame it on city in which the pressure is so high that "pre-kindergarten" exists. Who has time for reflection in the city that never sleeps?
NYC life was certainly a factor. But, more than that, I struggled with my motivation to share. Do I really need to share my life with everyone? How narcissistic am I? Why don't I spend a little less time talking about myself and a little more time doing things!

Whatever the reason, I realize that I've paid a price for my lack of discipline. Without this public forum, I lack the discipline to reflect and record my experiences. So much has happened over the past eight months and I worry that these experience will become faded memories.

Broadway, the ballet, avante guarde interactive theatre and experimental japanese erotic theater in New York. Catholic wedding in Santiago de Campostella. Street fireworks and electronic beats in Berlin. Sunshine and family time in Hawaii. Reunions in Singapore and London. Busting to move to MC Hammer in Havana. Gypsy cabs, communal showers, plywood beds and horse meat in Kazakhstan. Canals of orange mayhem in Amsterdam. Skiing in Vermont. Winding down in Long Island...and all of the tiny moments with people that made each of these experiences magic.

I've kept random notes that I may assemble and backfill. But I'm not going to let that hold me up any longer. I'm back. Everyone is probably gone now. But that's ok, I'm doing this for the memories.