Before leaving on a trip, or beginning an adventure, the most frequent question I get is, "What are you doing to get ready?"
Last year before departing on my cross country trip, I wanted to know what I was going to be doing, where I was going to be, camp, and eat, each and every day. It took all of about 6 hours of riding west to discover that my "plan" was going to need more work. Eventually I realized that all the planning in the world could not possible account for every random situation one will come across on the move. After a few weeks I came to the realization that general preparedness and adaptability was tenfold more important than a solid "plan."
Moving forward to Tour Divide, I have kept this in mind. Being I am racing, not touring, it does change some things in the overall "plan" of the trip. I will be carrying only the bare minimum supplies to survive in the various and potentially horrific conditions I may encounter, and I will be pushing myself harder, farther, and longer each day than I was during my tour. I wont be going "home" after each ride, at best I'll be in a hotel for a few hours, and back on the trail to repeat the next day. As much as I would love to each the idealistic ultra pure and natural diet of a champion, I honestly don't think it is fair to trick my body into being used to a diet that will be unsustainable while living on the move. This doesn't mean I am drinking Coke by the liter and replacing meals with Skittles, but I do try to mimic what will be available during the race.
As far as physical conditioning, I am probably still behind where I should be. I've been riding about 150 miles a week during the last few weeks of spring meltdown. I have been using these conditions to try and prepare for what I will encounter on route, and not simply turning around when the snow is too deep to ride through, or the mud is axle deep. Get off an push, suck it up. By putting myself into ridiculous situations on a regular basis, I hope to be better prepared for what I will come to encounter in the future. Mental preparedness in stressful situations may prove to be life saving.
I am going into Tour Divide 2014 as a rookie divide racer, with minimal back country bike packing experience. I have poured over blogs, gear lists, read pages upon pages of forum posts, and researched to the point where I am no longer worried about what I am getting into. Perhaps my internet inspired confidence sounds immature. I never said I think it is going to be easy. I just said I feel I am ready to face whatever is thrown my way. Bring on the struggle!