Before I start...well, I did start. I wrote this post already. I spent 2 hours writing the most awesome spring catch-up and pre Tour Divide blog post that I could imagine, and somehow between user error and internet connection issues, it is not lost somewhere in cyberspace...just not on my blog. OK, enough bitching, round two is never the same as first draft, but I'll try.
Living in Vermont has been awesome for training for Tour Divide. I can get on my bike, right out my back door, ride a short trail through the woods, and connect to endless dirt roads, snowmobile trails, logging roads, hiking trails, and singletrack, with minimal pavement and traffic. Throughout the past winter the VAST trails made for incredible safe winter riding options (aside from the occasional gun-toting-lead-for-brains, who clearly doesn't support winter training.) As the snow melted out I was able to add Killington and Pico back onto the repertoire as steep, long climbs with a good variety of terrain to ride.
Chasing race series' and point has never really been my thing, so not racing much is nothing new, but I did hope to race a bit more this spring. Trying to rack up high mileage, it hasn't seemed worth it to drive several hours to pay to race for just 20-30 miles. That said, I have made the trip to a few events this year. Returning to the slightly overrated yet still fun SingleSpeed-A-Palooza in Montgomery, NY, I did not do as well as I was hoping (19/110? in Pro/Open.) I'll use the excuses of a poor start position and light gearing choice, but the reality is that I haven't been focusing on hammering for less that 2 hours, I've been focused on riding at a quick yet sustainable pace for 6+ hours. I also made it to Hike-A-Bike at Lippman Park in Wawarsing, NY. HAB is hyped as a technical 20+ mile race, with mandatory hike/jump/run features strung along the course, similar to cyclocross features. What began as an uber laid-back race atmosphere proved to be simply disorganized. The race had a 8 and 20+ mile courses with shared start and finishes, and apparently not enough to differentiate who was racing what course, as nobody seemed to be scored in the right class. Awards did not make any mention of what race, or what place they were for. Details aside, the race went well. With a le-mans (running) start, I was first to my bike, first into the woods, and never saw anyone for the rest of the race, often forgetting to ride at race pace.
I've continued to struggle getting the real high mileage I'd like to be getting in, but with working full time, planning, packing, and general life needs (cooking, food shopping, etc) I've been managing to get about 150-200 miles a week in on primarily off road terrain. I've been logging some super big climbs and weekend ride in about every other weekend. My legs are feeling strong, my bike is feeling dialed, and my shred factor is peaking. Just 3 weeks out from race depart, and even less until my flight, if I'm not ready now, I never will be. At this point it's not a matter of making big changes, just dialing in a few last minute details. I am feeling confident for departure, with navigation being my biggest concern. I am hoping my triple redundant system of GPS with pre-loaded .gpx files, official ACA (Adventure Cycling Association adventurecycling.org) maps, and cyclo computer and custom cues, will keep me on route. With any luck the deep snowpack will dissipate up north, the hail and thunder storms will calm down central, and the wildfires will burn out in the south. Hopefully these last minute route update emails dont keep coming in.
Throughout the long road of planning, I have had a lot of amazing help.
I never would have been able to afford the awesome bike I'll be riding without the help of Jason Hayden from Killington Resort. Dale Plant at Kona was also a great help.
It is easy to obsess about which tires you'll run use, or which color bar tape you want. After 6 hours in the saddle you probably wont care much about those things, but your bike shorts will be a big part of your thought process, especially if they aren't the right ones. Only bring one pair of riding shorts for 3 weeks and 3000 miles, I couldn't be happier to be wearing Verge Primo Bibs. I'll be able to think less about my ass and more about pedaling. Thanks for the kit, my official sponsor Verge Sport. Thanks to Phil Fragale, for connecting me with Verge and being my go-to guy for staying looking and feeling good.
I'll be rocking some uber-comfy merino wool socks from Swiftwick, thanks to Eddie Rosenberg.
Since I began taking racing seriously Steve and Sam from Revolution Bicycles in Saugerties, NY have helped me out with riding endeavours near and far.
Just opening up this spring, JT Look from Rutland City Bikes has been a huge help in pulling together some last minute bike needs. JT brought Rutland what it has needed for a long time, a quailty bike shop with a big smile and rider-run attitude.
I may only be 21, but my body takes a beating. Mike Finnegan, a long time sled dog, and Physical Therapist at Slate Valley PT has been extremely helpful in keeping me moving over the past few years and during TD prep. Thanks Mike!
As always, my amazing parents have been incredibly supportive and helpful. I love you guys!
Last and far from least, the entire Thompson family. My friendship with Chris began through patrolling. In August I began working for Chris and his company Ace Arborist. It has been hands down the best job I've ever had. My best friend is my boss, and not only does he give me the flexibility to take the time for TD, but he encourages it. November 19th, 2013, the scariest day of my life, probably changed our friendship forever. A work related incident put Chris in the hospital for several weeks to follow. Chris always told me he was invincible, and now I believe it. Making an incredible recovery, skiing just two months later and returning to tree work just a few months after, Chris is living proof that mental will power and physical strength combine can overcome just about anything. Whenever I start bitching about anything, he is the only person that will tell me what I actually need to here "SUCK IT UP AND GO RIDE."
While I knew his wife and kids before, I didn't know them that well. I got to know Kelly and the rest of the family through interaction in the ICU at Dartmouth. Spending a lot of time with their three amazing children changed my life and perhaps helped mature my ultimate life plans. At least a few times a week Kelly gives me awesome, healthy, warm meals.
Chris, I look forward to future skiing and mountaineering adventures together, and Kelly, it's not that he doesn't care, he just forgot to tell you, I'll try to keep you in the loop on where we are going....don't call the rangers! Thank you all for your support and friendship, it means more than I can express in words.