Tour Divide Final Blog - A look back at my Tour Divide
I’ve been quiet on social media as I’ve had some personal stuff to sort, but I’m back again and full of beans. I haven't stopped working, in fact it’s been super busy, which is awesome and has been a blessing in many ways. This is a super important time in the development curve for my next project so I can’t take my foot off! I can’t wait to share my next world first project with you guys!! Soon. Thank you guys for all your support and messages throughout the Tour Divide, I get all of them and they mean the world to me. I know it’s not traditional practice, but I try to respond or acknowledge all of you guys on Twitter, even if it’s a month or so late! Ha!
Anyway...The Tour Divide...
2,753.39 miles (or 4,431.15 km), climbing over 200,000 vertical feet (or 60,000 vertical metres) with the highest pass sitting at 3,630m. I finished in 25 days 17 hours and 06 mins, averaging 12 hours 23 mins pedalling per day, which equates to 106.94 miles (or 172.10 km) per day average. To my knowledge over 160 riders started the Grand Depart of the race and about 50 riders dropped out. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be one of the race finishers, and it was a hugely successful training block for me. Those are the numbers, but the Tour Divide is so much more than numbers. Well...for the handful of incredible athletes pushing at front it does all comes down to numbers, I can relate to this, but on this occasion for me, experiencing the Tour Divide for the first time cannot be quantified by numbers.
I started writing this final blog sat in a cafe in Phoenix 3 days after reaching the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico at 1.05am local time. I’m finishing it sat on the train back home to Cardiff from a few meetings in London. I was struggling to process my emotions and experiences from the Tour Divide back in Phoenix, I have a little more clarity now.
THE GRAND DEPART
The Grand Depart, on the 12th of June 2015, seems like years ago! I remember being pretty nervous cycling up to the YWCA and seeing so many racers.
Just before I headed to the start line
That first day was one of the toughest days. The race organisers tried to start us according to our ambitions, but the pace was pretty frantic heading up and out of Banff. A shock to the system alright! If that wasn't a test enough, Mother Nature thought she’d have some of the action throwing pretty much every season at us that day....rain, sleet, even a bit of snow! My legs were screaming; “how about breaking us in gently?” The final stages of the day to Elkford, British Columbia were punishingly muddy. Many of the racers were having serious mechanical issues, some dropping out and some even crashing out. I remember being passed by an ambulance on the gravel road thinking this is epic! I ground my way through the mud to a motel in Elkford. At about 8pm after 12 ish hours of riding and just as I was considering whether to push on or not, the heavens opened making my decision for me. That night in my motel room, trying to clean and dry my gear, I was like a rabbit in the headlights! Can I really maintain this for 25 days? Is 25 days realistic for me? Is this too big a project at this point in my training? The self-doubt demons swirling like vultures, as they tend to do at some time or another. Eat, sleep, firefly devices (in that order - I sleep wearing my devices!) tomorrow’s a new day. One day at a time. One pedal stroke at a time. Mentally I felt a little out of practice, I wasn’t the athlete I was heading into Antarctica a couple a years ago, but It’s my opinion that once you’ve added a skill or experience into your ‘toolbox’ it’s always there, even if it takes some work to access it. After all, this is why I was in the race.
The second day I woke early amped for another big day to eat into this race. From my expeditions I know that there’s usually a period of internal storm to weather until you feel at one with your given environment. It was climbing out of Elkford and then trying to find the single track at the top of the climb when I met Mike (Michael Eyb). We immediately got on, comfortably taking the piss out of each other. Obviously I had no idea at this point that we’d shadow each other for the entire race.
After bivvying by Wigwam River that night, I realised my sanity and indeed race would hinge on an unforeseen factor - mozzies! Fu*king mozzies would be my nemesis until New Mexico! At times literally clouds of them surrounded me as I climbed, but on the flat or descents they seemed unable to keep up! There’s a Chinese proverb that says if you think that you're too small to make a difference, consider the mosquito. Too true! As soon as I was able, I ditched my deodorant stick for mosquito repellent. You know me and weight - can’t justify both...I can’t believe I started with deodorant in the first place! I must be going soft!!
MONTANA & FUELLING
By the end of day 3 I’d passed the Canadian border and was in to Montana, America. That first milestone was a big boost. Then came the first 200km (125miles) day from Eureka to Big Fork. The route had thrown almost every type of trail at us by this point - flowing single track, barely rideable single track, gravel roads, mud roads, tarmac, however mother nature had blessed us with almost perfect weather after testing us that first day. Even this early into the race, more appropriately into the journey, it was obvious that the people along the route were going to be the stars, alongside the geography. Already in the race I’d been given free coffee, which I drank with a lovely Vietnam Veteran called Roy who spends his life just helping people within his town. Coffee was my treat when I could find it. Starbucks make a jumbo sized can (very American!) with two expresso shots of ice’d frappuccino, sold in garages which became the cornerstone of my breakfasts on the move. Fuelling was a challenge, firstly knowing where you would be able to get supplies and secondly finding appropriate food to eat. Whilst sat in Phoenix, I calculated that throughout the Tour Divide my diet consisted of:- Pizza, Burgers, Onion rings, Chips, Nachos, Subway Sandwiches, Snickers, Rice Crispies Bars, Nature Valley Bars, Jelly Sweets, Starbucks cans, coffee and RootBeer! Literally. On the odd occasion we were able to stop at a supermarket I bought bananas, apples, jumbo sized (America again!) smoothie drinks, even beef tomatoes to eat as my body craved fresh fruit. I sincerely don't think I would need both hands to count the number of vegetables I ate, other than the lettuce and onion in my burgers over the entire 25 days! It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of. As a professional rugby player I used to be so anal, and in fact superstitious about my diet! On a different note, I lost about 7kg of body weight during this race, my average daily calorie burn was just under 8000 calories, and on a good day with 2 meals I could consume about 6000. Some days I wasn't able to get one substantial meal in. For all the fad diets out there losing weight remains simple to me; move more than you eat! Ha!
Anyway, back to the race! Day 6 from Seeley Lake, Montana was another big day, 208km (130 miles), climbing over 3 mountain passes and a total of 18 hours in the saddle. Some of the views from the passes, once we were out of the forest tracks for a moment, were insane! The scale of the geography in America took me a little by surprise. Through Butte the next day and on to the infamous Fleecer Ridge. My second spill of the Tour on the steepest, rockiest and loosest 400m descent I’ve ever ridden! But what a buzz and much needed change from the suffering of endless climbs! A night under the Montana ‘Big Sky’ and the next was 14 hours in the saddle covering 192km. The geography changed slightly around this point from forest tracks to wide open plains.
My Stumpy (Specialized Stumpjumper Elite M5...or my bike in layman’s terms!) had rolled with it all, and by end of day 10 I was feeling in the groove, that initial internal storm was passing. The Body Geometry Fit I had at Specialized HQ leading up to the race was proving worth it’s weight in gold, as was the decision to stick with my Sitero road saddle. The sleeps under the stars were providing equal recovery and comfort thanks to my Rab Neutrino sleeping bag, Thermarest Neotherm and firefly devices. My body and mind were hardening to the challenge and even though I was shattered - at times fighting the urge to fall asleep whilst riding or simply stop on the side of the road and sleep - every day I was feeling a little more resilient, robust and confident.
Just before I crossed into Wyoming and into the Grand Teton Mountains, Mike and I were blessed with another act of generosity. The Tetons though, are as spectacular as I had hoped, and after being encapsulated by trees on forest tracks for much of the mountainous sections it was awesome to see such a spectacular alpine vista. The sharp rock peaks set against the deep blue sky (on a good day!) are beautiful. Anyway, after a long 120km day on some tough rutted trail we found ourselves a little out of sync with our lodging plan and without anywhere to pitch the tent as we were on tarmac roads. With typical perseverance we kept pedalling through seemingly endless cornfields and eventually saw a sign for a golf club! Pretty desperate at this point and having not eaten most of the day, we rode into the club just after sunset in the dark. At first it seemed shut, but then we saw 2 more bikes outside. 2 other racers had done the same and the owner had stayed open for them, it was blind luck for us. After turning the kitchen back on and making us burgers himself, he let us stay in his one of his cabins. As I keep the saying, the people that I’ve met along the route have been some of the kindest and most generous I’ve encountered.
Golf club burgers, Mike is far left!
WYOMING & MORE 'TRAIL ANGELS'
Over the Togwotee Pass at 9,500ft and through the 1,000 mile mark on day 11 before reaching Boulder on day 12. The day to Boulder was one of the toughest climbs of the Tour over Union Pass, and the first of ‘I wish I was still climbing’ ironies of the Tour - descents that that were more punishing than the brutal climbs to get to them! This one full of potholes and toaster sized rocks for over 16km, hard going on my body and my fully ridged Stumpjumper. Both Mike and I had worked hard and ran out of water, but we knew we could make it to the amenities on our map....not uncommonly, the fluid commerce of small town America meant that our planned restock store had closed down! I can smile now sharing it with you, but not at the time! ....you guessed it, more ‘Trail Angels’! At this point 5 of us racers had found ourselves in the same predicament, sat on the side of the road outside the dilapidated restaurant, when a lovely lady comes by to tell us to ride a mile down the road to her house where we could fill our bottles up. When we got there, Mickey and Dixie (a retired couple) opened their home to us for cold drinks and a chat! On we pedalled!
Pinedale was the last bike service point before the brutal ‘Great Basin’ (Desert) in Wyoming. I couldn't get my second rear tyre to sit properly despite daily efforts, and it had felt like I was riding a horse as I bounced along on anything remotely smooth! My bottom bracket needed some love too, which seemed at the time above my mechanic pay grade! So we rock up to the only bike shop in town - a hardware store. The owner couldn't do enough for us, a lovely guy, but I have learned one valuable lesson here - don't let a lawnmower mechanic work on your bike! With my beloved (and violated!) Stumpy on the bike stand, this guy stood wrench in one hand, his mobile in the other searching google. I ended up having to put my rear cassette back to together after he demolished my rear trying to bang the wheel on the floor in order to sit the tyre! I decided to abort and leave the store! Which was easier said than done with someone as well meaning as this guy. In the motel in Boulder the next morning, Adam from Specialized UK talked me through the bottom bracket adjustment in a matter of minutes over the phone using my own tools and Lightning McBenjamin, my trusty steed was spinning as smoothly as when he was new! I haven’t done this situation justice really....pushing my bike into this hardware store after over 1,000 miles with minor issues, only to be stood in that well meaning chaos with my bike in bits and worse off! We laughed about it so much riding out of Pinedale, Mike said that my face was priceless as the spring and ratchet of the freewheel bounced across the workshop!! Ha! Luckily repairing that was in my pay grade. Anyway, with Adam’s help I was confident riding into the Great Basin.
Life’s funny. After taking the pi*s out of me, the next day Mike went through 3 spokes and roadside repairs! Ha! The Basin is a wasteland, nothing for miles and miles - well apart from oil drills. Hundreds of miles of oil drills and not much else. It’s Antarctica big and void of most stimuli. We camped out that night on the side of trail, to wake up to Elk the next morning.
Camping out trailside in in Wyoming
As the sun rose we cycled through herds of them running alongside us. Awesome. After a long day, another bivvy as we reached the edge of the Basin, but still not quite back to relative civilisation. On day 15 we rode triumphantly out of the Great Basin, leaving Wyoming and into Colorado.
I’d been so amped to meet Kirsten and Greg who run the Brush Mountain Ranch - famous amongst Tour Divide Riders for their support and welcoming vibes. They rocked. Coffee, eggs and pancakes have never tasted so good!
Kirsten and Greg who run Brush Mountain Ranch
Getting back in the saddle was hard as I didn't want to leave! This became a common challenge throughout Colorado.....not wanting to get back on the bike! This day finished in Steamboat Springs with a beer and bike MOT at Orange Peel Bikes. Lightning left Orange Peel with a new chain and his 3rd rear tyre (rolling true and back to tubeless!). The guys there were awesome, staying open late for us and sharing their beer!
Lightning McBenjamin (my steed!) getting some TLC in Orange Peel Bikes
Finding somewhere to sleep was tough that night as there was a rodeo in town. Believe it or not, 2 separate strangers took pity on us and invited us to stay with them at their homes, but we were determined to ride through town. Having lost our momentum a little and feeling shattered, we ended up taking the last free motel room on the outskirts of town...which happened to be the honeymoon suite!! Ha! Mike and I were well beyond bashful by now....all we saw was the laundry room, warm shower and comfortable queen sized bed...not the jacuzzi in the corner of the room! Haha!
Straight out of Steamboat Springs I had my arse handed to me with over 30 miles of climbing! Not even the 18 miles of descent made it worthwhile this time! But that ended up being a solid 130 mile day...which I guess did make the effort worthwhile! The next few towns almost ended my Tour! Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge. All vibrant ski towns, which made riding through them almost impossible! So many coffee shops and cool people. I lost about 2 hours to coffee and cake in Breckenridge!
Frisco...was hard to leave!
The Tour soon got my attention again with Boreas Pass, the highest of the race at 11,500ft. After topping out, Mike and I lost the route on the descent which added a short but psychologically brutal climb back up to find the single track! What was an awesome start to the day was now turning into a horror movie as my planned refuel town had shut down. Everything in the town was deserted. Luckily another kind soul let Mike and I fill our water bottles up as we headed into the Colorado Basin. Miles and miles of rolling wasteland. This country is insanely big! You would've thought that some ‘flat’ would be food for our souls, but the cruel irony of the Tour still had the upper hand! We had ridden into a biblical thunderstorm.
Nothing like riding in to a biblical thunderstorm!
With massive lightning bolts striking the ground randomly all around us. Seriously. It was genuinely scary, and enough incentive for Mike and I to override our body’s fatigue to pull 33kph into the one bar town of Hartsel. Soaking wet, cold and empty - a burger and coke tasted like food from the gods!!
As the days ticked by, we climbed so many passes that I forgot their names, altitudes and even the number! It was climbing purgatory. The only way was to believe that it would never end, that way you take away all the other options from your mind and just climb! Mike and I had a couple of tough nights on the trailside in the wet, but we kept on pushing. After riding with the constant threat of bears form day one - Grizzly, Black and Brown - we were finally almost out of bear country. If I never heard my whistle ever again it wouldn’t be a bad thing! I had lost my bear spray some time ago as it had got detached from my bike on one of the descents! Anyway, in typical Tour Divide irony it was on the southern most section of Colorado that I encountered my only Bear. I’m not sure who was more shocked - Me, the bear cub or Mike! Yeah, it was a bear cub minding it’s own business on the trail, which does conjure cute images of Yogi Bear but actually it shook both Mike and I up a little. A cub means that not far away there’s a very protective, and much bigger mum! Ha! It came to nothing other than more lactate and painful legs having pedalled like the wind away from the oblivious bear cub! On day 20 we forecasted that we would ride in to New Mexico, the final state. Moral was high, but you know what’s coming….
It began pretty normal, we had planned to restock and maybe eat a hot meal in a small town called Horca - which was closed! The only shop for 40 miles, randomly shut for the day! So we pushed on to the next settlement on the map only to find that this was shut too. Had been for a few years! Mike and I were in shit at this point. We had a couple of big days ahead without resupply options and had hardly eaten anything that 24 hours. Processing our options on the side of the road, a lovely lady called Pam pulled up next to us on a quad bike with her grandchildren. She invited us to join her family for lunch - 4 generations of them. If that wasn’t incredible enough, Pam gave us more food to take with us so that we could get through the next day and night. Such a lovely person and family. A serious god send.
Mike and I with Pam and her family
After leaving and about 20k from her cabin, I realised that I’d left my passport and money on her table!!! You can imagine my heart sinking. This might well have been the breaking point for Mike and I, but it was the contrary. Mike is a strong rider, but a top guy, I was so grateful for his friendship on this adventure. We both rode back to get it, laughing all the way at how stupid I’d been!
The moment shortly before I realised I had left my passport at Pam's!
After losing a few hours and our momentum, we struggled after that and didn’t reach our targeted stop, however we were in New Mexico now. Instead we found a late camp spot off the trial and ate Pam’s chilli beans and potatoes. A rollercoaster of a day, but also a typical Tour Divide day too!
New Mexico. New Mexico. After riding over 2,200 miles and never ending climbs, I had painted a romantic picture in my head of New Mexico. It’s flat. It’s the final leg and I should be almost done now! I couldn’t be more wrong! The toughest climbs of the tour came on day 22 riding out of Abiquiu. 40 miles of climbing on sand, rock and mud. I think the toughest day for me.
Again we fell short that day as our bodies were empty. I couldn’t allow myself a third low mileage day, so I decided to pull the plug, rest and fuel up for an early start to pull some mileage back. We had some tarmac ahead which would help us. I had been comfortably on target for 25 days, but within the last few days I had lost time and was now behind that target.
The next morning I was up at 1am and on the bike by 2am. An awesome time to ride, no traffic, no rain and no mud. We pushed for about 12 hours and refuelled in a town called Milan. I wanted to get to Pie Town that day, we both wanted that 25 day finish. So we pushed on.
Not long after the sun had come up in those first 12 hours
The going was as good as it could be, until late that night. After 190 miles of riding and only 10 or so from the famous Pie Town, Mike and I would be hit by another biblical storm. We had climbed the final pass of the Tour, but New Mexico wasn’t letting up. It took us 3 hours to push our bikes 7k! The mud there is like cement. The locals call it Caliche. I couldn’t ride it, my wheels had clogged up as the mud cemented itself to my tyres. The mud was brutal. In the end I wasn’t even pushing my Stumpy, I was dragging it as the wheels were jammed solid. Brutal. We’d covered 290 km’s in about 19 hours and it took us 3 plus hours to drag our bikes the final 10k!
Caliche - mud like cement!
You can imagine that conversation was low that night! Both Mike and I had lost our sense of humours.... we had until we finally reached Pie Town at about 3 in the morning. We pitched our bivvys in the aftermath of the town’s 4th of July dance, only to interrupt a drunken couple consummating the national holiday in the bushes! Ha! I was too tired to even watch! My computer showed that we had been riding for 21 hours over the 24 hours, we had pulled back the miles with this 303km day. This was a “It doesn't have to be fun to be fun” day alright! The feeling though lying in my Rab sleeping bag, shattered, makes it all worthwhile. I love earning that satisfied feeling.
A 303km day - over 10,000 calories burned.
The next morning, after cleaning and servicing our bikes again, Kathy and Stanley of Pie-O-Neer Cafe opened up early for us. Pie Town is called Pie Town because it’s famous for it’s pies! Seriously. I’d read about the Pie-O-Neer Cafe and was super excited to eat there, as it happened it was even more awesome than I’d imagined. I had 3 slices of ‘pie’ and ice cream for breakfast - I would say that I earned it! I had never quite got the American’s love of ‘pie’ ...but I get it now! I’ve talked about that pie so much since coming back that my mates bought me two pie baking books for my birthday! Kathy and Stanley were again so lovely to us. This was a much needed moral boost.
Nick, Mike and myself with Kathy at the famous Pie-O-Neer Cafe
Leaving Pie Town, the rain continued. It was unrelenting in fact! It’s supposed to be dry in New Mexico during this period, but we’d hit an early wet spell. More mud...more pushing bikes....more soul searching as we inched forward. So close yet so far!!
Finally to Silver City in the morning, and for a much need feed after the night on the trail side. Like so many experiences I’ve had in life, New Mexico was both the toughest leg of the Tour and also gave me my best moment of the Tour. The night before we’d we lost the trail on the final Continental Divide crossing, rendering it almost impossible to continue as we were aware that there were some serious drops around us in the dark. I decided to pitch my tent and tackle it in the light of the morning. I didn't sleep much, as I was mesmerised by the stars and the concept of actually sleeping on the Continental Divide. An amazing experience.
A New Mexico sunset during the last 100km
The morning into Silver City was some of the best technical single track I’ve ever ridden. So much fun that it overrode my fatigue and felt like a Saturday morning rip! Some of the racers felt it was too much at the end of the race, complaining about it in various blogs, but I loved it, I hope it stays in the route. Anyway, I had two breakfasts when we finally arrived in Silver City. My second favourite food of the Tour, after Pie, was breakfast burritos! We were so close now, only about 170 miles to border! But anything can happen! One big day ahead of us. We were riding now with Nicklaus from Switzerland. We’d been passing each other most of the race, sometimes camping just a few hundred yards from each other without knowing, but we’d all conceded into the same rhythm now.
THE FINAL 100 MILES
The final 100 miles is on tarmac....and quite possibly the mentally most challenging part. Imagine a straight and flat road through the wilderness. Almost desert. It’s mind numbing. It did give me a final funny moment though. ...Male ego!! Ha!
We’d raced together into the night again, side by side now taking up both lanes of the highway as a 3 now with Nick. Only 8 miles from the border. I use the word race there as we had been racing, all be it not against each other, but with ourselves and that ever more imposing 25 day barrier. Without really communicating I think that we assumed we would ride into the border together. It would be appropriate I felt, certainly with Mike and I as we had both put each other ahead of our own objectives at different times throughout the previous 25 days. However...we are all primal at our cores and this showed 8 miles out. The pace was picking up - 18kph, 19kph.... after a while I felt my legs burning and looked at my computer to see that we were holding about 28/30kph! Ha! We had each been pushing a little, nudging an inch or so in front, and the other wouldn't be dropped...and vice versa. I laughed!! It was insane really, I had balanced my exertion on a knife’s edge of calorie deficiency for 25 days - to bonk just a few miles out! Mike decided to have a mile race before the border. Sounded good, but I played it cool. We all decided to knock the pace back until the next road marker and drop the hammer for a mile. No real reason other than our male egos! It was so funny, and so completely logical too! The marker came...Mike went first on his single speed, pulling away, but I knew he would spin out eventually. Nick built his speed constantly, he was fast, but a mile balls out is a long way after 2,700 of them before! I left it late, imagining I was Cav on my Spec! No train to lead me out, but I was all in. I even turned my lights off so they wouldn't see me coming! Ha! I’m laughing writing this! In homage to Cav, I snuck it! ...but immediately regretted the decision! We laughed so much even though our bodies were screaming. Riding up to the Mexican border together was so awesome. Such a privilege to have experienced all that I had on this event, to get to know Mike and to finish it with two top guys. As Always I rang my folks back in Wales and Tracy, to let you guys know by updating my website, twitter and facebook.
Me, Mike and Nick at the finish!
The only way back would be to re-ride the last 100 odd miles back to somewhere to get transport links - the end isn’t really the end, but we were lucky that Jeff (a good Samaritan) had been following us on the Trackleaders website and was there to give us a lift back to his ranch. He and wife let us use their shower, fed us, gave us a beer....even had a pack of clean pants for us! This might sound weird, Jeff is a stalwart of looking after Tour Divide racers - he knows that actually after living in my lycra shorts for 25 days, putting on a new pair of Y-Fronts is actually a godsend!
The next day I got on a Greyhound bus to Phoenix, the driver was lovely letting me on the full bus, even though I had to stand for the 4 hour trip. It was so lush of her as the next bus wasn't for another day. It’s amazing really how our perceptions can change, I was so grateful to stand even after 2,753 miles.
It’s no surprise to me that my gear performed perfectly. My Specialized Stumpy was awesome, as were my Rab shells and sleeping bag, the 2nd generation firefly devices worked exceptionally, and despite any abuse | throw at my tech, my Sony products keep on working well. The real challenge was how my mind and body performed! Many of you won’t know this, but I had about 9 months off completely and about 18 months off serious performance after Antarctica. I was busy, as much of that was spent finishing my book and with other filming and commercial opportunities, but it took me that long to recover emotionally, mentally and physically from the 2 year cycle culminating with the speed record in Antarctica. I’ve been working closely with Nic (The pocket rocket and now Prof Nicola Phillips!) to get strong again. We felt that this was the right time to visit the well again, so to speak. I’d been working hard on a rehabilitation and prehabilitation cycle, but managing my training work load closely, as every time I pushed or increased my volume I seemed to break down. So understandably I was a little nervous leading into an event of this scale. Of course I had a few wobbles through the race, resilience is a skill that needs to be trained like any other, but I sincerely feel that I finished stronger than I started. I was shattered - and sore - but injury free, and more importantly mentally hungry again. Training is going well now as a result, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, all building on course for my next project in 2016. The Tour Divide was a huge success because of how tough it was. I simply couldn’t have replicated that level of mental, emotional and physical demand back at home. The privilege was experiencing America like this, as well as the people I was grateful to meet along the way. It’s changed my perception of this wonderful (in the true sense of wonder) country. I will race the Tour Divide again, it would be awesome to push it a little more knowing what I know now.
I wrote in my first Tour Divide blog that often in endurance events such as this, the real race in within ourselves, and I stand by that. This philosophy was epitomised by my friendship with Mike (Michael Eyb) throughout the race.
We met on day 2 and shadowed each other for the remaining 23 days. Each of us experiencing our own highs and lows at various times as well as experiencing our own journeys, but bonded by our love of cycling and own personal internal challenge instead of competing against each other. My experience was richer for sharing it with Mike. Thanks mate if you’re reading this! I’ve put a shrimp on my ‘barbi’, and I’ve turned the volume up on my Fat Freddy’s Drop album back here in Wales for you! Ha! I thought about you the other day, as I had a meeting in a cafe that was playing FFD! Needless to say I’ll be going back there now! Towards the end of the race we synchronised with Nick from Switzerland who we’d been yo-yoing with us almost since day 1. Nick again added to our experience, it was fitting that we arrived in Antelope Wells at the New Mexico border together.
As with many things, my overwhelming emotions are gratitude and pride. Of course I work hard, but I feel blessed to be able to do what I do, and I couldn’t do it without the support, belief and vision of my team. So many cogs, each as vital as the next. Thank you. And thank you to you guys too for following me and taking the time to read my blogs. As I mentioned at the top, I get all your messages and they mean a lot to me. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone this week, even the smallest step can teach us so much. Until next time I wish you safe and happy adventures.