Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday News And Views

Dot Watchers will be busy for the next month or so. Tour Divide starts today.
Musings On The Tour Divide:

Today is the day a lot of riders full of hope will clip in somewhere around Banff, Canada for a long ride down the spine of the Rocky Mountains to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Maybe some of their hope will win out and they will actually accomplish this feat.

I used to get really excited about this event, but anymore......meh! It isn't the event it once was, and for me at least, it isn't as intriguing as it once was. Actually, I think the Tour Divide is responsible, in part, for why the "shine is gone" off this event after 12 or so years of its existence.

That's right. "TD" has only been around about a dozen years. But you may have heard about events like the Tour Divide that predate this. You aren't wrong, but it was a completely different event. It was an event that left from the "Port Of Roosville" Montana and ended in Antelope Wells. That event had cutoff timing points, a rule against cell phone use, and was largely done in an era where "social media" was either absent, or did not even exist yet. The ubiquitous SPOT trackers which generate the "dots" which fascinate today's Tour Divide watchers weren't a thing then. The only real feedback anyone could get outside of actually participating in the Great Divide race were the phone calls some riders would post along the way on a specific call in site. For a great look at what once was the Great Divide race, check out John Billman's excellent write up for "Outside" HERE.

John's story heralds the event as "The World's Toughest Bike Race", and back then, there was a plausible argument to be made for that claim. There are those who would say that the Tour Divide is still "that sort of an event", but to my way of thinking, that ship set sail a LONG time ago. In fact, I wrote a bit about this in a past "Minus Ten Review" on the blog a couple of years back now. I was musing on what the Great Divide Race once was compared to today.

".....that was a time when "bikepacking" had yet to become a term on the tongue of every wannabee hipster wanderer with a beard and a high priced bivy. There were lots of people using racks and hard mounted bags. SPOT trackers weren't a thing yet, but they were coming on strong by that time. Cell phones didn't work throughout most of the route, and GPS wasn't something most folks even had access to yet. There weren't ten ways to follow someone on the route, there was only one, and if they had a "dot" to watch, it was a bonus. Most of the time you had only the uploaded call ins, if a rider made call ins at all.

Am I saying that the Great Divide was a bit "purer" event than the TD is now? Maybe. You could make an argument for that for sure. I guess I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know I liked the event back then better than I do now.

I still feel the same about it today. You know though, that's just me. I'm probably an outlier. I know that there are "different levels of self-support" events and everyone has their own definition. I've written about that before as well.  

The thing is, the TD has become a marketing tool, a social media scene, and more. It obviously is difficult, and it has elements of the previous years events which are laudable and worthy of pursuit. That said, it isn't as tough to ride 2,000 plus miles today as it was back ten plus years ago alone with no Facetime, no "likes" to count, and no interaction on digital platforms. There was no Salsa top cap pie token, no folks camped out looking for you along the way, and you had to hustle because there was only an allotted 25 days to "get 'er done". If you didn't get there within the time allotments, it didn't count. Imagine if that were the case today. 

GTDRI Reactions:

It's funny, because in years past I would never know if anyone would show up for this ride. I posted about it, asked for comments, or if anyone was coming, and......... crickets. Usually a good handful would show, but one year I had only two other guys show up! This year I have already had at least a half a dozen folks say they were coming. 

Last year I had the most riders ever show up. Now you never know, but it would't at all surprise me to see that equaled or surpassed this time. Then again, maybe only a half dozen will show up! One thing that has been a bit of a disappointment over the years is that there have been very few women that have ever done the GTDRI. Maybe three years we had any women show up. It sure would be great to get some of the females out along with the group.

But whatever..... I'm riding no matter if anyone shows up or not. So, in my opinion, when folks do show up, I count it as an amazing thing, and I am very grateful for it when people decide to come spend the day with me. 

Mud guard success evidence.
When Mud Guards Are Good:

This past Spring was a wet, cool affair and the roads were often messy. I have two rigs set up with fenders and they worked great this Spring keeping me cleaner and my bike less goopy. My choice? Planet Bike ALX fenders

I have been a Planet Bike fender user for years, but the Cascadia ALX is their top choice for me these days. The hardware is stainless steel, the fenders are aluminum, and the simplicity of mounting these and removing them is tops. One set resides permanently on the Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" single speed and the other I installed on the Raleigh Tamland Two last year. 

Well, with summer here I figured I would remove the fenders from the Raleigh. I took the rear fender off first, and it was dirty underneath, certainly, but when I removed the front fender, I was shocked. 

First of all, it was oddly heavy in the hand. The ALX fenders have a bit of heft to them, which I appreciate since that heft results in strength and rigidity. The ALX fenders are dead quiet on the bike. But I knew they didn't weight this much! I turned the fender over to find what you see in the image to the left here. I was amazed!

The part you see between my feet? That was level full of dried up mud. My tires must have had barely any clearance! And as I recall, during one of my recent rides on the Tamland, I heard some high pitched whining/buzzing, which was this mud scraping the tire, most likely! Obviously, I cleaned that out before storing them until later in the year when I will remount them for Winter and early Spring. 

That's a wrap for this week. Get some riding in and thanks for reading!

1 comment:

jkruse said...

Wow, that Billman article was a truly great read. Thanks for sharing!