Blazin the Great Divide-Finale

Greetings from the Mexican border!!!

And welcome to my final post for this journey. I think we are all happy about that!

As alluded to in one of my first blogs, you will finally be “treated” to an original poem.πŸ™„πŸ’€πŸ€“

Credits go to Dr. Suess and far too many readings of “The Cat In The Hat” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, Etc. And, as an adult reading to my children “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

Here we go…..

FROM THE COLLECTION OF MENTAL MEANDERINGS CALLED:

COMES……

BLAZIN THE GREAT DIVIDE 🚴

“A Whydunit? Poem”

As written by a simple minded over achiever


Off to Blazin I must say…..

I did go one August Day

1


Across our country was my view

And quite clearly…I had not a clue

2


In Whitefish town with bike and gear

I bid farewell…..and shed a tear.

3


Then pedaled south…a little scared

My grit to trust….quite unprepared

4


I fought it early in every way…

The urge to go….the will to stay

5


Until my vision became more clear

Through careful touch of one so dear

6


Advice that took me to familiar places…

A book I love with a Thousand Faces

7


I knew this journey must be taken

To charge away…..To re-awaken

8


To try things out….to test your grit

You’ll find it fun…..to fail a bit

9


So, its always Blazin…..I hope to be

Its just somethin that’s inside of me.

10


I miss you all and thank you for your support and efforts that allowed me this opportunity.

I am grateful!

❀️

Steve

The Scene. Part 4: Blaze and The Bear Knife win Battle of No Potty!

Yet another…..One never knows how things may go!

As you may recall, Son in Law Shawn gave me a very thoughtful gift before I left on this big adventure. A “Bear” knife πŸ€—πŸ˜³

As stated previously, based on its size, and my knife fighting skills, I do not think it was actually meant to, nor could, harm a bear.

But, perhaps help put the bear victim out of misery should a bear attack be imminent?

Anyway, it has been a good reminder of bear safety and kinda cool to carry around.

I must say, I have developed a bit more swagger with it now since we never encountered bears and have been clear of bear territory for several weeks. WHEW!

And just when you think you, thankfully, won’t be needing that piece of equipment….

Well, I wonder who that could be? Opportunity???πŸ˜πŸ˜‚

AND NOW

The Scene for Opportunity’s success:

So, after a 60 mile very hilly and long day we arrived at our last “Bush Camp” (code for no facilities….just one drop toilet….shared by all) on Tuesday.

Occasionally, one of the first stops for riders after such a day is a visit to the facilities.😬

To our chagrin, consternation?….no, horror! We encountered this situation…..

Yep, our only toilet option is locked up with no one in sight with a key.

On this particular day we had beaten the support vehicles to camp and assumed they would have made arrangements for toilet access so we “patiently” awaited their arrival.

Well, the look on their faces was disturbing, to say the least, as they realized that there was no key and the place was deserted.

The staff started making emergency arrangements by beginning to erect a temporary “tent potty” (just keeps getting better!)

Wilbert and James beginning to construct a “Crappier Crapper” in a small tent. 😳

Years and years of working with my “MacGyver” father (fixed anything somehow) paid off as I ambled over to the scene of the ensuing debacle….Bear Knife in hand.

Within minutes I had jimmied the door open with my trusty knife and given it the Watergate Duct Tape treatment.

The camp went up in cheers of relief and joy πŸ“£πŸŽ‰πŸŽˆwith the opening of the drop toilet (talk about desperation)!

Being hailed as the camp crapper savior seemed a little awkward πŸ˜¬πŸ˜‚

But, King of Crap is better than nothing!

Resume update coming soon!

Yours Truly,

Blaze and The Knife πŸ”ͺ

camp heroesπŸ˜‚

The Final Countdown

Happy Monday!

Dateline: Somewhere deep in the hinterlands of New Mexico. (Cruzville if you can find it)

BTW

I swear there are more white pickup trucks here than there are residents.

Standard White Pick up with Ultra Redneck option package.

Special note: The operator of our campground here walks around with two holstered pistols.

T-minus 5 days and counting as we enter the final stretch to the Mexican border. Yay!

Luckily no rain in the forecast until our final day Friday. We will be primarily on paved roads that day. That is really good because these back roads we ride on turn into peanut butter (crunchy) if it rains at all.

In lieu of rain though….we have been having continuous heavy winds almost always directly on our nose as we ride.

It can literally stop you going down a hill at times.

Not much else to report. Just in total grind mode from here on out.

The best scenery is behind us although the vistas here are vast and beautiful.

Lots of scrub brush and supposedly goat head thorns. Super windy here. We are still up at 7,000 feet.

Looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone!

My best,

Big Hat…. NoPistol πŸ˜³πŸ˜‚

That was kind of annoying……Part 2

GUESS WHAT???

3 guesses and the first two don’t count as we used to say πŸ˜‚

Yep!

Another “Plan B” Day developed Thursday.

Ironically, it was the same cast members starring in the exact same genre with a slight plot twist.

A scenario right out of Hollywood’s playbook!

Your Heros at it again! πŸ™„πŸ˜Ž

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Dateline: Somewhere in Nowheresville New Mezico

The sequel to DAYS OF BLUNDER commenced filming today as our recently repaired van decided it needed to once more take center stage in our daily activities.

This time it was an alternator issue that stranded us somewhere well outside of Grants, New Mexico.

Luckily I had one bar(t) of cell service

and was able to climb on top of the POS VAN to make very feeble contact with a road service company in Milan, NM

In a scene not unlike something from THE PRINCESS BRIDE …..Out to our rescue rode two handsome and daring saviors…

Billy and Cameron from A1 Road Service!

Just in case you find yourself stranded near Grants, New Mexico.

Or anywhere else I guess. They were apparently not busy at all.

Their roadside diagnosis confirmed our suspicion of a failed alternator and we began the process of another day of Plan B.

The Plan

We had other riders depending on the van for on trail support so I decided to incentivize Billy and Cam (see note about “they had nothing else to do”) with the proposal of a wager.

I asked if they thought they could get the van to town and fixed prior to me making the 25 mile bike ride into town.

They were totally game!

We set the wager, they jumped started the van, leapt into their service truck and spun gravel from their tires as they squealed out towards their shop.

To quote Ken Miller:

“For all intents and purposes….I knew I was screwed”

But….Undaunted by the impossible,

I pedaled like a man possessed…..

…….and pulled into the A1 Shop just in time to hear the hood slam shut and the van fire up. 😳

The 2 grinning mechanics slowly sauntered from the front of the van as Billy snickered “where ya been biker boy?”

Uh……well…..um.

Not content with a simple “here’s your money”…..Cam (Mr. πŸ‘) and Billy demanded a ceremony.

I put on a smile and presented the Booty immediately after the playing of The Star Spangled Banner πŸ˜‚

Ergo, Another day…..Another $

Yours truly,

The Bla$e

The Scene: Part 3 The systems/routines

I have now been on tour for 5 weeks. We have moved from Canada to midway thru New Mexico and are now 1 week from finishing.

The experience has been a very interesting from many aspects.

In particular, the constant travel requires a lot of moving parts and pieces. I have been observing what keeps it in motion and recognize the underlying systems and routines that we have all come to rely on.

I thought you may want to know what they are.

Step 1) Breakfast

Breakfast at the back of the Penske truck starts each day. Breakfast time is announced at the prior nights dinner and is dependent upon the next day schedule, weather, etc.

Morning breakfast prep in the Penske. This was a particularly early morning with a 5:30 a.m. start.

Breakfast times vary from 5:30 to 8:00 am. Departure ride time is exactly one hour after breakfast. This means if we are camping you are up and have tent gear packed up before breakfast.

Typical early morning breakfast.

Breakfast is always yogurt, fruit, nuts /raisins and museli. Additional elements of bread and cheese are also available. On special occasions we get eggs or pancakes.

After breakfast we wash all dishes and pack up tables, etc.

Step 2) Luggage

Loading the luggage back in the Penske is next and this is why you need to be “buttoned up” by the time breakfast is finishing

Luggage is tagged (yellow ribbon for camping gear, red ribbon for daily luggage) and is loaded accordingly. Yellow ribbons first so we are ready for motel nights where camping gear stays in the truck.

Red tag luggage (about 1/3 of total luggage….balance is personal camping gear, spare equip, parts, etc)

Step 3) Final ride prep

Once those tasks are complete you make final preparations to ride. Check tire pressures, fill water bottles, load up on your mid ride nutrition choices and make sure you have the right apparel (i.e. rain gear) loaded aboard.

Most Importantly! You double check your Garmin to make sure you are on the correct route and it is operating correctly. We are in very remote areas, and often alone, so it is absolutely critical this device is working.

The last piece of information we receive is where to expect to meet the van for lunch.

Important! You always pack enough nutrition to get thru the whole day no matter what.

Step 4) Lunch

Lunch is virtually the same every day. The van is situated next to the trail in a, hopefully, scenic spot with folding chairs out. Low folding tables are set up with our lunch fare. Bread or Wraps to make sandwiches with the usual fixings. Chips and fruit are staples with some cookies for dessert.

Stage is set for lunch guests!

Step 5) Soup

Upon arrival at the day’s destination everybody is looking for the bright yellow Penske.

It signals a successful arrival and is also the location of a fresh pot of homemade soup. Always something very hearty! Soup is ready by 3:30 pm and kept available until dinner.

Important!

A white board is displayed at the back of the truck. It tells you what time dinner will be served, who is on that night’s “committee” (riders who set up the dinner table, serve dinner and clean up after) and information like WiFi passwords if it is available.

Step 6) Pitch Camp

If you arrive soon enough you can get your tent pitched prior to dinner.

If it is a hotel night you receive your room assignment upon arrival.

Also, the appropriate luggage for either camp or hotel will be available beside the Penske at this time.

Step 7) Dinner

Committee members arrive 30 minutes prior to dinner to set up for the event.

The dinner bell is rung by Gertie (our camp cook) at the prescribed time and the other riders all come to be seated.

Dinner is plated and served by the committee. Subsequent clearing of dinner table ware and serving of dessert is the same protocol.

Dinner setting(s) ready.

Step 8) Post dinner briefing

Wilbert, our group leader, passes out the ride sheet (a one page sheet) detailing the next days ride destination, ride distance, map references, instructions, roadside support information and special notes (i.e. single track areas)

He also announces breakfast time and completes the “loop” πŸ‘πŸ˜„

A typical daily ride sheet.

Step 9) Cleanup

The committee completes their duties by washing all the day’s dishes (lunch and dinner) and making sure the stage is set for the next day.

Some other important details:

* Hand sanitation is mandatory at all group eating events. Hand sanitizer is available prominently at all work areas and on the dining tables. There is great group acceptance, encouragement and adherence to this practice.

* Glitches in routines develop as expected. We don’t have a good group platform communication system so word of mouth is what we rely on.

* It is amazing how responsive and timely people are when they are aware of the schedule and also the fact that it will be executed on time.

FOMO is real.😳…..especially in a circus that moves so frequently. You don’t want to be left behind or miss a meal! πŸ˜‚

Yours truly,

The Blaze

Wednesday…What a difference a day makes…….

The calamity of one day ends and the opportunity of the next day awaits!!!

So Tuesday was an “off the rails” day as we scrambled to repair the van and get back into the flow.

With some semblance of order restored and an “option” day of riding available, I took the opportunity for a solo bike ride on a perfect temperature/blue sky day!

Good Morning!!! A perfect day!

The road just seemed to go on forever!

And….Just when I thought I was on the Road to Infinity……..

Look what I found!?

The MOTHER of all Cattle Guards!!

I dream about these things and practice my approaches carefully.

I have fallen pretty hard on a single rail track and this is like the pretzel logic of normal tracks.

Not to Worry!

Back to back calamities were avoided today as I successfully negotiated this device like……..

A Cow on Skis πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‚

Big Schuss…..no Boom!

AND

Keep MOOving.

Then back to our deluxe lodging at the five star…..

Frontier Motel. A welcome sight.

Always in All ways.

Yours,

Cowabunga (Polar Version)

Tuesday…..Well, that was kind of annoying

Some days are just better or worse than others. Or simply more memorable? 😎.

Today was one of those days.

If you are ever sick of boring and ordinary, then may I suggest spending a few days on the trail with us.

Our van suffered a major calamity this morning when our driver inadvertently crossed over a set of spikes at our campground and damaged all 4 tires.

Talk about a deflating moment.

Cesar (our expert wrecker driver) w/ Wilbert and I headed to the van hospital. Nearest town was 35 miles. πŸ™„

Not much narrative to add to this little vignette. We managed to get all fixed up and back in action by afternoon.

A new and unexpected way to Blaze for sure. πŸ˜‚

Yours truly,

Adaptability is the Only Way.

Well, well, well. Hello New Mexico!

Polar Lander??? Wasn’t “Mars” weird enough?

A Franchising Opportunity!

Okay……

First small towns in New Mexico I rode thru

Everything seems normal here.

Is Area 51, 52 or 53 anywhere near here?? I just feel “something” must be.

We are on the final stages of the ride (10 stages to go) and I am getting anxious to put a bow on this adventure.

It has been incredible in so many ways as the views from today show

Yes, that is me with my feet up and fireplace roaring! Chilly here.

The last few hundred miles are sure to bring many more memorable moments and views. Also, I can assure you there is no place like home.

But!

Still have some exploring and riding to do…..some Blazin as they say. 😎

See you all soon!

The Blaze

A shout out to The Big D

No, No, No!!

Not a shout out to Dallas!

The Big D I am referring to is my trainer Damian Harris…. intergalactically known as Big D!

(Just as hot and much stronger than the other D) 😎πŸ’ͺπŸ˜‚

When I decided to take on the Great Divide Ride one of my first calls was to Damian to give him the bad news.

Yep, The Big D and his reaction to me deciding to ride the Great Divide.

Once his hysterical laughter died down, he went into full “let’s make a purse from this pigs ear” mode (no purse jokes please)

He totally downloaded all the ride information. He assessed the physical dynamics and we had lots of discussions of what it would take to adequately perform and be “comfortable” during this type of event. He then scripted a workout plan for me.

At the first of the year we began Operation Steve is Stupider Than Jupiter and dove into honing me into a GDR capable rider.

Core strength is incredibly important in any endeavor and we began with basic core strength work

Important note…Damian and I began our training relationship well over a decade ago and he was the one who suggested I take up biking for a cardio supplement to weight training. Little did I know!

Off we went to the DH torture chamber a minimum of twice a week and did fun stuff like:

Turkish Getups

Battle Ropes

Side slides

Pull Ups

Pull Downs

Russian Twists

Elephant Walks

We then went bike specific with:

Lots of leg work

Upper and lower back work

And

Alot of between the πŸ‘‚ coaching/chats.

Now the big finale!

Today we made the penultimate climb of the ride over Indiana Pass (elev. 111951ft.) from Del Norte (elev. 8474).

I can only say I couldn’t have done this without all of Big D’s help.

And of course the brains behind the brawn. Trainer Exemplar…. his wife Stacey!!!

As they say, it is all downhill from here!

Yours truly,

Mr. Flew right past Jupiter to Uranus

The Scene. Part 2: Bikes! And Riders

The view from my office today as I write this. Here we go!

Warning!! Amateur bike writer. This is a fictional account of actual bike expertise.

Read at your own risk.

For all you bike junkies out there…..

Hey, It’s Mr. Obvious here to announce that we would not be doing this adventure without our bikes!

They are Critical to the effort in all ways. And while they all share some similar characteristics, they are also individualized to each riders particular style, needs and experience.

So here we go…..from the novice bike knowledge of me comes….the bikes and riders of 2019 GDR.

Note: Taken at Del Norte Colorado. We have said goodbye to quite a few riders from previous stages at this point and this is the group going the whole way.

Renee’s Idworx

Kathryn having a moment with her bike…or putting on lip balm?

Kathryn’s Santa Cruz Juliana

Hans. Dutch Doctor. Biking Machine

Hans aka Terminator’s Blacksmith

Wilbert’s Cube (Group Leader. No photo….couldn’t get release)

Rob. Dutch Navy Computer Programer and another “Hans”

Rob’s Salsa

Stuart. A British downhill bomber on this full suspension Lentz

Stuart and James, our mechanic, working on his Lentz. Too much bombing?

Jim doing some cross fit dumpster push thing. Seems his bike is in a delicate spot should he be successful πŸ˜‚

Jim’s Trek

Dana’s Carver.

Can’t find his pic. Likely getting one last snack before we leave. He has a bottomless pit of an appetite. Hence the saddlebags!

Neil doing some bike whispering

Neil’s Orbea

John’s Salsa

Clive’s Cannondale

Yost’s Cube

Tom’s Salsa….2 pics because he is so photogenic

Yours Truly and The Mighty Moots

Ole 42 needed a nap.

So, what characteristics do all share?

* Mountain bike frame style

* Standard mountain bike tires

(Maxxis seems the tire of choice)

* All disc brakes

What are noticeable variants ?

* Flat bars vs Drop bars (8 flat-7 drop)

* Rigid Fork vs Suspention Fork (4 rigid-11 suspension of some sort)

* Full suspension vs. Hard tail ( 2 full-13 hard)

* 1x drive train vs 2x (primarily single AND we have 1 triple!)

* Tubeless vs tube tires (virtually all tubeless)

Accessories:

* Dropper seats 😎 (2)

* Bar ends (5)

Unique….(as in 1)

*Belt drive

Must haves:

* Water carrying capabilities. Everyone carries at least 3 liters. Our longest unsupported range is 40 miles

* Storage for rain/warm gear, bear spray, first aid, tools, parts, etc.

(We are a supported ride so that makes life a lot less complicated)

Random bike attire thoughts.

Best attire piece I have used almost every day is Rapha Roubaix bibs. They have exterior mesh pockets on the outside of each thigh are are EXTREMELY convenient.

Dressing in layers is really important so looking at route (when climbs occur) and weather (wind, etc) affects my strategy. The group likes to head out fairly quickly for the first 5 to 10 miles and it is nice to be comfy for that portion.

I have gone to “road style” gear exclusively as the ride has developed. Bibs, undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, wind vest, ultra light full sleeve jacket to start most mornings.

Shoes are almost exclusively all SPD type and lightweight. Shoe covers make up for weather variance. We do have two riders on flat pedals.

A lot of this route would be a perfect fit for a gravel road bike BUT there are some incredibly rugged areas where a mountain bike of some sort is about the only option.

Of note: I have now lost 3 water bottles on very very rough descents and I am not out of the ordinary.

In closing.

Having started clueless on this ride and the bike application needed I have to hand it to my friends at

again.

The Moots has been incredible and zero problems.

Only one thing I found out was I had “ejected” enough tire sealant (I would notice wet spots around my tire rims in some rough days) that I had almost none left in my front tire and suffered a leak until we recharged the sealant.

So, should you lose your mind and decide to do this ride feel free to contact me with ANY questions.

I have no technical ability to answer but won’t hesitate to give my opinion!

Yours,

Easty.