The Ultimate Goal

So what is this nonesense all about, anyway?  Why race bikes?

For me, the first MTB ride was a fluke on a borrowed bike up the mountain behind the rafting company I worked at the time.  The goal was to see the view from the top - I'd always been drawn to the outdoors and high places in particular, logging many miles of hiking and climbing in Arizona's "sky islands" in my teens and early twenties.  The ride itself was most painful, and I walked a good bit.  I basically sucked.

Then I discovered Crested Butte, where one could cover so much territory by bike.  Revelation!  I was hooked for life.  Later that year, friends wouldn't ride with me anymore and told me I needed to race these things.  Certainly, racing holds it's own competitive flow & draw, but the typical XC race isn't exactly a great way to get "out there".  It did, however, provide the motivation to improve skills to new levels...

Fast forward to 2003.  I (re)discovered the joy of epic rides, the being "out there" aspect, the hours upon hours of aerobic effort and the clear-mindedness that results, nearly meditation.  Dang, there are 100 mile races out there?  24 hour solo events?  It was a whole new world, the sport of cycling keeps evolving and presenting new opportunities and challenges.

This year has seen more revelations.  KTR was an eye-opening experience.  142 miles self-supported through desert and mountain with a midnight start, who'da thunk it?  An interesting format, with it's basis firmly tied to mountain bikings original code of self-sufficiency.  I've been fascinated with the concept of doing the Grand Loop Race as well, a 3-4 day epic event. 

In the same vein is the ultimate mountain bike race,  the Great Divide Race.  From the website:

The Great Divide Race is a self-supported, solo competition following the 2,490-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, the route demands over 200,000 feet of climbing along it's length. Competitors carry all equipment necessary to negotiate the backcountry, restocking on food and other supplies from the small towns along the route.

I'm feeling the attraction as sure as the earth tugs at the moon...

Last year's winner, Matthew Lee, is racing again.  He does the entire Great Divide route by starting outside of Banff, Canada a week ahead of the official race start.  I wonder what that makes his stats?  Anyway, he's put together a terrific blog on the course, complete with photos, and will post audio updates as the race progresses over the next month.  I'd encourage all to check this out.  For most, it's armchair reading at it's best; for a few it may even seem doable.

Dream away!

Published Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:14 AM by Dave


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 4:24 AM

I could see doing the Grand Loop or the KTR, but the Great Divide? After I found out that it is basically a gravel road ride (I am simplifying it a bit) I realized I can't/don't want any part of it. I ride for the pleasure of it all. Challenge is nice, but I gots to get my fun on.
I am definitely not saying it is not an extreme challenge. I just need mental stimulation.


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:06 AM

My first mtb ride was an excuse to go on a "date" with a boyfriend. It's all his fault...


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:12 AM

The ultimate MTB race doesn't exist (yet). Think Stephen King's "The Long Walk". That's what I'm talking about, except on bikes and singletrack only.


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 6:46 AM

I think the GDR would be a blast. Granted, there's not a ton of singletrack in it or anything, but it would still be an awesome race to participate in. I think the hardest part would come once you drop out of the Gila mountains into southern New Mexico desert in July. Ouch...

Travis Swicegood

# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:19 AM

Dicky, you are one sick and twisted individual. Does the ultimate mtb race have to be your last?

Oh that's right, you ride the meatplow.


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:36 AM

...and Lynda, does that mean you do it for love? That's a darn good reason...


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 7:43 AM

Dave -

Good luck this weekend! I'll be thinking of your huge efforts as I suffer during a two hr ride. You were a beast back (way back) at Echo riding a DiamondBack special in Tevas, I can't imagine your power now!! AWESOME!!
Dig deep this weekend, you'll rock 'em!

Dr. Woo

# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 8:03 AM

I don't think the ultimate mountain bike race can be defined in terms of miles or hours, or even terrain. I think it's a state of mind. It's what we seek to find, and it comes to you when you least expect it.

You know my Mullholland story. That to me was the ultimate...especially rolling into Malibu hours after I thought I should have quit.

That to me was the ultimate race, and it's why
I go do these things. I think the miles, elevation, terrain all just scale with the skill of the person. But even a begginner can have an ultimate race.


# @ Thursday, June 22, 2006 2:05 PM

1st mtb ride was when i was ten on trails behind my friend's house in the early seventies - what a blast we had.

A long break followed and in order to stay in shape for skiing in the early 90's I looked at cycling, road bikes, but a friend convinced me to take his Trek out on some local trails and the next day I bought a Cannondale Delta V - it's still around.

Since then it's been many journeys and much fun!

Ed E

# @ Sunday, June 25, 2006 8:55 AM

Dicky, you are a sick puppy. We definitely gotta go on a ride the next time you come up around Asheville.



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