Seems pretty silly, right?
Like, how on earth can anyone truly prepare to sit on a bike and peddle almost 3,000 miles through five states, two border crossings, and environments ranging from lush valleys to scorching desert? Short of doing the damn thing, is there really any amount of training that can prepare you for that? Last year a tree fell and crushed a guy riding northbound on the Divide.
A tree, people! Ain't no amount of training gonna prepare you for that.
But that's the question I've been asked more than any other.
How's the training going? What are you doing to train?
"Um. Just riding a lot." (awkward silence)
Truth be told, that's about it. I don't have a training plan. There are no workouts. I don't wear a heart rate monitor. I try to keep track of mileage with Strava, but I don't pay for the premium account, and sometimes I forget to record a ride.
I mean, all I have to do is ride my bike and not get eaten by a bear. How hard can that be?
Alright, if you must know, here's an idea of what we've been up to. Just 8 weeks from our start date and I'm lucky if I get the following accomplished in a day:
• ride my bike ~ 20 miles
• not think about all of the things that could go wrong
• eat candy
• practice sprinting, in the event of a bear scare
• stretch those hip flexers (they're so tight you could pick a tune)
• stalk the Tour Divide racers who just set off Friday
• ride my bike even if I don't want to
• not spend money
• pretend I'm weaning myself from coffee
• eat more candy (Hannah introduced me to the greatest invention of all time, Hershey's Snack Mix, 855 glorious calories of pretzels, mini Hershey bars, and almonds)
• not shower
• let myself be bored
• sign myself up for suffer fests, like the Gravel Race up Spruce Knob, which Adam and I are both doing on July 8th
Less often than all of the above is the occasional UNO, or unnecessary overnighter. It's a trip format stolen from our Damascus friends. UNOs are great when you want to turn a short trip into a weekender, which is about all Adam and I have time for these days.
One of our favorite training rides is a 20.5-mile mixed terrain loop with over 1,800 feet of elevation. We love it for several reasons, namely the fact that it's in our backyard, but also the combination of pavement, gravel, singletrack, and of course, solitude. Last Saturday we set out after dinner around 8pm and climbed up King's Gap in the Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Area. We pitched our tent beside a hip-high, fern-lined forest and fell fast asleep.
Well, Adam did. Somehow he has perfected the art of drowning out nighttime noises. Must have been those two thru hikes or something. I, on the other hand, tossed and turned to the sound of a whippoorwill, which would have been charming had it not sung its distinct call literally all. night. long.
In the morning, we scarfed down a bag of fruit snacks and headed off the mountain, home in time to make an eggs-and-toast breakfast. Oh and did I mention the pool?
A luxury ride, no doubt, but I'm gonna soak it up while it lasts.
Have any questions about our ride, our preparations, or our rigs? Ask away in the comments below! We're by no means bikepacking experts, but we'll do our best to share what we know and what we've learned the hard way!