Monday, September 19, 2011

"You're barking mad, that's what!"

That's what I hear from some folks. Well, not so much here in the United States. It's usually put a bit more crass here in the U.S. If I had friends in Dublin or Glasgow I imagine that is what they'd say. I have a great imagination. But I digress... (Digressing is one of my better talents).

It's what I hear when I tell people I race cyclocross. Yep, bicycles. In the mud and/or snow if that is what nature provides. And I enjoy it. Well, afterwards I think "Wow, that was pretty cool". During the race itself I'm often thinking "Holy Mother of Cows what the hell was I thinking to go out in this stinkin' muck in temperatures that would make a polar bear find a sleeping bag and a camp fire?!?!?!"

I've heard a similar phrase when people have seen my tattoo. Not many have, so today's the big unveiling.

I know, I don't look like the tattoo-type. For the most part I would agree with you. But as you may have guessed, there's a reason for it. It started out as a joke with my wife (because previously I told her I never had a need to get a tattoo) and she called my bluff. Oh crap, I had to own up. After several months of watching his work I approached the fantastic Any Johnson at Cap City Tattoo. I wanted to come  up with something to not only in the memory of James, but something to encompass our other sons as well. Between Andy, my bride Catie and myself we came up with what you see above. The falling feather is to symbolize James of course but to me the rest of the feathers are family and friends - all the people that keep me aloft, so to speak. Every one just as important as the others.

More madness? Guess what? After several months of Craig and I kidding each other about how cool of an adventure the mountain bike race of the Great Divide would be, I opened my mouth (OK, let my fingers fly) on Loving The Bike's review of Ride the Divide and guess what - I won a copy of Ride the Divide and backed myself into racing the Great Divide in 2013. Doh! Now this one is really bonkers. How do I transform myself from a field service guy who gets to put in 60 miles a week if all goes well to someone who can ride 100+ miles a day, up and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains & hauling all of my own gear? Doing that for a couple of days would be barking mad. Making the entire 2,745 mile trek is... unfathomable.
Of course the question is "Can I really do this?" The answer is, I just don't know. The Tour Divide is not just a hard race. It's more that just a big challenge. The Tour Divide is a brutal race if the truth be known. I have to be able to take about a month or so off of work. I need to have enough money together for me to use during the trip as well as for my family to live off of while I'm off playing masochistic bike monkey. I need to be up to living in a tent or bivy sack for most of that trip. I need to physically be up to the challenge. And I need to be able to cope with the day after day of solitude. Well, I'm sure Craig will be with me at the start but after a few days he's going to want to take off and I'll be holding him back so I'll tell him to take off and not wait for me and after the fourth time saying it he's going to take off and... See, I told you digression was one of my talents.

Yes it would be an amazing accomplishment. Yes the scenery would be indescribable. Yes I'm crazy. But am I crazy enough to really, honestly do this? Well, let's get through this 'cross race season and go from there, eh?

Thanks for reading.


  1. Great post.....and man am I looking forward to what lies ahead for you. I'm glad our contest and review helped spark this goal of yours and we'll be watching as you move towards it.


  2. Hey J.D., you are aware that the Divide ride is totally unsupported? I'd encourage you to do some brevet riding with me and friends. It will get you used to riding unsupported. I'm not saying you should do a 400 or 600K, or, maybe you should...but you both could do a 200 or 300k. I will be continuing this as I love it. Good luck in taking this on!!

  3. This sounds like an amazing trip. Since I'm the logical type, I wonder how you'll find the time to train properly for this so you'll be able to stay safe and uninjured.

    It's an awesome goal.