I'm a mediocre mountain biker and gravel road enthusiast with negligible ultra experience. I rarely average more than 14mph on my gravel rides. However, I do really enjoy long solo rides on crappy dirt roads, and the Great Divide route has been on my to-do list since I learned of it roughly four years ago.
My decision to ride the Divide in a race format is probably a result of a more traditional roadie bike tour that I completed in the fall of 2009. I pedaled from my home in Minnesota to New Orleans over the span of two months. The trip featured a lot of extended party stops, was mostly ridden with two close friends, and was a really great vacation. However, the segment of the trip that was most memorable for me was a week long stretch where I rode completely alone. Those days were long and tiring, as I didn't have anyone to goof off with and spent basically all of my waking hours in the saddle. By the end of that week I could feel my body beginning to settle into a routine where subsequent fourteen hour days felt normal. I was just getting used to it when I arrived in St. Louis and stopped to hang with my friends for two weeks. Since then I've always intended to do another bike trip where I focused more on pushing my limits than on seeing the sights.
The Tour Divide obviously provides a great opportunity to do just that. It's also a race with an attrition rate of roughly fifty percent, and its easy to question the wisdom of attempting it at all. In an ideal world it would probably make more sense for me to try it in a few years and spend the interim time doing some shorter off road touring and racing. Fortunately thats not an option for me and I can't use that logic to talk myself out of it. I'll be starting law school in the fall and see the next eight or so months as the last 'dick around' time that I'll have until my first midlife crisis. Unlike someone with kids or a real job, I'm at a point where it's still somewhat feasible for me to make this race one of the biggest priorities in my life. That in itself makes 2011 seem like the perfect time for me to ride in the Tour Divide.