Running from Banff in Canada to the Mexican border, the Tour Divide is more than 2,700 miles500 miles longer than the Tour de France. Its route along the Continental Divide goes through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and involves more than 200,000 feet of ascentthe equivalent of climbing Mount Everest seven times.
The other problem is that Howard has never owned a mountain bikeand how will training on the South Downs in southern England prepare him for sleeping rough in the Rockies? Entertaining and engaging, Eat, Sleep, Ride will appeal to avid and aspiring cyclers, as well as fans of adventure/travel narrative with a humorous twist.
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It seemed like a good idea at the time, though the context no doubt had a lot to do with it. Driven to despair by a prolonged stint at a grey job in a grey office in one of London’s greyer suburbs, I eventually sought refuge via the virtual distraction of the Internet. After extensive and disconsolate searching through the inevitable chaff, I finally found
something to fire my imagination.
That something was a news story on a cycling website about the inaugural edition of the world’s longest mountain bike race. The Tour Divide was just about to start in Banff in Canada, and would take those bold or foolish enough to have signed up nearly 2,700 milesdown the spine of the Rockies to the Mexico border.
Curiosity quickly became obsession as the race itself unfurled. Although physically still very much trapped in my mundane surroundings, I was transported vicariously to the magnificent Rocky Mountains. The story of sixteen cyclists attempting to ride such a long distance off-road, to a high point of nearly 12,000 feet and with an overall altitude gain the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest seven times, was compelling. The bears, rattlesnakes, tarantulas and mosquitoes all encountered en route merely added to the drama.
It quickly became clear the story was as much one of survival as victory. Unlike the Tour de France, there were no entry criteria and no entry fee. Nor was there any prize money. There were also no defined stages to keep racers together. Riders soon became strung out over several US states. Half dropped out, not always those near the
back of the field. More notable still, there was no backup or external support allowed, other than that which could be found along the route. Everybody started together in Banff, and everybody had to try and reach the same remote border post in the New Mexico desert by following the same route along the Continental Divide, but apart from that they were on their own, often quite literally.
It had everything life in an office in London didn’t. I had emails and deadlines. It had solitude and timelessness. I had crowded commuter trains and a horizon broken only by shopping malls and office blocks. It had cycling and it had mountains, thousands upon thousands of them. It fulfilled all the requirements of the essential equation of Albert Einstein’s ground-breaking theory of cycling relativity: E=(mc)². Enjoyment = (mountains × cycling) squared.
I thought of it while riding my bike,’ the great man had said after his eureka moment.
He also said: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.’
Full of useful tips, that Einstein. Not wanting to contradict such a profound thinker, I decided to take his equation to heart. The Tour Divide had seduced me.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgements
Chapter 1 Seduction
Chapter 2 A series of unfortunate events
Chapter 3 The bear necessities
Chapter 4 A horseshoe for luck
Chapter 5 Bringing up the rear
Chapter 6 Where the wild things are
Chapter 7 Breakfast with Dolly Parton
Chapter 8 Swan Lake
Chapter 9 A river runs through it
Chapter 10 Three kinds of psychopath
Chapter 11 Signs of life
Chapter 12 Singing in the rain
Chapter 13 Here’s mud in your eye
Chapter 14 This is not Peru
Chapter 15 Leaving Montana
Idaho and Wyoming
Chapter 16 No room at the inn
Chapter 17 Down the Green River
Chapter 18 Encounter with a cowboy
Chapter 19 Across the Basin
Chapter 20 Saved by a siren
Chapter 21 Moscow calling
Chapter 22 Eat, sleep and be grumpy
Chapter 23 I wandered lonely as a cloud
Chapter 24 Cannibal adventure!
Chapter 25 It’s all downhill from here
Chapter 26 Independence Day
Chapter 27 Through the rainbow
Chapter 28 Losing my innocence in Wal-Mart
Chapter 29 Pie Town
Chapter 30 Geronimo!
Chapter 31 The fall
Chapter 32 Satisfaction
What People are Saying About This
"A mixture of international adventure and comic twist on the familiar personal-growth-through-physical-accomplishment theme, the book is lively and very difficult to put down."Booklist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Howard is a bit wordy, but overall I found the account to be humorous and exciting. I'm relieved that, now that I have read this account of the Tour Divide, I can say that I've experienced it without actually having to do it!
A pleasant read about a Yorkshireman taking part in the Tour Divide, an unsupported 2,700-mile race down America's mountainous spine, from Banff in Canada to the Mexico border.The snippets of history were interesting and the descriptions of the scenery were well done: it becomes clear from reading this account that the damage caused by mineral extraction to the lands of the US is quite breathtaking. Paul Howard doesn't harp on about it at all; he just describes the physical effects on the landscape.Sometimes I found his prose a bit laboured, but overall I was deeply impressed by the effort involved in such an undertaking and interested to read about the lands and communities the riders encountered.