Learnings from the Divide thus far

I’m stuck in Rawlins for the afternoon as the famous Wyoming Winds have reared up and it’s impossible to ride into them (you don’t move at all) and dangerous to ride perpendicular as you get blown sideways – I’ve never experienced anything like it. It has made me extremely grateful to have had the 2 sunny days I had crossing the Great Basin as if the wind had started yesterday I’d still be there in the middle of it rationing myself to one M&M an hour so as not to run out of food too quickly.

There are possibly worse places to be stuck but I’m not sure where they are. Poor old Rawlins – I feel bad criticising it when it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is i.e. a functional service town to serve long distance travellers on the highway.

Oh dang, as I was halfway through that paragraph someone approached my table and said her son-in-law (who had asked about my trip when I was parking Reggie outside) would like to pay for my lunch if I cared to order, so I take it all back about Rawlins! Can’t wait for my fillet steak and glass of Chateau Margaux to arrive…

Whilst waiting for the wind to die down – it should be gone about 4pm apparently – I thought I’d blog my learnings from the Divide so far.

1) Never go to Diamond Lil’s in Rawlins and, if you do, don’t order the shrimp

I have food poisoning.

2) You must ride your own ride

The Divide is amazing but tough and to make that an enjoyable challenge and not torture, I think it’s important you do things your own way. Some people are evangelists for travelling light being key to getting to the end but I’m not sure I wholly agree. Certainly a lighter bike than I set out on helps me but I wouldn’t trade in my luxury items (an iPad and a few items of civilian clothing so I don’t feel like a grotty biker when wondering around town on a day off) for the sake of a few grams as they’re important to keep me happy. I’ve seen many different styles along the way: Greg knows the weight of each item to the nearest gram and wonders around in waterproof jacket and trousers at night when not in his cycling shorts as that’s pretty much all he has whilst Sean is carrying everything and the kitchen sink (in the form of a foldable Ortleib bowl). Both of them are getting on just fine. Some people, like me, follow the day’s mileage laid out in the book (although I am actually now effectively 7 days ahead I think after combining some days, although I have had days off so in actuality it’s a bit less than that) whilst others ride as far as they can each day. Whatever their style, the fragmented motley crew that I’ve met along the way all* continue to wind their way south (albeit at various speeds).

*Not David actually as he dislocated his shoulder with some dare-devil riding so has had to retire

3) Don’t expect to do the exact route

Weather leading to impassable roads, wind leading to a stationary ride unless you head off in a slightly different, wind-friendly direction or the need to fast-track yourself to a bike shop and take a short-cut are par for the course. Whether you accept a lift in a quad bike is up to the discretion of the individual but it’s a long way and in the context of (a potential) 2,700 miles, I personally think 30 in a motorised vehicle is acceptable.

4) The phenomenon of the kindness of strangers does exist

I have been constantly touched and amazed by the friendliness and kindness of people I’ve met along the way and the trip wouldn’t be the same without them.

5) Stop washing your hair

I think this is key to people recognising you’re ‘doing something different’ and stopping to chat to you and saying or doing something lovely as it happens to me even when Reggie is out of sight.

6) It’s impossible to take a good selfie

This is my best effort amongst multiple deletions

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7) You’re unlikely to have as much time hanging around in your tent as you may think

I thought I’d be reading or watching films on my iPad in the evenings but this never seems to happen as either I meet someone and chat with them or I arrive late in the day and go to sleep. So my VSPN to mask my IP address allowing me to download Bake Off from iPlayer whilst abroad has not been used. Fortunately my friend Jennie writes a great weekly synopsis so I know all about the saga of WI woman taking Beardie’s bake out the fridge and eagerly await the fiasco that will be macaroon week.

8) I have zero upper body strength and find it incredibly hard to push my bike uphill

I don’t know why I’m so surprised at this as I had some insight into the fact I have pea-shooters rather than guns (as friend Neil says) from going to Body Pump classes at Brixton Rec. My legs were comparatively strong and I was one of the heaviest lifters in the class during the quad exercise. One person did lift more but she wouldn’t have been out of place in the 1970s women’s (or men’s) Soviet Union shot put team so I’m excluding her. My arms were comparatively weak and during the triceps exercise I couldn’t lift even the smallest weight available so just wafted an empty bar in the air to Eric Pridez or similar track whilst the rest of the class actually pumped iron.

9) It is prudent to be bear aware

They’re unlikely to attack you but they are out there as demonstrated by sightings, fresh scat and paw print spots. Please see below:

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Think that’s it for now aside from to give a final cyber thanks to the man who just paid for my lunch!

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2 thoughts on “Learnings from the Divide thus far

  1. Anna, your writing is an absolute pleasure to read. You should really consider publishing this adventure. I know I’d be first in line to purchase a copy – signed of course!

    Like

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