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Musings from the couch (potato).

Musings from the couch (potato).

Given the title of this piece you might well be thinking that I’ve been sprawled out on the psychiatrists couch, and to be fair that wouldn’t be an unreasonable assumption. Although, let’s be honest, your common or garden psychiatrist would probably have a complete meltdown, and require the services of one of their own practitioners, if they spent half-an-hour trying to psychoanalyse some of the stuff that floats around inside my head! 
Nope, the fact is I have become a couch-potato. There, I said it. It’s out in the open.
It isn’t entirely self-enforced, well, I say not entirely, what I mean to say is that it wasn’t a concious decision; I fell off my bike. And broke my elbow. And two ribs. And my iPhone. Luckily the bike is OK, which is good, because they are expensive to repair. Ribs heal by themselves, for free.
Soooo, given that I have time on my hands, I thought I ought to do some catching up.

I’ve had a fire lit under my ass. It’s called The Tour Divide, and, even by my standards, it’s a little out-there.
It’s a mountain bike race that’s not a race. It’s an unofficial mountain bike race. (does that help? I’m guessing not.)
Officially/unofficially it is an Individual Time Trial down the entirety of the US Continental Divide, from Banff in Canada to Antelope Wells – New Mexico (on The US/Mexican border).
It is considered to be the hardest cycling race on Earth. It’s right up my street! đŸ™‚
One Stage, 2745miles/4418km. Almost 200,000 feet of climbing. Self-supported.

The Tour Divide challenge is simple: Race the rooftop of North America by mountain bike; travel self-supported along all 2,745 miles of Adventure Cycling Association’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route; keep moving and be moved; exist well outside one’s comfort zone in tackling a cross-continent bikepacking odyssey; finish as fast as possible without cracking.
Speed may be substance when it comes to Divide racing, but a flexibilesang-froid style is the best attack for the Route’s multiple personalities. Divide racing format requires no designated rest periods or set distances a racer must travel daily. The clock runs non-stop. She and he who can ride the fastest while making fewer, shorter stops usually hold the course records. With an average time-to-completion of three weeks in the saddle, Tour Divide is the longest–arguably most challenging–mountain bike time trial on the planet. It is a challenge for the ultra-fit, but only if ultra-prepared for myriad contingencies of backcountry biking.
Having a week off work with nothing to do except read and surf the internet has given me the opportunity to fan the flames; it’s a dangerous time in my life. I’ve read three books and numerous blogs on the subject. I’ve also started building a new bike in my head, and virtually (but not actually) via the the myriad cycling companies on the worldwide-web.
After a bit of research, and the recommendation of my good friend Eric Coomer, I am veering towards a Pivot LES 27.5 carbon hardtail frameset to which I will add my own choice of components. Of course I need to get back to work and actually earn some money first! But I can dream…

Pivot LES 27.5. My dream steed for The Tour Divide.
If all goes to plan I intend to be at The Grand Depart in Banff in June 2016.
My friend Phil Evans, the Yak Attack Founder and Race director, has also foolishly expressed an interest. If all goes well with the new Yak Attack World-Series he will also be there.
I’m very excited about it.

If you’re interested you can see more about the race here The Tour Divide

The three books I have read so far have all been pretty good, they are all available on Amazon.

Two Wheels on my Wagon by Paul Howard.
Be brave, Be strong by Jill Homer.
Dividing the Great by John Metcalfe.
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I currently have at least three blog posts outstanding that I’d like to get finished off and uploaded, I’ll try and rectify that situation over the next week or so.

In June me and my buddy Mitch had a go at The Ultra Tour of The Peak District, (UTPD) a 60 mile Ultra-marathon in the Peak District National Park. It was a pretty cool experience and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I actually thought it would be an exercise in abject misery but it proved to be a fantastic physical & mental challenge; I enjoyed it a lot! It was great in fact. That’s one blog post in the pipeline.

Mitch & me looking surprisingly fresh at The Bradwell Check-point, 45 miles in to the UTPD

At the end of August I am heading off to Italy, with my old Dutch buddy Wilco Voulon, to race in The Stelvio Pass Half-Marathon. A mere half-marathon you say??? Yes. But it is all up-hill and at altitude! Hopefully my ribs will heal in time to get in some training, or it will be a very tough day!

In November I hope to go to Sri Lanka and take part in the new Yak Attack race that is part of the aforementioned “World-Series”. Rumble in the Jungle. It does also hinge on my getting back to work and earning some money. Having to earn money can be a pain in the ass. I mean who actually wants to go to work every day when there are adventures to be had?



In January 2015 there is another of my favourite races. The Strathpuffer 24. I have every intention of being in Scotland for that one. I think Mitch is coming along to that one too. We both have a score to settle with that particular challenge.

And finally…
April 2015 I head out to Nepal again with Wilco and a bunch of intrepid adventurers from The Netherlands to try and summit Mera Peak (6476m), the highest of Nepal’s trekking peaks.
Wilco and I are going out a week or so earlier than the group so that we can trek in from Jiri, rather than fly in to The Solu-Khumbu from Kathmandu. If all goes well (that old chestnut again!) I am thinking of running back to Kathmandu. It’s about 250km through The Himalaya and I’d like to do it in about 4-5 days, you know, just for the fun of it.

I have a couple of other “maybe’s” in my head for next year, but at the moment they will have to remain as pipe-dreams. We’ll see…
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Oh, and one last thing! If you haven’t seen it yet then this years Yak Attack video is amazing! It is made all the better by having me in it! Hahahaha đŸ˜€
Take a look and see just why I love this race so much.



Thanks for looking. I will be uploading some new blog-posts very soon đŸ™‚



About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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