Mary Metcalf-Collier Reflects

Racer update about:

A final signing out from Mary Metcalf Collier, Tour Divide ‘08: 

When I lined up in Banff about a month ago, boy were there expectations in the air for everyone! Some of those were high and some weren’t. Brendan and our good friend Matt rode out the first 10 miles with me and then I headed off in a tearful first day. I really had no idea what I was in for and am glad that I didn’t. You read up on all the reports from years past, you study the numbers – 200,000 feet of elevation gain, 2,709 miles, at least 18 long days in the saddle (for some of us much more) – but it is all so abstract.  

I only hope to begin to understand what that all means now. But, more than the numbers, was the experience. How to stay focused on what lies ahead…and why? I describe it like playing pacman. You look at what’s in front of you and take one bite at time. The most amazing thing to me was how you could feel like you were an inch tall at the beginning of a day (with such monstrous tasks in front of you) and by the end of the day feel like you could conquer the world – or like you just had. I met so many people along the way that kept me going. I did this race for myself. But when you pull into a roadside stop and meet a woman who has been waiting for you because she was following the race – then she tells you that you can’t stop, you’re not allowed to, you have to do it for the rest of us – how can you argue with that!? I met so many men and women along the way who had faith in me – and they didn’t even know me.

Before the race, one piece of advice that John Stamstad gave was to be flexible. Adaptability, he said, was a valuable asset in finishing. My race didn’t go as planned a single step of the way. Sometimes it was very tough to deal with not making a goal, or laying over for a few hours in a motel bed. I had to remind myself though, that the important part for me was to finish this behemoth. So few people ever do that!

This was my first attempt and I learned a lot. I rolled into the flats of NM late Saturday and felt right at home. Growing up in NM, I felt a great sense of comfort arriving here. I also felt that it was a very appropriate place to end this race. Here I was, amidst the prickly pears, mesquite bushes, yuccas and arroyos – all features to be reckoned with. I felt emboldened at that moment, like I had earned my place in this harsh environment. My skin was a little rougher. I was dark with freckles and dirt and my legs were a bit pumped. I raced through the clay to beat the lingering showerstorms to the final pavement. On the final stretch, I was able to unwind and enjoy the smells and sounds of the night desert after a rain. Arriving at the border was one of the craziest and most wonderful days of my life. I am still trying to understand what it all means and only hope to be able to convey some of that to all of you.

I will have photos posted on my blog soon and am working on a write-up with many of the details. Until I get a comprehensive write-up, I’ll be sharing a few important stories with you as I have time. Check back often as there’s so much to share.  

Thanks everyone for all your good wishes and thoughts while I was out on the trail and it’s good to be home! 



Can't wait to hear more

How did you stay so clean?
What did you miss the most?
Where was your best meal?
Were you ever afraid of your surroundings (other than the bear spray in one hand/bike in the other at Richmond Peak)?
What did you take that you didn't use?
What didn't you take that you would have loved to have?
Do you still love your bike?
What would you change?
What was your best/worst day? \
Where was your best unexpected trail magic?

I'd love the hear the answers to these questions from a woman's perspective.

good questions Sherry

I, too would like hearing all these questions answered.

Wow, I really am a Blue Dot Junkie. I got up out of bed this morning, logged in to the TD website... why? I need another fix.



soon enough on your fix. some of the TD racers are loaning their units to the colorado trail race so we can follow them real time on

Also checking

I'd love to hear your answers to Sherry's questions too.
Hope you are getting some much deserved certainly deserve it. Again,
CONGRATULATIONS on your awesome race.

getting settled in - a few answers to your questions

Well, today was the first day back at work and they greeted me with champagne and cake at 9am! It's good to be back, but was hard to focus all day. So, to answer some of your questions.

How did you stay so clean? - my first jersey was not too porous and since it was all white, i could nuke it at the laundromats or in hotel rooms with super hot water. Plus, I wore a jacket over it a bit, which protected it. I also changed out to new clothes at Salida. It helped my morale a lot to be clean and hurt it a lot when I wasn't! So, whenever I could, i stopped at creeks to take the layers off my legs and face. The sunblock, hammer balm and insect repellant added up.

What did you miss the most? - Brendan, of course!

Where was your best meal? - Pie town, definitely. It wasn't just the food, it was the fact that I was sitting down to a meal at the beginning of the last map.

Were you ever afraid of your surroundings (other than the bear spray in one hand/bike in the other at Richmond Peak)? - Matthew warned us that there were some strange people out there and I had to old guys hit on me in NM. I got the bear spray ready and toughened up, but it was definitely scary.

What did you take that you didn't use? - leatherman, sewing kit, rain pants (used minimally, but could do without, I think)

What didn't you take that you would have loved to have? - arnica, ended up picking it up along the way - good for swelling.

Do you still love your bike? - definitely, Frieda worked harder than me most days and I'm torn thinking if I should just ride her or hang her on the wall.

What would you change? - I would pack lighter and ride longer days and stay on top of my nutrition better. The swelling along with all the weight I was carrying really slowed me down. I would just deal with a little less comfort and in the end get home sooner.

What was your best/worst day? - My best day was definitely pulling into the border. I'm glad we finished it with an all-nighter, it was beautiful. My worst day was when I'd convinced myself that I wasn't good enough for this and my body couldn't handle it and I had to drop because of swelling, I had to ride backwards 10 miles on the course to get to town - glad as hell I realized what was going on and got hydrated and carbed up.

Where was your best unexpected trail magic? When the rain would start heading my way i'd sing a little song about "rain, rain, go away" and it worked every time. I never got drenched, only some sprinkles here and there.

I like to think that most things were the same for me as they were for the guys, but there were some differences. Most of these were in my interactions with people on the trail. I was probably asked twice a day if I was racing this "all by myself". I was also asked if I was "along for the ride?" and was told how to care for my bike from shop guys (even though I had already adjusted and maintained it for 1,500 miles already.) On the positive side, I'm pretty sure that I was treated better on a few occasions than the guys and every woman I met trailside joined me in my pursuit vicariously. People were almost always nice to me and always amazed by me. This would prove to push me up the mountain time and time again.


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