Age before beauty

Belated congratulations on the arrival at Antelope Wells of first Eric Nelson and then, only a couple of hours later, Forest Baker. Forest’s call-in from the finish provides an entertaining summary of the race and the toll it took to reach it that far – and the sense of enormous satisfaction to have made it to the end.
Now, the Lonely Highway is once again failing to live up to its name with a battle for 7th place involving four riders. It looks as though Marshal Bird is in pole position – do you think he’d mind the nickname ‘tough ol’? It’s intended as a compliment. He is, after all, 54 years young and, as far as I can make out, set to become the oldest official finisher of the Tour Divide – and a fast finish at that, with a sub 22 day result on the cards.
Not that age appears to be a major obstacle in this race. Endurance is as important as outright speed: Matthew Lee is 39, Erik Lobeck 38, while Blaine Nester just describes himself as ‘old’, which I have it on good authority as meaning in his late forties. Then there’s 47 year old John Foster, who is now a couple of hours behind Marshal and who called in to say he’d finally made it out of the Gila where he’d suffered from a ‘classic bonk’ complete with ‘that feeling of impending doom’. We’ve all been there.
In between John and Marshal are Matthew Arnold – a mere 29 – and Mike Prochaska, who was 37 on June 19th – happy belated birthday. I’m sure making it to the finish in the early hours this morning, which seems likely, will be a fine present. It’s nearly 2am local time and Marshal, Matthew and Mike are, according to their SPOTS – still riding.
David Goldberg is nearly in Silver City, and it’s the turn of Shawn Sheppard, Grant Crosby, Derek Richert, Jacob Johnsrud, Tom Moriarty and Dave Preston to endure the trials of the Gila now, which doesn’t need rain, hail and mud to make it a major challenge. In the Gila Hike and Bike in Silver they sell t-shirts designed by Mimbres Man emblazoned with the phrase ‘Gila Proven’ – buy one, and wear it with pride.
Nicolas Senie decided to accept the cumulative wisdom of generations of Frenchmen before him (it’s not just a Spanish thing, you know) and have a siesta in Abiquiu yesterday to ensure he had enough energy to make it to the finish. He also said how the change in countryside as he descended into New Mexico proper had been seductive, and that the red desert soils were unbelievable – it’s a far cry from those around Lille, that’s for sure.
While Nicolas was dozing, Cricket Butler, John Billman, Dave Tremblay, Brad Perry and Stephen Huddle appear to have passed him en route to the Abiquiu reservoir on the re-route. The closed restaurant in El Rito had Stephen imagining the prospect of eating once again at the Abiquiu Inn, where his race ended last year with a bout of giardia. Who knows the cause – after all the bleached water consumed and effort expended up to that point it’s impossible to be sure – but he’d decided against having the chicken quesadillas again just in case.
That just leaves our backmarker, Patrick Tsai, who’s SPOT hasn’t left Del Norte, but who may well be beyond the high point of Indiana Pass by now as its last update was some time ago. If so, and if he’s made it as far as Platoro, for example, or even Horca, he’ll be in New Mexico later today. With maybe six or seven days cycling after that, he’s still on for a finish comfortably inside 30 days – fingers crossed.

Paul Howard

Two Wheels on My Wagon


Brad Perry

Has anyone heard if Brad Perry is truly still with Cricket Butler, John Billman, Dave Tremblay and Stephen Huddle? The last update says they are still together. I talked to Brad Friday (yesterday) afternoon and he was with them just over the NM border and said they were planning to move on 25 miles or so. But his SPOT seems to be in the same place for the past 24 hours. I am assuming it is a SPOT problem. If anyone hears from any of these other racers can you ask if Brad Perry is with them and tell him his SPOT is off or malfunctioning and to double check it and let me know he is o.k. and moving forward? Thanks.

Brad Perry called. He is in

Brad Perry called. He is in Cuba with the others in that group. Unaware his SPOT was not working.

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