One year and seven months after the event, I’ve finished transcribing notes from the ’08 Tour Divide, the epic self-supported MTB race from Canada to Mexico I finished sixth place in. This includes notes I scribbled daily inside a notebook inside my ultra-light one-person tent under the glow of a blue pen-light, usually at night after at least 15 hours of riding. They also include cleaned-up versions of the transcripts that Sherry (wife of one of the racers) took from my race call-ins.
Links to these transcripts appear at the right in the format “Tour Divide: Day XX” corresponding to the day of the race. Since it took me 27.5 days, there are 28 posts. Probably the most pathetic call-in was this one (Day 27 from Mimbres, below). Um, enjoy.
Hi, this is Felix Wong calling from Mimbres, NM at 11:25. I’m here a lot later than planned or expected, but quite frankly I’m happy to be here at all. There have been many times during this race when I thought that there is no way this race could have gotten any more difficult, any more traumatizing, but let me tell you the last 24 hours starting roughly half an hour after my last message have been incredibly difficult.
First it started pouring like I’ve never seen before. For 15 minutes, I stood under a tree waiting it out. I still got drenched to the bone. Even though the rain petered off to reasonable levels, it rained for the rest of the day all the way until I finally called it a night. But the trail got very muddy.
There were sections where I was pushing my bike. Had so much mud accumulate on my tires that the wheels would not turn. I’ve been through that before in the Tetons, I think, but this seemed to be worse since there was a much longer way to go and higher trail was wet. I was so far away from Mimbres, my next supply point. During those unrideable sections, I even resorted to picking up my bike and trying to carry it weighted down by mud on my shoes and the bike itself. There were moments when it took me 3 minutes to go 10 feet. That’s how difficult it was. I really wanted to get to Mimbres or very optimistically, Silver City, last night, where I had spare tubes waiting for me.
Speaking of spare tubes, shortly after it started raining, I did get another flat. Since I was out of CO2 cartridges…..
(recorder time: 2008-07-09 12:30:22 EST)
Hi this is Felix Wong calling from Mimbres. I apologize I was talking in my last message and I guess I got cut off somewhere but I’m not where I got cut off so forgive me if I repeat myself. Anyhow so I was talking about the rain, how it got really muddy. I had to either push or carry my bike over the mud. I got a flat tire. I resorted to just riding on the flat tire and injecting some air every one or two hours.
Ultimately after I crashed on the downhill after one of the extremely steep and difficult climbs that took me forever to get over, after I crashed I decided to call it a night. I pulled over, slept in my tent and of course, woke up and of course my rear tire was flat. I tried resorting to ride a couple of miles, insert some air strategy, but the tire wouldn’t even hold air for 10 minutes. So I spent another half an hour putting in another spare tube. Again all of my spare tubes have holes in them so I picked the one with the smallest hole. Thankfully it was able to hold air for a small period of time.
This morning ran into a lot more mud. I had to spend a lot time working off mud off my tires with my hands, mud from the pedals just so I could clip in.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, 36 hours, I reached pavement again, it’s all down hill to Mimbres and I’m glad for that because I was really bonking. I really felt like I was going to pass out and even one of the little rollers, I could hardly make it over.
Anyhow, I’m in Mimbres stopped by the first store I seen in 200 miles, eating food right now. I’ve listened to all of your messages. A dear friend has been reading them to me, leaving them on my voice mail and I really wanted to thank you all for your message and support…
(recorder time: 2008-07-09 12:35:45 EST)
Hi this is Felix Wong again. I’m sorry for the number of messages I’m leaving here. This is my 3rd one in the last 20 minutes. Its still 11:40 and I’m still in Mimbres. I just wanted to let everyone know that my SPOT tracker is flashing red. I suspect that the battery is nearly dead. My blue dot on the Internet may not be working but I am Mimbres.
Its 11:40 Monday (he means Tuesday) morning. I’m hanging out here and eating as much as I can. Like I mentioned in my last message. I was bonking really badly. I was down to my last bag of peanuts which doesn’t have that much carbs. I went through all of them. I can’t image that eating 2 lbs of peanuts in one day is good for the body but you have to use what you have and that is what I have.
I hope to carry on to Silver City within the next half hour. I might have to stay there tonight. I was hoping to be a lot farther than that. Given my condition, it might be wise for me to stay there overnight and make the final push tomorrow. I’m hopefully going to make it Silver City tonight. Pick up my tubes I purchased from Gila Hike and Bike, fix my flat, see how I feel. I may carry on. Right now it looks like there is no way I’m going to get to Hatchita tonight. I [might not] even be in Silver City tonight. [If not] hopefully I’ll get there tomorrow. Bye.
(recorder time: 2008-07-09 12:43:10 EST)