Iron Stomach, Not So Much – TDLP 1, Alan 0

I’m sitting here in bed.  Holiday Inn Express.  State St.  Santa Barbara.  My old college stompin grounds.  Goucho pride.  Around 2am.  2 days after pulling the plug on riding the gorgeous, albeit brutal, Tour De Los Padres route.  Tis was to be my last “formal” multi-day shakedown as the 2018 Tour Divide looms closer and closer (man, it’s only like 7 weeks out now – yikes!!).


I ordered a Club Sandwich to go (which I let fester in my jersey for a day before eating) and filled up water from the hose/spigot in the back without filtering.  My so called “iron stomach” will not be cocky again.

I finished the Stagecoach a few weeks ago, and was feeling great going into this one.  Body and bike and mind pretty dialed.  As I lie here, I feel my bike and mind are still smiling, and my body is about ready to rejoin the party.  So, what happened?


Climbing into the beautiful abyss…

I needed a reality check, that’s what.  Or at least that’s how I wanna see this and take all the positive away I can.  My iron stomach has been penetrated like never before.  I’ve always eaten pretty much whatever, and rarely get sick.  Not this time.  Let’s start with the good:

  • This route is fantastic and tough and beautiful and rewarding and I will come back to summit Big Pines Mountain and descend to the ocean and drink a beer at the Brewhouse in SB.
  • The singletrack descent through slushy snow on Mt. Pinos was epic.
  • Meeting new people and riding with a bunch of them was super fun – especially Art, Tony, and Phil – who all went on to finish top 3 this year!  Great work fellas!!
  • The romp through Carrizo Plains National Monument, second to none.
  • The climb out of Selby Campground, majestic.
  • The roller coaster between Gilliam, Gifford, and Highway 166 a brutal ass-kicker, but worth every sunblock drenched teardrop that stung my eye.  I dabbed multiple times in this area, HAB’d more than I’d like to admit, almost fell into a muddy lake, and got scared crapless by a Cali Rattler shakin and gyratin on the side of the trail.


    Cruisin through Carrizo Plains National Monument.  A definite highlight. The little dot riding by is Phil.

Yeah, bikepacking at it’s best.  Highs and lows.  So now the lows:

  • During the 40ish mile section from Selby to Highway 166/Miranda Pines climb, my body was not wanting to eat or drink water.  Of course, I forced it, as I needed the calories and hydration to deal with the 8k of taxing climbing included with those miles.
  • After 6+ hours of improper fueling, my body was getting less and less responsive, and during the 3k climb up to Miranda Pines, it finally told me to piss off completely.  Instead of merely not accepting bribes in the form of food or water, it flipped me the bird and started throwing back (or should I say “up” )everything from earlier that day and current efforts.  Including peanut butter cups, nuts, bars, a club sandwich, salami, cheese, you name it.
  • Ok.  Adversity.  No sweat.  Let’s wait it out.  Hung out at Miranda Pines Campground for a bit.  Ready to spend the night, sleep it off.  See what the morning holds.  Just one problem.  This route has no proper food resupply for the last 220 miles.  Zero.  I had approx 120 miles and 10k climbing to go without any options to pick up food on the way.  I’d thrown up most of my rations, and even in perfect health, would not have nearly enough food to make it to the end.  If I continued past Miranda Pines, it would be into no-mans-land.  So the decision was made to descend 3k and 10 miles back down to the highway, where I crawled in a ball and waited for the fam to come grab me.

Now, that might sound like a big old bummer.  Actually, it was a great reminder and fantastic training for the TD.  Back to the positive take away:


Sunrise after camping on my first night.  Near Selby Campground.

  • I’m pretty sure I got sick in one of two ways:  Bacteria from a day old BLT or salami or cheese that had been festering in my jersey pocket or water from a hose behind “The Place” in Ventucopa that I didn’t filter.  Either way, I will make sure to do neither ever again!!  No more mayo on sandwiches, and no more day old sandy’s re-heating in my jersey pockets!!
  • I will include a couple charcoal tabs and other “sickness” meds in my kit.
  • My tent is fantastic.  Love it.  Still gotta practice staking a little more.  Can’t forego a sleeping pad (I tried this ride with no pad, and I missed the insulation and comfort on a cold night, so yeah)
  • My arse felt great for 150 miles… no chamois, but I used cream… that’s still up in the air.
  • My new wind vest is fantastic.  Stoked to add it to the kit. PS – thanks for finding it Gregg and giving it back – what a miracle!
  • No knee pain at all.  I think the yoga and stretching has been doing wonders for me.
  • No hot spots in my shoes.  I’m diggin the Superfeet insoles.
  • After trying not to, I’m considering riding the TD with a small hydration pack.  I feel I’m not drinking enough from water bottles and bladder alone.  Just not “easy” enough to take sips here and there on techy terrain.  Next thing you know, an hour has passed, and you’re behind the hydration curve.  Something to try out in the weeks to come.


    Taking a break, trying to eat – Climbing up Gifford Springs

Moral?  This is what training and prep is all about.  To get all the kinks out, right?  Better now, on day 2 of a 3 day ride with my family nearby than day 2 of a 20 something ride.  Glad that’s out of my system (no pun intended) and thank you TDLP for the bikepacking clinic!  Now it’s time to enjoy this family vacation of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey!!  Yahoo!!


My daughter keeps telling me to take more pics.  I do enough camera work at work, but I’m trying.  Don’t think I’ll ever get used to selfies, but Lucy, this one’s for you 🙂


This entry was posted in Bikepacking, Favorite Rides, MTB Racing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Iron Stomach, Not So Much – TDLP 1, Alan 0

  1. Man, i got teary eyed reading this. You write so well. I want to be more like you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. it would be so cool to ride alongside you for a section of the Divide. What do you think?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s