Friday, July 20, 2007

Meeting Kent Peterson

While chronicling the year long lead up to the race I am sure that yesterday is going to be a red letter day. What could be better than meeting Kent Peterson? Kent is the first and only single speed finisher of the race so far. His resume that precedes the GDR is so impressive that I could not see how anyone would have doubted his success despite the lack of mtn bike experience and luddite choice of equipment.
Local cycling mover and shaker John Speare was playing host to Kent as he biked through Spokane as part of a statewide tour promoting cycling as transportation. John was nice enough to arrange a coffee klatch for Kent and I.
Kent was as friendly as you would guess from his internet writings. We spent nearly two hours on the subject of the great divide and his information will undoubtedly be useful. Of particular interest was his opinion about which section is the most difficult and what he would do different if he ever did it again.
I don't think I will changing much of my game plan after our talk (my extensive research plucked much of his wisdom from his lengthy ride report of the race already) but he did strengthen my understanding of the improvisational attitude that is necessary to do the race. This spirit was exemplified this year by Nathan Bay's use of a wood stick to solve the problem of a broken seatpost. It seems that during the 2500 bumpy miles things are going to go wrong. Everything comes down to how you handle calamities.
I thought it was interesting that Kent's only question for me was why I am doing the GDR. In the end that may be the only question worth asking. Finishing time goals, equipment choices or previous experience have a way of becoming irrelevant under circumstances as difficult as the Divide Route. After some babbling I zero'd in the core reason: without a doubt if I don't do it I will spend my life regretting the missed opportunity.
There are other big adventures that fascinate me like the iditabike but I recognize that a 350 mile bike races in the middle of the Alaskan winter is not for me. The great Divide on the other hand plays to my interests in so many ways. If it followed the Appalachian Trail I wouldn't be interested. If it had a two man team format I would pass on it. If it was divided into stages it would not hold my attention. Send me out alone on a bicycle to traverse the Western Untied States with the notion that I am going to try and accomplish something beyond my proven abilities; this is readymade for me.


Johnny Calhoun said...

nathan bay finshed!

David Blaine said...

Nathan Bay completed the route but his 608:37:00 time was outside the 25 day cut-off to be an official race finisher. Nathan's accomplishment is significant and I am sure that he will be challenging the 22 day SS record next year.