September 21, 2018

Queen Creek: Tour Divide Training

I've decided to through my hat into the Tour Divide ring in 2019. I've been following the ride, held the second Friday of June each year, since 2009. A few years ago I began to think I could do it. In 2016 I completed the AZTR750 and knew I could do it. Then, in 2017 I managed to outlast the weather and completed the CTR. Anyone following the ultra bikepacking race scene knows that's 2/3 of the Triple Crown or the Big Three of bikepack racing. The Tour Divide is the other. I want to complete the career Triple Crown and I wanted to do it before I turned the big 5-0. Well, that meant I needed to begin planning for it in earnest. I'm 47 now, 48 by the time the ride rolls around.

Now this ride is a bit bigger than anything I've ever done. It's over three times longer than the AZTR750. I think I know what it takes to do these types of events, but this time I don't want to simply finish. I want to finish strong, put in a solid effort. You know, give it all I got. I've never had or used structured training, so I figured this may be a good time to find a coach.

I'm fortunate enough to know a few coaches and one in particular has done all the big rides, not just finished them, but set records and learned how to meticulously prepare for these types of efforts. It was an easy decision to hire Kurt Refsnider of Ultra MTB Consulting. Not only is he an amazing rider, he's extremely humble, a genuine good dude and someone I have called a friend for a few years.

The challenge for me was to incorporate structure to my often hodgepodge riding. The challenge for Kurt would be to find ways to get that structured riding scheduled around my crazy work schedule. We've synced up the Training Peaks app where Kurt can upload my training plans into the app, I do the rides or workouts and upload the data to my Garmin Connect account where it's linked back to Training Peaks for evaluation. It's a nifty tool. I have to admit, I'm geeking out a bit seeing my heart rate & cadence data. Something I've never cared about in the past.

One thing I've done in preparation was purchasing an indoor trainer, a CycleOps Fluid 2. This allows me to get some spin time in after a long day at work when I otherwise wouldn't touch my bike.
I wanted the Havok from Binary Bicycles hooked up to the trainer since this will be my TD rig next June. I can't thank George & Jalene Harris enough for the opportunity to ride that bike.
Another thing I've done is to embrace the nearby canal & bikepath system where I can get steady tempo style rides in. Again, not something I ever really did other than to connect longer rides with singletrack. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was enjoyed those rides.
Queen Creek wash bikepath barely one mile from home.

Plenty of sights along my training circuit.

True. Everyone loves pie!!

Sonoqui Wash bikepath, a tad flooded on this day, but the underpass is nice.

Historical sights too.

100+ years of history only a few miles from home.
The QC.
One of the newer community parks with access to the Queen Creek wash bikepath.

Great route for night riding too.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you may find a wad of cash on the path too!! $$$
Mesa has a nice network of canals that link into both Queen Creek & Gilbert for long training loops.
The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport makes for a nice side trip.

This was once Williams Air Force Base.

Home sweet home.
I've done a few training rides and am starting to get my legs/lungs back. Time to step up the adventure meter once again. I've been longing for the sunrise to sunset+ types of rides. Giddy up!!


  1. Good choice of coach! Good luck with the training. I hope you can find a good saddle/chamois/cream combination. Three weeks on a bike saddle is the biggest test of the TD.

    1. The saddle contact points are truly my biggest concern going into this thing. Kurt's got me working!!