UPDATE: Erik has an auction running up on his website. He’s got a bunch of stuff to offer, and all the proceeds will benefit the fight against cancer. It’s just a tad confusing, but follow this link, click on the item you like, read the description, and then scroll down (possibly way down, past an expanse of whitespace that fools you into thinking you’re already at the bottom of the page, but you’re not) to see the section where you can place a bid. I wanted to post this last night, but with the way it’s designed, I thought the auction wasn’t running yet or something. Erik, seriously, let’s rethink usability next time you build an auction widget.
There is no prize money to be won, no sponsorship, and plenty of hardship. That other race out in France is an incredibly difficult challenge, sure, but the riders don’t haul their own camping gear, they never have to overcome isolation or boredom, and medical attention is never more than a few minutes away, should it be needed.
The Tour Divide, on the other hand, is more than 500 miles longer than the French race, and fully self-supported. If you make it to a town with a hotel, you can stay in it (it’s up to you to pay for it though), otherwise try to find some comfortable grass to lie on. All you have is what you can carry or buy along the way. If your bike has a problem, you fix it yourself (or find a local bike shop). If you’re hungry you either eat some food out of your bag or stop at a store or restaurant you happen to be near. Over the course of 3 weeks (less if you want to actually win the thing), you have to travel 2700 miles from Banff, Canada to the Mexico border near Antelope Wells, NM, on a route that takes you along the Continental Divide.
But even this is not, by itself, a sufficient challenge for some. As I write this, Erik is somewhere in Montana, making his way south on – I swear I’m not making this up - a single speed bike. I’m not sure if he just doesn’t like shifting, or figured it’d keep things simple or what, but out of the 89 riders taking part in this year’s tour, he seemed to like the idea of being one of the half-dozen masochists who will ride the whole thing in the same gear.
Amazingly, he’s actually doing fairly well so far. He’s averaging about 145 miles a day right now, which puts him on pace for a competitive finish – though, he’s not technically competing for first, as he started a day ahead of the “grand depart”. This man is quite simply incredible. He’s also keeping up what has got to be the world’s most repetitive twitter feed. But enough about the tour. I get exhausted just thinking about it.
In addition to being an avid (some might say obsessed) cyclist, Erik is a guy who hates cancer like no one else I have ever met. Last time I mentioned Erik, it was when I used his site to donate to the Livestrong Foundation. This time, my donation goes to Erik’s other favorite cancer-fighting charity, the Pablove Foundation.
Pablove was named in memory of Pablo Castelaz, a little boy who was taken by cancer nearly 2 years ago after succumbing to his yearlong fight against it. His family’s heart-breaking story is all too common, with cancer being the second most common childhood cause of death in this country after accidents. Unlike most diseases, cancer is no respecter of age, taking young and old alike.
The Pablove Foundation gets cyclists to ride across the country visiting children’s hospitals and raising money for cancer research. And they were pleased to recently announce their first three grants – a huge milestone for this very young charity. We should all hope to live in a future where cancer is preventable and curable, and the research going on right now, thanks to grants from this and other foundations, is helping to make that reality come just a little sooner. If you’d like to help too, I hope you’ll join me in donating to this great charity.
And lest I forget, Erik is still trying to reach his goal for Livestrong. Why not chip in?