In the course of a slim path 11,000 ft excessive within the Rockies, endurance bike owner Ken Zylstra came across a new child antelope.
“It was simply born, nonetheless moist,” says Ken, the president of his personal service firm (and a former Life Time govt), recalling the awe of this temporary encounter final summer season as he and a small crew rode the two,745-mile Tour Divide from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
It was considered one of many transcendent moments on a grueling 27-day journey that crisscrossed the Continental Divide 32 occasions — moments that punctuated hours and days of hardship and uncertainty.
“We had the chance to journey by means of a number of the most majestic and untraveled areas of the Rocky Mountains,” Ken says, reflecting on the unobscured sunrises and sunsets, ever-changing climate, unforgiving terrain, and wild nature.
Ken, then 59, had accomplished many ultra-distance races — together with the notoriously grueling Leadville Path 100 MTB — a few of which have been arguably extra harmful due to their remoteness or excessive situations. But the Tour Divide represented the top of his decades-long biking profession. It had lengthy been on his bucket checklist, although taking a month off to journey it — not to mention prepare for it — hadn’t appeared possible.
Then in 2021, life circumstances supplied Ken an surprising summer season off. Together with his household’s help, he prepped for 2 months, power coaching at Life Time in Savage, Minn., and taking Life Time’s on-demand yoga lessons at house.
The journey was unsupported — no SAG (help and equipment) stops, no crews — so cautious planning and fixed recalculations have been important. Cafés and grocery shops weren’t reliably open due to the pandemic. When path situations slowed the crew down, they couldn’t attain deliberate campsites and lodging. Crossing the Nice Divide Basin in southwestern Wyoming meant pedaling 300 miles with no alternatives to resupply water or meals.
“The Tour Divide was positively essentially the most troublesome,” Ken recollects, evaluating it with different rides he’s executed. “Bodily, mentally, emotionally — day after day.”
But, when issues felt unimaginable on the path, he was ready to attract on a deep properly of appreciation for this unlikely alternative (in addition to his coaching and expertise) to persevere. “‘Bear in mind, guys, we get to do that,’” he’d remind his crew.
“There’s a simplicity on the path that I’m so drawn to,” Ken explains. “You progress ahead, you eat, you sleep, you drink, and also you attempt to keep secure, and then you definitely repeat. There’s a solitude, a cleaning, that occurs on the market that’s so pure, that simply filters all the pieces in your soul.”
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