Day 26 - By far my worst day on the TD but also the most beautiful 🥰
Day 26, 40 miles Como, Bivvy outside hotel
This day was my worst day on the Tour Divide, but there’s always beauty all around.
Originally I’d planned on doing a super positive post with the sole purpose to give a massive shout out to Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge…..but there’s a bit more to it now!
So I’m 20 miles into my ride, I arrive to Breckenridge and take firefly to the bike shop, after 3 bike shops visited I’m still having trouble with her gears shadow shifting. I ask if there’s anywhere that sells tents as after another cold and wet night in the bivvy I’m happy to admit I was wrong and invest in something better. So off I head to Mountain Outfitters, I speak to Jeff, they didn’t stock the tent I wanted and we compared what they had but I was really keen to have the compact size. I explained to Jeff the difficulties I was having with the bivvy and he went above and beyond, phoning a unrelated store in Salida to see if they stocked the item, they did and I’ve reserved it!! I was super touched by this action, but it didn’t stop there….
So I head to ‘Fatty’s for gluten free pizza nom nom, I love the name, I feel like a fatty all the food I’m packing away! After placing my order I take advantage of the WiFi to catch up with people. Specifically I’m waiting for an update on a friend, well he’s pretty much family, having always been in my life. He’d had some tests done and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting an update, weeks had passed. Well the news came and was worse then I’d anticipated, it’s Cancer and can’t be operated on, at this stage it’s a case of wait and see how the treatment goes.
After reading the message I’m floored, it’s not entirely unexpected, as in we knew something wasn’t right, but the Cancer was a surprise , I suppose I’m in shock, I literally can’t stop crying, the lady serving me comes to check in saying the pizza will be ready soon. Through choked up tears I ask if I can have it wrapped in foil to take away as I’d had bad news and wouldn’t be able to eat it. She was lovely, this was sorted and I asked for the bill, she said she was taking care of the bill and was sorry I’d had bad news and to take care. I was so touched I cried a whole lot more!
So I now realise I don’t know the name of the shop where my tent is reserved and I need to go back to Mountain Outfitters, I’m aware I can’t stop crying, before opening the door I take deep breaths, wipe my eyes and attempt to put on a brave face. I head to Jeff, but I’m crying at the sight of the doggy as I just want to sit and cuddle him like I would Inca (my doggy at home) when I’m sad. I apologise to Jeff and ask him to ignore the tears, I say I’d just had bad news but that I needed the name of the shop. Jeff came from round the counter and proper hugged and held me, honestly I can’t tell you how much I needed that hug, I felt such a long way from friends and family but in those moments I felt cared for.
So genuinely kind and caring, people are truly wonderful.
Two kind and caring individuals and it didn’t stop there, I left Breckenridge, I just couldn’t stop crying, all I could think was I had to move forward, I couldn’t ride so I hiked Firefly over Boreas Pass. It took all afternoon and into early evening. I’d try and ride but I just didn’t have it in me until getting down to the smoother single track and this was the first time I felt I started to relax.
I normally love riding solo, I’m very happy in my own company, often joking I’m having a TD party on Firefly. But today it meant I was alone with unhappy thoughts and although the scenery was beautiful it was hard to keep my mind distracted.
Today I was so frustrated with my body and my arthritis, I wanted to be closer to the finish and closer to home. Every other day I’ve been so grateful for the RA, without it I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t of realised how precious life and health are and that life is there for embracing. I know it’s a miracle I can even ride a bike let alone still be riding the Tour Divide. But today I felt weak and wiped out and Mexico feels a very long way away.
On such a sad day I have been so touched by the strangers that have shown such kindness, Jeff, the lady at Fatty’s, the couple that stopped on the pass emptied there water into my bladder and handed me tissues. The girl riding with friends that offered for me to join them camping so I had company and someone to talk to. David at the Hotel in Como, the hotel isn’t open, he had people using the place but kindly let me pitch my bivvy outside, use the facilities and chatted to me about life.
Today I didn’t achieve my goal, I only managed 40 miles and some of them are from taking wrong turns. I know many may feel when I have shorter days that I’m not racing but touring. But each day I give it my best, some days I do better and others I have to take it easier as I want to manage my body so that we can complete the ride. Completion has always been my priority, I’d of loved to of rode a race time, mentally I could but with the RA I have to accept the best I can do is good enough.
I know my race time is not inspiring but I do ride to inspire.
I actually felt today really proud to be riding with the red lantern, I’m riding for my friend who wants to see me finish, I’m riding for Erin my mini supporter who’s been virtually sharing spoons of energy with me since Fernie. I ride for all the individuals who life is just more difficult for, through no fault of there own, I can relate.
I have recovered from mental illness and manage my RA successfully through lifestyle alone, completing the TD is the final piece, it’s the proof of what can be achieved when you put your heart, mind, soul and energy into it.
I was misdiagnosed with bipolar and told I could never recover from my mental illness, I didn’t believe them and pushed for further help, I was eventually correctly diagnosed and with the correct therapy and a lot of effort on my part I am now fully recovered. Part of riding the TD was to become braver, to let go of the shadows of mental illness that showed in the form of anxiety and fears.
At the age of 16 I was told by 21 I’d be in a wheel chair due to the RA, it’s took me to the age of 34 to finally achieve my goal of managing my RA solely through lifestyle and I have been improving ever since. In less the 3 years I have gone from constant pain and limited mobility to being here and taking on this awesome challenge. To me it is a miracle.
I know this is an emotional message, I feel a very long way from home and I wanted to connect, I want people to know that I although I may be the TD snail 🐌🌈 it really couldn’t be more important to me then to complete this. It symbolises so much for me and I’m aware from the many messages I’ve had that my efforts are an inspiration to others, this makes me very happy. I feel I ride as a ream with my supporters in tow, it’s hard to put into words how good this feels.
The TD community has been so supportive and encouraging and I am so grateful to be here and apart of something so epically special.
Today was my hardest day but it was filled with the beauty of the individuals that reached out to hold and support a stranger, we live in a wonderful world and it’s the people that make it this way.
I feel quite vulnerable sharing like this but my friends always tell me I’m an inspiration through my story and achievements.
I always feel that if I can raise awareness or make a difference to one individuals life then that is a beautiful success.
Throughout this journey I have been so touched by the positive impact of people on each other, it’s been magical. 🤩