It’s downhill all the way

In 2001, the year my daughter Ellie was born, I completed the Tour Divide in 27 days. Canada to Mexico, 2700 miles, unsupported, on a mountain bike. Cycling through British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico traversing the Rocky mountains.

From the snow pushes of Montana to the hot desert of New Mexico, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest over 10 times. Ask a local where the nearest town was, and they would often say, “it’s downhill all the way.”

Maybe they thought I needed some good news.

It is said that if you can get out of Montana you will make it through the Tour Divide. Each year, less than 60% of those who enter will finish. Most bail in Montana, but not all. I was with one cyclist when he decided to quit. We had spent the day cycling through the mud in Wyoming, continually washing our bikes off in the nearby stream just to make a few miles.

It was not hard to see, why he quit. My friend for the day was the stronger cyclist, but things had not gone his way, he expected to be much further up the track. But, he wasn’t. Progress had been too slow, and the prospect of the trail ahead no longer held him together. So he quit.

My progress had not been smooth either. But every so often, I had a small win, something that told me, I could and should keep going.

Riding 80 miles on a ripped tyre that I had Macgyvered was proof I could adapt

Getting out of Montana felt like a landmark.

Riding solo for 4 days was tough but it showed me I was mentally strong enough.

Soaking up the big climbs in Colorado, I knew I had it in my legs.

The difference between me and the cyclists that quit was that I was growing in confidence, they were not.

Any journey of discovery is much the same. Regular wins that somehow signpost you to success are not reality. But take a win at random, collect it as evidence and use it against any doubt you may have. And you are in with a chance.

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