J.D. Pauls
Great Divide
I Love My Bike I love my bike. I have put it through an awful lot in the 2 years but it never complains. Rain, mud, climbing several hundreds of thousands of feet on roads and trails, broken parts, pushing and hauling all my gear from one province or state to the next.  This trip will be no exception. The Colorado trail will definitely be the hardest thing I have ever done and Rita won't complain. Rita 2.0 is my bike.  Named after my 94 year old grandmother who still lives with my grandfather of the same age in their home and living well. She has wrecked both knees, hips, wrist, and each time she greets it with a smile and I have never heard her complain. So Rita 2.0 seemed like the perfect name.

I decided that for this trip I would treat Rita to a little fun before the pain, and decided to drive from Stoney Creek, ON to Denver, CO. To the start of the CT and see what I can in the places in between.

First stop Chicago. I love this town. I have driven through it many times, stayed over for a brief time but there is something about exploring a city like that that excites the senses in a different way on a bike.

I set out from the Yacht club parking lot, past Soldier field, across Navy Pier, rode the stairs to the Riverwalk and through several construction detours.  The detours actually made it a little more fun getting lost and dealing with urban obstacles.

I ended the day by catching up with a Tour Divide vet, Mike Arenberg, for dinner. We haven't seen each other in over a year. It’s very cool how we spent only a few short half days together on the trail but we are friends for life in the brotherhood/sisterhood that is the Tour Divide. We took 3 hours for dinner but easily could have been 3 days as we shared war stories and attempted to discuss every inch of the 2859 miles that we for some reason still seem to remember in vivid detail.  He is 16 years older than I and has countless marathons and Ironman races to his credit. He kept saying that his Tour  Divide was his swan song to his endurance career. Opposite end of the spectrum from where I came from with my lack of experience, but that's the beauty of bikepacking. It takes all kinds. Lifelong friends. I think that my Colorado Trail attempt has inspired him to get back out there. Very cool.


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J.D. Pauls

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J.D. Pauls
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Like many TDR veterans, the trail became part of my DNA, an experience so personal and unique that it actually changed me as a person. Salida, CO was a highlight of my trip last year because it was the point at which I knew I would finish the race. I had several really tough days leading up to Salida and as I crested the last climb before town I turned around and the storms I had been running from were lifting, and the sky behind me produced the largest double rainbow I had ever seen. I descended into the setting sun, the changing landscape was glowing in magical yellows, reds and browns. The pain of the previous hours and days, were instantly and unexpectantly replaced by joy and a truly satisfied soul. The Colorado Trail crosses the Great Divide and runs through Salida. This route is a beast, but pushing myself beyond what I thought possible has become a comfortable and necessary part of how I want to live my life. I don’t think there is a more beautiful trail to experience this on. Discovering the wild world at the intimate speed of the bike really can change the speed at which we live our lives. Oh, and sipping a morning coffee at Cafe Dawn in Salida is definitely worth planning a bike trip around!
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? I had a bike growing up, but an accident when I was 15 (1990) ended my childhood cycling career. I didn’t own a bike again until Dec of 2011 when I heard of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and decided I wanted to take on the challenge. I made my first attempt at the Tour Divide in June 2012, and due to lack of cycling base, unpreparedness, lack of knowledge and intense weather, wisely pulled the plug in Butte MT after 10 days and 750 mile complete. I worked hard to return in June 2013 ready to go and completed the 2800 miles in just over 25 days.
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? A little different expectation this year. On my divide ride I was truly out to find myself and discover a new J.D. that I always wanted to know was out there, and I think I accomplished that. This trip, since I found that guy I was looking for last year, will be more like visiting an old best friend. It is going to be a blast. Sure I will be racing, but a smell the roses type of racing. What is the point in climbing a mountain if you don’t look around when you get to the top?


  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Arm Band
  • Arm Band
  • Big Agnus Seedhouse SL1 Tent
  • Glowstick Necklace

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