J.D. Pauls
Great Divide
It Is Incredible What Happens On the Trail It is incredible what happens on the trail when you most need it to. This world is full of great people.  I think too often the bad ones get the press but when I have been forced to rely on the kindness of others, more often than not, goodness comes out on top.

So I leave Bailey and head to the trailhead.  My bike starts phantom shifting and the chain is rubbing off parts of the derailleur it isn't even supposed to be touching. I had thought that I had it fixed in Bailey but apparently not. I stopped on the road side to try to fix it but couldn't figure it out.  Hmmmm. Guess I’ll find a bike shop. Closest is an hour by car, so I put on a puppy dog face and stick out my thumb as car after car drives by. To humor myself I lift the leg of my shorts to attract attention, didn't help.

So I sat on my helmet and took a deep breathe, smiled and tried again and the next pickup truck stopped!

I was greeted by a black lab and an 11 week old German Shepard sitting in the passenger seat.  "Can't take you to Breck but I am going to the trailhead. I. Can take you there if you don't mind this guy liking your ear. Oh and don't mind that tarp on the floor just throw your feet on top"

So I went to throw my bike in the bed and noticed it was full of garbage bags full of ashes. Hmmm tarps and bags of ashes. Perfect person to be picked up by. 

We had a great ride. He cranked his John Cougar Mellancamp and he gave me his knowledge of the trail and we traded a few cycling stories. I offered some money for gas and he said it was all good. 

At the point I was dropped the only other person in the area was sitting comfortably behind his truck drinking his beer. I approached and asked if he knew the best way to town.  I explained my problem and he smiled. "Well let's look at, I happen to be a bike mechanic. My friends are on a shop ride and I waiting for them to get back.  Wanna beer?"

John worked at a shop called Evolution cycles in Denver and had me on my way after working on it for a few minutes.

Good thing.  Made it up to almost 12,000 feet and crossed the Continental Divide, incredibly gorgeous. I then descended. As the sun was setting. I threw down camp in a sage field trail side and listened to the howling 30 yards from my tent all night. Wild!  Amazing! I was very lucky to be out here. It’s days like today that help me to appreciate the world.


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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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