J.D. Pauls
Great Divide
Feels good to be on the trails again! Feels good to be on the trails again! Not quite sure where this adventure will take me but I guess that's why we call it adventure. Being in my favorite jersey with bags full of camping gear and sour patch kids, and the sound of dirt beneath my tires makes me pretty happy.  I know I will discover something about myself again and I love that.

First few miles were a nice start on the gravel road with a little climb. Then the fun starts. Segments 1 and 2 were killers!  Kitty litter climbs wide open spaces in burned out areas with the sun beating down and steadily gaining elevation.  I did a lot of hike a bike and at times I could only ride up a mile before I had to lay down to get my heart rate down. Welcome to Colorado.

I have said this before but no matter how challenging the trail gets there are always moments that quickly help you forget the pain. The downhills were incredible and unlike anything I have ever ridden before. Tight sandy switch backs that weave down the hill through the trees on 18 inch wide tracks carved into the slope with roots and rocks thrown in to test your confidence. I missed a few switchbacks and flew off the side a couple times, once falling over and the other time grabbing a tree in a bear hug on my way by with my bike hanging from my legs. It was pretty comical really.  I'm no pro and this was a real test. It was so good!

I made it through the first three sections and dropped out at a trail head. I had to head off route to hit a town as I was still feeling pretty lousy. Enter the town of Bailey. Very friendly people. I was out up in a posh rental house for the night. The altitude insomnia kept me up all night! 

I decided to a shortcut back to the trailhead. Some parts are closed to bikes so the short cut only bypassed a few miles that I would have otherwise ridden had I stuck on the official route. 

Getting back in the saddle lifted my spirits again.  The sun was out and although my original trip plan was already out the window on day one, I am looking forward to seeing where this trail if adventure takes me.

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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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