J.D. Pauls
Great Divide
My Cross Country Tour Continues My cross country tour continues!  Visiting these communities on my way to Colorado has been a great experience.

On the way from Madison to SD I was treated to a sunset that was easily in my top 3 of all time!  The skies in South Dakota are wide, inviting and tonight seemed almost magical.  No way that my picture can express the feeling of the sunset but it makes for a great memory.

The plan here is to ride the Black Hills and work through my final gear prep for the Colorado Trail, pick up some last minute items and maybe drive by to see Mt Rushmore when I'm done.

There is so much more in Rapid City than I expected. I stayed at the famously haunted Alex Johnson hotel in the center of town. Right next door was Cranky Jeff's bike shop which was my first stop to pick up some recommended trail info. They pointed me to "Hill" in the centre of town which was about a mile from the shop. It was donated to the city by a family on the condition that it never gets developed and it has been converted in to miles of MTB trails. So much fun and well designed. Challenging climbs, advanced sections and super fun downhills with flowing switchbacks. I didn't need to go anywhere else! I spent two days there.

Some other Rapid City highlighted and must do's include checking out the most incredible street art alley located between the hotel and the bike shop. Also the Independent House with incredible local beers and great food and the Fire House Brewery. Probably would have been fun to spend more time there but I must move on!  


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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
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  • Big Agnus Seedhouse SL1 Tent
  • Glowstick Necklace

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