Nick Legan
Great Divide
Such sweet sorrow
I’ve been described as a “wooly hardman” by various people thanks to my affinities for long cycling events and wool garments. That moniker makes even more sense now thanks to the beard I grew during my time on the Great Divide route. And yet, on June 24th, when faced with the dirt climb up Union Pass in Wyoming, a challenge I would normally relish, I found myself instead climbing into the back of a pickup truck and heading for a hotel off course. I was quitting the Tour Divide.

My knees began troubling me disturbingly early in the event. After lots of 100 plus mile days on a loaded bike in training I was a bit mystified. Though I managed to get them working pain free for several days, after a big breakfast in Flagg Ranch, Wyoming on day ten, the pain returned. This time it was much worse than before. I found myself pushing my bike up gentle inclines, with a tailwind. Not good.

I stopped early and got a room on Day Ten. I spent the evening icing, stretching and massaging. I also ate loads and got a big sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t help. The next day, in a last ditch effort, I pushed over the paved climb to the top of Togwotee Pass to see if my knees had come around. Unfortunately they had not. More walking ensued.

While I initially viewed leaving the race as a defeat, I’ve come to think of it a bit differently. Perhaps those 10 days, and the suffering, the education and new perspective they gave me were just the steps I needed to take to finish the route the next time. It wasn’t easy to come to this thought. I’m not accustomed to quitting. I really like to finish what I start, but the Great Divide route is a challenge unlike anything I had ever attempted before. Its enormity is still a bit hard to wrap my brain around.

As I sit here typing these words, I’m happy to have tried and failed. I have no regrets, only wishes for the future. Returning to the route will happen, whether it’s with racing in mind or not remains to be seen.



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Nick Legan

Gear List

- My Ride -







Nick Legan's profile picture
Nick Legan
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Have you traveled by bike in the past? I grew up racing bicycles and after growing weary of criteriums, intervals, heart rate and power output numbers, I started looking for new cycling adventures. The Dirty Kanza 200 opened my eyes to my own ability to ride distances farther than I had previously attempted. With encouragement from friends at Salsa, QBP, and my wonderfully supportive girlfriend, I decided to take on the Great Divide Route. Now I’ll see how much further I can take my cycling.
  • What is your goal for the route? What do you hope to get out of this journey? It’s easy to reply with a number. My goal is to finish in 20 days. But more important to me is how I spend those days. I’d like to find moments for introspection, reflection, projection and hopefully find moments to just be.


  • Warm Gloves DeFeet Woolie gloves
  • DOWN JACKET Patagonia Ultralight down jacket with hood
  • Warm Gloves DeFeet Woolie gloves
  • SPOT TRACKER Spot tracker (great insurance policy)

- Great Divide Milestones -