Zen On Dirt

CDT Recovery and a Reflection


Yesterday was October 29th. It was the first time since May 12 when we departed on the CDT that I felt like I had excess energy to burn. Scott and I had gone out for a respectable 45 minute run in the morning, and late afternoon, I found myself bouncing around the house, getting up to go bother Scott in his man-cave at regular intervals.

Sorry, I’ll go ride, was all I could muster after I realized that I was probably making a nuisance of myself.

I sort of feel like I can hit the stop button on the recovery clock. From September 13 to October 29th, I suffered. 6 weeks of recovery and tiredness and post-trip blues and feeling useless and driving Scott crazy.

Up until now, I’ve been a little down on the whole CDT experience, not wanting to write up any thoughts on it because all I could muster was, “Hard. It was so hard.” I feel like I finally found my rosy glasses and can look back at the trip as more than just 120+ days of pushing my bike.

Scott’s written all sorts of reflections, statistics, and advice. He’s written a 2,000 word summary which I’m guessing will get posted around for people who don’t want to read 125 blog posts about the trip. I’ve found myself wanting nothing to do with it. We’ve discussed the idea of putting together a guide for the trail and in the past six weeks, whenever the subject has come up, I’ve always come back with ‘It was your trip. I don’t even know how to write a guide for it.’

It really was Scott’s trip in a lot of ways. He’s been dreaming of doing it for several years. He was the one who brought it up last summer. He did all the research. He did all the talking to mapping people. He calculated milages, elevation gains. He spent hours upon hours upon hours researching.

Yay! I got us to Durango!

I’m much more of a, ‘Look! Squiggle line on the map! Let’s go there. Something’s going to happen.’

I can say, with 100% certainty, that we wouldn’t have finished the CDT without the level of research Scott did. He controlled for every variable that he could, and we (and by we, I mean I) still fell to pieces 1,000 miles from the end. I just think that if we’d had more navigation errors or poor Wilderness detours, the breakdown could have come, oh, lets say, mid-Colorado. And if I’d had had my Slag-a-meltdown in Colorado, I can say with complete certainty we wouldn’t have made it to Waterton.

I’ve always relied on GPS lines to follow to the point that I never even loaded base maps on my GPS for racing under the guise of ‘I don’t want to know what’s coming’ or ‘I don’t want to know my escape options when things get tough.’


Watching Scott, forehead wrinkled, eyes bugged out, in front of the laptop at every town stop trying to figure out what was coming next gave me a real appreciation into what goes into designing long routes. It’s not just looking at a map and waving a finger.

I did nothing. I often joked that I just came along to provide witty conversation and to carry the tarp (a duty I gave up in southern Colorado and never resumed even though I swore I’d carry it through Wyoming as well).

For the past six weeks, it’s felt like it really wasn’t my trip at all. That I could have been replaced by anyone who could take 4 months off of work and push, I mean, pedal a bike.

But now, with a little bit of hindsight, I like to think back to a conversation we had rolling into Ovando. ‘Who else could you have put up with in such close proximity for so long?’ We listed all of our regular riding partners and decided that while we love riding with every one of them, none would we want to spend 4 months within sight of.

Seriously, think about it. We weren’t more than 100 yards apart from each other for 4 months. 4 months. That’s a third of a year.

So maybe that’s what I contributed to the trip. Not only was I a partner who could pedal a bike, and occasionally push a bike without complaining (I could push a bike while complaining all day long), but I didn’t drive Scott bat-shit crazy. Most of the time.


But I would like to take some ownership of the trip, more so than just choosing the places we ate in each town and insisting that we visit as many hot springs as possible.

Scott’s pretty much dumped the idea of a guidebook project in my lap. I’ve spent the past six weeks grumbling about it. Who, possibly, would want to do what we did? It was a terrible idea.

But I feel like finally, I can see it as a terribly good idea. Hard? Yes. Worth convincing others to follow in our steps? Scott somehow gets 50+ people to ride Oracle Ridge during the AZTR, so maybe even bad ideas are worth propagating.

Down the rabbit hole we go…


3 thoughts on “CDT Recovery and a Reflection

  1. Yes, please write a guide!

  2. One perhaps obvious comment on the guidebook usefulness. You,I suspect, are considering how many people will want to attempt it as a whole. I would argue probably more over time than you think, if you look at the adoption of other long distance routes. But, more importantly, for many the guidebook provides insight, opportunity and encouragement to attempt local sections, shorter trips, get out more and over time range further to attempt other sections. That is the great value of sectionalised guidebooks. I would urge you to consider it that way, as a journey with multiple entry and exit points that taken together will drive more adoption, use and recognition of the validity of bicycle access.

  3. Book or no book, am still in awe of your summer, even the HABing and meltdowns, and especially the grit, grace and humor that got ya to the other end. Yes girl, own it! 🙂

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