Brian Lucido was the fastest man to make it to Antelope Wells this year with a time of 14 days, 22 hours and 45 minutes. Brain is a rookie to the race but no stranger to cycling as you will find out below. We tip our hats to Brian for a very consistent and strong performance.
Age, hometown, and where do you live now?
40 years old, originally from Mountain View, California and I currently live in Atascadero, California.
What do you do for work?
Worked 10 years as a mechanic in bike Shops, then 13 years in Biotech. Now retired, though I do some computer programming for profit.
When did you start cycling?
When I was a kid, I had a paper route. I was saving every penny so I could buy a horse. Unfortunately, we moved away from the house with acreage where it would have been possible to board a horse (not that it would have been realistic for a kid with a paper route to buy and support a horse). So I took the $400 I had saved for the horse and bought a Giant Iguana Mountain Bike instead. I immediately fell in love with the freedom and movement it afforded, and soon exchanged my passion of horses for bikes.
We took a peek at your website, you have done a lot of cycling. Share with us some statistics if you could on your cycling past?
My passion for the last 20+ years has been bike touring. In the early days, I’d daydream about places to go, draw pictures of fully loaded touring bikes, and make lists of countries to visit by bike. My first long tour was with my friend Dennis on my Cannondale Tandem. We rode from San Jose, CA to Rosarito, México. I was hooked, loving the complete freedom, believing we could go anywhere we wanted in the world – pretty much for free. There is something beautiful about a loaded touring bike – especially tandems. Since then, I’ve explored most of California and the West Coast, crossed the USA West to East (zig-zagging from Yuma, AZ to Jasper, Canada). I’ve also explored the interior of Europe, as well as done a circumnavigation via Scandinavia, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Southern Europe. My wife and I rode to Panama from California, and on another year explored the spine of the Andes by bike.
What is your favorite past cycling trip?
They have all been fantastic – but the best ones are the more recent ones on the tandem with my wife, Janet. Not only is she a wonderful touring companion, but we have very similar interests and goals for touring. Our two favorite aspects of touring are finding beautiful/quiet places to camp and meeting the people in the small communities we pass along the way (and learning about their lives and how they differ from ours). She has taken the next step in interacting with locals and completed many Spanish courses. I’m so impressed by her dedication! I already knew how to speak Spanish from my tours to Central America in the 90s when I learned important words such as “sostén” and “pechos” from reading the Guatemalan newspapers during the Monica Lewinsky / Bill Clinton scandal. Our most recent tour was from Colombia to Peru. As we have gotten better at planning routes (plus with the advent of the internet/Open Street Map/satellite and street view), we are able to create rewarding, but very difficult routes that string together satisfying points of interest. We now tend to ride dirt and go out of our way to seek safer roads. In the old days, I used to use a street atlas combined with maps torn from the local telephone book, which resulted in riding busier roads. Back then my mindset was oriented more towards just riding across a country. Now, our goals are more about taking it slow and truly experiencing the country and coming closer to feel what it is like for the people who live there.
What intrigued you to pedal the GDMBR and race it?
While we were in South America, I read about Josh Kato setting the record for the GDMBR in 2015. Also, many people we met in South America who had ridden from Alaska, headed for Tierra del Fuego had traveled via this route. A YouTuber who we love to follow (Iohan Gueorguiev) had posted some tantalizing videos of his experience on the GDMBR. It seemed like everyone was talking about this beautiful transect of America. This got me excited about the route, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate several months to it (there are so many places to see). The race seemed like the perfect compromise: I’d get to scan the route and kind of scope it out to see if my wife and I would enjoy it for a slower-paced tandem tour next year.
Had you done any trip on the route previously?
Yes, but just a little. When I rode zig-zag across the USA, the part near Whitefish and Steamboat Springs overlapped.
What was the standout over the first three days?
I had really wanted to meet Josh since I read about him. From his writing, you can tell he is a fun and easy going guy. He and his wife also ride tandems a lot, so we had that in common. I took a lot of info from his gear lists published on another website from 2015 and 2016. I was delighted to be able to ride with him a fair amount the first several days of the race. I kept thinking to myself how cool it was to be chatting and riding with him! When I met Josh before the race, I was hanging out in the lobby of the YWCA, patiently waiting to talk to him. As a big celebrity in this circle, everyone was greeting him and making conversation. As I sat there watching him interact with several people, I noticed that he knew and addressed EVERYONE by name. This really impressed me – not only is he a super athlete, but he really respects his fellow competitors – he is a really charismatic guy.
You were close to Ben on the tracker over those days, did you pedal with him a lot?
I first saw Ben on KoKo’s claim. We were pushing up a rocky section of “trail” that had become a waterfall, and our first communication was him telling me that he came here to ride, not hike-a-bike. I was stoked to have passed him on this tough section because I knew he was the first place rider. But then the descent came, and he easily passed me as I was walking down the rocks. Later, on the rollers into Fernie, we started actually riding together – but not exactly like buddies. Ben would “lead” me a little. I could tell that he was a very strong athlete. It was apparent that he had great climbing skills, so I asked him, “How are you so good at climbing coming from Belgium?” He replied that he trained by “riding hard into the wind.” In my mind, I said, “This guy is maybe going to hold this pace for one day; he has no mountain experience!” Boy, was I wrong! Ben demonstrated his amazing strength throughout the race. After the race was over, I found out that he had sent me a Facebook message from Basin (this is the day we both encountered a dangerous electrical storm between Butte and Helena). He was inviting me to share his room in Basin. Not only is Ben a very strong athlete, but he demonstrated great sportsmanship trying to help me in that storm. It is a major bummer that his fork snapped; I have a lot of admiration for the fact that he got back on the bike, hammered, and kept a good attitude.
You decided to not sleep on night six, what was your reasoning for that?
Ha! This was a total rookie move! Don’t laugh, but my thinking was that I could send a message of strength so that other riders would “forget” about me. I hoped that I could put in one hard day, open a gap, and then take it easy the 2nd week. I had been planning on doing this the night before, but then Ben broke his fork, and Russ at High Country Tours talked me out of it. Anyway, it was a rookie move because I later found out from the race flow graph that, yes, I got ahead during the night, but after about 24 hours, my motivation deteriorated enough that my performance dropped significantly. Also, I wasn’t having much fun the middle of the 2nd day – having to take cat naps on the side of the road. Finally (and this was circumstantial), but I walked down a 4 mile stretch of snow on Brooks Lake Road (which took 2 hours) and at the bottom a guy was plowing – so those guys who came through the next day probably saved a couple hours just by coming through later on the plowed road!
How as the Great Divide Basin for you?
I loved it! This was probably helped by a very strong quartering wind (a side wind that had just enough of a tail aspect to speed me up). If it had been a head wind, I may have reported that it was miserable. The Basin was desolate, open, and alone. If anything, it was over too quickly. I saw so many animals out there, large and small. I was singing out loud at top voice – ‘cuz there was no one out there to hear me. Great experience. I found an abandoned house at the right time, and set up camp in the lee of the building. There was even a pond nearby for washing. Unfortunately, rain came. I thought I’d just move into the dirty house with trash and torn up floors – but the rain came right through the roof. I put my tent up inside, but then ripped a hole in my therm-a-rest from the trash. This was actually a bad night.
Where was your coldest night sleep?
Night 2, I was still adjusting to the exertion. When you exercise really hard for a long time, you kind of lose the ability to thermoregulate. After having walked 2 miles in one hour in the snow over Red Meadow Lake (in the dark and rain), it wasn’t the warmest way to start camping. I was sleepy enough to be able to nod off in spite of fluctuating body temperatures.
When did you know you had the win?
When I got to Antelope Wells, duh! Actually, when I caught up with Ben on KoKo’s Claim (the day one re-route), and he expressed frustration about the difficult terrain, I was pretty sure I would win if nothing went wrong on my bike. I knew that this race is more mental than physical – and a positive attitude is a must. I also knew we had a lot more difficult pushing through mud and snow to overcome. During the winter, I had trained myself to love riding in the rain, mud, bushwhacking, etc by doing a “waterfall discovery” project. Each wet day of this rainy winter, I’d study Google Earth and try to “discover” a new beautiful hidden waterfall. This took me on some very difficult bushwhack mud adventures. I even had to wear a wetsuit a couple times! By mixing discovery (i.e. fun) with hardship, I trained my mind to truly enjoy the hardship. In fact, after winter was over, I was totally bummed: I had come to love these wet, muddy explorations so much! As such, I was prepared to smile at whatever the Tour Divide would throw at me.
What was your most difficult moment?
I had a hypo on the fire re-route. I woke in Tres Piedras with a blood sugar of 70, and would have been happy with that if it had been at home. I ate a little and started riding. Shortly, I was shaking and weak. I panicked and carelessly gobbled 160grams of carbohydrate. I tried riding slowly, but my blood glucose kept dropping. I knew I needed to wait for the sugar to hit. When you have a hypo, you cannot think clearly or intelligently. If you’ve ever felt “the bonk,” that is kind of like what the beginning of a hypo feels like… only in a hypo you go a lot further and start to feel panicky, very shaky, confused, and unable to make intelligent decisions. I mustered all my mental-might to try and be logical in spite of this shaky panic. I had already left town, and was in the middle of nowhere, so I could only think that maybe Josh would eventually catch up and help me (he is a nurse). I did stop-and-go riding for a while in my shaky haze until finally enough glucose was absorbed to keep me going steady again. This was the only significant hypo I had during the entire race, and it was unexplained; I hadn’t really taken any more insulin than on the previous days.
What was the best meal you had on route?
I called into the Ovando Inn about 1 hour before arriving and asked if a steak dinner would be possible. Leigh Ann said she could do it, and she also prepared a beautiful salad and lots of other low carb appetizers. Not only that, but she acted like she was on the Indy 500 pit crew, thinking of practicalities, organizing laundry, and offering encouraging words. We managed to get in some conversation while I was eating too. She was fantastic; I loved my stay in Ovando! Honorable mention: Kristen at the Brush Mountain Lodge went out of her way to track down a steak for lunch, and she pulled it off! It was very tasty, and I really appreciate her care and concern – she brought ice for my Achilles and devised a rubber glove contraption to help with Achilles pain. I didn’t use it, but was floored by her thoughtfulness.
Were there any moments when you told yourself you were ready to quit, if so how did you cope with that?
Yes – the morning of day 2! Both my Achilles were swollen, and I could barely crawl into the bathroom at Fernie! All this was from hiking up KoKo’s Claim! Also, I had mysterious nerve damage in my feet and my right hand. I couldn’t grip with my hand, feel my toes, and everything tingled. I thought, “I’m this messed up after day 1; how can I possibly finish?” I had invested so much into getting here, though, quitting would have been foolish. I rode on with the pains, which worsened. Then on day 3, I realized I could take some ibuprofen. This helped! I pretty much ignored the pain, which was worse at night and in the mornings. As I write this, everything is still messed up, and I’m going to have to figure out how to heal.
Tell us a bit about your bike, and your pack list?
A lot of attention went into the pack list – more than you can imagine: Enough to write a book. The bike is a stock 2014 S-works Stumpjumper HT. I changed the stock brakes (Magura MT8s) for a pair of Shimano XTR BR-M9000. Those stoppers were flawless. In spite of wet, gritty conditions the entire first week, I finished the race with the same pads I started with (they’re only about 1/2 used). I ran the G03Ti pads. Yes, they made noise, but I never touched the 2 pairs of spare pads! I also changed out the front chainring. This involved me purchasing 5 tester rings in one month! I finally settled on a SRAM 36T Eagle Ring. Eagle is 12 speed, but I was running 11s. The issue I’ve had with other SRAM X-sync rings is that they “hold” the chain at the bottom after just a couple hundred miles of wear. This causes chain suck, though it’s slightly different from what you get on a triple. SRAM got it figured out with Eagle, and my XX1 mix-match drive train performed flawlessly. I knew from tandem tours that a $10 chain could be coaxed to survive >5,000 muddy miles with >3/4 million feet of climbing, so I was certain I could do the whole Tour Divide on a single bike with a single chain. I did NOT ship ahead any parts. The tires were Continental Race Kings with protection. I chose those because Mike Hall had used them with success in 2016, and because bicyclerollingresistance.com had rated them highly. I experienced zero flats. I had been experimenting with the Thunder Burts. They were fast, but I found that they did not wear long enough.
Want to see more rigs of the Tour Divide? Click here to visit out 2017 Tour Divide Rigs Article
I’m already feeling the void that only an all-day ride can fill. Touring is such a simple and routine act: you eat, ride, sleep. My wife and I will probably do some mini tours, including a trip to Guatemala this winter. As far as racing is concerned, I’m now intrigued by the Trans-Am. Tour Divide was great, but you take quite a pounding with all the washboard and rocks. Trans-Am looks crazy-fun, but I’m also aware of the increased danger (due to proximity to cars) of this route.
Anyone you would like to thank?
The list is long! Biggest thanks go to my wife, Janet, who listened to me talk incessantly about the tour for 6 months! She also kindly drove me to the start line – on the way to her own group tour in Colorado (not exactly on the way). Although we don’t consider it training, she is my “training partner.” Her self-sacrifice to support the preparation for this trip was huge. Along the route, I’d like to thank Leigh Ann for the welcoming party of 3 plus the super meal in Ovando and pit-crew like activity. Thanks to Russ from High Country Tours for entertaining me with TD stories over a good meal. Thanks to the kind woman at the Exxon in Lima – mud crumbled off my shoes inside the store, and she vacuumed it up saying, “don’t worry about it!” Thanks to Kirsten from Brush Creek Lodge for lively conversation and for going above and beyond to try and help with my Achilles. Thanks to Erin from the Clark Store for having her 3 boys ring bells up above the town of Clark, and for the warm welcome and great smile in Clark. Thanks to Beverly at the Sky Line Lodge for dot watching and super speedy meal preparation (and extra thanks to the kind woman whose name I didn’t get who made me 10 sandwiches to go)! Thanks to Stan and Kathy of Pie-O-Neer – The other pie places were closed, but they whipped up a baggie of Quinoa and peanut butter tortillas. We shared lots of laughs on the porch that afternoon. How I wish I could have spent more time with all these great people! Finally, a huge thanks to my sister and her family for coming to Antelope Wells and surprising me with a pickup!