What did your rig look like? What bike did you use?I built myself a Tour Divide rig prior to changing my route, and since I had it built I decided to change my MTB tires to a 40c gravel style tire and ride what I had. Nicholas Carman gave me a Surly Krampus frame last year and I got the Niner carbon fork for it. I rode a SRAM XX1 11 speed set up. I had a double spider on my crank with a 34t front chain ring and a 28t chain ring for a finger shift insurance granny gear. This set up worked really well for me, but I wish I would of used a 36/30 instead. The 28t is very low. I ran a Son Dynamo hub, a K-Lite lighting system, and a Sinewave USB charger. My bike bags are by Alaska’s Revelate Designs and Stephen Balcao. What was your favorite town you passed through? That is such a tough question because I experienced so many amazing places. But, I made a wrong turn coming out of Crater Lake National Park and descended about 20 miles in the wrong direction. The descent was a beautiful mountainous decent ending with cows running along side of me in open range fields on both sides of the road. The sun was in that perfect spot as it was setting behind the mountains and I ended up in a small town called Fort Klamath, Oregon. That was a magical ride – even if it was in the wrong direction!
Did you set any goals aside as far as finishing time goes? Was that effected by unknowing how your body would react?I did. I take a monthly anti-rejection infusion that a medical professional has to deliver through an IV. I gave myself the maximum time allowed in between infusions of 33 days to fly down, complete the route, and then fly back. My personal goal was to finish in 30 days. It took me 29 days 9 hours and 9 min. I was very happy with that. A fast touring pace! Describe the sense of accomplishment and praise for your body after completing such an incredible ride after a long stretch of inactivity and health issues? First of all, I can’t describe how grateful I am! I couldn’t walk around my block a year and a half ago. My biggest worry was that I would do damage to my transplanted kidney. After returning to Alaska I quickly went into the lab for blood tests. The true sense of accomplishment and relief set in when the doctor told me that my blood work was ” boringly normal”. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I can get on my bike and ride 100+ miles and then eat a huge slice of pizza. Man,.. pizza is awesome!
How did the kidney transplant effect your original cycling goals for the year?The kidney transplant has kind of given me a different look at what is really important in life. For me, experiencing adventure and pushing myself on the bike is very important. The kidney transplant has made me go after some cycling goals that I have sooner in life, rather than later. I’d say if anything the transplant has caused me to get after and attempt my goals instead of just thinking about them.
What’s next?I still plan on racing the Tour Divide. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the Alaskan summer and continue thinking about other future bikepacking trips.
Anyone in particular you would like to thank?My girlfriend Kelsey Preecs, My parents Bill and Debbie Neal, Gordie and Connie Preecs, Jordan Villella at Aerotech Designs for some sweet threads, Dusty and Eric at Revelate Designs, Stephen Balcao for the frame and top tube bags, Kerry at K-lite, My boss James Stull for giving me the time off of work, and last but not least, Sandlin Seguin; thank you for giving me your kidney. I can truly say that without you, this would not have been possible. If you want to follow more of GW’s adventures, head over to his blog here.