Cover Photo: Peter Newbury Calvin Decker recently finished the Tour Divide in an impressive fashion. Calvin was at the front of the main pack for the first half of the race before he turned on the burners. He created a large gap on the pack leaving only Jefe in front of him. Calvin finished his rookie ride in 18 days, 5 hours, and 29 minutes. He turned 22 years young on the divide. Age? 22 Birthplace? Hometown: Clermont, NY Where do you live now? Mendon, VT What do you do for a living? I am an Arborist by summer and a Rescue Skier/ Ski Patrol by winter. I couldn’t ask for better jobs! What was your first mountain bike experience? I pretty much grew up on two wheels. I started racing motocross at age 6, and BMX sometime around there as well, if not earlier. I got my first “real” mountain bike, an Orange Kona Stuff JR, for my 13th birthday, and the rest is all a blur, but basically everything else soon came second to mountain biking. In the summer of 2013 you rode from Maine to Washington, was this your first adventure cycling experience? Yeah, my Maine to Washington trip was my first multi-day bike trip. I had a lot of riding experience, and a bunch of camping and backcountry experience (not that road touring is “backcountry”) so I wasn’t a total noob, but I learned a lot in the first few weeks! What was your first bikepacking experience? This may sound bad…Tour Divide 2014. I had a bunch of time on my loaded race rig, but time never allowed for overnights with just the bike since my tour last summer. What made you decide to take on the Tour divide this year? During my tour last year, the worst part was being on the road all the time. Towards the end I was pushing 120-150 a day regularly, not in a race. I had a few days where gravel roads just ended, and the adventure was fun, so I began thinking about the TD. My plan was to tour the GDMBR, but I couldn’t find people to ride it with. I figured if I was going to be alone, I may as well race, and Grand Depart was on my birthday, so what better way to spend your birthday?? What was your preparation like, training, logistics, etc? I spent way too much time agonizing about gear. Not that I didn’t ride a bunch, but I should have had more multi-century weekends. I was getting about 150-200 miles a week in, and ramped up my mileage too quickly about 3 weeks before the race and messed up my knees. So I spent almost 2 weeks not riding close to enough right before the race. Although I hate pre-written day by day plans, I made one, forcing myself to go over the ACA maps, page by page, and outline resupply points etc. Deceptive as they are (the 50-200 foot ass kicker hills don’t show up) I should have referenced the elevation profiles a lot more than I did in my planning. Looking back, I had some 200 mile days planned with about 25000 feet of climbing followed by a 140 mile day with 5000vF. Just rookie mistakes. How were you feeling when you got to Banff? I was so excited in Banff! My flight was delayed about 12 hours, so I had to cancel riding in from Calgary, which I was bummed about. It was awesome to be in such a beautiful town surrounded by like-minded people! My knees were still scaring me, but I knew I could pull through if I took it easy in the start. Going into the race, did you have a plan and/or goals? I mentioned my loosely outlined day to day plan…that went to hell on day 3. My overall personal time goal was 18 days, I put 21 online because I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. Placement wise, I didn’t think I would do as well as I did. I never really researched what other people had done (timewise) in the past, I just tried to figure out what I would have to do to come in where I wanted to. How was the weather in Montana? In a word…miserable. I guess that is a bit harsh, but up until Ovando, it rained more or less the whole time, and it wasn’t particularly warm either. You really hit your form in Colorado, did you have a deadline to meet or did you just feel strong? For me, it felt more like leaving Ovando. I suppose by CO I had made my way up the leaderboard, but taking a almost zero day from Seely to Ovando let me recover physically and mentally. Some things were said in Ovando that motivated me to ride harder, and the down time really let my knees heal up enough so I could ride to my potential, not in protective mode. Once I’m in the zone there isn’t much that can get me out of it. What was the hardest part of the Tour Divide? Riding into a small town after all the restaurants & quality food stores are closed, eating some left over McDonalds from last night, going to sleep for a few hours, and starting your day on a Snickers and the last of your remaining McDonalds to ride 50+ miles to the next town with an open restaurant. Actually….scratch all that….endless washboard roads. Washboard sucks, a lot. What was the most rewarding? The feeling of recovering from bonking. Its amazing what a few calories can do! What bike were you using? Kona Rajin (titanium), Niner RDO carbon fork, DT240’s laced to Stans Arch EX’s, Mostly Shimano XT build, WTB pure V Saddle Tires? WTB Nano Front, Maxxis Crossmark Rear, Slime Tubes. 0,o,O,zero flats!!!! Bags? Brand new Revelates in the beginning….ripped, tattered, torn, and tied-up-to-survive Revelates by the end. Favorite meal on the TD? Any time I could get a chocolate milkshake & a good burger or chicken salad. I looked for a fruit salad the entire way from Banff and never found one! Sponsors?
Verge Sport riding clothes kept me looking fresh, and feeling comfortable. Living in the same clothes for 18+ days is never ideal, but my Verge kit held up great, and my chamois kept me alive over the endless washboard. My Swiftwick merino wool compression socks were incredible! A few changes up north in the wet and cold, but once it was dry, just one pair stayed impressively fresh! Big shout out to JT at Rutland City Bikes in Rutland, VT for all your help getting my ride finalized before the trip.
Whats next for Calvin Decker?
Fun short rides, some trail building, some local 100milers and 24hrs. Cloudride 1000 in Australia next April. Complete an Ironman or similar triathalon in 2015. Maybe tour European towns and singletrack next summer. Plans can change at moments notice!!