Finishing thoughts from the Tour Divide 08

When I lined up in Banff about a month ago, boy were there expectations in the air for everyone! Some of those were high and some weren’t. Brendan and our good friend Matt rode out the first 10 miles with me and then I headed off in a tearful first day. I really had no idea what I was in for and am glad that I didn’t. You read up on all the reports from years past, you study the numbers – 200,000 feet of elevation gain, 2,711 miles, at least 18 long days in the saddle (for some of us much more) – but it is all so abstract.

I only hope to begin understanding what that all means now. But, more than the numbers, was the experience. How to stay focused on what lies ahead…and why? I describe it like playing pacman. You look at what’s in front of you and take one bite at time. The most amazing thing to me was how you could feel like you were an inch tall at the beginning of a day (with such monstrous tasks in front of you) and by the end of the day feel like you could conquer the world – or like you just had. I met so many people along the way that kept me going. I did this race for myself. But when you pull into a roadside stop and meet a woman who has been waiting for you because she was following the race – then she tells you that you can’t stop, you’re not allowed to, you have to do it for the rest of us – how can you argue with that!? I met so many men and women along the way who had faith in me – and they didn’t even know me.

Before the race, one piece of advice that John Stamstead gave was to be flexible. Adaptability, he said, was a valuable asset in finishing. My race didn’t go as planned a single step of the way. Sometimes it was very tough to deal with not making a goal, or lying up for a few hours in a motel bed. I had to remind myself though, that the important part for me was to finish this behemoth. So few people ever do that!

This was my first attempt and I learned a lot. I rolled into the flats of NM late Saturday and felt right at home. Growing up in NM, I felt some great sense of comfort arriving here. I also felt that it was a very appropriate place to end this race. Here I was, amidst the prickly pears, mesquite bushes, yuccas and arroyos – all features to be reckoned with. I felt emboldened at that moment, like I had earned my place in this harsh environment. My skin was a little rougher. I was dark with freckles and dirt and my legs were a bit pumped. I raced through the clay to beat the lingering showerstorms to the final pavement. On the final stretch, I was able to unwind and enjoy the smells and sounds of the night desert after a rain. Arriving at the border was one of the craziest and most wonderful days of my life. I am still trying to understand what it all means and only hope to be able to convey some of that to all of you.

I will have photos posted up soon and am working on a write-up with many of the details. Until I get a comprehensive write-up, I’ll be sharing a few important stories with you as I have time. Check back often as there’s so much to share.

Thanks everyone for all your good wishes and thoughts while I was out on the trail and it’s good to be home!



23 Comments Add yours

  1. Bandit says:

    We all knew you would do it…Finn told us. You and Brendan must be proud, we are.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Mary!!!!! You are an amazing person and I am so excited for you. I watched your blue spot everyday.
    You did it girl! There was no doubt in mind that you would.
    I can’t wait to see your photos. Especially the finish.
    Terri Wahlberg


  3. Justin says:

    Congrats on a HUGE accomplishment! We can’t wait to hear all of your stories. So now that you’ve got this under your belt, where do you go from here? 🙂

    Justin and Kim


  4. Geoff says:

    congratulations mary. was glad to have crossed paths with you a couple times out there.


  5. Mother Bliss says:

    Yeay Mary, you did it!!! I’m so glad you stuck it out, you are AWESOME! Listening and reading about your adventure was such a trip. Get some rest and we’ll see you back home soon. So, what’s Ha


  6. Anonymous says:

    Congrats on completing your epic adventure. I enjoyed following your trip and was amazed at your fortitude and determination to see this thing through to the end.


  7. Chris says:

    WOOO HOOO! Congrats from all of us back in the Middle West. We’re so excited at what you hve accomplished! We were all riveted to our computers, sharing updates and speculating at what it must have been like for you out there. You are awesome!


  8. Cathy says:

    You did an awesome job. Now my girls have wome great expectations for their own lives cause aunt mary can do it. Were proud of you. We love you, Cathy Tati and Tavi


  9. Anonymous says:

    that is one of the most epic things anyone has done. I look forward to seeing and reading more.


  10. Zen Monkey says:

    You are awesome!!! I’ve been following the race since the start and I just knew that you’d be able to finish. Congratulations on a your commitment, perseverance, follow-through and success. You are an inspiration to anyone who comes in contact with you!



  11. Anonymous says:

    you should apply to Guinness.


  12. Sarah K says:

    Unbelievable Mary…there are no words. Congratulations!


  13. sirenbicycles says:

    “This was my first attempt and I learned a lot.”

    I love it! (it was more than merely an attempt; I’d say!)


  14. Grizzly Adam says:

    Congrats! What an enormous accomplishment. Get some rest now!


  15. Girl on a Bike says:

    Can’t wait to see the photos and read the report(s). WTG!!


  16. ewxlt66 says:

    Great work Mary!

    – Erik and Leslie


  17. Anonymous says:

    That is so cool!
    I tried to figure out something crafty to write…. can’t…. I’m speechless.




  18. Sean Busby says:

    This is so RAD Mary! Congratulations! So stoked that you were able to complete this race – amazing! Incredible – Way to go!!! I am so stoked!
    Sean Busby


  19. Matt says:

    Awesome work Mary! Can’t wait to hear the stories. We are so proud of you!!


  20. Cellarrat says:

    wayway way way way way way awesome!!!!!!!

    You Rock!


  21. Ali B. says:

    Excellent showing Mary! You can now cross this off your “upcoming events” list!


  22. Mary Collier says:

    Ali – that’s the best suggestion I’ve had in a long time! DONE! Crossed off my list.


  23. Patsy says:

    So proud of you! Can’t wait to see you and see all the pix.


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