Fresh off his dominating participation in the Tour Divide 2014, Mr. Dan fucking Hensley decided to let me ride some bikes with him. I met up with him at his place in and we talked a little bit about his experience before heading out into the oakland wilderness.
So I will provide a little background on things.
1. Dan is a general badass who likes to do badass things, like the Arizona Trail Race, Trans Iowa among other things.
2. The Tour Divide is a pretty badass thing to do. (if you don’t know what the tour divide is, click on the link)
3. Most people complete the tour divide on a fully geared bike, and a lot do it with suspension, and most have some sort of support along the way. Because, ya know, humans need help riding 2,700 miles.
4. Dan decided to ride this monstrous race, on a rigid single speed. And as if that weren’t enough, he did it unsupported, and just for fun. (and to raise money for Ride for Reading <— CHECK IT OUT)
5. Dan is a beast
Some things I learned about the Divide from Dan.
1. During the Divide, all you do is mash, from sun-up to well-past-sun-down. You mash until you can’t ride any further, and then you collapse on the ground to get a couple hours of sleep.
2. The Divide is lonely. There are stretches of road where you go a hundred miles without seeing anyone. (sounds amazing to me)
3. You can eat whatever the fuck you want forever and take the Tour Divide Diet and lose every pound of fat you ever had. Dan ate ice cream and pizza and beer leading up to the race, gained 20 lbs. and still came out of the race under his usual weight.
4. Do it single-speed, do it rigid. If you want to go unsupported, through 3000 miles of rough terrain – you need to minimize the risk of failure. One gear means no shifty-do-dads with 1,000 plastic pieces to break. No lube on squeaky pulleys, no extra cables for shifters, no failure. A full-rigid bike means you can go across the entire country without losing a single ounce of effort to a fucking bouncing bike.
5. It’s not easy. If Dan says it’s not easy, it’s not easy. There are a lot of great things about this race but Dan told the honest truth about all the shit you encounter along the way. Don’t ever go into this race thinking it is some kinda gran fondo across the country. This shit is real, and not for the little sissy-girls.
6. The Divide makes you go absolutely crazy. Dan went the entire ride without finishing a six-pack. What the fuck. What does that to a man?
Dan invited me out to ride some of his local trails. I heard there is some great riding to be had over in Oakland but never thought much of it. Oakland=City. City=No good riding. We met up and Dan lent me a ride. A beautiful little Surly 1×1, which after the ride I concluded to be one of the best bikes I had ever ridden. We cruised though the streets of Oakland on what I figured to be a never ending promenade to the quarter mile of single track Oakland has. So we finally get to this gnarly climb in the middle of a cute little neighborhood. This hill doesn’t end. Ever. Up and up and up on the pavement until we finally reach some park. Through the park and then into the trees. And then, bam, single track. What? In Oakland? Yeah. I would compare it to a mixture of Sutro and GGP here in the city. Winding single-track on a hill, with loose dirt everywhere. I was surprised that it just goes on and on and on. Not only was it pretty cool that there was this much riding so near to the city, but it was also some of the best riding I have done so close to the city. I’m no dirt jumper, and I usually like to keep at least one wheel on the ground at all times, so these trails were great for me. Quick, winding, just challenging enough to give you spurts of adrenaline at every corner – but also not enough to fuck my shit up. We rode for a good while, and Dan owned me every descent and ascent. The guy just wouldn’t stop and I was lucky to survive. After the ride we went had some beer and lunch and all was good.
I can’t wait to get back over to Oakland and ride some dirt with Dan. It was a great time and I look forward to discovering more rides in the East Bay.
That is all.
Also, this gallery is some shitty photos of the Ant that he rode in the Divide. And this LINK is his map through the Divide.