Hammer Time With Ryan Correy

Yesterday, quite on a lark, I was able to have a great conversation with adventure cyclist Ryan Correy about bikepacking and the Tour Divide.

My LBS, The Radical Edge, posted on Facebook a couple of days back that they were having a rep from Hammer Nutrition come out to talk about their stuff and I mostly glossed over it as I pretty much chalk that stuff up to the uber tri-geeks and the Hammerheads out there. Yesterday though, they posted again saying that Ryan would be the one coming and would be giving the talk. As fate would have it, I was able to drop Julia off at soccer practice just in time to swing by the shop and check things out.

You can learn more about Ryan’s exploits at his website, but suffice to say dude has ridden some bike. Started at 13 with a cross-Canada tour with his dad and went from there. A tour from Alaska to Argentina. The Race Across America, and two finishes in the Tour Divide, the most recent just wrapping up last week on Canada Day.

He was there to do his ‘day job’ and speak to the tri and endurance racers about Hammer’s products – which I did find interesting and enlightening – but even cooler than that, I was able to talk to him – and his fiancee Sarah – for about a 1/2 hour prior, one-on-one, and barrage him with questions about the Tour Divide.

It was so cool to be able to actually talk to someone that’s done this event vs. read articles and interviews on the internet.

He had his rig there that he’d ridden on the Tour Divide and I snapped a photo of it, but I was so busy fanboy-ing out that it didn’t occur to me to actually move it to a not so cluttered background, so it kinda sucks. I was very much in a 14-year-old oh-my-god-this-bike(and this GUY)-did-the-Divide-TWICE kind of mode.

Ryan has written a book that’s just come out about his adventures on the bike. A Purpose Ridden details not only his 2012 Divide ride, but his other rides and his beginnings with his dad. I picked up a copy and I look forward to checking it out. One of the things I’ve always been curious about with riders who do these events and maintain blogs or write about them afterwards was how they retained the thoughts and details of such a long ride when so much else is going on physically and mentally.

One of the things that really resonated with me was when I asked him if he kept/took a journal with him on the ride to take notes, he replied that no, he didn’t need one. Other than taking lots of pictures – which also helped to revisit afterwords – he explained it by saying that there’s no way he could forget it. He said quite emphatically that he could ride the whole route again – save a few sections – without a map or GPS, pretty much on memory alone.

“Each day on the Divide is a thousand adventures in one. Each day is it’s own amazing adventure, constantly coming on new, breathtaking scenery. So many moments. I remember all the details.”

While riding 4,300km across the continent, unsupported for 19 days, many times alone in the wilderness, he said several times that really, things like whether or not you made the right gear choices were really not the biggest hurdle – that it was mostly a mental battle – were you prepared to endure the sleep deprivation, aches and pain and the subsequent doubts and challenges all those brought on. That was the key. Yet he was still able to – in the simplest terms – stop and smell the evergreens – and be fully present in those moments out on the trail and take those with him past the finish line.

Would that we all could make each of our ‘ordinary’ days ‘it’s own adventure’ and be fully present in them. I’m inspired to try.