Ultra Endurance Record Holder Eddie O’Dea Shares His Bikepacking Tips [Podcast #121]

Ultra-endurance mountain bike racer and record holder Eddie O'Dea talks about what it takes to be a bikepacking champion. (Hint: it involves staying awake for long periods of time.)
photo: Greg Heil

On this Episode

In this episode of the Singletracks podcast, ultra-endurance mountain bike racer and record holder Eddie O’Dea talks about what it takes to be a bikepacking champion. (Hint: it involves staying awake for long periods of time.) Eddie holds course records in the Stage Coach 400, Trans North Georgia, and Huracan 300 ultra endurance mountain bike races, with more bikepacking course records than any other racer. This year he completed the Tour Divide and raised nearly $20,000 for the Georgia state high school racing league along the way.

Eddie talks about the unique skills that come into play in ultra-endurance racing and explains some of the tactics and strategies he’s found effective over the years. We also ask Eddie why he does what he does and talk about what he’s up to when he’s not riding his bike all day and night.

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Aaron 0:00
Hey everybody, and welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Aaron and today we’re here with a very special guest Edie yo de. So many mountain bikers aspire to spending a night or two out on the trail with nothing but the items they can carry on their bikes. But few of us can imagine bike packing for weeks at a time, let alone doing a race pace day and night. Eddie a day is a professional endurance mountain bike racer and holds course records and the stage coach 400, the trans North Georgia and the hurricane 300 ultra endurance mountain bike races. This year, he completed the tour divide and raised nearly $20,000 for the Georgia State High School Racing League along the way. So thanks for joining us, Eddie.

Eddie 0:43
Thank you. Appreciate that introduction.

Aaron 0:46
Yeah, you’re welcome. So tell us a little bit about your background. How’d you get started in riding and racing?

Eddie 0:51
Wow, that goes back a little ways. I got a bike in thick 97 just kind of doing things on my own for a while and then eventually hooked up with the swamp club down in the Tampa area. And they introduced me to cross country racing, which I was okay. I didn’t show any signs of greatness there. But I did notice that the longer the race went, the better I did. So definitely shifted my focus that way.

Aaron 1:16
So when when did that happen? When did you realize that the endurance the stuff was was more your cup of tea?

Eddie 1:25
I think I did my first cross country race in 2000. So it’s probably 2001 2002. Before I really had a chance to start exploring those longer races, one of which first 12 hour race I did was down in Markham Park, which is probably on its way to be in a disaster right now. But I just found myself in the lead after about five hours, I couldn’t actually believe that myself. I ended up falling apart in the last hour. But I was totally hooked. It was just as thrilling to be able to push myself and try to find some new limit. Yeah, so

Aaron 1:57
you did. I think probably the first time I met you was either doing the fool’s gold race, which you used to organize or maybe even the burn 24. So used to do quite a bit of 24 hour racing as well. Right. 24 hour solo stuff,

Eddie 2:14
correct? Yeah, the burned 24 hours, my first solo 24 hour race. And then I took over race directing a year or two later, but a car since that one, I think I’ve done maybe around, I don’t know, low 20s number of 24 hour races solo. So a lot of experience with with those all over the country.

Aaron 2:34
Ouch. I know you also. So my faster mustache team that I’m a part of here in Atlanta, we used to do a little 24 hour urban race, which I believe you won on more than one occasion, right?

Eddie 2:47
I only want it once. Okay. Yeah. The second year, I got into a duel with a couple other guys. And they got the better of me to work on my road tactics. Yeah, those were a lot of fun. A little bit scary. But a lot

Aaron 2:58
of Yeah, racing 24 hours through the streets of Atlanta. How many? How many miles did you put in? And that one? 400? Yeah,

Eddie 3:06
just shy of 400? Like 385? Something like that? Woof. Yeah, it was it never leaving pretty much downtown Atlanta. So it was a set a lot of miles and traffic.

Aaron 3:17
Yeah. So when did you start making the transition from you know, like the the 24 hour racing the 12 hour racing into kind of more of like these bikepacking events is that just because 24 hour racing is kind of gone away.

Eddie 3:35
It was a combination of things for sure. The 24 hour racing kind of dying off, and the number of races available, and the sponsorships available for that style of racing, kind of going away, but also a little bit of boredom. At the same time. You know, having done 20, some 24 hour races where you’re doing multiple laps, anywhere from you know, 20 to 30, some laps of the same thing. It gets a little tedious and a little boring. They’re certainly it’s different style of racing, obviously. And their support, were with the bikepacking. That was just kind of starting up at least here in the southeast, actually, just as the FM 24 hour race it ended. So it was a fairly easy transition to that the trans North Georgia route became available in 2000, I believe the beginning of 2010. And the event was in September of that year. So that was kind of my first foray into it. And I wouldn’t say I was bikepacking at that point. So bright, no sleeping gear at all for that one. Not that I didn’t need it, but I didn’t bring it. So yeah, it took a little while to kind of make that transition and it wasn’t my main focus still for another couple of years.

Aaron 4:44
So what kind of what do you think? What are the unique skills that you possess that make you really successful at riding these long distances?

Eddie 4:52
Coming from that 24 hour racing world and learning how to manage myself physically and emotionally when without sleep as definitely a really helpful tool. I think that was probably one of the biggest things to just becoming successful and 24 hour racing is just getting from, you know, about 2am to 6am, when everything seems to fall apart, and everything in your head, so stop this, this is madness and stupid. And yet put that away and be able to stay on the gas. There’s a lot of times, particularly in those those 24 hour races, but I also found in the most a shorter, kind of weekend long Ultra races, I can make really big gains in that that four hour period when most people want to sleep. And I can push through that.

Aaron 5:35
So is that something that’s just something like you learned about yourself while racing? Or do you think that’s something like an innate skill that you possessed from the beginning,

Eddie 5:46
it was definitely learned. I mean, kind of, I guess, naturally, I’m somewhat of an insomniac anyways. So that’s kind of helpful. But to be able to take, you know, someone who has a hard time falling asleep to, you know, staying up and racing all night, that was definitely a skill that got honed over the years, and sometimes, you know, executed better than other times.

Jeff 6:08
So it sounds like you’re saying the mental part is more difficult than the physical. I mean, a lot of people, I think they just focus on the physical and think there’s no way I could do that. How could I ride for that long, you know, that fast. But, you know, is that even the hard part?

Eddie 6:24
Now, I think I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance at this point. So naturally, I think the mental hard part is much harder, you may be that first 24 hour race, it was it was a lot more physical, or even really, that first 12 hour race is kind of dealing with all the pain and knowing, truly knowing that that pain is temporary. And it only tends to get to a certain point while you’re still conscious. So you can kind of rely on that, that it’s not going to hurt. It’s just going to hurt long. And it’s a really kind of sick way to think about things, but it’s kind of where I had to go. But then learning how to put away those doubts, and just all those things that scream in your head to stop this. Because the next one you do you know how much it hurt last time. So it’s doesn’t even hurt yet. But mentally, you’re just like, Why? Why am I gonna go down this path again. So just I don’t know, throw myself against that wall over and over again, I learned how to just shut all that down.

Aaron 7:20
So along the lines of the mental aspect of racing, do you still get Do you get nervous on these long distance races? is absolutely dead manager mandolin at all?

Eddie 7:30
A little bit? Because yeah, you can definitely go too hard. And so pacing is important there and not Yeah, not letting that exciting that the gentle and kind of take over you like you would be able to do in a shorter race, you know, a couple hour cross country race, you pretty much want to tap into all that adrenaline to just use it all up. But yeah, you do that at the beginning of an ultra race, it’s, it’s not going to be pretty. So yeah, definitely try to manage that. And also, where I think it’ll be more of a tactical race, you know, kind of use that against my competitors and and try to try to push them just a little bit more than they want to be pushed, and use that to break them.

Aaron 8:06
Later. So yeah,

Jeff 8:08
are you I mean, do you get comfortable then, like at various points during the race? Or are you constantly thinking about, you know, your position and your competitors? And that kind of thing? I mean, seems like, if you are that that’s gotta be exhausting. After a few days, right?

Eddie 8:22
I do. So most of my experiences and kind of a weekend long altar races, or did tour divide. And that’s a whole different beast, where like stagecoach, traditional Georgia hurricanes are all, you know, I’d say, what’s that, like 28 to 50 hours long.

Jeff 8:37
So only like one or two days,

Aaron 8:41
straight of writing the whole time. So

Eddie 8:42
if I could just not sleep most of the time, that’s resulted in a good result. So yeah, I do think about the competition part of it. And it can be exhausting to stay that focused for that long. And that’s definitely you know, I just said it rolled some of that skill over from 24 hour racing, where it’s tends to be really tactical, because it’s fairly short, I’ll put that in quotes. But short enough that it’s still tactical, where we start pushing out to 48 hours, at slightly less tactical, there’s a lot of other things to manage, with nutrition and all the physical things that can happen. But there’s still tactics to it. I’ve been in some fairly close races over some of those ultra races.

Aaron 9:20
Let’s talk a little more about about pacing. So how do you determine your pace? Do you go into an event and you have a specific mile per hour goal? Or are you looking to cover a certain distance each day? Or, you know, how do you how do you assess that and how do you make those determinations before the race.

Eddie 9:37
It’s better at that now than I was when I first started to and particularly with Ultra races. But I usually have kind of an average mile per hour in my head of what I want to do ahead of time, and then also break that down into various checkpoints. Whether it’s actually checkpoints in the sense that the race director put those out there or I created them myself. It’s usually resupply points. So I’ll you know, have an idea that it’s going to take me, you know, three hours to get from A to B. And then I can base my nutrition, my pacing, because all those two play together, your pay starts falling apart, all of a sudden your nutrition needs change, took you four hours to do what you thought was three hours, you need more nutrition available for that, and or water. So those two kind of play together, and I try to put in the research to be able to execute that, which is maybe why I keep going back to some of the same races because I’ve already done the homework on those. It’s always a little bit harder with a new to me race. And certainly if it’s just a brand new race all together, and nobody really knows what’s out there. That poses its own issues.

Aaron 10:40
Is that part of the fun for you?

Eddie 10:42
Yeah, it is. I like doing the homework, when I have time to do all the research, I’ve got a real job these days where, when I first started doing these, I had a little more free time to put into the whole research end of it, we’ll say, you know, instance of like trans North Georgia that I did three times, by the time I did the third one, I knew exactly where I was going to refill my water bottles, how many I’d refill exactly what was going into those. And I never had to carry any an ounce more water than I needed at any moment in that race. And I know that from the get go, which was really gave me a lot of confidence. And knowing the one that I could execute that, but just the plan was there, all you had to do is go out and ride it and not try it. I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions on that one. All I had to do is just go ride it.

Aaron 11:26
Nice. So are there is there any specific training you do for bikepacking races? It’s different from shorter races? I mean, is there anything you really can do to prep for days on end of the saddle.

Eddie 11:38
And from a purely training aspect, do a lot of it’s just longer intervals, you know, doing two minute intervals isn’t really the kind of efforts that you’re ever really want to do in those kinds of races. So it’s more like doing a lot of 20 minute, one hour efforts. And just I mean, if we want to get into, you know, power numbers and all that it’s really just pushing the FTP power up lots of sweetspot training over and over and over again. It’s a little tedious, but it’s effective.

Aaron 12:06
Yeah. So what about your bike setup? Sure, you know, kind of depending on what race you’re doing, that’s gonna vary a little bit, you know, how long it is and you know, the gear that you take with you, but like, let’s say, you know, let’s take the transit North Georgia, for instance, like what’s your bike setup? What are you taking with you?

Eddie 12:24
The last time I did? Well, three times I did trans North Georgia. I was still racing with Topeka, Oregon then so I was on a I was on a 26 inch hardtail say what? Yeah, I was a holdout. I moved on to 27 five now if we want to argue about wheel size. But anyways, yeah, carbon hardtail tried to make my bike and my kit as light as possible. So no sleep gear on that one, like a mylar emergency bivvy, just in case and pretty much all I’m carrying is some repair items, you know, brake pads to or to multi tool, and then food, everything else on there as food just for that one. When I because I tried to push straight through on that one. There’s, I don’t know, it’s like 180 mile section where there’s really no resupply, maybe it’s 150 miles. So you pretty much have to carry everything. Nutrition wise from the start. There’s a handful of resupplies point, but they’re just most most everything’s closed, obviously, in the middle of the night. So it’s really, really helpful. And in North Georgia, a lot of things are closed on Sundays. So just limited hours, and you start a race on Saturday. So

Aaron 13:31
most bikepacking races, you know, there’s not a lot of prize money, there’s no big sponsors. So you just kind of racing for bragging rights, you know, but it’s also insanely competitive and extremely painful. So why?

Eddie 13:46
Yeah, why? Maybe I don’t want to know, because then I wouldn’t do it anymore.

Aaron 13:54
I don’t think about that one. Yeah,

Eddie 13:55
it’s I don’t know, it’s, for me, a lot of it’s just the kind of the sense of adventure, the thrill of being able to cover these big distances under my own power, but also is, you know, some mental and emotional, you know, limit pushing, and it’s just a game I’ve been playing for close to 20 years now of just, you know, how far can you push it today? What is your limit? And see if he can step over that?

Jeff 14:17
Yeah, it seems like that’s kind of the draw. And that’s why people are really ended up bikepacking Because it’s one aspect of mountain biking this still like really pure, right, like, people just do it because they want to do it. And they they have that that need for adventure and yeah, pushing themselves. So yeah, it is I

Eddie 14:33
mean, it just you’re out there and it’s you against the world. You against the elements you against whatever mountain you’re trying to get over. And it’s Yeah, I mean, you kind of learn a lot about the world and yourself in those situations, which is still interesting to me.

Aaron 14:47
Yeah, I can definitely you know, I did the hurricane for the first time this year. And that’s the longest I’ve ever written by far. You know, I’ve always kind of been more of an endurance guy myself, but more in the like. 50 ish to, you know, the fun and the fun endurance exactly, you know, six to 12 hour races, you know, I’ve done a handful of 24 hour team races. But yeah, I think you kind of just have to go out and do it right? Because I remember all all my friends coming back from doing the hurricane and talking about how awesome it was. And I was like, how can you know writing 300 and almost 50 miles through Central Florida be fun. But yeah, I went and did it this year. And it was it was incredible. Definitely Highlands see

Eddie 15:31
a whole different side of what Florida is, when you get out there in the back country like that. It’s just, it’s really pretty in terrain changes a lot more than you would expect it to. So you go into it with all these, you know, kind of preconceived notions and come out the other side of it with a very different perspective.

Aaron 15:47
Are you from Florida originally.

Eddie 15:49
Now, I grew up in Connecticut, but I ended up in Florida for five or six years before I moved to Georgia.

Aaron 15:55
So back to back to racing, what are your days keys to success? What are the what are the seven habits of highly effective endurance Ultra mountain bike racing,

Eddie 16:07
I’d say number one is for me all about technique. So I don’t do big volumes of training so much anymore. But I focus a lot on being able to ride without basically breaking down soft tissue, you’re gonna ride a cross country race, you’re just it’s all out and you want that peak power, and you don’t think about how you might hurt yourself so much. We’re in an ultra race, you just can’t do that. So it’s all about, you know, kind of preserving your body. And good technique, being very aware of how you’re moving and how you’re executing those movements, really has played into a lot of my success in those ultra races, for sure. And just being as efficient with my power output is absolutely possible, then, nutrition is always, always crucial. And it’s usually a lot of people’s breaking point. So just over the years of honing that, and knowing what works for me, and executing that wealth, is

Jeff 17:03
that are you talking mainly nutrition during the race or some of that what you can do ahead of time,

Eddie 17:09
both of those things? I mean, live like a monk. I still enjoy myself, but yeah, I mean, certainly having a good good diet in general helps. And then, you know, there’s kind of prerace rituals, I’m a big believer in beetroot juice leading up to ultra races and, and or big training days, this stuff works really well. And then certainly during the race, I mean, because if really crucial if you’re going to try to push through a night that your nutrition is really spot on, because it doesn’t take you know, you mess something up for an hour or two and all of a sudden you want to take a nap. And sometimes you have to but you know to really execute those, those overnighters Well, I mean, just having a really good nutrition plan and executing it banks makes it so much

Aaron 17:55
easier. So some of these these events you’re doing where it’s overnight. Are you essentially carrying all your food with you? Typically, yeah. Okay. So yeah, cuz I gotta imagine that, you know, when you’re writing at that level, you got to have very specific things that you need at very specific times. And, you know, like you said, you know, what works for you. Whereas, you know, when I did the hurricane, I was eating like, Skittles, honey buns from the gas station. Yeah.

Eddie 18:21
So yeah, for that style racing, I use a lot of infinite nutrition, drink mix. So most of my calories comes from drinking it out of a bottle as I go. And then as I have the opportunity to hit, you know, a gas station, store, whatever. And then, um, you know, I’ll get like pizza and potato chips and a coke. And that’s usually works pretty well, but I try not to do really like gorge myself, I’ve done that before. And then you just have this you know, got bomb going on, it makes you want to take a nap. You feel awful. Even if you’ve not taken that nap, you feel awful for an hour or two until you get a chance to digest that. So you have competing resources. If you eat that double cheeseburger, it’s hard to go faster. And so try to avoid those as much as I can. And just keep the energy level more study, as I found in tour Dubai, that is not the same way that you can raise something like that.

Aaron 19:17
What about what about recovery? So how long? You know, let’s say, you know, like the overnighters, like the hurricane and stagecoach and trans North Georgia, how long is your recovery time after event like that? And then, you know, how do you what are you doing? How do you spend that time recovering?

Eddie 19:36
There’s been a lot of variety in that. And I think the more probably the more training I do ahead of time, the less recovery time I have on the back end of it. And then if you could go completely without sleep. If I go completely without sleep, the recovery line time is a lot longer if I get like a two or three hour nap. The just in one year period. I think it was 2013 I did the stagecoach and one now and that was the first one I did took a 20 minute nap. So pretty close to not sleeping for 40 hours. But my recovery was nearly nine weeks. Wow. Yeah. And it was that was a little scary. starts to get in your head a bit because I had other races I tried to do dirty Kanza. I made it about 20 miles into it before I knew it was going to be a horrible day and I wasn’t recovered yet. And then later that summer, I had fool’s gold. But also within a month I did the hurricane 300 straight through and then a month later I did stagecoach. So that may have played into it as well. But then all of a sudden, nine weeks later, I’m out on out on my ride, I feel really good. Go home and look at the power files. It was like new peak power numbers, like just nine weeks of nothing. And then all of a sudden, boom, the just all turned around, which was great, because I trans North Georgia coming up did a lot of long wins that year. And then but after trans North Georgia, a week later, I was doing did a short track race and once a money. So like the recovery was almost not really needed after that one, which is a very big contrast. So it’s not always black and white, just how much recovery you’re going to need. Yeah,

Aaron 21:15
I can definitely attest to that after doing the, the hurricane this year, like I would for, you know, probably three or four weeks afterwards, I’d go and ride and just felt like I had nothing in my legs and like sometimes, you know, I’d be posting, you know, pretty good times ever segments that arrived regularly. But I just didn’t I didn’t feel like I had anything in my legs. And then you know, just one day it was like, it was all all back and more.

Eddie 21:41
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you can even get a full a little bit where you start pushing it a little bit. Oh, I feel really good. And then all of a sudden, it’s just like the bottom drops out and you feel absolutely. So yeah, you gotta be careful with that and listen to your body for sure.

Aaron 21:56
So we will talk in just a second about the tour divide. But you know, how many how many races are you doing? Now? Typically, what’s a typical calendar year for you as far as racing?

Eddie 22:07
Three or four races a year. Now a couple of those obviously, are longer ones. But yeah, I just got a full time job running endurance house, Atlanta, and doing bike fittings, and some coaching as well. So keep myself pretty busy with real work versus spending all my time training like I used to and haven’t time to go race all the time. So yeah, so I don’t get to do as many events. But you know, pick the interesting ones for me now.

Aaron 22:34
Anything, anything new or different you’re going to do next year and the new events.

Eddie 22:38
I’m very interested in the Southern Highlands route that was recently published a combination of for mountain trail. I think they’re calling it western North Carolina traverse trans North Georgia, and the Skyway epic. So two of those I’ve done two of those I’ve never seen, but it sounds sounds pretty awesome.

Aaron 23:00
Yeah, it’s something was 1200 miles. Yes.

Jeff 23:03
Yeah, I was gonna say to we were, we have Brett Davidson coming in to do a podcast in a couple weeks. So yeah, talking about that. And the Eastern divide route as well, that he’s working on.

Eddie 23:15
Yeah, he’s he’s got a lot of really cool things going on with both of those. Yeah, I don’t know about racing, the whole eastern. It sounds absolutely brutal. I don’t know what total mileage on that it’s gonna be. It’s probably like 3500 miles and 400,000 feet of climbing. And I’m not, I don’t think I’m totally exaggerating on either of those numbers. Yeah,

Aaron 23:36
I think, you know, the East Coast writing is just a lot different right than the west coast where you have, you have these long climbs that you can kind of settle into, whereas on the East Coast is just relentless up and down, and up and down. And up and down. Yeah,

Eddie 23:50
you know, 15 to 20% grades is normal. Yeah. That’s the normal parts. Yeah. Not not railroad grades that you find in Colorado. And humidity. Humidity is a big deal on the East Coast. And that really changes things for ultra races.

Aaron 24:06
Alright, so let’s talk about the tour divide which you race this year is your first time right?

Eddie 24:11
It is was Yeah, yeah. So nearly 2800 mile route from Banff, Canada down to the Mexican border at Antelope wells, New Mexico. Again, ultra race totally self supported and it really impressive mass start. We had about 185 people starting in Banff this year.

Aaron 24:30
Wow. That’s that race has come a long way and not that long. Yeah, for

Eddie 24:34
you know, still a no entry fee race somewhat underground. It’s yeah, it’s definitely blown up. But I guess that happens when you make a movie.

Aaron 24:46
How did you prepare for the tour divided and how is that preparation different from the shorter ultras?

Eddie 24:56
For the shorter Ultras, I’ve trained a lot more than I want I had just had a lot to do said I’d been at endurance house since we opened. And so obviously heavily involved in the day to day operation. So a big chunk of being able to do tour divide was being able to kind of exit out of that and make sure the store was going to function when I was gone. And that took up a lot, a lot of energy. And then we, with the Georgia Interscholastic League, and kind of put together this fundraising effort, which really blew up and was, that’s really awesome, and appreciated all the support, but it also took a lot of energy, as well. So that kind of led me to like putting equipment together and then occasionally writing. Like I had 2000 miles in for the year before I started the race, which is for me very low, as I would like to be prepared for it. So I didn’t have a lot of physical preparation, it was more trying to look over the route and kind of understand what I was getting into on that front and what equipment I would need for it. So even if I wasn’t, or obviously wasn’t in great physical shape, I had the right things with me, so I didn’t get myself in trouble.

Aaron 26:05
Yeah, so let’s let’s talk about your your setup for the for the tour device, because obviously, you know, this isn’t an overnighter you’re gonna have to bring a little bit more stuff with you and you’re no longer on a 26 inch carbon hardtail. Right

Eddie 26:21
now I’m on a 27 five Seiren titanium hardtail. And for tour divide, I put a MV rigid fork on it, there’s very little single track to end it was just one less thing that would break down is the suspension pork just really isn’t totally necessary. If I did it again, I might look at something with a little bit of squish versus totally rigid. Like there’s a lot of stutter bumps but uh, but that was the bike I had some wheel set made up by K light USA based here in Georgia made up a dyno hub for my front and a nice lightweight set of knocks wheels across the board. And yeah, outside of that, I didn’t do anything crazy with Aero bars. I had some Ergon grips and a couple extra little boat bullhorn things in the center. So basically trying to keep still go with, you know, kind of lightweight mentality, but still need more gear than I typically bring. So I had a small tent, a down quilt sleeping pad. A pillow. Air Pillow.

Aaron 27:22
Oh, so fancy. Yeah.

Eddie 27:25
Yeah, exactly. I’m a side sleeper. So I didn’t think I’d make it through a couple of weeks without having a pillow. So you just got to his tour divide, you know, asleep is big deal. You’re not gonna be getting a lot of it if you’re doing it right. But you want quality sleep, you know, you lose one night of sleep. And that that can mess you up for days out there. Had some new bags made up by the spindle here in Atlanta as well and made a couple of custom bags for me. Said frame bag from them and in a top two bag. And then some the rest of it was revelate saddle bag and other top two bag handlebar bag.

Aaron 27:59
Cool. So how was nutrition on that route? Because obviously, you know, you’re not you’re not able to carry all your food with you. So was that a struggle for you like,

Eddie 28:09
at times for sure. And there was definitely a big learning curve. So when I, for the first couple of days, I was still kind of operating the way I would for any other alteration. I wasn’t gorging myself too much. And that needed to change because that was day one, I think I did 165 miles, then 125 miles, 175 miles, 100 miles, and then 40 miles. So you can kind of see where the trend went. So that day of 40 miles, I spent a lot of time eating, trying to kind of rebuild, some of that was another story of losing my money. And then getting it back cost me a little bit of time. But just mentally and physically, I was feeling really drained. I did I started off with a lot of my infinite powder, and then send it to myself at post offices throughout the route. I think like 10 of them with the idea that I’d probably be able to pick up about half which is I think how it worked out. But in between then you’ve got you know, whatever you can get at a store so it’s you know, Gatorade and coke and pizzas and Pop Tarts frozen burritos that you throw in a pack and they’ll thaw out you know, eight hours later.

Jeff 29:18
Pro tip Yeah,

Eddie 29:19
it’s not my favorite. But it works. You know and like the little pretty much anything that’s frozen and pre cooked you can do that with and then it took me until about halfway through to really learn like what I can order to go and take with me and subways, Subway sandwiches, they’ll last forever. There’s so much preservatives and there’s no problem carrying that around for 1218 hours and eating later. But just you know, realizing that you’re at a restaurant and ordering two meals immediately and then be like hey, can I get like, can you wrap up some grilled cheeses to go or peanut butter and jellies to go or things that will travel well without spoiling and messing up your stomach later. So learn to carry jar of peanut butter at all times. It’s add that to everything. Whether I was out in the wild putting on Pop Tarts in Snickers bars or at a restaurant and just always get aside a French toast and put peanut butter on it.

Aaron 30:17
Nice. That sounds good right now. I know. So what what was the highlight of the tour divide for you, um, a memorable moments,

Eddie 30:26
there were some really good days arriving. Day one was just amazing, just to kind of finally be starting at all and just the views, and that the views part continued on throughout. I think there was really only one day that I could kind of just throw away on that whole ride. But yeah, I mean, just the the amazing views of the Canadian Rockies. They’re just quite stunning. But yeah, it’s hard to pick just one, one highlight out of 21 days of things, but the views every time, I’d get in a contrast of just being mentally and physically spent an over at all. And then you turn a corner and he’s like, Oh my God, this feels amazing. This is so cool. I’m so glad I’m out here, you know, and then you struggle on through the next bit. You start getting low again, turn that corner again. And there’s there’s another one. So it certainly Yeah, the views and the wildlife were pretty, pretty amazing.

Aaron 31:18
Any cool wildlife sightings, saw badgers in

Eddie 31:21
the wild, which I’d never seen before. Couple of golden eagles, didn’t see any Grizzlies, which I’m not going to complain. They were certainly around other other racers were telling me of their sightings. I saw one black bear, which was cool, but not anything too thrilling. Several foxes, and riding through a herd of elk is pretty scary.

Aaron 31:45
That what about what about low lights? Were there any points where you like, eff this? Done? Like, yeah, get me out of here,

Eddie 31:54
the moment where I realized I had lost my money. So pro tip, spread your cash and your credit cards out in your kit don’t keep it all together, which I did. And at some point on Richmond peak in Montana, it fell out of my bag. I was getting my camera or bar or whatever. So there it laid on the ground. And about, I don’t know maybe 60 miles later I got get to Avantco. And there’s a lady from the fishing shop there. And she’s you know all about getting everybody’s picture and posted it up on her Facebook page as they come through. And it’s really cool how this town gets into it. But I’m roll up and I’m thinking I need to get batteries at the general store and then go to the restaurant and eat and be on my way. And so I go to get my money and go on the general store. And I can’t find it where I usually put it. All right, well, maybe I left it in my jacket, because I put put my credit cards and my chapstick in my pocket when I went to sleep at night. So I had my two most important things not there. And I just start pulling my whole kit apart. It’s just a Yardsale everything’s coming out of my bags. And the third time I go through it all and she’s standing there trying to get my picture. And I’m just totally to check to angry at the world. Yeah, so there was definitely a low moment for sure. Followed by a high the next morning of I got a text from Alex Hawkins who found my money and said, hey, you know I’m on my way to a Bondo. I’ll be there in an hour and a half. And so yeah, all as well. Everything got fixed. That’s awesome. One other was past Lima. And I would had a really good day going. I’m about 120 miles and plan on pushing for a really big night that night and try to do another like 4050 miles. And I was kind of following this storm rode into it a little bit, and then it moved on. And the road just turned to peanut butter and a five mile section. It probably took me an hour and a half, two hours, totally section and mud built up so much on my tires that I couldn’t even turn the rear wheel over and you couldn’t see the bottom bracket anymore. It was just it’s just duck. Meanwhile, there’s riders going right by me and I could not get my head around. Like why isn’t this happening? Why do you hate me right now tour divide. So I’d have to stop and creeks and like, you know, hand wash my bike and Creek, which was freezing and then start going again, half mile later, trying to find another Creek to do it all over again. So neither sad and covered big miles that day was rather frustrating. I thought my bike would be wrecked at that point my drive train would cease to function. There were some protests next morning out of the drive train when I got going but eventually found an RV park where they let me use a hose to clean it up. And it was all back to work and again, and then you start rolling into the Tetons. You’re like, Oh, pretty views. This is great. Everything’s wonderful.

Aaron 34:43
So did you have a specific goal for this year? Because I mean, like you said, this is the first time you’ve done it. It’s quite a bit different than some of the other other races that you typically do. So did you have something set before you before we started

Eddie 34:59
loose? they, I mean, I was thinking like 17 days was a possibility. And I know that very ambitious for that course. You know, the fastest guys are around 14 days. And I really didn’t think that was going to be a possibility for for my first time out, but I ended up at 21 I think if I hadn’t lost my money 20 is certainly possibility, but it just is really humbling, do the kind of the weekend long overnight kind of things, and I’ve been very successful and can execute those really well. And this was just a totally different beast, you know, just the the amount of fatigue that’s built up a week into it. And to have that mental drive of just go Go, go go. I’ll skip sleep, I’ll you know, rush through this town constantly. It just wears on you for sure. It’s hard to be in that, you know, adrenaline filled state for for that long.

Aaron 35:49
The better part of a month. Yeah, exactly.

Eddie 35:50
So even towards the end, although I mean all the way through, I kept trying to figure out where I could try to make up some more time and put a little bit more effort in right a little bit later into the night and cover some more ground. But every day afterwards, I’d have you know, if I could execute that the next day, it’d be a total struggle. And not always just because of the physical. It’s just, you know, that route just keeps throwing things at you like headwinds. I remember pushing out of Avenue and over the mountain range there down into Cuba, and slept on that that ridge line through the night and then wrote into Cuba probably got there around noon, and it’s panned flat road section for 120 Miles two grants in my head. I’m like, Yeah, I can knock this out tonight, I’ll get a hotel and grants and a shower, and that’ll be awesome. And the first it took me three hours to do the first 25 miles, man, which was mostly it was like a 1% downhill grade, but it was a 23 mile an hour headwind. Just had to stop at a gas stage. I took a nap in front of a gas station for like 40 minutes and continue to plug on it as headwind and just I think I made it about halfway through that night before and asleep on the side of the road. And you just yeah, you have to. You’re constantly adjusting your expectations out there.

Aaron 37:07
Yeah, headwinds are headwinds are cruel. Yeah, for probably nothing more demoralizing. Yeah, I

Eddie 37:14
mean, like climbing a mountain versus riding into a headwind. It’s just totally different mentality. You know, you feel like you’re, you’re conquering something as you because there’s an end to that mountain. You don’t know when the headwinds gonna end?

Aaron 37:27
So are you are you one and done on the tour? Divide? Are we gonna you’re gonna take it on again,

Eddie 37:32
I hope not. I hope not. Now that I know what I’m doing, I’d love to another try. But it’s going to be at least a couple of years before I go back. I mean, the financial hit was, was certainly one that’s going to take me a little while to go over get over. It was basically the week before the race didn’t really work. And I got three weeks of the race itself, which was several days longer than I planned. And then the recovery period, it was about three weeks before I could really function back at work and get back to making some money. So there’s a lot of time off, and I didn’t Yeah, that’s obviously not all paid vacation there. So, yeah, that financial hit was a little bit tough. But uh, yeah, definitely want to go back. I mean, it’s such a cool adventure and meet really cool people like minded people who are out here trying to do the same things. And just the scenery, I’d go back for the scenery alone.

Aaron 38:29
I did a bike packing as a semi supported bike packing rides, and nothing along these lines, but I did it from from steamboat iron out from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs. And yeah, just the the views out there incredible. So can I can imagine having three weeks of that is going to be pretty, pretty awesome.

Eddie 38:49
Yeah, well, hopefully next time, it’s not three weeks, but if it is, I’ll still enjoy it. Cool. So

Aaron 38:55
as we said in the intro, as part of your your tour divide race, you raise money for the Georgia Nika chapter, which is the National interscholastic cycling Association. And we actually talked to Kenny Griffin. Yeah, we talked to him on a podcast couple weeks ago. So you know, how did you get involved in you know, how’d you come up with the idea and what is the Georgia league mean to you?

Eddie 39:21
I got involved. I was initially part of kind of a almost brand ambassador kind of thing for Nikah on the national level, just to help kind of spread the word about Nika and what they were doing. And then I had met Dan Brooks, who’s now chairman of the board, previous GA league director. So I got talking with him one day, and he was at a point in his life where he was looking for something interesting cycling related, positive impact on the world kind of thing. And I was like, Hey, I’d heard about this, you know, outfit called Nika. Let’s start up a leak here in Georgia. And that happened, we were able to put that together in a successful applique Asian for Annika and execute the first race season with with Kenny and many other people’s help had about 100 kids that first year. Now fast forward to four years later, there’ll be about 750 800 Kids in the league this year. First race coming up on this Sunday, September 10.

Aaron 40:19
That’s awesome. So you kind of mentioned your your job a little bit. Yes. In addition to the racing and, you know, the bike fitting and former race promoting, you’re now at the endurance house. So what is the endurance house and what do you do there?

Eddie 40:36
Endurance house is a multi sport store in Alpharetta, Georgia. If you’re into triathlon, we got everything you need. But if you’re into any one facet, individual part of that, that’s cool, too, got everything from road to try to hybrid and mountain bikes, it’s running and walking shoes, nutrition, recovery products, swim stuff like wetsuits, and goggles, swimsuits and that kind of stuff. And then all the services is a full service bike shop, full time mechanic, and then the bike fitting wheel rentals, wetsuit rentals. Eric’s got a lot going on. There’s coaching programs for multi sport and cycling or running specific stuff. So just just a lot of things happening with that store, which is fun.

Jeff 41:17
You mentioned you do coaching, do you do that through the store? Or you do that kind of on the side and

Eddie 41:23
do that? Well? Yeah. Through the store? Yeah. So right, do right training plans, kind of group training plans to share with various groups for individual events? I also do one on one coaching as well.

Aaron 41:35
Yes. So while you were on the tour divide, you rode near I guess salida Colorado, which is where our editor Greg lives and you had a chance to talk to him while on the road, right?

Eddie 41:46
I did. Yeah. Greg and I go back a little ways. He used to do social media for me fool’s gold. So yeah, it was kind of cool to see a familiar face out on the on the trail rode along with him for I don’t know about maybe an hour, I guess. He tried to record some of that. But it was one of those crazy headwind days, so I don’t think too much of that came out. But he put together what he could.

Aaron 42:08
Yeah, I think he he kind of thought maybe you’re gonna stop.

Eddie 42:13
We didn’t really work out how they’re slowed

Jeff 42:14
down. He said, You said he’s having a hard time just keeping up with you. We didn’t

Eddie 42:18
really work out the logistics of it. But no, I was not stopping.

Aaron 42:23
Interview on the go. So if you want to read that, you can check that out on single tracks.com along with reports from events like the hurricane and and other things and the steamboat ramble that I did that I referred to earlier. But yeah, I want to thank Eddie O’Day for joining us here at the single track studios. And if you liked the podcast, go over to Google Play or iTunes, wherever you get your podcast from and you know, give us five stars. That’s all we got for you this week. We’ll talk to you next time later.

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