The Chainlink

Chainlink Interview: 2016 Tour Divide Finisher Bailey Newbrey

By Eric, Lily, Evan, and Nora Alexander

A month ago, one of the coolest guys I know, Bailey Newbrey, headed out on an EPIC adventure that adventure is called the Tour Divide.

This is no average race. It is a fully self-supported bike ride from Banff Canada to the Mexican Border. This is one of the hardest cycling events out there in my option, in part because you have no support crew handing you bottles, changing tires, and most of all providing companionship during the long, 140-mile days. Bailey chose to ride a Salsa bikes El Mariachi Single Speed (yes, one gear no shifting). So regardless of the incline, your options are to sit and pedal, or stand and mash (or walk). He completed the route in 19 days.

Not your average summer vacation (photo courtesy Bailey Newbrey).

Newbrey's "office" for nearly three weeks (photo courtesy Bailey Newbrey).

Look ma! No gears (photo courtesy Bailey Newbrey).

When Bailey returned home, he had a party at the bike shop he co-owns, Comrade Cycles. Knowing that most of the people at the party would be asking him the same questions over and over again, I wanted to do something unique. The morning of the party, I had my three children watch the movie Ride the Divide on iTunes. After the movie, I had each of them come up with five questions to ask Bailey about the ride.

Evan (9), Lily (9), and Nora (8) ready to ask Newbrey the tough questions about his adventure. They prepped for the interview by watching a documentary about the Tour Divide race.

Lily’s 5 Questions

1) What animals did you see?

  • I didn't see any bears. That doesn't upset me. I saw elk, a few road runners, and tons of cows. Cows everywhere.

2) How long did it take you?

  • 19 days 10 hours 22 seconds

3) Did you feel like quitting?

  • Nearly every day there would be multiple points where I felt like quitting. There were, however, no times that I seriously considered it. I knew the disappointment that comes with a DNF and had no interest in coming home and dealing with that for the next year.

4) What did you eat?

  • Anything I could find. Most towns we passed through were quite small and lacking in good options. Popular items included: Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls, PayDays, Pop Tarts, gummy bears/worms, trail mix, cream cheese danish ($1.75 for 620 calories!), and cheeseburgers. Lots of cheeseburgers. Sometimes I got fresh apples, bananas, and blueberries. Those days were the best.

5) Did you ride with someone?

  • I predominantly rode alone for the first week. I had times of riding with a handful of others, but it wasn't until near the end of Wyoming that I consistently rode with company. I met up with Greg May and Justin Chadwick and we covered much ground together. We left Greg some place in Colorado, at which point Justin and I rode nearly the rest of the trip together.

Evan’s 5 Questions

1) Was it hard or easy?

  • Every day was the most difficult day I've ever had on a bike.

2) Did it seem like the middle of nowhere?

  • It was simultaneously the middle of nowhere and the middle of everywhere. It was extremely remote.

3) Did you bring or buy food?

  • I began with a small amount of food, which was gone by the second day. After that I bought all my food.

4) Did you see bears?

  • The group I traveled out with did a short, shakedown ride from Banff to Lake Louise a few days before the start of the Tour Divide to calm nerves and double check our gear. We saw 2 bears in 40 miles. After that I saw none!

5) Were there mechanical issues?

  • The only mechanical issue I had was a torn cable from my dynamo hub to my USB charger/headlight. I spliced the wires back together and continued along my way. Other than that I was entirely free of mechanical issues.

Nora’s 5 Questions

1) How big were the hills?

  • They were very big. They were mountains. I climbed a bit over 200,000 feet in 2,700 miles. I don't know what the longest climb was, but I did climb 14,000 feet in one day. That was long.

2) Did you stop a lot?

  • I didn't stop much or for very long during the day. I did, however, get plenty of time for sleep. I realized very early on that sleeping better allowed me to ride faster over the course of the day. Although other folks were riding more hours I was able to cover more distance per day by getting more rest and riding faster.

3) Did you see any rivers?

  • Many! One of the most memorable was a crazy descent into Radium, CO along the Colorado River. It was a terrifying, yet amazingly fun descent. And so beautiful!

4) What place were you in?

  • 2016 13th overall and 3rd singlespeed. 4th best singlespeed time on the route overall.

5) Was your bike dirty afterwards?

  • Filthy!

Bailey, you are a extreme human not just in your cycling abilities but as a friend to many and an inspiration to the entire cycling community.

STAY RAD my man!


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Comment by Andrew St. Paul on August 4, 2016 at 1:41pm

Great Read and What a Ride!  I particularity like, What did you eat (Anything I can find). -"Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?"

Comment by Yaniv on August 4, 2016 at 12:14pm

Great story! And a huge congrats to Bailey, certainly an inspiration to us all.

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