Quitting your job and packing up your life to ride a bike some 5,000kms along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) from Canada to Mexico might sound crazy to some, and if we’re being honest, you’re probably right. But for adventurers Shane and Richelle it’s all part of living ‘The Ultra Life’, and if you were to ask them why they’re doing it, they’d quickly respond ‘Why Not?!’
Shane and Richelle – the masterminds behind ‘The Ultra Life‘ – have said goodbye to their lives in Melbourne and embarked on the biggest journey of a lifetime. They’re planning to ride their bikes from Canada to Mexico and maybe even beyond, with the ultimate goal being Patagonia, but they’re going to listen to their bodies and keep expectations real. What’s more, they’re taking I/O Merino along for the journey to help keep them warm, comfortable and protected from grizzly bears. Okay, that bit isn’t true. But their I/O will help keep them protected from whatever weather Mother Nature decides to throw at them.
As an ultra-runner, mountain biker, climber and ironman, it’s obvious Shane loves just about everything and anything to do with adventure. Richelle, as a mountain biker and hiker, also loves an adventure but admits she likes to do everything at a slightly slower pace to Shane. And for the both of them, this is by far their biggest challenge yet – both physically and mentally.
Having just arrived in Canada, they’re both enjoying a relief from the cold Melbourne weather and preparing for their journey. In fact Shane couldn’t help himself but sign up to the Red Bull 400, a 400m race where you literally sprint up an altitude close to 200m – a race guaranteed to put your calves, quads and endurance to the ultimate test! With no training and an hours sleep, Shane impressively placed 41st out of 196, missing the finals by just one placing. If anything is going to kick start an adventure, we’re pretty certain it’s going to be something like this.
For the rest of the trip, well at least for the most part, they plan to follow the Continental Divide as closely as practicable and will cross it approximately 30 times through Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Along the way there’s going to be 200,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, which is like climbing Everest nearly seven times!
Shane will be riding the whole way, where Richelle, admitting she doesn’t have as much experience, plans on riding most of it but is also realistic about her abilities and may choose to take the bus on a few of those intense mammoth mountain climbs. “In an ideal world this won’t be needed, but I know my limits so will play it by ear. Shane on the other hand has no limits”, Richelle says.
Besides from the aching bodies, mental struggles, hunger, thirst and endless list of challenges, Shane and Richelle admit hands down their biggest fear is grizzly bears. Shane says, “I am genuinely concerned about bears, they don’t muck around!” And Richelle? Well, she’s trying to see the lighter side. She says, “Shane’s bear avoidance tactic is to ride faster than me! I’ll be singing country songs – that will scare anything in a 5km radius, including Shane!”
As I/O supporters, they’re packing some of their favourite gear to stay protected from the elements. In particular, Shane is taking his Altitude Zip Long Sleeve Base Layer, Altitude Tights, True North Heritage Tee and AzTech Beanie, and Richelle is packing her Ascender Tank, Peak Headband and AzTech Beanie. Richelle says she loves I/O because, “We can wear it for days on end without smelling and it is super lightweight so takes up no space in our backpacks. Plus, it is super soft and not scratchy at all”.
We can’t wait to see this adventure unfold and will be sure to keep up to date through ‘The Ultra Life’ blog and social media accounts.