J.D. Pauls
Great Divide
Colorado Trail It’s been 2 and half years since I started riding again after 20 plus years without a bike.  Hard to believe really what has happened in that short period of time.  I have tried to make the most of it with two Tour Divide attempts, one completion one hard life lesson, thousands of miles logged in places like Arizona, California, B.C., Alberta, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and here at home in Ontario.  I am also riding a route here at home that I have pieced together which covers about 200 miles of trails and country roads, and I hope to start racing it in the next few months.
I have met some incredible people, been to incredible places and had some incredible opportunities.  This year I’m trying something a little different.  I am headed out to the Colorado Trail as part of an epic riding adventure.  I will be riding some day trips on my way in the Black Hills, South Dakota, and in Boulder, CO and I am hoping to get to Moab Utah after I finish the CT, and then to Vegas! I think this will give me my adventure fix.  It will be so very satisfying to intersect the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route as I pass by one of my favourite towns, Salida.  This route is a monster.  70,000 feet of climbing, elevations over 13,000 feet, 50 miles of hike-a-bike and 350 plus miles of single track along is approx 550 mile length.  Yikes, as I wrote that, I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  It’s one thing to think about but another to see all of those numbers in the same sentence.  Yes, I am a little intimidated but I think that’s why I love it.  I do tend to jump into things and then ask questions.  Good to start with the big challenges and work backwards.  Not a bad challenge for a week in September.  
I am taking the word ‘race’ out of my vocabulary for this ride.  I will call this ‘speed touring’.   With family and work commitments I was unable to make the Grand Depart in August for the official race start. So I am tackling this alone.  I love getting as far as I can and pushing beyond my limits, so I still think that will be a big part of it.  Riding long days and into the night will all be part of the plan but it’s not a race.  The rules will be my own, or maybe these are more of a pledge to myself:

1.    I will enjoy what I want when I want.  
2.    I will take time to fly fish
3.    I will take time to sit and do absolutely nothing
4.    I will laugh when it rains
5.    I will enjoy the people I meet
6.    I may even take a day off.
7.    I will complain to myself about my pain and then laugh some more, because I did this to myself
8.    I will plan for the worst and expect only the best
9.    I will try to leave the trail better than how I found it.
10.  I will leave myself better than when I started

This will be the best of both worlds.  I will be truly alone for several days.  There is a comfort in racing when you know there are others on route with you, but there is also a comfort in isolation when you can truly escape and get lost in your own head without distraction.  
I am hoping to catch up with friends and pick up a riding partner at the halfway point.  Again, it is the best of both worlds.  Being alone is great and sharing experiences is twice as good.  I am very excited. The bike has changed my life and I like it, I like it a lot.


Great Divide's profile picture
J.D. Pauls

Gear List


  • CENTRAL 100 FRONT LIGHT $34.99 Buy Now
  • ATOM SL 4.0 CYCLOMETER $39.99 Buy Now


  • • FRAME-Redline D680 29er hardtail
  • • CRANK-2x10 Truvativ X9, 24-38
  • • CASSETTE-Sram 1070, 11-32
  • • WHEELS-Stans Arch29” Rims Tubeless, DT240 Hubs
  • • SADDLE-WTB Rocket V
  • • FRAME SIZE-19”
  • • SHIFTER-Sram X9
  • • TIRES-Right now, Maxxis Crossmark
  • • STEM-Easton EA90
  • • FORK-White Bros “Rock Solid” Rigid Carbon
  • • PEDALS-Shimano XT
  • • BRAKES-Avid bb7 Mech.
  • • SEATPOST-Easton Haven Carbon
  • • HANDLEBARS-Easton Haven Carbon, Profile Design T2, Ergon Cork Grips

- Technology -

  • • Garmin etrex 30
  • • Blackburn Atom SL 4.0 Cyclometer
  • • Blackburn Click Rear Light

- Required Gear -

  • • PARTS AND REPAIR-Brake pads, Chain Links, Blackburn Airstik SL mini-pump, Glueless patches, shoe cleat screw, chain links, 2 tubes, hanger, duct tape, super glue, zipties, leatherman tool, Blackburn Toolmanator 12 Multi-Tool
  • • Ultra light backpack-Sea to Summit ultra light backpack
  • • Ultralight sleeping bag
  • • Thin rain gloves
  • • Rainpants
  • • Good luck charms
  • • Emergency first aid items
  • • Riding gloves
  • • Down jacket
  • • Jacket
  • • Sour Patch Kids
  • • Ultra light sleeping pad
  • • Cold weather gloves
  • • Arm warmers
  • • Giro Terraduro Shoe

- Clothing -

  • • Giro Seamless Beanie
  • • Giro Mobility Shirt
  • • Giro CA Crew
  • • Giro CA 5M over short
  • • Giro Base Crew layers
  • • Giro Mobility Polo
  • • Giro Ride Jersey
  • • Giro Classic racer
  • • Giro Wind Vest
  • • Giro Rain Jacket
  • • Giro High Neck Zip Up
  • • Giro Seasonal wool socks
J.D. Pauls's profile picture
J.D. Pauls
  • FROM: Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada
  • DOB: 1975-04-06
  • Married, 3 kids
  • OCCUPATION: Realtor/Home Builder
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Like many TDR veterans, the trail became part of my DNA, an experience so personal and unique that it actually changed me as a person. Salida, CO was a highlight of my trip last year because it was the point at which I knew I would finish the race. I had several really tough days leading up to Salida and as I crested the last climb before town I turned around and the storms I had been running from were lifting, and the sky behind me produced the largest double rainbow I had ever seen. I descended into the setting sun, the changing landscape was glowing in magical yellows, reds and browns. The pain of the previous hours and days, were instantly and unexpectantly replaced by joy and a truly satisfied soul. The Colorado Trail crosses the Great Divide and runs through Salida. This route is a beast, but pushing myself beyond what I thought possible has become a comfortable and necessary part of how I want to live my life. I don’t think there is a more beautiful trail to experience this on. Discovering the wild world at the intimate speed of the bike really can change the speed at which we live our lives. Oh, and sipping a morning coffee at Cafe Dawn in Salida is definitely worth planning a bike trip around!
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? I had a bike growing up, but an accident when I was 15 (1990) ended my childhood cycling career. I didn’t own a bike again until Dec of 2011 when I heard of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and decided I wanted to take on the challenge. I made my first attempt at the Tour Divide in June 2012, and due to lack of cycling base, unpreparedness, lack of knowledge and intense weather, wisely pulled the plug in Butte MT after 10 days and 750 mile complete. I worked hard to return in June 2013 ready to go and completed the 2800 miles in just over 25 days.
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? A little different expectation this year. On my divide ride I was truly out to find myself and discover a new J.D. that I always wanted to know was out there, and I think I accomplished that. This trip, since I found that guy I was looking for last year, will be more like visiting an old best friend. It is going to be a blast. Sure I will be racing, but a smell the roses type of racing. What is the point in climbing a mountain if you don’t look around when you get to the top?


  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Arm Band
  • Arm Band
  • Big Agnus Seedhouse SL1 Tent
  • Glowstick Necklace