Reed City resident bikes continental divide; rides more than 2,000 miles

CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Reed City resident Darin Cebulla poses in front of a continental divide sign during the 2015 Tour Divide bike race. (Courtesy photo)

CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Reed City resident Darin Cebulla poses in front of a continental divide sign during the 2015 Tour Divide bike race. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — On June 12, Reed City resident Darin Cebulla embarked on a journey of a lifetime.

After biking 2,450 miles through mountain passes and windswept valleys, Cebulla’s journey came to an end on July 9.

The owner of Pete’s Cleaners in Big Rapids was one of 161 riders to participate in the 2015 Tour Divide bike race, a 2,745-mile expedition that began in Banff, Alberta and ended in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

“It was an awesome experience, other than I was 300 miles short of finishing,” Cebulla said of the race. “The reason I quit, I got sick, I depleted my body, which in the big picture of things was the right decision to make. But other than that, it was absolutely amazing. To go down the continental divide on a mountain bike, it was a four-plus year dream of mine.”

The route took the bikers through Canadian provinces Alberta and British Columbia, and Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Cebulla said each day he witnessed majestic scenery.

“Banff was absolutely beautiful,” he said. “In Wyoming, the Grand Tetons are spectacular mountains. Absolutely breathtaking.

“And the Great Basin, we rode 140 miles through it — basically all desert — but it was still beautiful.”

The elegant views were great, but Cebulla said it also was about the people he encountered. He began the trip with Tim Glover, assistant athletic trainer at Ferris State University, but Glover pulled out of the race because of medical concerns.

“The people were phenomenal,” Cebulla said. “Every rider was unique. All of them had the same goal to finish this extremely difficult challenge, so everyone is 100 percent supportive of each other. Even though it’s a solo effort, you still rely on other people to help you mentally, because they are all going through the same thing.

“There’s people who travel from all over the world. One of the first people I met was from Israel. He was a super fantastic guy. I also met several people from Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Italy.”

Cebulla said the biggest challenge was maintaining forward progress. The riders battled high elevation, rocky trails, volatile temperatures and unpredictable weather throughout the trip.

“The first day, the temperatures were in the upper 40s with a light rain,” Cebulla said. “Then, the first big pass we climbed on Day 1, as soon as we got to the top, there was a full blown snow blizzard. Within 15-20 minutes, everything was white.”

The highest elevation Cebulla hit was 11,900 feet in Colorado.

“By then, you’re somewhat acclimated to elevation, but being up that high, it still takes your breath away a little easier than normal,” Cebulla said.

The amount of miles traveled varied per day, depending on weather and terrain, Cebulla said.

He carried all of his supplies on his bike.

“Everything I needed, I carried on my bike,” Cebulla said. “I chose not to wear a backpack. I had a complete camping system, which included the tent, sleeping bag and sleep pad. I carried that up front. I carried a frame bag with a water bladder, extra tools for my bike and sunscreen.

“I had a big seat bag for extra clothes and carried extra food in two smaller bags to eat while I was riding.”

Cebulla mostly slept in his tent, but took advantage of hotel rooms every chance he had.

“There were times when you just needed to sleep in a bed,” he said. “It was an opportunity to take care of yourself, wash your clothes, etc. I slept pretty good every night, though, because you’re really tired. I slept an average of six to seven hours, so I was getting good sleep.”

Eating in a restaurant every once and a while also was imperative.

“You tried to eat at a restaurant every chance you could,” Cebulla said. “Most of your diet is junk food from a gas station, so it was good to stop and eat a good meal.”

Cebulla saw an array of wildlife along the way.

“I saw lots of deer, antelope and a few moose, which was pretty cool,” Cebulla said. “Tim (Glover) did see a grizzly bear, but I didn’t see any threatening animals. One of the riders was charged by a grizzly bear in Montana, but luckily she had bear spray.”

Although Cebulla did not finish the race, he has no regrets. He had a strong support system in Big Rapids, as well.

“People back here (Big Rapids), my friends and family were great,” he said. “My wife was my biggest cheerleader I had.”

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Posted by Ryan Zuke

Ryan is the sports editor for the Big Rapids Pioneer, covering local prep sports and Ferris State athletics. He can be contacted at (231) 592-8363 or rzuke@pioneergroup.com.

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