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Earlier in June, Topanga Creek Outpost's very own Jay Barre began the race on his single speed in one of the most grueling endurance mountain bike races in history, the Tour Divide. The route was close to 2,700 miles in length that started in Banff, Canada and finished in Antelope Wells, New Mexico right north of the Mexico border. With nearly 200,000 feet of vertical (equivalent to climbing Mount Everest from sea-level 7 times), this race was not only physically demanding, but also mentally challenging as there were no support vans, no marked routes, and no one there to cheer you on during your toughest moments. We're so proud of Jay whose adventurous spirit has been inspiring to so many. Read on for Jay's story of how he endeavored to the beginning of this amazing journey.

Jay started the race from the Grand Depart, an informal common start date which took place on June 10, 2016, and finished the race on the 4th of July, in just over 3 weeks. Congratulations Jay! It sure was one amazing feat.

I first started thinking of riding the 2016 Tour Divide. At this time I had been pushing the limits of my endurance racing career with a race called Trans Iowa. In 2010 I thought that riding 330 miles through Iowa sounded insane. My great friends Ari and Dr. Giggles (Michael) encouraged me to start riding gravel with them on the rural roads of northern Illinois and eastern Iowa. I took a liking to it immediately. Part of it had to do with the people I was riding with, but I loved the idea of being on gravel roads all day long and finding cool spots to ride and sights to see. After a year of riding gravel I signed up for Trans Iowa and began my love of endurance cycling.

After a year or so I began to look for different events around the country. I ended up watching "Ride The Divide", a film made about the Tour Divide. I was immediately hooked and knew that it was an event to put on the list. The problem was finding an employer who would understand taking a month off during the middle of the summer. This being peak season for bike shops it was even harder. In 2014 I moved to southern California to work at Topanga Creek. Almost as a requirement for taking the job I knew that 2016 was a target date for the divide....however, I failed to mention this to Chris, my new employer.

A year passed and I acclimated to the beautiful terrain that California has to offer, but didn't enter any races or endurance events....I guess I was a bit burned out. Dr. Giggles kept the bug in my ear. He is a professor at Syracuse University and studies diabetes. He was also targeting 2016 for the Divide so we planned to team up. This was a very loose agreement as we hadn't talked to either of our employers on taking the time off, figured out any logistics, and knew nothing about the race other than where it started and where it ended. In the coming months we kept an email chain going and chatted on the phone several times about our plan. Finally in December of 2015 I asked Chris if it was ok to take off the time to do the Divide. He agreed under the condition that if he covered the shop for a month that I would cover the shop for a month while he rode the new Route 66 race in October. DONE! It was on!

Jay standing in the wilderness while holding a mug and looking into the distance.

Giggles also got the time off and will be raising money for diabetes research along the way. The research process began, gear was bought, and training continued. I chatted with many friends from the Midwest who have finished the route and picked up tricks and tips wherever I could. A big help to me was Brian Steele who lives down the road from the shop. Brian finished the Divide in 2013 and attempted the race again in 2015 but had to pull out due to a lung infection. He lives and breathes endurance events and was more then happy to share what he knew about the route with me. Over the past 6 months my gear has gotten more and more dialed and I finally feel that the bike is ready to go. Hopefully the legs feel the same way.

Since January I have been building up with consistent rides, longer rides, and greater elevation gains. My longest ride was 105 miles fully loaded. The biggest day for climbing was 10,500 ft. I alternated between the single speed Salsa Mariachi that I plan on riding for the race and my custom Gunnar Crosshairs gravel bike. I trained with my hydration pack on my back at all times to get used to carrying 3L of water on my back with other tools and clothing inside. I tested my electronics and gear on these training rides along with our "UnPredict Your Wednesday" adventures. We bikepack every Wednesday so I got a lot of practice on how I wanted to pack the bike and what I did and didn't want to take.

Jay riding the blue Salsa El Mariachi through the trails

The bike came down to this setup:

  • Frame and Fork: Salsa El Mariachi (circa 2012)
  • Headset: Chris King NoThreadset
  • Stem: Thomson X4
  • Handlebars: Jones 660 Loop
  • Grips: Ergon GC1
  • Hubs: Chris King ISO Disc rear single speed, front Shutter precision dynamo
  • BB: Chris King
  • Crank: Shimano Saint Single Speed
  • Chainring: Wolf Tooth Drop Stop 32t
  • Cog: Niner Ti 21t
  • Chain: KMC Single Speed
  • Brakes: Sram Guide RSC
  • Rotors: Shimano XT
  • Rims: WTB Frequency i25 29'er
  • Tires: Teravail Sparwood 2.2 tubeless
  • Pedals: Shimano XT Trail Body
  • Seatpost: Cirrus Cycles Body Float
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C17
Jay riding away on the blue Salsa El Mariachi

Bike Packing Gear:

  • Revelate Designs Frame Bag
  • Revelate Feed Bag
  • Topanga Creek/Nuclear Sunrise Silo Bag
  • Revelate Viscacha
  • Revelate Gas Tank
  • Sea To Summit Dry Bag 13L
  • Bedrock Bag Handlebar Pouch
  • Bedrock Bag Honaker Nalgene Holder
  • Mission Workshop/Acre Hydration pack with 3L bladder
  • Mountain Hardware down sleeping bag 15 degree
  • Black Diamond 3 season bivvy
  • Nemo Zor sleeping pad
Jay wearing a Kitsbow red Icon wool shirt


  • Merino Base Layer
  • Kitsbow Wool Ride Tee
  • Patagonia long sleeve Capilene ultralight UV resistant to 35spf
  • Patagonia hooded nanopuff lightweight jacket (doubles as pillow)
  • Gore Waterproof Gore-tex jacket with hood
  • Gore Waterproof Gore-tex pants
  • Patagonia lightweight merino hiking socks
  • Patagonia midweight merino hiking socks
  • Kitsbow Road Bibs
  • Kitsbow Adjuster Shorts
  • Waterproof neoprene gloves
  • Fox Gel padded riding gloves
  • Rothera cotton cycling cap
  • Ibex wool cycling cap
  • Ibex wool arm warmer
  • Ibex wool leg warmer
  • Shimano SH-XM7 shoes
  • Lazer Z1 helmet
  • Oakley jawbreaker glasses
  • bandana
Jay sitting on top of tall rocks with his tent in the foreground.


  • Extra chainring bolts
  • Extra cleat/cleat bolts
  • Chain links/master link
  • Brake Pads
  • Two spare tubes
  • Gear tape
  • Zip ties
  • Hooked needle for sewing a cut tire
  • Nylon thread
  • Small super glue
  • Patch kit
  • Spare presta valve core
  • Valve core remover
  • Spare 2oz sealant
  • multi tool with chain breaker
  • small spoke wrench
  • lezyne handheld pump high volume
  • extra gear straps
  • small sunblock
  • small bug repellent
  • bear whistle
  • knife
  • external battery for charging electronics
  • Garmin Etrex30
  • Ipod
  • Iphone
  • GoPro for photos
  • saddle cover
  • exposure dynamo headlight
  • black diamond camping 200 lumen headlight
  • Cash money
  • Credit Cards
  • Drivers License
  • Passport
  • Nalgene 1L
  • Platypus 2L bladder as a reserve
  • Iodine tablets for purification

It might seem a bit much, but we plan on camping more than staying in hotels and living off of our bikes for 25 days as a goal to complete the 2,800 miles and 200k ft of climbing. I want to be ready for anything that I come across on the trail and enjoy the ride rather than put my head down and race it. We will try and do between 100-150 miles per day. I look forward to seeing friends from around the country who are also signed up for the ride. I can't wait to eat as much food as I can and check out the cool/weird towns that we will be rolling through. My brother loaned me his GoPro to take photos along the way. I have never been to 3 out of the 4 states I will be riding through and understand that the scenery is stunning.

My girlfriend Carrie and I will be leaving June 4th to drive to Banff and meet up with Dr. Giggles on the 7th. Paul (a great customer from the shop who now lives in Dubai) will also be joining on the ride. We built him a custom Salsa Fargo for the ride. His birthday is on the 7th so looking forward to meeting up with those guys! Carrie will be sending us off on the 10th and picking up her friend to road trip from Banff to Colorado for 2 weeks. She will then be on her own from Colorado to New Mexico and meet us at the finish. I have been laying awake stupidly excited for this ride. Four years in the making and it is finally happening. Please follow along with the Spot Tracker and send positive vibes our way. Photos and tales from the trail to follow!

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