What’s Wrong With Paez?

The Tour Divide starts tomorrow. An ode to Earth Boy as he tours to his biggest endeavor yet.

Words: Renee Schiavone — Photos: Stephen Shelesky

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Mateo Paez (AKA Earth Boy) sits down, clips in and pedals on. He’ll sit all day today, and tomorrow, and the day after that…and probably the whole next week, plus maybe the week after that. But also, maybe not. That’s the beauty of his craft—one he calls Competitive Exploration. 

His first attempt at this discipline—more commonly defined as Ultra Endurance and Bikepack racing—was in 2015. He’s been chasing enormous palmares around the world with no reward ever since. Sometimes he prevails and sometimes he fails. It’s uncertain and volatile. That’s the point.

So what makes a great adventure, when you find yourself driven by pain? Testing what you’re capable of. For Paez, that’s the Tour Divide. A 4,500 km race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, starting Friday June 14. It’s a race that few have mastered or even pursued. Only for those who feel most alive in the pit of sleep deprivation. It’s an effort you can't prepare for, punching outside the lines of programmed training, lingering with uncertainty in every way. There’s no entry fee or formal registration. There are no prizes for finishing. The journey is the consolation. 

This is a big one, a new anecdote for Earth Boy. He’s rich in time, so he uses it to get in the mindset for riding days on end, to resolve his approach. Recently unemployed, he decides to tour to the start of his biggest endeavor yet. He spends five days riding from Bend, Oregon to the start of the race.

Touring as an approach for a race like this has already taught me valuable lessons, things I already knew but was slowly reminded of. What it takes to be flexible and comfortable with whatever gets thrown at you. Acclimatizing to the flow of it all.

Acclimation, confidence and consistency should lead to good sensations throughout this race next week.

So, what’s wrong with Paez? Nothing and everything. We may not be able to understand how he does such things, but we can make sense of why. Who hasn't dreamed of putting their life on hold to embark on an adventure where only your will sets the boundaries for what is possible? A pursuit where time is irrelevant, far removed from obligation. 

Bound only by pedal strokes, Mateo is off. He’ll be keeping us updated along the way. Or maybe not. 

— until we hear from Earth Boy again.