Tour Divide 2013 | Getting Ready

Banff and the starting point of the race awaits us...

Banff and the starting point of the race awaits us…

It still hasn’t totally sunk in, but, tomorrow morning, I’m going to head out on the Tour Divide. It’s a mountain bike race that goes from Banff, Canada to the US-Mexican border in New Mexico (see map below). With over 2,700 miles and 200,000 feet of climbing, it still feels very daunting even though I finished in 5th place in 2010. Furthermore, there are over 130 riders this year, which seems unreal since there were only 48 of us in 2010.

And, this year, the field is full of ridiculously fast and accomplished racers. For example, Mike Hall, who has the fastest time riding unsupported around the world and Craig Stappler, who was going to break the course record last year until his pedal broke one-day short of the finish, are both back for their 2nd and 3rd attempts, respectively.

My main goal this year is to finish. Secondly, I hope to finish in 18 days, which would be a few days faster than my 2010 time.

A few weeks ago, I did a short (20 mins)  interview with Joe Polk of MTBCast.com. I shared some thoughts on the race and talk about my gear. Have a listen.

Planning and preparing for this race is a huge time suck. First, you have to put in hours of training on the bike. After finishing the Arizona Trail Race in April, I didn’t want my legs to completely atrophy, so I went for a 1,000-mile bike tour through the Sierra Mountains. I focused on climbing as many passes as I could and was able to squeeze in about 100,000 ft of climbing. I wish that I had dropped another 5-10 lbs in body weight, but, otherwise, I feel pretty good to go.

Second, you have to think long and hard about what gear you are going to bring and how you are going to strap it all to your bike. The options are limitless and you constantly second guess your choices. (Here is my setup.)

Lastly, you have to research and plan out where you will be able to get food, water, shelter (i.e., motel), and repairs. There are a number of stretches where you will need to carry enough food and water to last over 100 miles of riding. And knowing the trail conditions and how many passes you have to climb in a day has to be factored in as well. I’m also concerned that some of the small stores along the route will be pretty decimated if 20-30 riders get there before me. A typical rider probably eats close to 6,000 calories a day.

It has finally all come together…time for another big adventure. We head out tomorrow morning.

Heading to Banff

Follow all the action

You can watch my spottracker dot as I make my way to Mexico. All of the racers carry a device that sends out our location. See the map below or go directly to: http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide13

Also, racers may call in and leave messages about how their ride is going here: http://mtbcast.com/site2/tour-divide-2013/

Lastly, there is a very active forum where people chat about the race. Look for a forum called “Tour Divide 2013 Race” or something similar here: http://www.bikepacking.net/forum/index.php/board,2.0.html

With so many racers, the map can be pretty confusing. Here are some quick tips:

  • Dark-blue dots = racers going South who all started at the same time on 6/14
  • Light-blue dots = racers going North who all started at the same time on 6/14
  • Yellow dots = people who are timing themselves on the course, but started before the group start

11 Responses to Tour Divide 2013 | Getting Ready
  1. Scott Segelke
    July 1, 2013 | 1:19 pm

    Wow Forest! Amazing ride!!! It but fun tracking your progress over the last two weeks. Hope you have a strong finish and great celebration afterwards.

    Scott

    • fbaker
      July 5, 2013 | 2:54 pm

      Thanks Scott! I’ve heard that you’ve become quite the cyclist yourself. Finished in 18.5 days. What an adventure.

      Forest

  2. Erik
    June 15, 2013 | 10:39 am

    Ride baby ride! Lindsey and I are thinking about you as we ride. It certainly makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning knowing that someone else is already riding.

    • fbaker
      July 5, 2013 | 2:56 pm

      For obvious reasons, I haven’t been able to keep up with all of your biking in South America. Now that I’m on some R and R, I look forward to catching up on your old blog posts. I hope todo bien for you guys!

      Forest

  3. Erik
    June 15, 2013 | 10:37 am

    Ride baby ride! Lindsey and I are thinking if you as we bike. It certainly makes our biking seem much easier. Good luck, looks like a big field this year.

  4. Ryan Honomichl
    June 14, 2013 | 7:25 am

    I’ll be watching man. Good luck!

    • fbaker
      July 5, 2013 | 2:56 pm

      Thanks for following along Ryan. I hope your bike tour around the lake went/goes well.

      Forest

  5. Mike Pro
    June 13, 2013 | 9:59 pm

    And the Pink Dots are the ladies …

    Here’s another 2010 vet watching and pullin’ for you to finish faster this time around without having to skip the Polvedera Mesa out of Abiquiu. Good luck!

    • fbaker
      June 13, 2013 | 10:38 pm

      Thanks Mike! I think I’m the only pre 2011 vet this year. And, yes, let’s hope the route in NM isn’t on fire this year.

  6. Luca
    June 13, 2013 | 8:03 pm

    Luca has been waiting eagerly for your start tomorrow! He has his map all ready to go, and will be following your dot closely.
    Sending you every good thought for a safe and excellent journey ahead. We’ll be checking in on Annie, for sure.
    J, E, L, M and S

    • fbaker
      June 13, 2013 | 10:40 pm

      Thanks. I’ll be thinking of Luca checking my dot as I ride. Love you guys.

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