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