More spectator adventure sports are coming our way! The Tour Divide kicks off today. This 4,418 km mountain bike race travels along the mountain ranges from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Around 100 riders will be heading out on a ride that will last from 17 to 31+ days.
This is not a regular race. It takes place in a single stage and is entirely self-supported. There is no entry fee, formal registration or prizing. There is no active, on-the-ground administration by any organizers. Tour Divide simply provides a web-based framework to present rider progress - a blog for rider voice mails, optional SPOT tracker rental and a live tracking website.
When riders arrive at the Mexican border, no one will be there to meet them and they will need to find their own way home.
Although this group departure has been arranged, anyone is welcome to ride the route at another time, and as long as they follow the very strict rules, they will be included in the historic general classification results. Most of the rules (listed on the website) revolve around the meaning of "unsupported". For example, if the Tour Divide passes through your town, you can greet and cheer for riders but you cannot offer them a meal or place to stay since they can only use services that are available to all riders.
From the website:
"Self-supported grand tour racing (ie. >2 week-race) along the Continental Divide is like none other. Simply on scale, it's the hardest form of bike racing, period. To be competitive for the overall, one must ride ≥150 miles/day for 18 days. There are no rest days. And if volume alone isn't taxing enough, one must also navigate, acquire resupply, clean and wrench the bike, find shelter each night, bathe when possible, and keep one's wits about it all. No entourages follow athletes. It cannot be compared to today's 100-milers, 24hour racing, or even 3-5 day stage race events."
Racers need to be prepared to sleep at the side of the trail, although they will often have the opportunity to be in campgrounds or towns at night. There are long stretches where no food is available and parts of the map are marked "high grizzly density".
Former Attackpointer Crash, aka Sarah Caylor from Palgrave, Canada, is one of the few women tackling the route solo this year. Anyone else out there? If you'd like to follow a rider's progress, here is Crash's GPS tracking page
To follow the overall race, see the live tracker for all riders and read more about the Tour Divide, check out the website
Rider call-ins and more detailed race news are provided at MTBcast