Get Ready for the Tour Divide! -- Starts June 11
The world's biggest mt-bike race will start a month from now. Get ready!
It's the "Tour Divide" -- and its kin.
It's 2500+ miles down the Continental Divide from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, NM at the Mexico border.
It's solo and unsupported. No entry fee, no prizes. Pure racing!
The winners take about 15 days. That's over 150 miles a day. On dirt. Over passes.
This race harkens back to the starting days of the Tour de France. Back when riders were riders.
It's like a RAAM across the mountaintops. By yourself.
OK, some racers do hook up. Interesting groups form.
For some of the racers it might be like a really long tour...because that's what it is. The race only exists thanks to the efforts of folks to hook up all the trails and make a map of the whole system so that people can TOUR along the Divide. Most folks of course only do portions. It's like the Appalachian Trail. The TD racers are thru-hikers on overdrive. But they're still thru-hikers. And even among the racers everyone has their own goals -- some 50 miles a day, some 100, a very few 150. Can they do it? The story unfolds in the reports, call-in's and blogs.
Following the race can become spellbinding anywhere in the group. Each racer has their own story. The dramas pop up in surprising places.
There are no caravans or massages or pacers. Why dope? Push it to push it, not to please your boss or make a million then retire.
The rule for fans is "Look, But Don't Touch."
But what's neat is that any mortal anywhere can follow the action at the TD homepage. The racers voluntarily sport "SPOT" locators so all their positions appear on a map, updated hourly or as signals come in. It's a horse-race! Watch 'em go.
But this is a unique race in many ways. Its goal is to leave as SMALL of a footprint as possible. It's organic. The racers are just thru-hikers, passin' thru. No fuss no muss.
Why race like this? Why indeed! A race like this harkens back also to the roots of racing. It's amateur, baby! For the LOVE of it, why not? How about: to LEARN something? That works! Maybe to share the story of what happens if something special pops out? That works, too! Let's revive some amateur pride, why not. ...Sacrifice to show the neat things that people can do. ...Sacrifice to bring attention to a TRAIL and a REGION rather than to yourself, why not.
This here is a race of dirt roads and two-tracks. Sure, there's some remote action, some singletrack, but roads indicate PEOPLE. It's a race of cultural connections: small towns and ranches ... the only way into and out of some of the valleys is by these little dirt roads way high up. So race until you come to the next little town and if the store is open you can stock up on more Planter's Mixed Nuts and Gatorade and Reeses Cups and Mt-Dew maybe. It's a race across convenience stores!
I also like it that the homepage includes historic and cultural features and connections like the Thomas Hart Benton (rockstar!) painting I grabbed off of it to feature for this link. THAT's the experience. Look at that sky, that mindblown stone...
The stories run deep in this race. It's not just about the winner. Why, last year, a few days after the first riders finished I noticed a group of a half dozen riders all within a few hours of each other, still a couple days from the end... Hmmm! What kind of story will play out there?
Riders report in with text and voice messages as they get wifi, cell-signals or find payphones. So we get to hear/read about all sorts of action and adventure going down.
Riders come across forest fires and car accidents and get involved in local news.
It's a neat race. Follow it with me, why not!
It's as cool as the TdF, to me. Different. Well worth following.
Heck, I like the RAAM, too. Last year's RAAM was rockin'! That Jure is a nut! He's a wildcard robodude. ...Cliffhangers abound in so many of our freak-sports if we only just tune in! It used to be that news about such events didn't exist. You'd hear a bit of what happened, like who won, a month later. Today, just follow the blogs, man! Come to think of it, when is RAAM?