Monday, June 11, 2012

Tour Divide 2012

Photo Credit to's mtngirl
I know that Jasper normally provides our race coverage here at the Musette, but I'd like to call some attention to a little-watched event going on even as we read.  We are, as of Monday morning, on Day 4 of this year's edition of the Tour Divide's Grand Depart.  On the 9th of June, over 100 riders took off from Banff, Alberta on a 2,745 mile (4,418km) dirt-road trek to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  The race recieved a lot of press last year, and the field is made up of a record number of riders, but I'm guessing that it's not yet on a lot of people's radar.  So here's a little bump of attention for our readers.

Those of you interested in following along with the race have a few options; television is not one of them.  Aside from being a race generally run through remote and often unpleasant locations, this is a race with no sponsors.  No entry fee.  No prize money, nor any award of any kind.  The entire thing essentially exists as an amalgamation of mountain biking tradition and a series of gentleman's agreements.  I am always disappointed that they do not all depart in tweed jackets, as that seems entirely in keeping with the 19th century/grassroots aesthetic of the event. 

No, if you'd like to follow the event, you have to piece the coverage together yourself.  The best place to start is the Trackleaders website, where you can follow the riders in near-real time.  Each of the racers on the course is carrying a Spot satellite tracker, and the Trackleaders guys have them all sorted out and pegged onto the same map.  (There are racers headed both north and south on the course right now, so don't assume the southernmost dot is the race leader!)  Trackleaders, though, only tells you where everyone is.  If you want any sense of the action, the conditions, or the riders' experiences, you're best bet is to hear it from the riders themselves.  The riders periodically call in status updates to, and you can listen to all their calls here.  This is an amazing resource--you would never get such candid insight from even the lowliest rider in the Tour de France.  Finally, though, if you don't have time for all of this, you can get the race in digest form--and a lot of commentary--through the discussion thread in the forums.

If you don't know, the race itself is, quite frankly, a hell of a thing.  I've already mentioned the length of run, but I should also note that it features 200,000 feet or so of climbing over the length of its run.  Riders must tackle the whole thing completely on their own--no outside support is allowed.  The weather generally sucks in the rainy and cold north and then sucks again in the hot desert of the finish.  People are always afraid of being eaten by bears from Canada to Colorado.  From Colorado to the end forest fires can force a reroute of the whole course on a few hours notice.  The race leaders will do the whole traverse in 18 days or less.  There's a whole basket of mythology and indiosyncracies that go along with this event, but I don't really want to get into any of that here.  I'm really just urging you all to take a peek and, perhaps, tune in for the next couple of weeks.  There's no yellow jersey, but there's going to be 100+ adventures crammed into the month. 
Photo Credit runs through DenisVTT of to Wildtracks


  1. This looks neat, Val. Keep us updated!

  2. I so want to do that when I am older:)

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  4. We're Peoples Bicycle in Beacon NY, and we sponsored rider Kurt Sandiforth. We'd love to ask mtngirl if we could use the great photo of him above for some local press! Contact us at information@peoples-bicycle(dot)com.


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