The 2745 mile long Tour Divide mountain bike race got underway last Friday, with 42 riders setting out from Banff in Alberta, Canada on a 3+ week long odyssey along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that will end when they reach the border of Mexico at Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
The race requires the competitors to be completely self sufficient while out on the trail, carrying all of their food, water, and gear with them, although they are allowed to stop in towns along the way for resupply. The region is quite remote however, and riders will go more than 100 miles between resupply points at times. They are also responsible for their own navigation, as the trail is not always well marked, and there are no official course markers.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is the longest unpaved bike path in the world. The trail winds its way through Alberta and British Columbia in Canada, as well as Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico here in the States. The quality of the trail varies greatly as well, ranging from old backcountry roads to narrow, barely maintained, single track. Riders that complete the course will have climbed more than 200,000 feet over its length from start to finish.
The race is expected to take roughly three weeks to complete, with most riders averagng about 16 hours per day in the saddle. Over that time, they’ll face muscle crushing climbs, pass through wilderness thick with mountain lions and grizzly bears, and deal with weather that can change for the worse at a moments notice. And since the race lacks entry fees or prizes of any kind, the riders will be doing it just for the adventure.