“Well, what the hell now?” I thought to myself as I stared down at my carbon fork now resting on the ground in three separate pieces. A curb-sized, unassuming jump on a wooden arch bridge outside Breckenridge had taken me down, imploding my bike with me. The front brake cable was the only thing connecting my front wheel to the rest of my bike. I had never experienced a mechanical problem like this trailside. That’s it, game over. All the planning and anticipation, just to make it halfway through the Tour Divide.
“Crisscrossing the Continental Divide for 2,450 miles between Banff in the Canadian Rockies and Antelope Wells on the Mexican border, the Great Divide is one the world’s most iconic long distance mountain biking routes. On this sky high trail, there’s no such thing as a regular ride. But even by ultra cycling standards, Lael Wilcox’s history on the route is a colourful one.
In 2015, Lael raced the Tour Divide – an event that follows the route – and set a new women’s course record despite having to ride herself to an emergency room en route to deal with a persistent breathing issue. But rather than celebrating her achievement, Lael set out to better it. Just two weeks later, she rode to the start from her home in Alaska, took on the trail for a second time and lowered her own record by another day and a half.
Today, the outright course record is held by the late long-distance legend Mike Hall, whose time of 13 days 22 hours and 51 minutes has stood since 2016. Inspired by Mike’s methodical approach to managing the mileage but convinced she can beat the record, Lael is returning to the Rockies with unfinished business. In the latest episode of Rapha Gone Racing, we document her latest record attempt and follow her as she runs into issues much bigger than any bike ride.”
On June 11th, 2021, I became the first Tibetan person to race the Tour Divide (if that kind of thing matters, really). Though I didn’t reach my goal of finishing this year, I did bite off a good 1,300-mile chunk of it, offering pieces of myself to the land along the way. Here’s what I experienced.
Over at Rapha, Sarah Swallow shares her story about how her Tour Divide almost ended before it even began:
The journey began with a three-day drive from my home in Colorado to the start line in Montana. My partner Adam and I were wrapping up a long day of driving and looking for a place to camp south of Seeley Lake, Montana when we drove over a large bump in the tarmac at 60 mph. The entire truck bounced like a sea-saw, causing us both to cringe when we heard a snap and saw something in the rearview mirror.
“What was that!?” I yelled.”It was a bike…” Adam answered.”Was it your bike?” I asked desperately.”I think it was your bike…” he responded.We stopped the car, and I got out to confirm that my Tour Divide bike lay one hundred yards down the road. I ran toward it hysterically like it was a loved pet that had just been run over.
Head on over to the Rapha blog to read more!
This bicycle named Lil Romeo was chosen for my first attempt at the Tour Divide based on trust built over the years of adventuring together. A Reynolds 853 steel Crust Romanceür that I’ve ridden for 4 years in 4 different United Nations recognized countries. The custom frame bag that held food, 3 liters of water, and often a can of nitro coffee has the Tibetan national flag that is not recognized by the United Nations. I love this flag almost as much as I love this bike. Not for the sake of Nationalism, but for the sake of Beauty. Lots of parts on this bike were selected for beauty, practicality, and nostalgia.
Are you watching those dots move across the TDR map? Perhaps you’d like to take it on sometime? Well, Sarah Swallow meticulously researched and documented every single resource you could ever need along the GDMBR, and now we want to share all her hard work with you. Check out the full article at RideWithGPS!
Our friends Sarah and Jorja pulled together this video, showcasing how Sarah is preparing for the Tour Divide this year:
Sarah Swallow, professional adventure cyclist, cycling the 2021 Tour Divide Route. In this video we find out more about; 1. Who she is 2. What she is setting out to achieve 3. Where she is at with her preparation for the 2021 Tour Divide 4. and answers some questions from friends and family Check out her GoFundme for the Cairn Project here;
“For this challenge, I am teaming up with The Cairn Project to fundraise $5,000 to provide outdoor opportunities for more young women and girls. I have had the incredible privilege and opportunity to make my passion for adventure cycling as my work. I want to help create accessible pathways for more young women and girls to pursue a similar lifestyle, adventure goal, or profession. I never knew this life of mine was possible or even an option. If young women and girls could feel inspired by what I do and see that they could do it too, or to get exposed to what they love to do outdoors at an early age, I think it could make a positive impact on their lives, and the lives of others around them. Over the next few months, I’ll be fundraising for The Cairn Project by sharing my story as a young girl and how I found purpose in life through riding my bicycle as I prep my mind, body, and equipment for one of the most significant endeavors of my life. To learn more about my trip, read my blog post. To follow my journey, follow me on Instagram.
Since no one is out riding the Tour Divide this year and I’m locked away in a lake house in Wisconsin, why don’t we take a trip down memory lane? Like, I found a backup of these images on my iPod kinda trip down memory lane, back to 2014 baby. This was my first proper “bikepacking” or off-road touring trip. I borrowed my dad’s 90s hybrid and put a Surly fork and some racks on it and hightailed it to Missoula after finishing my first few weeks working as a tour guide in Oregon. I met Kurt and Sam as they were working their way down the Tour Divide as the inaugural Blackburn Rangers, which I had applied for too, but didn’t get, so why not just crash their party anyway?
THE GREAT DIVIDE
Like my four-year-old son said the other day: “You can’t survive death.”
Somehow this made me think of this race. It’s all about surviving in the end. But it’s mostly about being alive, to the fullest.
Ryan le Garrec, one of our contributors here at the Radavist, followed cyclist Josh Ibbett during his 2019 Tour Divide attempt. This is his story. Watch this documentary here and be on the lookout for a photo gallery later this week.
Relive this amazing experience here and be sure to check out our Reportage from this year’s event if you haven’t already:
–Tour Divide Race: Part 1
–Tour Divide Race: Part 2
–Tour Divide Race: Part 3
–Tour Divide Race: Part 4
–Tour Divide Race: Part 5
–2019 Tour Divide Race: Behind the Scenes Interviews
–Ogichidaakwe: Alexandera Houchin’s Reflections on Her Tour Divide Race
In 2015, I was able to partake in the launch of the Cutthroat, Salsa’s Tour Divide Race Bike, a unique drop bar 29er and since then, I’ve had zero contact with it. That is until I unboxed the brand new 2020 Cutthroat, which is full of new updates and boy is it a long list. While I plan on reviewing this bike in more detail further down the road, I wanted to give you a look at the new model on its launch day. Read on below for a first look at the new Cutty.
I was always insecure about the fact that I was “uneducated” before I entered academia. Growing up in a trailer park and as the first person in my family to have ever attended a university, I was certain that I was something less than my entire life. The apple never falls far from the tree. And in attending University, I’ve learned that everything I was taught whilst growing up was lessons in obedience. I, an Anishinaabe woman, celebrated the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving time and Columbus on Columbus day. I always thought that I wasn’t Indian enough because I didn’t grow up on my reservation, I didn’t know my tribal language, and I didn’t look Indian. Tell me, what does an Indian look like? How could I trust a system that denied the lived history of my ancestors?
This year’s Tour Divide Race was one for the books, with all the controversy surrounding documentation, but as well with many record hopeful attempts being foiled. It was an amazing and exciting feat to behold on many levels. At the end of all of it, I posed three questions to our team in hopes of giving an idea of what such a project entails. If you have any other questions please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. -Spencer
Tour Divide Race: Part 5
Words by Spencer Harding
We wake up with dew covering our tents and sleeping bags just on the south side of La Manga Pass in northern New Mexico. We send Lael on her way as we start our seven-hour journey to jump ahead and try to catch Chris Seistrup at the head of the pack. As we roll through the outskirts of Albuquerque it seems impossibly hot after almost two weeks high in the mountains. As we approach Silver City a massive monsoon is building up over the Gila National Forest, no chance the leaders are staying dry out there. Over a late dinner, we watch Chris’ spot tracker go stagnant and decided to wait until he rolls into town in the morning.
I’m not much of a writer, I prefer to stay behind the camera and let the photos do the talking. But what if photos aren’t enough? I like facts and I can provide those. Facts that led up to Lael’s scratching from this year’s Tour Divide. I recently posted on Lael’s Instagram that she scratched from the race this year after running into shoe sucking mud and waiting it out with other top racers. While waiting, she saw her women’s record pass by and her pink LW record dot would be almost a day ahead by the time conditions were suitable for riding. Acknowledging this, she brought me breakfast and spent the day with me and others while waiting for the mud to dry. Visiting me, her girlfriend, disqualifies her from the race. She knows this. We both do. I want to share a little more backstory. To put it out there while it’s still fresh.
Rue and Spencer are working on part four of the 2019 Tour Divide coverage, sit tight, it’s coming down the hole early this afternoon.
Last year, Rue propositioned me about helping her document the Tour Divide race in which Lael Wilcox intended to best her previous record, I jumped at the opportunity. Later, Jay Ritchey would be added to the team to help Rue with the film they intended to produce about the race. I was tasked with focusing on photographing her attempt and the race itself. Rue has been flipping between photo and video very deftly and has some incredible images to add to this gallery. Here is the third installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.