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.
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.
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 second installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.
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 first installment of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Tour Divide Race.
Part of Lael’s preparation for this year’s Tour Divide was to ride from Boulder, CO to Emporia, KS where she raced the Dirty Kanza XL, which is featured in today’s gallery! Leave it to Lael to ride 700 miles before racing 350 miles! She’s going to be prepared and ready for the TDR this year!
Is it a gravel bike? A drop bar 29er? Or something else entirely? When it comes to the nomenclature surrounding these modern touring bikes, I often scratch my head, pondering an answer to this question. My usual inclination is to envelop these bikes under the umbrella of “adventure bikes” but then this bike landed in my lap. The Otso Cycles Fenrir is aligned with bikes like the Kona Sutra ULTD and the Moots Baxter but Otso did something different – i.e. better – than its competitors. The Fenrir took it up a notch and has utilized boost spacing wheels, which in my mind, put this in the drop bar 29er category.
I’ve had the Fenrir for a while now, have taken it on an overnighter, and have ridden some of my favorite mixed terrain routes here in Santa Fe with it. On washboarded sandy roads to singletrack, doubletrack, and gravel, the Fenrir is a hell of a bike and one that I really resonated with, so let’s check it out in detail below…
It starts raining ten minutes into the ride and we pull over to suit up. Twenty minutes later, we’re at the base of the climb and we derobe. Half an hour later, I’m at the top of the pass, sweating through my sweater. It’s a screaming descent to the sea and I freeze on the way down. I never want to stop and it’s tough to regulate my body temperature. The climbs are hot work and the descents a cold thrill.
We wait at the junction for the group to catch up. Today we’ll ride out and back to the westernmost point in Iceland, the seasonal home of the puffins, but they’ve gone for the year. I eat a sandwich and unwrap half a piece of leftover blueberry cheesecake to split with Rue. We’re into the stage of the trip where we’re eating machines. We hide behind a signpost to get out of the wind. Nichole and Payson join us at the bottom. We’re all chilled to the bone. Chris says there’s an old ship up ahead that might be a good spot to snack and warm up. We ride there.
The beauty of bikes is in the people who ride them—and how they all have a story. I have little doubt that everyone—serious riders, aeroed and grimaced, and carefree cruisers alike—have experienced that epiphanous fresh-air feeling of freedom that accompanies spinning your legs astride two wheels. Sometimes we just enjoy it at the moment—letting the short-lived wave of release and clarity wash over us during a weeknight burrito run, or a trip to the coffee shop. Other times we chase that feeling down with the hope that, somehow, it might change our life.
What first intrigued me about Josh Uhl was, however, not his history with bikes but his podcast Here For Now, which he started in February of 2021. Josh uses this platform to have intentional and intimate conversations with his guests about motivation, struggle, and the big whys of life. Listening to an early episode with Peter Hogan, where the recovering addict asserts that “Bikes aren’t God,” and to a later episode where the writer Zoe Röm reflects on the delusion of “authenticity” on social media, I found myself frequently nodding along. Yes, exactly.
As someone who tends to spend seven months out of the year on the road, away from home, 2020 has been a welcomed change, albeit with some major adjustments. Stay at home orders in New Mexico are some of the strictest in the United States and this forced me to look to my new home state for rides and trips. Suddenly, I found myself living at the threshold of beautiful high-country riding with endless possibilities for bicycle touring and mountain biking. To put it mildly, my relocation to Santa Fe has opened up a whole world of opportunity.
It took me a while to adjust to living at 7,000′ and a big part of that adjustment has been facilitated by riding with my fast and fit friend, Bailey Newbrey. Bailey’s accolades need no introduction here and it should be no surprise to any of you that he is an incredible rider. He’s so fast that I jokingly refer to him as the “mountain trout on two wheels.”
The doorbell of the Alaska bike shop jingled shut as another khaki shorts cruise ship goer left, leaving me alone at the counter for a brief moment to contemplate my future. My job at the bike shop would end in mid-September, and I wanted to be riding the Baja Divide in mid-January. These things were clear, what lay between them was not.
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.
Where do we even begin with this post? 2019 was a year that defies all previous efforts here at the Radavist. Never have the pages of this site been graced with more exceptional photography and words! While we’re known for our full-res galleries, we really made a push to include exceptional writing this year. While this isn’t a top ten list, we’ve highlighted some of the exceptional work below. Stories that really stood out from our normal, year-to-year Reportage. Or if you’re a nostalgist, simply flip through the mega-gallery. Keep in mind, this one will take a bit to load!
I speak for everyone here at the Radavist when I say I can’t wait for 2020! Your feedback last week really helped all of us hone our vision and where we should direct our pens and our lens glass.
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
This year at Grinduro, eight frame builders presented bikes in partnership with Maxxis, Sram/Zipp, Columbus, and Hope Tech. The theme? What is your ideal Grinduro bike? This outstanding Olivetti drop bar MTB took advantage of AXS road and mountain compatibility.
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.