“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.”
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.
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.
Discussing mental strength, equipment, working with each other, hygiene on tour and more.
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.
In 2019 Jonny Moses biked the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The GDMBR is a 2700 mile off-road bike tour that follows the continental divide along the spine of the Rockies from Banff Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico. He rode this route in order to both challenge himself and to challenge the narrative of who does or doesn’t belong in the outdoors. His aim is to encourage kids of color that the outdoors and outdoor recreation IS for them.
Photos by Rugile Kaladyte
When Rene Herse Cycles decided to develop a tire specifically for bikepacking and ultra-endurance racing, they asked Lael Wilcox what she wants in a tire. Lael has raced many ultra-endurance events, including the Tour Divide and Silk Road Mountain Race. She provided Rene Herse Cycles with heaps of feedback and they’re now introducing the result of this collaboration, the Fleecer Ridge 29″ x 2.2″ (or 700C x 55 mm), named after Lael’s favorite climb on the Tour Divide.
The Fleecer Ridge is a true all-rounder. Large knobs with generous space in between provide superb traction on loose and soft surfaces, while the knobs are spaced to put more rubber on the road as the tire leans into corners during paved descents into town to resupply.
The Fleecer Ridge offers a choice of the four Rene Herse casings:
-Standard combines comfort and speed at an affordable price.
-Extralight is our most supple casing for ultimate speed.
-Endurance uses the same ultra-fine threads with extra protection against punctures and cuts.
-Endurance Plus is one of the toughest performance tires available today.
Available in mid-May 2020 from good bike shops and directly from Rene Herse Cycles.
A few years back in 2018, I shot Bailey’s Salsa Woodsmoke, just before he took off on the Tour Divide. The bike was dialed at the time, with all the kinks worked out and he pedaled it from Canada to Mexico. Now here we are, two years later, Bailey has a shop in Santa Fe called Sincere Cycles and one of the brands he carries is Moné Bikes, based out of Silver City. As soon as he opened his shop, he ordered a custom Moné to once again take on the Tour Divide.
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.
The University of Minnesota – Duluth has pulled together an exceptional profile video on Alexandera Houchin, the SS TDR record holder. Check it out!
“After living thousands of miles away and spending time zig-zagging down the Continental Divide on bike, Alexandera Houchin’s homecoming is extra meaningful. Growing up, she never saw a Native American dentist or doctor, and decided to counter that with plans to practice dentistry on her reservation. Through her example, Alexandera envisions empowering the next generation to take care of its citizens. “If you can’t see it, how can you believe it?””
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
Rugile Kaladyte and Jay Ritchey shot this year’s Tour Divide on video while documenting the event for this website in photos. Rue has been in the cutting room, culling the footage and compiling the film, dubbed “I Just Want to Ride”. If you are able to, be sure to catch the premieres on the dates listed below!
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?