Author Topic: The world's toughest bike race  (Read 246 times)  

Offline Mike D. aka jmiked

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The world's toughest bike race
« on: June 12, 2017, 07:45:48 pm »
It's not the Tour de France.


This week I've been watching internet coverage of the 2017 Tour Divide, a bicycle race that goes from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells (on the border of New Mexico/Mexico). It's 2745 miles of unmarked trails/footpaths/fire-roads/gravel roads, fording streams, pushing bikes through two feet of snow, etc., that follows the Continental Divide as closely as possible. It's self supported, which means that you have to take everything you'll need (no meeting up with people for re-supplies) and you have to pay for everything and are responsible for getting to the start line. And then getting home from the finish.

No prize money. But occasionally you get confronted by grizzly bears. Really. Take bear spray. You are only monitored by GPS, there are no officials to oversee things. You may go days without seeing another rider, and there are places where you are 200 miles from the nearest services. If you have a flat or mechanical difficulties, you may be in a spot of trouble. It's not against what few rules there are for another rider to come along and help you, but some riders stick to the spirit of the race and won't accept help. Bike shops lay on extra help and work extended hours at the small towns along the way. And you should be prepared to sleep beside the trail if need be. Total vertical distance climbed is 190,000 feet.

If you really need help, there's an SOS button on the GSP SPOT tracker labeled "SOS". As one rider put it: "See that button? It gets you a $25,000 medevac helicopter ride.". Once in a while you do get cell phone coverage, though.

This year there are 190 people entered, 170 men and 20 women. A significant number between 40 and 60 years of age. I believe that the oldest person to have entered was 73. This year, an ex-governor of New Mexico is entered. He's 64. The top riders get along with 4-6 hours of sleep a day.

Last year's winner made the trip in 13 days and 23 hours. That's about 196 miles a day, with an average of almost 14,000 vertical feet involved daily. Highest peak is 12,000 feet.

There is a real-time internet map where I am following the positions and stats of all the riders, as well as a forum where pictures are posted by a number of residents along the way. The event is very popular along the route.

It started at 9AM last Friday, which means that the front-runners should show up at Antelope Wells around the 24th/25th. Although the winner could show up at the start line about then, as it's permissible to run the race from south to north, but most prefer the north to south route.

My hat is off to those riders. It's a brutal race.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 08:01:07 pm by Mike D. aka jmiked »

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    Offline NogDog

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    Re: The world's toughest bike race
    « Reply #1 on: June 12, 2017, 07:50:44 pm »
    If you like that, you might like the Barkley Marathons. (Yes, that's plural.) On Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80076413

    Offline CegAbq

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    Re: The world's toughest bike race
    « Reply #2 on: June 12, 2017, 09:12:09 pm »
    An amazing challenge!
    Carol in 'burque

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to Skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and shouting: Damn-What a ride!

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