Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tour Divide on the Trainer
Ride The Divide Movie Trailer from Ride The Divide on Vimeo.
This week, I rode the famed Tour Divide (TD) mountain bike race. Well, at least I watched the film "Ride the Divide" that commemorates the 2008 edition of this remarkable 2700-mile mountain bike race while working out on my trainer in the studio.
The film is quite enjoyable and captures some of the magnificent beauty along this incredible route from Canada to Mexico. It focuses on three riders, Mike Dion - a rookie rider and filmmaker, Matthew Lee, six-time finisher and current yellow jersey holder and Mary Collier - the first woman to successfully complete the Tour Divide.
I was surprised by how much time riders spent alone on this race. In some ways, TD is more similar to randonneuring than it is to ultramarathon racing. For instance, racers must be totally self-sufficient. Unlike in RAAM, there are no support crews and riders must carry everything they need on their bike, forage along the way for provisions or have things mailed to post offices on route ahead of time. TD racers also wear SPOT trackers and call in at regular intervals to report their location and condition.
The field has grown exponentially on this "underground" race over the past few years. In 2008, there were 16 starters, in 2009 - 42 and in 2010 there were 48. With two weeks to go, there are 95 starters currently preregistered! Some will ride the race as an individual TT, not starting on the same date as the others and some will race from Mexico to Banff rather than the customary north-south route. Be sure to follow the race on the TD website starting on June 10.
The Tour Divide has become a bit of a fixation of mine in recent weeks as the 2011 edition looms large. I've been reading Paul Howard's enjoyable new book Eat, Sleep, Ride in which he recounts his own experiences as a 2009 TD racer. While I don't much like mountain biking and can't imagine ever racing the TD, I did get a big kick out of the strength and courage of the TD racers profiled in the film and it fuels my own determination to get back out there to complete endurance feats such as this.
Up next: a review of Paul Howard's Eat, Sleep, Ride.