Cover Photo: Ryan Sigsbey www.ryansigsbey.blogspot.com It all started with the Great Divide Race, started by Mike Curiak. The race traveled the entire length of America from Roosville, Montana to Antelope Wells, New Mexico (2493 mi). At the time, it was the longest self-supported race available, but as time goes on, changes would be made. In 2004 Matthew Lee thought it would be cool to start the route up in Banff, calling it the Prologue to the Great Divide Race. 4 years later he decided to organized a different race all together, one that would travel the ACA’s full Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, he called it the Tour Divide. Slowly the Great Divide Race would fade, and the Tour Divide would slowly increase in popularity over the years. The Tour Divide runs 2,745 miles from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Like most bikepacking races, it is a completely self-supported race. The route consists of mostly forest roads and pavement with very little singletrack. The route takes you through the steep Canadian Rockies to the Great Basin of Wyoming, through the thin air of Colorado, and down through New Mexico. It travels though a number of different climates where racers will encounter snow, rain, extreme heat, and wind. The route is strategically set up to provide a number of resupply points for racers to get much needed food, or even a plush hotel for a night. The 2014 Tour Divide looks to be very a interesting start. The Grand Depart starts in Banff on the morning of Friday the 13th. At this point the forecast shows to be cold with a possibility of rain. North-bounders will have the extreme opposite with scorching heat and extremely dry conditions. Matthew Lee did have this to say on Bikepacking.net on June 3rd… “Those orange lines in NM (on trackleaders.com) are common firelines for two commonly closed forests. They are currently not in effect, and with any luck will not be used. My sources in NM say dew points are climbing early this year. Could mean early monsoons, which means cooler temps, but darn if you don’t want be caught in the Gila then.” That is fantastic news for one reason, it makes things that much more interesting. Jay Petervary holds the current record on the detour-free Tour Divide Route. In August of 2012, Jay set the course record at 15 days 16 hours and 4 minutes. Last year Mike Hall took on the route with the grand depart and was on target to smash that record. Although he was the fastest to ever finish the race, because of the detours, the record was untouched. If fires and floods can be prevented, and a some what perfect run can happen, the record is reachable. A more difficult task may be breaking the woman’s record which is held by Eszter Horanyi, who set out on the grand depart in 2012 and finished in 19 days, 3 hours, and 35 minutes. Lets chat about a few notable riders this year, starting off with the Triple Crown Candidates. The Triple Crown of Bikepacking is a combination of the major bikepacking races, the Arizona Trail 750, the Tour Divide, and the Colorado Trail Race. On the men’s side we have Aaron Denberg from Big Horn, Wyoming and Mark Caminiti from Idaho Springs, Colorado. Jill Hueckman from Englewood, Colorado is the first woman to attempt the Triple Crown. We wish them the best of luck and a quick recovery. Although there are no previous winners attempting this years race, there are a number of very strong riders among this years group. Most notably, Jefe Branham (Gunnison, C0) who took a very close 2nd place to Kurt Refsnider in 2011. This year Jefe will be riding with gears, and has the extra knowledge of the course which could play a huge role in this years race. Other notable racers include Alex Harris from South Africa who took 3rd last year and is looking to cut a few days of his finish of 18 days. Max Morris is another very strong rider who we believe will be at the front of the pack as well. Another very interesting scenario is Leo Pershell, who will be attempting an ITT of the route in August. He finished the route last year in 7th place and is aiming for 14 days this year. We wish each and every racer the best of luck, and hope they can enjoy the beauty of riding the Great Divide. Trackleaders and SPOT have truly made this ride a spectator sport, even more so with the Spot Gen 3’s that update more frequently. Also stay tuned to MTBcast for rider calls in’s as well as Mountain Bike Radio for race updates including leaders, weather, and detours. We will be updating on the race throughout the duration so stay tuned!