(update 7/8/16 – 11:45am) Hal Russell, 67 from Osceola, MO finished his 4th straight Tour Divide yesterday. Hal is 67, and easily the oldest finisher this year. In fact he was 7 years older than the next finisher. A huge congrats to Hal and his will and determination to take on the Tour Divide year after year. His finishing call in shares his gratitude to his family, followers and fellow tour divide racers. Listen to it here…
Giving the 2,754 mile Tour Divide another go, this time raising money for Testicular Cancer. Please donate/RETWEET. https://t.co/CcAPffEMuH — Connor O’Leary (@Coleary00) June 24, 2016His Trackleaders profile shows his goal of 14 days, a mighty big feat for basically a first timer down the divide, but Connor has plenty of cycling experience competing in road biking on the national level. It should be interesting to watch his splits compared to Mike Hall in the next few days to get a good idea of his intentions. Here is a video from last year before he took off. Follow the CO dot here… http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide16 (update 6/30/16 – 8:30am) A big congrats goes out to Australian Jackie Bernardi for winning the women’s race of the Tour Divide. Jackie was as consistent as she could be, finishing in just under 20 days. In a year where the woman racers were few and far between, Jackie held her own beating the majority of the men down the continent. We wish Jackie the best of luck with her recovery and hope to see her again soon. Beating Disease The Bonnie Gagnon story is really something else. Bonnie nearly died from a lung infection in 2010. It was a scary time for her, but she has recovered in a big way. Check out this video. Now she takes on the Tour Divide. She started on the 13th of June, a few days after the grand depart. She is cruising along, currently approaching the Great Basin. her most recent call into MTBCast.com shares how grateful she is to be out there, although in back of the pack, you can sence here gratitude to be taking on the beast of the Tour Divide. Read more about Bonnie here…https://gearjunkie.com/bonnie-gagnon-survives-deadly-infection-mountain-bike-race-tour-divide
MTBCast: Tour Divide ’16 – Bonnie Gagnon called in from near Teton https://t.co/qD7J4hJbW6 — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 30, 2016<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>MTBCast: Tour Divide '16 – Bonnie Gagnon called in from near Teton <a href=”https://t.co/qD7J4hJbW6″>https://t.co/qD7J4hJbW6</a></p>— Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BikepackersMag/status/748375340494557184″>June 30, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script> (update 6/28/17 – 12:00pm) Past Tour Divide participant, Jesse Carlsson is stoked for his boy Gareth Pellas. (update 6/28/16 7:00am) After what is arguably the best performance in Tour Divide history, we caught up with the record holder himself, Mike Hall, to get the scoop from his extremely clean run down the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Profile: We caught up with Mike Hall(@Normally_Human) after a few #tourdivide recovery days.https://t.co/la1C2UgXeM pic.twitter.com/KdZsraa8Rd — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 30, 2016(update 6/27/16 – 6:00pm) As racers start to finish and we hear back from them, we will be introduced to stories and how racers are getting back into civilization. Recover is difficult, but the body gets so used to cycling for weeks on end, when you stop, there is certainly some frustrations. This in from Chris Plesko earlier today.
It’s (very) good to be home. I alternate between feeling sort of normal and totally destroyed. Ridiculous eating. Need to sleep more. Unpacking and cleaning is sort of underway. I want to do more but sometimes I cannot get up from where I’m sitting.3rd Place is a tie! A huge congrats to these two for taking a gentleman’s tie for 3rd place. Kevin was 2nd in the singlespeed category and Sofiane wore the best jersey of the divide this year. Congrats boys! (update 6/26/16 – 10:00am) Linda Guerrette has been out taking some fantastic photos since racers approached Colorado, a big thanks to her for these awesome images, be sure to give here a like on facebook to check out a lot of fantastic mountain bike photos in the state of Colorado and beyond.
(update 6/25/16 – 11:00am) This update is coming a bit premature as I will be busy with my sisters wedding. As I speak, Guy Martin is nearing the finish wnd will have a finishing time in the 18 day range. More importantly, the man of the hour or the next few hours will be Chris Plesko. Chris is projected to finish in roughly 10 hours. We are really excited for chris as he will most certainly be breaking his own single speed record. Congrats, Chris! (update 6/25/16 – 7:30am) Mike Hall made his last MTBCast call in last night. He thanked all of his supporters and the Pivot folks for picking him up. He also spoke about issues he had with his tires.Two friends enjoying some pedal time in wide open spaces. #tourdivide2016 #tourdivide #salsacycles #salsacutthroat #gravelisyourfriend #gravel #gravelasfarasyoucansee #rockymountainendurance #coloradolive #unlearnpavement #bikes #bikeracing #bikestagram @bikepackersmag @salsacycles #coloradobiking #coloradogravel A photo posted by @lindaguerrettephotography on
MTBCast: Tour Divide ’16 – Mike Hall called in with his finish call! https://t.co/4y2ohdXXxF — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 25, 2016Rookie Andrew Kulmatiski Out Quitting just to quit is one thing, quitting for a mechanical is another. The latter happened to rookie Andrew Kulmatiski a day ago. As a result he had to call it in northern New Mexico. here is what he said on Facebook.
It was a great race, ended prematurely due to a blown rear derailleur after over 2000 mi of racing. Only 550 mi to the finish, but I was out of time on my schedule and losing more than a day for repairs wasn’t going to work. Time to go play with Otter.(update 6/25/15 – 9:30am) And here is some more fun coverage from Pivot Cycles. (update 6/24/16 – 9:00AM) Mike Podium photos. Mike was picked up by the Pivot Cycles crew, big shoutout to Rachel Byus for these photos. (update 6/24/16 – 6:00am) After Mike Hall pushed for the record back in 2013 and came up empty when a wildfire forced a detour, his decision to come back and give it another run was certainly inevitable. Last year, he sat out of ultra racing to take care of a bothered hamstring from the Trans Am a year before. While he sat out, Josh Kato, Jay Petervary and three others beat the previous record of 15 days 16 hours and 4 minutes. That record didn’t last long. Less than a year after the record of 14 days, 11 hours, and 37 minutes was put down by Washington endurance cyclist Josh Kato, we now have a new record and a new record holder. England’s Mike Hall broke the 13 day mark, by riding through the night finishing with an official time of 13 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes. It was even more impressive that he raced against a record and not any competitors at the front of the field. Something Jefe Branham dealt with in 2014 and has said it was rather difficult to push it without someone else pushing him. Mike dealt with rain and wind up north, heat down south, and a flat tire, but an overall healthy run according to his MTBcast call ins. In the past Mike has dealt with losing his voice and breathing issues as you can see in this video from 2013. His call ins sound clear and he does not mention his breathing getting bad. We are extremely proud of Mike. He is a ridiculous ultra endurance cyclist but an even better person. After 3 divide rides, Mike can now say that he owns the record down the official route, sans detours. Congrats Mike, we look forward to hearing your stories. (update 6/23/16 10:00am) As we speak, there are roughly 12 racers projected to finish in under 20 days. Last year we had 26 racers finish under that mark. It just goes to show how much a few days of rain and cold weather up north can shape the times of the race. It’s still a very exciting race, and Mike is still on pace to break the record. He should finish in 24 hours or less, right around the 14 day mark. The single speed record is certain to be broken by either Chris Plesko or Kevin Jacobsen. We did not know that Kevin was riding a SS until a reader updated us yesterday. Kevin is not too far off from Chris, roughly 40 miles behind, but time is running out to catch up. We’re excited to watch this particular race unfold over the next 24 hours. Kevin is also fighting out for 3rd place with Sofiane Sehili only 7 miles back, both of them are projected to finish midday on Sunday. Weather: as summer continues in the rockies, afternoon monsoonal storms start to grow in strength. Below are the forecasts for some towns that are along the Tour Divide. If these storms can hold off for the leaders, then they will ride clay free, but if an isolated storm pops up, it could be slow moving in New Mexico. In Colorado, the soil can handle these rains, but the big threat is lightning, especially after Del Norte. A great resource to use for weather in the rockies is Weather.gov, and you can find these forecasts there. (update 6/22/16 11:00am) As Mike Hall approaches Grants, and eventually Pie Town, we take a look at possible times he may finish. Trackleaders.com has Mike projected to finish in 14 days and 3 hours. That sounds about right, give or take a few hours. Mike has been consistently at or near 12 hours ahead of record pace set last year. If I can make an educated guess as to what Mike will do out there, I would say he has one more night of sleep tonight, and a short one on Thursday night before finishing on Friday around mid-morning. Plesko Plesko continues south with one speed. He is on record pace, and continues to keep a narrow gap as he enters New Mexico, roughly 40 miles over the five 3rd place rides. Third Place Wow, this has turned into a fun race to watch for 3rd. Gareth, has faded and we now have a 5-way battle for 3rd place. Kevin Jacobsen, Sofiane Sehili, Stefan Maertens, Andrew Kulmatiski and Brian Alder. All five racers are nearing the Colorado/New Mexico State line. We will continue to watch these 5 racers over the course of the next day to see if any of them can give Chris a run for 2nd place. (update 6/21/16 10:30am) Back in 2009, Chris Plesko became the fastest singlespeeder down the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Over the past few years, people like Jefe Branham have raced faster than the time Chris put up, but it was all for naught as Jefe had to reroute due to fires. Chris knew that his record should have been broken by now, and so he decided it was time for another shot. Chris has been training his tail end off since last year, and seemingly dedicated his life to a 2016 Tour Divide run. As Chris approaches New Mexico his determination and drive to lower his own singlespeed record is clear. Yesterday Michael Grosso, a northbound rider had this to say after talking to Chris in Salida.
Chris was feeling good. He was getting lube before hitting the road. He was getting some food. Got a once over of the bike. He wanted to make the most of the last shop. He is tired and he really wants to get this done. Definitely feeling the wear and tear.Jefe Branham also ran into Chris just on the other side of Marshall Pass, in Sargents. (update 6/20/16 2:00pm) Last night I happened to be in the right place at the right time heading back to Crested Butte from Denver. I stumbled upon a few racers at the Sergeants General Store along HWY 50. Sargents sits on the other side of Marshall Pass, and is a little gem if you hit it during store hours. A few of the racers we ran into were Michael Grosso, Guy Martin (southbound), Bundy Phillips, and two other riders along HWY 50 as the sun set.
Stories of the Tour Divide The divide is not always kind, but it gives back when it can. Listen to the story from our friend Bobby Wintle…
MTBCast: Tour Divide ’16 – Bobby Wintle called in from Lima – Great story here…https://t.co/eMPAqhh9mF — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 19, 2016(update 6/17/16 2:51PM) Looks like Terry Smith, AKA Guy Martin is a bit off route. It looks like he is taking the easy way into Clark, Colorado which will bypass The Brush Mt. Lodge. http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide16i.php?name=Terry_Smith It also looks like he did some route trimming ahead of the basin a yesterday. I wonder if he is just using a paper map for navigation? (update 6/17/16 8:12am) Wind Mike made the huge push through the Basin at night, smart move as it looked like the wind settled down a bit after midnight. For the rest of the folks behind him, it looks like more of the same today, winds out of the south, which will affect these racers, if not just frustrate them. The temperatures won’t be all that forgiving either, and not much cloud cover. Leaderboard Back to the leaderboard this morning, and we have some extremely interesting storylines playing out. Things are getting very exciting as far as the record is concerned. Let’s start with 3rd place. Yesterday we had a shift in the standings, as Andrew Kulmatiski took over 3rd place as well as the top rookie spot. He passed Gareth Pellas, who was holding that spot down for a few days. The gap is only 20 miles, but it should be interesting to watch down the road. Chris Plesko was finally taken over by Josh Kato’s ghost of 2015, but that was nothing of a surprise, as Josh was geared, and Chris only has one gear. Chris should be a bit slower in the basin because of this, but he has already surprised us, so who knows. Right now Chris holds a solid 2nd place lead but it could dwindle while he is on the flats today. The man, the myth, the legend – Mike Hall is doing unreal things right now. He is is currently 8 hours ahead of JayP’s 2015 TD time and 10 hours ahead of Josh Kato’s pace. He did not sleep much last night, but he has already had two good night sleeping in beds, the past three nights of sleep have been pretty solid. Golden Spike The Golden Spike is the passing, and greeting of Southbound riders, with Northbound riders. Typically, they meet somewhere in northern Colorado. In 2014, Jefe met Dave Wilson at the Brush Mt. Lodge. Last year, Jay Petervary passed Kevin Jacobsen in Steamboat Springs. This year, it looks like Mike Hall will push the meet even further down the in state. Only time will tell, but this just goes to show how fast Mike is going, it’s pretty impressive to watch. (update 6/16/16 3:38pm) Bannack Road Back in 2014 when Jefe Branham took on the Tour Divide, and basically mother nature, he had this experience on Bannack road..
The soil has turned to that peanut butter sort of mud that sticks and sticks and makes your bike nothing but a big messy anchor. I try to rally my forces and push hard, but the mud shuts me down. I scrape the mud off, wash the bike in streams. I feel a scream of pure desperation gathering in my throat. I try and use the energy to just keep pushing, dragging the bike through the mud. Then is starts to snow, again. I swear I was as close to cracking right then and there, as ever before in my life. I muttered to myself “what do I do, what do I do?” only there is no answer forth coming. only more mud, more snow, more wind. In a move of pure heated frustration I hurl myself and my bike into the sage brush in mad sprint for release.As the beginning of the main pack comes into Lima, we are getting reports that it was indeed a sloppy mess once again this year. Racers dealt with that “peanut butter” mud due to storms that had been in the area. Miles were slow, and if you replay the tracker you can certainly tell. As of right now it looks like most of the storms are to the north, but that means plenty of people are still getting wet. (Updated 6/15/16 10:17AM MST) Leaders The big story of the race is Mike Hall. Mike is roughly 5 hours ahead of JayP’s time from last year, which is not all that much when you consider the wind Mike will be dealing with the next few days. But still, it’s a lead, and Mike sounded pretty good when he called in from Lima.
MTBCast: Tour Divide ’16 – Mike Hall called in from Lima https://t.co/bL8kLnmazp — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 15, 2016Mike will soon be making his way through Wyoming and into the Great Basin eventually, where wind will play a huge factor. Russ Kipp reported this just after Mike left the High Country Lodge Yesterday.
Mike looked pretty tired when he arrived last night, the food, shower and bed did him good. He looked much stronger this morning although he has a cough; which I understand many riders do because of the rain and cold in Canada.Chris Plesko is currently in 2nd, and on-pace to crush his single speed record. He currently is the ahead of Josh Kato’s pace from last year. Gareth Pellas, rookie sensation and one of the only stronger Australians left after Seb and Liam went out, is looking strong. Reports from his buddy, and endurance cyclist Jesse Carlsson is that Gareth is taking it conservative and smart, but thinks he has a quicker pace in the tank. There is a small group of 4 riders on Bannack Road chasing Gareth. Jackie Bernardi from Australia is currently sitting pretty in first place for the woman, just getting into Basin. She is currently behind Lael’s time but below a 20 day pace. Strong riding by Jackie who is a rookie.
Weather Unlike last year’s opening day drench, this year the rain seemed to hold off until more recently. The past few days have been wet for racers, Randy Neill is reporting he got snowed on up on Whitefish yesterday, furthermore he ran into a number of bears and had quite the night. If you have a spare 4 minutes, I think it’s worth listening to the emotion of his call-in. It goes without saying that the Tour Divide is one “Epic” experience, as he says.
MTBCast: Tour Divide ’16 – Randy Neill called in from Whitefish https://t.co/iaO8lDgBgy — Bikepackers Magazine (@BikepackersMag) June 15, 2016Looking at the forecast for the next few days along the route, it looks like more rain, and a slight chance of snow at higher elevations through Montana. It looks like the further south down the route, the better off riders are as far as precipitation is concerned. While precipitation may fade, winds will be a big factor into Wyoming. Winds will continue to gust high from the southwest in Idaho and Wyoming the next few days, which will certainly frustrate some of the leaders, especially once they hit the unprotected Great Basin.
Notable Drops Many times people drop because they have no idea what they are getting involved with, other times, it’s because of injury or even worse, a rider/vehicle accident on route. This year, a lot of veterans have pulled from the race. Josh Kato – Words from Josh on Bikepacking.net
I’m out of contention for the first rider to pie. Since my encounter with a motorist who wanted to make a grave marker out of a cyclist on the Grave Creek Road after Eureka, MT I’ve been unable to properly race. When the truck driver aimed at me I had no choice but to head off the road. Anyone that has been on that road knows that the right side drops a long ways down into Grave Creek. Basically, to keep myself and bike from ending up at the bottom of the canyon my legs/feet were twisted in the rocks on the hillside. There is only so fast a guy can go while eating Aleve and Advil like M&M’s (plus I don’t professionally recommend it at all). My left knee took the brunt of the twisting and while I could ocassinally go quickish things kept declining. By the time I got just past Helena I couldnt go more than 10mph on the flats with a tailwind. Lots of stuff can happen out there. Dropping out because of a self-sustained injury like crashing in mud or pushing my body too hard would be painful but acceptable. Ending my race, while feeling in the best physical condition of my life, because of an act of another person is unacceptable. This was going to be the last of my racing. I’ve never been all about records or first place. It’s always been the journey. Now… I’ll be backSeb Dunne Liam Crowley
Where is that famous guy? Some seem to care, others don’t, but we will share this mystery in any event. It appears that Guy Martin is not on the tracker, but there are reports that he is out there. This is from Kathy from Ovando on Bikepacking.net talking about possibly seeing this mysterious man down route.
I have been reading all the stuff about a Guy Martin. I do know it is not Greg May, as photo to be posted soon will verify. HOWEVER…. there was an interesting man in Ovando yesterday (6/13/16) who left around 6pm. Longish brown hair, beard, average height, lanky, wearing dark glasses and a straw hat [the hat is what got my attention] riding a yellow bike. Not on trackleaders. Didn’t get a name. Didn’t stick around long and didn’t get anything to eat.If anyone has any concrete details on a possible elias name or know if he is NOT on the tracker, make sure to leave it in the comments below. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer of the movie he was in.
(Updated 6/11/16 12:17AM MST) The Start – 6/11/16 Today over a 180 Riders took off from the YWCA in the southern portion of Banff. If you missed our Grand Depart Photos check out this Photo Gallery link. It was a cloudy day, but the rain held off, at least until later down the route that day.
Tour Divide Preview – Wednesday, June 8th – http://bikepackersmagazine.com/2016-tour-divide-preview/ You can count on one thing happening every year on the 2nd Friday in June in Banff, Alberta, The Grand Depart of the Tour Divide. Actually, you can count on a bit more up in Banff during that time, like Crazy Larry running around town, rooting on Tour Divide participants, or tourists walking up and down the town taking photos of the stark contrast between town and the mountains. You can also certainly count on it being bright well beyond the 10 o’clock hour. But most of all, you can count on racers starting to get a bit nervous, but still enjoying every moment of their vacation from the real world.
Rigs of the Tour Divide – Tuesday, June 7th – http://bikepackersmagazine.com/2016-tour-divide-rigs/