- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 12 June 2009
The Grand Tour of MTB starts on 12th June and covers 4418km, being the longest Self-Supported Race in the world.
Decidedly not for sprinters, this battle royale braves mountain passes and windswept valleys of the Continental Divide from hinterlands of the Canadian Rockies to badlands of the Mexican Plateau.
Tour Divide is a solo, self-supported mountain bike race on all 2,745 miles of ACA’s epic Great Divide MTB Route. With an average time-to-completion of three weeks in the saddle, this grand tour is the longest, most challenging MTB race on the planet. It’s a contest for the ultra-fit but only if ultra-prepared for myriad contingencies of backcountry biking.
Tour Divide is born of inspiration from John Stamstad’s watershed `99 Divide ITT, and the US border to border challenge known as the Great Divide Race (ca.`04). Tour Divide observes all the historical divide racing controls save length. It pushes the envelope further by staging opening day racing from the top of the GDMBR in Banff, AB, where MTB-legal wilderness of Banff National Park serves as an immediate test of mettle. The Canadian section adds only 10% more trail, yet delivers unforgettable geography, abundant wildlife, and the international flair cycling has come to expect from grand tour racing.
Divide racers must not only be conditioned to endure three weeks of consecutive 16-hour days in the saddle, they need to bring other skills to the route. The course is unmarked and circuitous, requiring navigational acumen. It travels through remote backcountry with Grizzly and Mountain Lion density. Intervals between services are frequently 100+ miles and demand calculated food/water resupplies – or else. Riders must also find shelter each night or bivouac trailside. In minutes the Rockies’ dynamic mountain weather can wreak havoc on route surfaces, skewing even the most near-term travel projections.
Website: Tour Divide