Josh Ibbett, winner of the 2015 Transcontinental Race, will be bringing his racing knowledge to bear on the Tour Divide with daily recaps on DotWatcher.
The Divide keeps on going from one extreme to the other. The mountains have given predominantly rain and cold conditions, however as our leader Lewis Cidor rides into New Mexico forest fires have begun to affect his ride. The fires have mean a road diversion from Abiqui to the town of Cuba. Despite being a slightly flatter alternative it does add distance to the route and unfortunately means missing out on an incredibly scenic section.
However, we can’t battle mother nature, as much as we may try, so the riders will need to take this diversion for their own safety. Lewis is now on the home run with less than 400 miles to go and only 100 to Pie Town. Will the Pie Town pie fuel him up enough to make a non-stop dash to the finish? Only time will tell. Currently Lewis is running around 200 miles behind Mike Halls 13 day, 22 hour and 51 second course record set in 2016. It’s hard to see how Mike’s record can be beaten, it will certainly take and exceptional athlete and good conditions to get anywhere near.
A sub 15-day ride could be on the cards for Lewis though especially if he gives it a good push in the final few hundred miles.
While the men’s leader battles high desert temperatures, Alexandra Houchin, our female leader, is enjoying snowy mountain passes further up the Divide. She has now covered over 1500 miles on her journey south as she makes her way into Colorado.
Although it’s easy to get wrapped up in the battle at the front of a bikepacking race, you have to remember that it’s only a race for the first few riders. Not everyone is strong enough or even motivated enough to race these events. In fact, for most (probably most of the leaders too) it’s all about the adventure and seeing the world. It’s actually harder for the riders further down the field. It takes longer to get between service towns for resupply and as a result they need to carry more which add more weight to the bike and requires more effort to move it. Plus a longer ride means more nights in a dirty chamois, more nights without a shower and more nights bivying in the wild. So, as we watch the leaders making the last charge for the line just remember the real hero’s still battling away out there.