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Fact file

Location:
Banff, AB, Canada
Length:
2745 miles
Terrain:
Off-road

Day 11

Day 11:

The Fearless Four have established an unassailable break on the pack.

Chris Seistrup had a nice 6 hour stop in the lead and then rode through to Poncha Springs for a decent meal stop before tackling Marshall Pass. Marshall Pass is one of the last big passes - rising to 3,300m with a 1,137m clim from Salida. The first part is paved, then it goes off-road on a railway grade climb over the pass to Sargents and Tomichi Trading Post.

Josh Kato woke in 4th, took off from Silverthorne after a 12 hour recovery break (see Day 10 report) in the early morning around 02:30, and by 03:30 was on the edge of Breckenridge when Steve headed out a few miles ahead. Nate left Breck at the same time Josh passed through and the trio were only a few miles apart when they started to climb Bores Pass. The top 1/3rd is pretty open so the chasers would have had a view onto Steve's lights. It's a 750m climb followed by some fun single track on the Gold Dust Trail and then a gravel haul over South Park to Hartsel. Seems like no-one stopped at Hartsell, and Josh Kato was about 10 mins behind Steve the whole way to Salida, where Steve passed through to stop at Poncha Springs, and Josh stopped in Salida. Leaving Poncha Springs, Josh was just 1.4 miles behind Steve - after 1,800 miles of racing and with 1,000 miles to go. (i.e. if it were a mile race he'd be equivalent of under 3 feet behind).

Meanwhile, back at Brush Mountain Lodge, the racers faced the indignity and reality check of Reid Passmore, a tourer on his heavy touring bike, riding solo NOBO over the "impassable" trail from Steamboat to Brush Mountain Lodge. It seemed to be a wake-up call for some of the racers who were convincing themselves that the track was "not passable" - despite 4 riders having already passed it. That from a group of 11 racers, no-one would harden up, suck it up and start hiking with their bikes on their backs, was surprising to many veterans in the bikepacking community.

Sarah Hammond: Yes they can {move forward}. They can walk. It just takes time and patience. Not all bike rides are riding, all the time. Australia is all about hiking through sand. It’s slow, but achievable.

Jay Petervary: Sure they can {move forward}. It's just slower and requires more patience. They would have been through it all if they kept going.

Reid Passmore: Made it from Steamboat to the Lodge yesterday. There was pretty significant hike a bike for 3-4 hours but it was totally doable. Snow part is like 3-4 miles and it never got above my knees.

Reid Passmore 02 Reid Passmore 01

From Kim Raeymaekers post you can hear that they were relying on hearsay and someone doing a reconnaissance ride on Lael's film crew's electric bike: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHZpX0FT4T/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Scene at Brush from Ryan Le Garrec: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzG0IZVF--D/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Finally, five headed out into the mud and snow at 04:00. The group was Stefano Roumaldi, Tony Lesueur, Peter Sandholt, Bear Stillwagon, and Lucas Ratliff. Word from some of the racers was that the balance had all decided to quit the day before in a classic case of group-think. However, this resolve to quit crumbled in the face of the reality that Reid had crossed on a touring set-up, and that the five early starters were making good progress. Who dares wins.

Ryan Le Garrec go this shot of Peter Sandholt: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHrco1ILR7/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Peter Kraft was first of the bunch to follow, with Kai Edel and Josh Ibbett soon to start their chase too. Kim Raeymaekers and Evan Deutsch were next out, with Les Brown and Beau Troesch close behind (they both arrived Day 10 nightime). Next bunch were Alexandera Houchin, Ryan Simmons (also single speed), Nico Deportago-Cabrera (single speed), David Langley, and Peter Peunner. Late arrival Robert Goldie was last to head out, not doubt rested, well fed and with clean kit by virtue of Kirsten Henricksen at Brush Mountain lodge.

Kim Raeymaekers: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzH0VWDlj6j/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Kim Raeymaekers: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHJT4nFDmH/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Ryan Le Garrec: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHp_JBoTiQ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Alexandera has now moved into the Womens lead by virtue of her perserverence and grit. Nico, her long time "single speed adversary/partner in crime" seems to have stopped in Steamboat and word is that he is thinking about quitting. Lael Wilcox has also scratched after falling off her own record pace - but she will apparently keep riding, which unfortunately creates an issue for other racers (such as Evan) on the visitation rules as she is no longer a fellow racer so Lael's continued presence clearly breaches the written rules on "no visitation".

Visitation Rule (http://tourdivide.org/the_rules): Tour Divide strives for equal opportunity within the General Classifiaction. Visitation: Divide racing is not intended to be a spectator sport! However, route-town locals only may interact with (i.e. visit briefly, cheer on) thru-racers as they pass through their locale. Out-of-town visitation to the GDMBR mid-race from challengers' family or friends — even if only a 'loosely-planned', remote possibility for rider rendezvous— is prohibited.

Lael once again departs the Tour Divide winless (in 2015 Beth Dunne was the winner of the Tour Divide Grand Depart as Beth followed the correct route to Mexico in her pink top, crushed it and won in 19:02:37 beating Eszter Horyani's former women's record and still has the fastest winning time for the Grand Depart.). Records get broken, wins are forever. There is a pretty sizeable gap to second placed woman Zoe Chauderlot who is 110 miles back and Alexandera is 150 miles ahead of the current Women's Single Speed record. Looking good for the dental student on her Chumba bike.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By-jKyrABh-/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The leaders were quick over Marshall Pass, so no snow there, and with a quick stop at Tomichi Trading Post they were on their way. Chris was about 3.5 hours ahead of Steve, with Josh Kato a further 30 mins back. Nate is a further 3.5 hours behind Josh.

From Sargents they have Cochetopa Pass (3,050m, 600m ascent) and Canero Pass (3,100m, 600m ascent) to cross before the 40 mile drag into Del Norte.

The mid-pack are grinding on. Andy Phillips (ITT) posted this: Middle and last part of the road to Savery from wamsutter is pretty muddy I rode it yesterday and ended up taking the pasture in places because I couldn’t even push my bike through. Might be better by now just depends on the rain. AP mid pack AP 02

Hal Russell has passed the 1,000 mile mark is is camped up trailside on Ashton-Flagg Rd. Togwotee Pass for him tomorrow most likely.

Geof Blance posted this from the Basin: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHekoQFm5o/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Ross Burrage is having Type 2 Fun over Union Pass into Pinedale: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzFJv8ygP1q/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet https://www.instagram.com/p/BzHmbwsgZPC/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The NOBO leader Graham Suffield rode from Steamboat to Wamsutter with a short stop in Brush. He's nearly at the half way point and will be hoping for tailwinds accross the Basin. Behind him, Dan Thrush crossed Boreas Pass in some cold conditions:

DT NOBO

Josh Ibbett, who is in the race for 5th, features in this little trailer from Ryan le Garrec for the upcoming video project Elephant on long distance cycling:

https://vimeo.com/340528398

Parts 2 and 3 of The Radavist articles on the TD are up:

https://theradavist.com/2019/06/2019-tour-divide-race-part-2/

https://theradavist.com/2019/06/2019-tour-divide-race-part-3/

Race Postitions at 03:00

Chris Seistrup: 1,960 stopped at Del Norte

Steve Halligan: 1,907 stopped trailside

Josh Kato: 1,904 stopped trailside

Nate Grinzton: 1,869 stopped trailsid

Next riders are at Silverthorne, mile 1,695 ... 174 miles behind 4th place.

Day 10

Day 10:

Grit. Something the 4 leaders have in abundance.

Here's the current leader Chris Seistrup sucking it up and getting it done:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzDX_2hFCAH/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzDX1Z7lnLS/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

BR Chris Seistrup (Pic Billy Rice)

Kim Bunning CS (Pic Kim Bunning)

Peter Dubbeld pic of Chris on Boreas Pass (Pic Peter Dubbeld)

With the leading four sleeping only 35 miles apart the race was on. Nate Ginzton took a very short break of around 3 hours and passed Steve Halligan into 3rd place during the early morning. Steve stopped a solid 8.5 hours, then got going to cross Cow Creek which had halted his progress the night before.

From Steve Halligan: This Tour Divide is crazy! I chased Josh and Chris out of Steamboat last night, over lynx pass, maybe less than an hour ahead. Came to a river that was in flood and swift . Their tracks were there but was not sure if they went through. My headlight battery was dead so could not see how deep. Decided to sleep in abandoned log house , cold night. This morning I awoke to a snow storm, shite . What to do. Went to the river again, it was up to my thighs , freezing . Snow on the roads made it very slow , soon I was a cycling snowman. Hill after hill eventually I'm out ....the boys obviously went through as they are further ahead .... keep on rolling SH SH bike

The top 4 are the only racers riding south of Brush Mountain Lodge. Chris had a short stop in Silverthorne but then got going and was quickly over Boreas Pass.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzFE1I3luce/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

He gave dotwatchers a heart in mouth moment when he missed the turn to GoOld Dust Trail ... but spotted it quickly and returned. Chris met NOBO rider Max Southam in Hartsel so will have some beta on the route ahead. It was a super quick stop there and then he pushed on until mid-night, camping trail side 25 miles before Salida.

Josh Kato stopped early in Silerthorne (see his post below) while both Nate and Steve both called it a day in Breckinridge area.

From Josh Kato: This is me. I haven't been on FB since the beginning of this epic little tale I’m in right now. It is epic. My dot is paused at the moment. The past two days have taken a significant toll on my body. For the first several days of the race I pushed behind my competitor/friend Sofiane Sehili. He pushed ahead of the record flag of Mike Hall while I chased Mike’s flag itself and to push Sofiane as I had hoped to push Mike to the fastest time possible. I was red-lining but feeling fantastic. When I finally touched and rode with the record flag of Mike Hall near the Lima, Montana area the ride became extremely emotional for me beyond what I will say here. Such a crazy story is unfolding on this race. I’m loving it but my body is taking a beating. I wrecked rather hard last night on a muddy, dark downhill. Shoulder and knee took quite a beating. Shoulder is getting a look at now. Had initially thought I fractured my clavicle but looking more like a subluxation at this point. I’ve ruined this shoulder in the past. Getting off the mountains and all the rough descents have beaten me up. Not to mention my “little” walk over a mountain in blizzard conditions and one of my scariest nights bivied up in a blizzard in the hills ever. Only my fellow competitor Sofiane knows just how horrible that night was. Breaking trail all the way down that mountain has left me destroyed. Never show your cards to your competitors? Well, I’m not here to compete with anyone. I’m here to race myself. I was here to touch Mike Halls flag. I have found new channels of strength and speed I’ve not known before. I am having an amazing time. I also have saddle sores upon secondary saddle sores and my GI issues from 2017 are re-surfacing. After a few nights/days in freezing conditions I am drying out, getting checked out and eating a proper meal. I’ll get back out there but I just need a little pause. From what I understand there are only 4 of us who have made it away from Brush Mt. I’ll be back out there with them and fill a few more chapters of story by the end. Also, I am so saddened to hear that Sofiane is out of the race. He was flying! His night on the mountain is the stuff legends are made of. It really was quite a night up there.

JK 001 JK 002 JK 003 JK 004

Greg Goodman caught this short clip of Josh Kato:

https://www.facebook.com/greg.goodman.963/videos/10157831030572923/

Greg Goodman JK

So, what happened at Brush Mountain Lodge ... the chase group hit seriously deep mud, and rather than face an ardous hike through miles of mud carrying there bikes, they decided to out-play mother nature and wait for it to dry up so that they could ride/push across at mid-night, when the mud is drier and the snow firmer. How did that work out .... a torrential downpour at midnight!! So they stayed. In the morning, eventually Evan Deutsch and Kai Edel went out ... only to return about an hour later ...

Grace ED Grace ED and KE Grace ED 02 (pics Grace Ragland)

With no-one wanting to carry their bikes, they sat and waited at BML.

Alexandera Houchin and Nico Deportago-Cabrera on their single speeds arrived in BML around 22:30 - hopefully they can find some floor space! Alexandera Houchin: “Got caught in scariest storm of my life. I thought i was going to blow right off that ridge”

SB pic of Alex and Nico (Pic Simone Bailey)

Les Brown, Ryan Simmons (also single speed), Beau Troesch, Peter Kraft and David Langley coming in close behind. There's now 19 riders at Brush Mountain Lodge and it seems that no-one wants to walk their bike over the pass. Apperently the mud is "completely unbelievable" according to TD mud pro Billy Rice.

Rumour is that some riders will press over at 03:00, and that some are thinking of scratching from the race.

Sofiane, the former leader, decided to withdraw from the race, posting: I got real scared up that pass, 3000m high, pitch dark, -5C, sometimes sinking waist deep in snow, unable to find the track despite my 2 GPS. You need to remember that I am just a city boy, not accustomed to extreme weather, with little to no knowledge of how to survive in these conditions. It's a good thing I was smart enough to turn back rather than keep pushing and getting lost in the woods where nobody could find me.

The Tour divide is tough race and the 2019 edition proved to be too tough for me. I know there is more snow coming and I don't want to find myself in a dangerous situation again. It is just bike ride and there is no point risking my life for it. On top of that, the front on the race is now unreachable. Going back at it just to finish seems pointless to me. It's actually harder to give 80% when your goal is out of reach than to give it 100% when you are keeping in touch with it. I know it would leave me with nothing but bad memories and regrets. It's not just an adventure, it's a race. And I came here to win.

It's never easy to quit but it's not all bad. I had a good run and realized I can break Mike's record. I will be back and I will break it. Thanks for all the support.

Billy Rice posted this summary video on the TD Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/billyrice12/videos/10217239723098914/

Josh Kato on his Day 9: I carried/pushed my bike from about a quarter mile after Brush Mt lodge. Sofiane broke trail through the deep snow to the top. The next morning I broke trail to the bottom. No idea of how many miles but it was tough going indeed and took me from leaving Brush Mt at 2100, slept for a few bivied to escape the blizzard then got down the other side around noon. I rode the bike none through the mud. If I tried to roll it it would pack up instantly. I hiked through the brush along the road. It is harsh up there. Sofiane who broke trail to the top is out and I who broke trail down am destroyed. The other three guys that made it over, animals.

No rescue options up there if storm is brewing. I fell into a few creek holes and said a quick prayer that I wouldn't be swept away. Breaking that trail was hard. I’m laying in a hotel while the other guys are riding their bikes. Their strategy is much better race strategy. My strategy gives me great memories and stories to tell.

Kim Raeymaekers posted this of the situation: Woke up early in Atlantic city WY. Ready to cross the basin. with a pretty good tailwind we should make it to Brush mountain lodge in Colorado. About 286km. With a bit of rain in the morning it wasn't a bad day in the Basin since the wind was in our back about 80% of the time. Had some lunch in warmsutter An kept going to the Brush mountain lodge. On the only big climb the road surface turned into a peanut butterish kind of surface and it was impossible to ride with all the mud building up on the tires and the frame. Luckly it only lasted for a good 500 meters and was able to keep riding towards savery. After getting there, a bit of a paved road and a 16km offroad climb we finaly reached the Brush Mountain lodge where most of the racers ahead of us were stranded due to the fact that the pass after the lodge is impossible to ride because of the peanut butterish clay sticking on your tires and frame and the long snow stretch on top of the mountain. These are all experienced riders and they all came back after the first attempt. Getting a night's rest and make new decisions in the morning. We will see what the night brings. Weaterforecast tells us rain and snow. Time will tell

At 02:30 Day 10:

Chris Seistrup - 1,780

Nate Ginzton - 1,707

Steve Halligan - 1,705

Josh Kato - 1,690

Josh Ibbett/Lael/Kai/Evan/Kim/Peter P/Tony/Peter S/Stefano R/Lucas/Bear/ Les Brown, Ryan Simmons, Beau Troesch, Peter Kraft , David Langley,Alexandera Houchin, Nico Deportago-Cabrera, and Robert Goldie - 1,513 stopped at Brush Mountain Lodge.

NOBO leader Graham Suffield stopped early around 17:00 at Steamboat Springs.

Day 9

Day 9

Sofiane Sehili: It's all right. I got lost at the top of the col in the middle of the night. Can't find the way in the snow. I had to turn around because the temperature fell under the-5 degrees and that I'm not equipped to face these temperatures.

And with that the Tour Divide has a new leader. Quite a day up at the sharp end ....

Soifiane was pushing (literally) through the night, snow and mud over the Pass to Steamboat Springs after a quick stop at Brush Mountain Lodge (BML) when it all went wrong for him. Sofi lost the track in the snow and the dark. He spent 2 hours trying to rest at temps of -5C, and then made the decision at around 04:30 to turn back down the mountain and return to BML, which took him 3.5 hours to go 15 miles. On the way he passed Josh Kato who was likley sleeping, and Chris Seistrup who was just starting up for the day having wisely rested at BML through the night for a solid 8.5 hours.

Josh Kato was now in the lead (perhaps unknowingly) and headed off over the pass in the early morning. On arrviving at Steamboat Springs photographer Ryan Le Garrec got some pics and commented

@joshkatobike refuelling in Steamboat Springs. 4 sausages, large coffee, large iced coffee, one unidentified food pouch full of unidentified candies, chips and stuff. “I don’t wanna be first, I really am just sad @sofianeshl has had such a terrible night, was mad out there and cold, I crossed eyes with a cougar at some point, he looked at me, I looked at him then he left, was a long short moment you know...” good luck @joshkatobike coolest racer ever; “I don’t care to win anything here, am here for a good time, frankly I'd gladly not be first.”

He's bummed Sofiane had such a rough night, doesn’t really wanna be first in the race now or at any point, doesn’t care to race, just having a good time, almost had a fight with a cow in Atlantic city under the storm but lightning saved him, striking just between him and the charging cow, also crossed eyes with a cougar last night for a moment that felt way too long, used his iPhone only to call his wife and say : “hey babe, am still alive, see ya!” Bummed and checking the tracker for the first time since long, chilled and relaxed, it felt like crap to just leave him after two min conversation but gotta respect the flow of the race. Would have loved to hang and have beers, maybe one day!

All pics Ryan le Garrec (@Ryan_Le_Garrec) Ryan JK 003 Ryan JK 002 Ryan JK 001

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzBtq9fi91s/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Chris Seistup passed Josh briefly in Steamboat, captured here by Ryan Le Garrec if you look closely: Ryan CS pass

Steve (starting in Savery) and Nate (starting a few miles bak) were moving from 05:00 and were quickly through BML and would have had a quikc chat with Sofi before continuing.

Between 09:30 and 13:30 Josh Ibbett, Lael Wilcox, Kai Edel and Evan Deutsch all arrived at BML, and have pretty much remained there for the day.

Josh Ibbett, who left BML with Lael, returned soon after and posted this: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzBe78QlMC-/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Between 20:30 and 22:30 these 5 were joined by the chase pack of Tony Lesueur, Peter Sandholt, Bear Stillwagon, Kim Raeymaekers, Luke Ratcliff, Peter Puenner and Stefano Roumaldi. Seems like on Sunday 23rd there's going to be a second Grand Depart from BML!

Sofi stated: Stuck at Brush Mountain Lodge with Josh, Kai, Evan and Lael. Road is impassable due to mud.

This is leading to quite a bit of surprise amonsgt ultra-racing veterans as Tour Divide racing nearly always involved some significant hike-a-bike. One of the legends of the sport and former TD record holder, Jay Petervary, commenting: "I'm confused why people at the pointy end are stopping and have turned around...forward, always forward. Are people not prepared? (Kind of sarcastic but not really)".

Clearly the conditions were tough, and Sofi most likely made the best decision in his cold and sleep deprived state for him at that moment as there was a legitimate safety concern. However, for the other racers facing a daylight hike over a few miles of mud followed by a few miles of snow ... with other racers around .... knowing that Josh Kato, Chris, Steve and Nate had all crossed successfully .... really?? This is where gear selection and experience is showing - e.g. down jackets suck in wet conditions, and Lael's earlier gear post shows she only has a down vest. Mike Hall's quote that many in the mid-pack are racing harder than those in the top 10 is ringing very true today.

From Kirsten Henricksen at BML: Crazy day at the Brush Mountain, y’all!!! Chris made an early exit, so i got pics of him last night..., in between, Nate and Steve came thru, but it was breakfast and i missed pics! And then Sofiane came back with a long night behind him! Lael was on her usual 15 minute pass thru, but she and Josh I were waylaid by the incredible mud, and came back too!! Then Evan and Kai rolled in, and the Tour Divide 2019 Armistice commenced!!! Everyone ate and showered and slept...(: until the truce is lifted, everyone is ‘holding’!(: ...stay tuned!! ❤️my job! https://www.instagram.com/p/BzCMQhNlh2a/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Up front though the race was full on. Chris passed Josh around 20:30 after Lynx Pass, and rode through to Radium. Josh camped trail side and Steve Halligan looks like he decided not to cross the high running cow creek late at night and backtracked a little to a flat trailside camp site around 22:30. Nate Gintzen stopped trailside around the same time back on Lynx Pass.

Further down the field, Geof Blance on his single speed was on Brooks Lake Rd ... https://www.instagram.com/p/BzCZVsQFgDJ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Janie Hayes in Pinedale has decided to switch to touring mode, wearing a stranger's gold pants ... read more here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzCGb-rFpsQ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Race order at 02:45

Chris Seistrup - 1,623, stopped Radium

Josh Kato - 1,614, stopped trailside

Steve Halligan - 1,606 stopped trailside

Nate Gintzen - 1,588, stopped trailside

Sofi/Josh I/Lael/Kai/Evan/Kim/Peter P/Tony/Peter S/Stefano R/Lucas/Bear - 1,513 stopped at Brush Mountain Lodge.

In NOBO news, Graham Suffield stopped early after the climb north from Radium, and the Golden Spike occurred likely whilst he was sleeping when Chris went passed to descend to the Colorado River.

Some more rider pics from Ovando:

William Cairns: KS William Cairns ITT

Tim Glover: KS Tim Glover

Joseph Rafferty: KS Joseph Rafferty

Sue and John O'Malley: KS John and Sue O'Malley

KS HHH

KS GGG

KS iii

Day 8

Day 8:

Chris Seistrup in Wyoming: https://www.instagram.com/p/By9fXyuiXsm/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Sofiane started the day in Wamsutter, WY at mile 1,430 - he's now over half way to Mexico. One of the best things about Pinedale is that it marks the end of Grizzly Bear territory - now there's only black bears, mountain lions, New Mexico dogs and snakes to worry about. A lot of the fast riders who carry bear spray will drop it here to sace weight ... whilst some of the mid-pack will carry it to the border. (Lael saw a mountian lion on her final run in to the border in 2015.)

It's 60 miles to the next town of Savery with a 400m climb, which is just a few dotted houses but the local Museum has a coke machine and a downstairs cummunity hall with an open kitchen which works on a donation basis for making P&J sandwiches and other light snacks. Just before Savery the riders all have to climb the steep ramp of The Rim which provides an iconic phot location.

After Savery is the Wyoming / Colorado border and a long uphill to Kirsten Henrikson's Brush Mountain Lodge. One of the reknowned resupply points on the TD, Kirsten dot watches riders in and provides not only food and lodging, but a sympathetic and understanding ear to racers who are nearly all suffering with something by this point. She also has some bike supplies and a washing machine - so those who sleep there may well find their gear cleaned and dried to ride out in the morning. The climb from Savery is a 1,000m ascent to the pass which tops out at around 3,000m.

Steamboat Springs is 65 miles from Savery and is the first sizeable town for some time and has Orange Peel bike shop on the route. It's also the home of Moots Cycles and Kent Erikson Cycles - biking's popular, and the town is bypassed on a cycleway.

The front pack all had around 4 hours stopped time and then headed out into the cold weather. Conditions from MT to WY were vaired snow, rain, storms and sunshine ... the only constant was the cold temperature.

Update from second placed Josh Kato's wife Val:

Josh pushed past the Tetons yesterday and is now headed to Brush Mountain Lodge and a hug from Kirsten and warm meal. He ended up spending a couple hours in Atlantic City yesterday after a near miss with lightning, but after a nap and a shower he rode late last night and his dot looks strong today.

Further back Tony Lesueur in 9th has has his front wheel replaced in Lander (near Atlantic City). He was quick enough to be able to just pull out of Atlantic City before the loose pack chasing in 10th: These guys at Gannet Peak Sports in Lander, Wyoming, just saved my race. One new wheel and a lesson on a new GPS and I’m back ready to roll. Might have even saved me from the dreaded winds of the Wyoming Basin, but it will be a long night. My front hub all but seized the last 50km into South Pass City so no dynamo now.

Steve Halligan is still in 4th: I crashed in the snow and mud this morning on right side. Hit ribs and hurt hand . Was sluggish for a while . All good though . Steve

Kai Edel is pacing very solidly with good recovery and is riding strong: https://www.instagram.com/p/By7kw1znnPD/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Josh Ibbett has been having nose bleed issues:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By8PAi5iyVq/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

... but still making strong progress: https://www.instagram.com/p/By-hNRaCYaa/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet https://www.instagram.com/p/By-hV2DCc4g/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Kim Raeymakers has this to say of his previous day: woke up at park island this morning. To hit the 30mile lose gravel railroadbed. A Nice way to warm up. Had a decent breakfast at 80km and then of the grand tetons near Jackson lake. Then off to togwotee pass where a hike a bike true the snow was waiting. At the bottom of the desent ja hotel was waiting to find some shelter of the possible snowfall they are predicting. Let's Hope For no snow. Tomorrow we might Hit the halfway Point.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By9wNaqlKqj/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

KR Peter Sandholt KR Kim

Janie Hayes, our third placed woman, posted: Teeee-tons! Scenes from another amazing, adventurous day on the #tourdivide - the snowstorm and frigid temps continue as we eye crossing 10k-foot Union Pass tomorrow. Summer/winter solstice 2019! #tourdivide #tourdivide2019 #hotmessexpress https://www.instagram.com/p/By_14atF9l2/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

At Brush Mountain Lodge Kirsten Henriksen welcomed both Sofi and Josh in succession.

Here and gone in 20 mins!! Off he goes!! @sofianeshl is crushin’ it!! 02 KS Sofi 02 KS Sofi 2

@joshkatobike lookin amazing!! ps-he’s super stoked to have changed his shorts for the only time this trip!!!! Go get em, Josh!! 02 KS Josh 02 KS Josh 2

Elizabeth Sampey had a quick chat with Alexandera and posted this update: Alexandera's in good spirits despite getting snowed on all last night in the tetons! She had some great stories to tell, still trying hard and having fun. She's cruising into Pinedale now, says it's really cold and windy, and she's hoping to get a good night's sleep tonight. She's fueled by beef jerky and string cheese and is loving her single speed and says thanks so much to everyone cheering for her!

Ross Burrage in the snow in Montana: https://www.instagram.com/p/By-lFqzg7TE/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The two leaders pace slowed to a crawl soon after leaving Brush Mountain Lodge with Sofi seeming to cover 2 miles in the last 2 hours. Josh Kato is moviing at a similar pace, so it must be route conditions rather than a mechanical. There's some pretty steep and rocky sections there which would be tricky in the dark with a covering of fresh untracked snow.

Chris Seistrup is in 3rd and likely at Brush Mountain Lodge: https://www.instagram.com/p/By9eXgioF18/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

At end of the day at 01:30 the race order is as follows:

Sofiane Sehili - stopped trailside, 1,529

Josh Kato - stopped trailside, 1,524

Chris Seistrup - stopped Brush Mountain Lodge, 1,512

Steve Halligan - stopped Savery, 1,494

Nate Ginzton - stopped Savery, 1,494

Josh Ibbett - stopped south of Wamsutter 1,474

Lael Wilcox - stopped south of Wamsutter, 1,446

Evan Deutsch - - stopped Wamsutter, 1,429

Kai Edel - stopped Wamsutter, 1,429

Tony Lesueur - stopped in the Basin

The racers behind are at Atlantic city or Pinedale.

Kathy Schroedoerfer on Ovando has uploaded another series of rider pics:

John Schillings: John Schillings KS

Clint Channel: Clint Channel KS

Marty Johnson: Marty Johnson KS

Eric Morton: Eric Morton KS

Larry Goodman: Larry Goodman KS

Mikki Suvia Mikki Suvia KS

CC KS

Bonnie Gagon: Bonnie KS

BB KS

AA KS

Jeff Sharp got some pics of the NOBO riders as they passed through Hachita on Day 1:

Graham Suffield: JS Graham Suffield

Dan Thrush: JS Dan Thrush

Mike Jolly: JS Mike Jolly

Max Southam: JS Max Southam

Rick Hayes: JS Rick Hayes

Day 7

Day 7:

Coming up to the end of week one and the reality of Divide racing is starting to set in:

Lewis Brocklehurst: Last few days have been rough, being uncomfortable constantly, sleeping rough, being dirty all the time and saddle sores that bleed is only the begining. The Divide is honestly really tough and it's taking everything I've got just to finish. Every day im digging deep to get it done. Finishing right now is the ultimate goal, but it's a tall order.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By7qjqSFk86/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Sofiane Sehili rode through the night to reach Pinedale at 02:30 and a 5.5 hr break before heading out. It was a tough slog through snow up to Fish Lake Mountain by the look of it:

Sofi Fish Lake

.... but things were better south of Pinedale: https://www.instagram.com/p/By9nphVofAo/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

.... until he got hit by a storm in the Basin: Sofi mud

Josh Kato stopped with the Yellowstone Bears up on Union Pass for a cold night's sleep ... these are is some pics from earlier in the day: https://www.instagram.com/p/By6x93XFOSj/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Chris Seistrup in 3rd posted: Tour Divide Day 6, 220 miles from outside Lima to Lava Mtn Lodge. Three states in a day!

https://www.instagram.com/p/By7vouYlRFi/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

As Sofi got on the road to The Basin, the gap to 9th placed Kai Edel was about 120 miles, with the gap 9th to 11th a further 80 miles. The route today is largely rolling through Boulder, WY, and then into the vast Basin area which is desolute and windblown - they'll be hoping for tail winds to get accross fast. There is one outpost of Atlantic City on the way, which has a some resupply if you get the timing right. Wild Bill's place is a popular stopping in point with Bill and his wife amongst the most gracious hosts you could wish for. From there it is 100 miles of gravel and faded track to Wamsutter, with its 24 hour Love's Truck stop. In between the two there is Diagnus Well (if you can find it) and a couple of solar powered cattle troughs. Things can get bad if you don't resupply water correctly.

By 15:00, the chasing group from Chris Seistrup in 3rd through to Tony Lesueur in 10th were all strung out like a chain at even 10 mile intervals between Lava Mountain Lodge and Cora. The running order of the day was Chris / Nate / Steve / Lael / Josh Ibbett / Evan / Kai / Tony. Josh Kato was still trailing Sofi like a shadow 30 miles back. Their ride over Union Pass had been tough, with temps -5C and a strong wind blowing.

This is the climb up to Fish Lake Mountain/Union Pass: https://www.instagram.com/p/By9QJsPlFGM/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Back in 17th, Dylan Morton snapped this shot in Montana:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By8LRENgRzr/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Kim Raeymakers had this to say of his previous day: Day 6 #tourdivide2019 started early and it was a cool and clear dat to start with. The only thing not Nice about it was the strong headwind. Pushin the pedals to go downhill without falling down. After a good effort on the old banack Road it was downhill to Lima. Had lunch there and kept going so i could make it Ro island park in time To have dinner. After about 1hour a hail/rain/Thunderstorm caught me and with nowhere to hide i was forced to sick it up and keep on riding. It lasted for 1hour before i Found shelter. Changed into something warm and by the time i was changed and warmed up a bit. It was time To keep going. Road surface had turned into a sticky mudpit. Hard to move fast but slow miles are still miles. After alot of hard work i finaly caught up with Peter sandholt just about 10km before island park. Where we barely made it in time for dinner. Then looked for a hotel but No succes. Bivvy out in front of the hotel then.

Kim's Instagram photos are here: https://www.instagram.com/p/By79mZ-oRqr/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The Single Speed battle continues:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By6SrBUgGn8/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Nico and Alexandera seemed to ride from Red Rock Pass into Island Park in sight of each other, then she dropped him with a quicker resupply and blasted down the rail trail just a few miles ahead.

Lael Wilcox is still riding in 4th - 7th, depending on time of day. She is the current Women's record holder with her 2015 ITT of 15:10:59. Her ITT time to Flagg Ranch was 06:04:37 ... and her current time is 17 hours 19 mins quicker at 5:11:18. She had some time sucking mud in 2015 before Flagg, so the numbers may be a bit enhanced, but if she holds this pace she will likely reach Mexico over a day ahead of her current record if the weather co-operates.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By8B6_5Adb1/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The Women's field this year is very strong, with 2018 winner Alexandera Houchin riding a single speed in second position and Janie Hayes (3rd place TransAm overall in 2017) just 40 miles behind after taking a few days out to find her trail mojo. Zoe Chauderlot from France is about 90 miles back from Janie.

Janie Hayes posted: Out of Montana and into Idaho! Snow, lakes, sand, rocks, new friends, beer. Another good day. ☀️

JH Janie

JH riders

JH Yellowstone

Hal Russell is on his last Tour Divide, number 6, at age 70 and is casually chasing Rick Ashton's 2017 record of 30:07:07. At Lincoln Hal was running 21 hours ahead of Rick's time.

Here's a pic of Hal from Kathy Schroedoerfer in Ovando: Hal Ovando

The riders in the mid-pack got hit with some weather today - a mix of rain, hail and snow, so some low mileage days as racers sought out shelter to warm up and dry out.

Lewis Brockelhurst (Mile 779): Cold one today in the Rockies today. A third of the way into this thing. Big job! I binned it on a decent today, nothing serious, but better work on the techy skills when back home! . https://www.instagram.com/p/By9HiIJlgi3/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Ross Burrage has perfected his drying system: https://www.instagram.com/p/By9I-6fAp_l/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Geof Blance (Mile 916): Bannock Road done and dusted. No rain. But it snowed!! https://www.instagram.com/p/By9HLZtFWC4/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Mikki Suvia (Mile 649): https://www.instagram.com/p/By9BWK_ns6u/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

John Schilling posted: Today could've gone one of two ways, it began ominously under dark clouds, slow legs and the inability to sit & spin for longer than 1 minute. I walked a lot of stuff that should've easily been ridden. It was a slog to arrive in Helena. I did some CVS shopping & applied the goods. I hadn't mentioned that my glasses had cut the top of both ears!! Super painful when removing them. Anyway, bandaged up & back on the bike towards Basin. Nothing improved. The terrain seemed to constantly point skyward, more walking. Hours went by & I was getting nowhere fast. I stayed upbeat since I was still making forward progress albeit slow. Any other day this would have been a soul crusher, then something happened. I was able to sit & spin longer. The route was ridiculously difficult today. I had hoped of grabbing a room in Basin, but that was not looking promising as it was already 8:30p and I still had 15 miles to go and I was still climbing!! I put on some tunes, ran into Hal Russell on a notoriously shitty stretch of trail. We had a good laugh about it. Then I found a second wind and flew down to Basin. Only place open was the bar. Beer & pizza!! Score. It's now 34 *and I'm going to grab a nap next door at the community center. In the end, today rocked. Never did get rained on, go figure. 👍**

JS 01

JS 04

JS 02

JS 05

JS 03

JS 06

JS 07

At Pinedale the 6 leaders went through pretty quick, with some getting resupplies to cross the Basin with as they can't guarantee whether they'll hit Atlantic City during opening hours. But from despite arriving relatively early, Evan and Josh (20:00), and Kai (22:30) all elected to say in Pinedale. Maybe there's a tail wind forecast for tomorrow?

Josh Ibbett: Savage day on the Divide. Woke up in a visitor center to a donated sandwich (thanks!) Togwotee past was nice, but -5degrees temp. Then met Lael and Evan at the top and had a blast riding the snow descent. Then got brutalised by the biting wind on union pass. had a strop ate a burger then Evan walked in so we cruised to Pinedale in the sunset. Big day tomorrow as we cross the great Basin. https://www.instagram.com/p/By9PytEl0_z/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Another big group of 6 riders has congregated at Lava Mountain Lodge. This is probably a smart move as spending a cold night up on Union Pass is not ideal.

As at 01:30, the rider positins are:

Sofiane Sehili: 1,429 - maybe stopped at Wamsutter

Josh Kato: 1,372 - riding in the Basin (south of Atlantic City)

Chris Seistrup: 1,342 - riding in the Basin (south of Atlantic City)

Steve Halligan: 1,316 - stopped in the Basin at the rest station (no services, but clean bathrooms and running water) north of Atlantic City

Nate Gintzon: 1,298 - stopped in Basin north of Atlantic City

Lael Wilcox: 1,264 - stopped in Basin just south of Boulder.

Evan Deutsch / Josh Ibbett / Kai Edel / Tony Lesueur : 1,243 - stopped in Pinedale

Stefano Roumaldi / Kim Raeymakers / Peter Puenner / Bear Stillwagon / Peter Sandholt / Lucas Ratcliff : 1,156 - stopped at Lava Mountain Lodge.

Of the next 10 riders ony Alexandera Houchin is on the trail - the rest are at Flagg Ranch or Squirrel Ranch (at the west end of Ashton-Flagg Road). She is is 10 miles short of Turpin Meadow Campground.

The weather forecast is looking grim for the mid-pack, with NOAA forecasting in temperatures on Friday from 15F to as much as 30F degrees below average across areas from the Great Basin to the northern/central Rockies.

Day 6

Day Six:

Sofiane Sehili woke on the morning of Day 6 at mile 1036 - at just over 200 miles per day he is setting an amazing pace, which is pulling the top three racers all ahead of the previous record of Mike Hall when adjusted for Koko Claims addition. He left Warm River Campground after a 3.5 hr stop and hit some pavement warmup before the gravel of Asthon-Flagg Rd.

The road still had some snow drifts a few days ago, but may have been cleared up by now:

Ashton Flagg Road Ross Judice

The chasing eight all are moving between 04:00 and 05:00, with Chris Seistrup really finding his groove and quickly passing Lael Wilcox who was 8 miles in front and catching Nate Ginzton who was 20 miles ahead before mid-day. As they hit the pavement after Warm River Chris pulled away.

This happened https://www.instagram.com/p/By5ZIv8lFYy/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Josh Ibbett had taken an eight hour stop in Lima ("Decided to chill out and enjoy the ride a bit more ... that means 6h sleeps and more photos!"), Kai Edel 7hrs and Evan Deutsch 6hrs - making these three are the most rested of the leaders and with only 900 miles down and 1,900 miles to go, recovery strategies are going to start to become integral players in the race.

Kai Edel (Rugile Kaladyte) Kai Edel Rue leaving Helena

This is Josh Ibbett's sunrise in high country Montanta: https://www.instagram.com/p/By5oTbjlg74/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Josh Ibbett took a snap at the iconic Red Rock Pass - the end of Montana!

https://www.instagram.com/p/By5ohvxlFLD/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The leaders are going so fast that they are ahead of the pace of Mike Hall on his current record run of 13:22:51. Sofi is not chasing Mike's record - he is just going for the win and has a game plan. He is surprised that he is in front of MH dot. He was 5hrs ahead at Flagg Ranch.

Mike Hall 2016: US Border: 01:00:45
Flagg Ranch: 05:06:32 Border to Flagg: 04:05:47

Sofiane Sehili: US Border: 01:01:10/
Flagg Ranch: 05:01:24/ Border to Flagg: 04:00:14

So Sofi is 5hrs 33mins faster Border to Flagg, and his Banff to Border ride is a bit longer and harder.

Josh Kato: US Border: 01:03:40/
Flagg Ranch: 05:04:04/ Border to Flagg: 04:00:24

Meaning Josh Kato is also up on record pace and just 10mins slower than Sofi over the last 909 miles!!! Amazing racing guys.

Some pics from Josh Kato:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By6x93XFOSj/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

One rider who is going for a record is Alexandera Houchin in the Women's Single Speed category. The current holder is Alice Drobna who finished in 2015 in 19:22:04.

Alice Drobna 2015: US Border: 01:13:57/ Lima: 06:12:34/ Border to Lima: 04:23:37

Alexandera Houchin: US Border: 01:08:32/ Lima: 05:09:00/ Border to Lima: 04:00:28

That is putting Alexandera 28 hours ahead of record pace and 23 hours faster Border to Lima. Yes - that's 28 hours ahead of record!! Go Alexandera.

Tony Lesueur is getting into the swing of gas station nutrition: 450 calories of pure lard. Hmmm. Tony Lesuer Nutrition

But those kcal's let you ride this stuff, fast: Tony Lesueur road (Medicine Lodge)

Dylan Morton posted the view from Fleecer Ridge:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By3_p9cA06V/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Kim Raeymakers posted his Day 5:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By3rWeGo5uc/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Janie Hayes took this pic of Lava Mountain Trail: Lava Mountain Trail

Back at Holland Lake Mikki Suvia posted this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By4JGjYHvR_/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Hitting Brooks Lake Rd off Togwotee Pass, Sofiane's pace slowed down dramatically as he encountered snow and mud, and took an hour to cover 5 miles downhill.

These were the conditions: (Pics Andy Phillips) BLR Andy Phillips BLR 2 Andy Phillips

However, after this it quickly opened up and was not the massive time suck that was feared. The climb up to Fish Lake / Union Pass was a little slower than usual, (maybe 2 hours longer than Lewis in 2018 and 1-2 slower than Mike Hall's 2016), but was a bit faster than Brian Lucido's snow fest time of 2017. Coming down at midnight Sofi will be looking forward to a day with no snow through into The Basin, WY.

Josh Kato is still riding at the same distance back, while Chris Seistrup has kept up his initial morning hot pace and moved into 3rd place passing Steve Halligan who stopped at Togwotee Lodge at 21:00. Could be a smart move from Steve if he is going for an early start as he will hit Brooks Lake and also Fish Lake/Union Pass when the snow is still frozen. There's a lot of bears from Yellowstone in the area and staying indoors is not a bad choice.

Just after midnight Day 6 the leaders positions were:

Sofiane Sehili: Riding at Mile 1,210 riding down off Union Pass

Josh Kato: Riding at Mile 1,173 riding on Fish Lake Mountain/Union Pass

Chris Seistrup: Riding at Mile 1,145 coming off Togwotee Pass on Brooks Lake Rd

Steve Halligan: Stopped at Mile 1,134 at Togwotee Lodge

Lael Wilcox: Riding at Mile 1,126 at Turpin Meadow

Nate Ginzton: Stopped at Mile 1,126 at Turpin Meadow Camp

Evan Deutsch: Stopped at Mile 1,116

Josh Ibbett: Stopped at Mile 1,103 at in hotel at Coulter Bay

Kai Edel: Stopped at Mile 1,087 at Flagg Ranch

Tony Lesueur: Riding at Mile 1,073 on Ashton- Flagg Road

More riders in the pack are scratching or taking rest days due to issues such as swollen knees, sore butts, and one experienced racer is in hospital with breathing issues.

Janies Hayes is getting into a new rythym and posted: Montana, I love you and you’re beautiful. Why do you want to kill me? Today was my funnest day on the #tourdivide yet. Maybe tomorrow will be even better! #byebyemontana #tourdivide2019 #hotmessexpress https://www.instagram.com/p/By62VIsFRp8/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

NOBO leader Graham Suffield rode on Day 5 through the night over the snow and mud of Brazos Ridge and dropped down La Manga Pass for a short 2 hour stop in Horca at 04:45 before heading off. With a quick breakfast in Platoro he started his crossing of Indiana Pass and it seemed to go pretty well according to his spot times - probably faster average speed than Brazos Ridge, so likely there is some snow and snow drifts, but no suffer-fest of post-holing for continuos miles. Graham did a 2 hour meal, resupply and maybe dry-out at Platoro and then put in a few more miles before camping.

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