The Tour Divide: Change of Plans

Quite a people has asked what is it like to race the Tour Divide. There is the obvious, lots of mountains and mud, and this year SNOW, but also the not-so-obvious. One fellow put it succinctly on the TD board:

One year rained nearly every day, next year forest fire, another year a hell of a lot of snow, then perhaps a drought year, or not enough snow (water runoff), then there’s logistics, bike mechanicals, cars and potential head-on collisions at blind corners, people shootin’ guns in the woods as we ride by, thunderstorms, lightning, navigation, headwind, tailwind, dogs, bears, wildlife, saddle sores, swelling feet, numb hands, blistered lips, blistered palms, blistered everything, fallen trees, mud slides, darkness, sleep monsters, trail angels, call-ins, race rules, spot tracking, serendipity, stupidity, revelation, getting in touch with your heart of hearts, and the list goes on.

Sounds like a great holiday doesn’t it 🙂  Anyway, with the TD you just give it your best and bear in mind that only 1/3 of the starters actually finish. And that is in a typical year. This year with all the snow all the cards off the table.

I was already concerned about the race before all the discussions on snow diversions started. They finally released the diversions a few days ago and there are three for the southbound racers, and one for the northbound. This means that they still expect significant amounts of snow in July when the northbounders hit Wyoming. Ouch.

I was discussing these concerns with my old friend Blair and he said the solution is easy: race south to north rather than north to south. After all he said, Darwin said that it is not the strongest or smartest who survive, just the most adaptable. One one level I could see his logic was faultless (what else would I expect from Blair?) but it was just very difficult to get my head around. For 6+ months I’ve been psyching myself up for heading south from Banff, and I really don’t feel in the right head space for desert cycling right now. It is quite a different paradigm and set of challenges to address, something I was going to be better ready for late in the race. Particularly Brazos ridge in northern New Mexico where I was almost killed in a lightening storm when I last rode the route. Of course the next day was no better …


Anyway, after many thoughts and prayers and talking to Lis, I decided that south to north it would be. So after a flurry of last minute planning I’ll arrive in El Paso on Wednesday night, take a taxi to Columbus New Mexico, and on Thursday ride the 100+ miles to the border to start the race Friday morning. I’ve been working on creating a set of cue sheets for south-to-north and other logistics (like mailing my maps to Salida rather than Steamboat) but we will get there.  Anyway, time to go out and ride my bike a bit. Still working on the final adjustments.


6 responses to “The Tour Divide: Change of Plans

  1. Go Chris Go !!! Thinking of you. south to north it is!! Hugs, Anke

  2. Good Faith Chris!!!!!!! =) So proud of you 😉

  3. Found your blog when I was surfing around. Sounds like an incredible adventure. Certainly a lot of fun. Good luck, and I will check back later to check how it went!
    Cheers Alexander

  4. Sean Rainsford

    Once was not enough? And this time racing it… good on you.
    I see that your status has you as “scratched”? Are you ok?
    So you didn’t need “bear” bait this time eh?
    Keep safe and fit,

    • Hey Sean. Long time no hear! What can I say, 9 years older and less wise. I’m in Salida Colorado right now. I got DQ’d south of Silver City when the Arizona forest fire smoke triggered an asthma attack and I needed to get to hospital. So I’ve hotfooted it to Del Norte and am riding from there. Figure that as long as I’m here I may as well make the most of it. Still an amazing ride. One major change is the advent of GPS tracking technology. You can see my progress (or lack thereof!) at

      Visit us in Nelson some time!

  5. Sean Rainsford

    Good work, looks like you are in Steamboat Springs, my favourite rest area!!
    Seems as though the asthma has improved?
    Making good progress, hopefully “wind”-oming doesn’t live up to it’s reputation while you ride through!
    Are you going all the way up to Banff? We rode the Sprey Lakes and Goat Pass when there about 2 years ago. Beautiful part of the world.
    Will keep up with your progress, very tiring here in front of the computer watching!
    Keep safe.

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