There's more racing to come

Congratulations to Aidan Harding for finishing in a very impressive time of 19 days, 14 hours and 12 minutes. That’s fourth overall and first singlespeed rider this year, as well as fastest finish by a British rider in the Tour Divide itself (Carl Hutchings rode the GDR in 2008 but actually started in Banff, taking 19.11.18 overall).
Next to finish will be Eric Nelson and Forest Baker, who now only have the 120 straightforward, if hot, miles from Silver City to negotiate. It doesn’t look like they’ve kept going in a bid to break twenty days. Probably enjoying some well earned food and rest before finishing it off tomorrow.
Aidan’s last call-in said New Mexico had been the hardest state – not many services, lots of dust and almost as many angry dogs. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Matthew Arnold, currently just south of Grants, said two ferocious dogs had welcomed him to NM, and there had been seven more dog encounters – he was glad he still had his bear spray. But the beauty of the state should not be forgotten either. Matthew’s travelling companion, Marshal Bird, called in to say how much he’d enjoyed high altitude northern New Mexico – not just how beautiful it was, but he’d enjoyed the rocky trail too: ‘Most of it was rideable at a nice plunk along pace.’
The plunking along and the self deprecation – ‘I’ve had lots of recovery that’s keeping me up with these stronger, younger guys’ – might yield to competitive instincts, however. He and Matthew had caught Mike Prochaska at Cuba and were chasing John Foster, a few hours ahead at the time and now the same distance up the road in Pie Town. Marshal said he and Matthew had been riding together but that Mike and John, although crossing paths, had not. ‘The race strategy will be interesting to see how the four of us play it out over the next few days,’ Marshal concluded.
David Goldberg is within catching distance too, in Grants, then yesterday’s groups of five (which was actually six, as I’d forgotten about Shawn Sheppard’s malfunctioning SPOT), although having split a little, with Shawn perhaps ahead and Dave Preston at the back by a matter of hours, is between Cuba and Grants. That’s ten racers within about a day of each other. With the logistical and physical challenges of the Gila still to come – plus the scope for the weather to play a significant role – we look set for an interesting few days.
Next to make it into New Mexico and be within one state of the finish looks set to Nicolas Senie, with David Tremblay, Brad Perry, Stephen Huddle and Cricket Butler only a short distance behind. Jon Billman’s SPOT is still in Del Norte, but he may also be with them, having scaled Indiana Pass, as his last SPOT update was some time ago. Cricket is still on course to be the first and only finisher in this year’s women's race, of course.
Patrick Tsai covered good ground to make it into Salida yesterday, and now has the tough climb up Marshalls Pass before the empty country from there until Del Norte.

Paul Howard

Two Wheels on My Wagon


How does competition play out in this race?

I wonder if the final racing mostly plays out in terms of who presses on farther or gets rolling sooner, rather than rolling up on someone out on a desert road then hammering 'til you drop 'em.

In Steve W's online story, the last week of action between the 8 riders went more like the former idea.

I'd also still like to hear from riders about how important reducing off-bike time is to the overall picture. How does that compare to just plain riding fast.

Aidan Harding

I'm so immensely proud of Aidan. He had plenty of good vibes following him through from the UK from so many people (including several he's never met because I kept telling them about my amazing brother). What an achievement! It's great to hear that he's taken the record for the fastest Brit - and on single speed, no less!

He did so well as a rookie that I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when he goes back (and I'm sure he will) - Matt Lee might find someone an awful lot bigger than an angry dog nipping at his heels now that Aidan's worked out the pacing, although if he messes up his food quantities again, Matt might not be able to tell the difference between Aidan and one of the angry dogs - one would be on a bike, I suppose.

New Mexico was always going to be tough for Aidan and it was the nerviest time for me, watching him. It was always going to be harder to get through the hottest section, quite apart from the question of whether the terrain made a difference, given that he was on a singlespeed (don't shout if it shouldn't - I'm not that hot on the mechanical side of Aidan's chosen obsession!). To mix and mangle my metaphors, you can put an English man on a bike but you can't take the damp chill out of his bones.

Everyone in the race has been amazing and I won't stop watching now Aidan has finished. Looking at people like Marshall and Kent, I find myself wondering just how many times Aidan might end up riding the Tour Divide. Also, thanks so much to all of the updaters but especially Paul. His being in the UK meant that we didn't have to wait as long for news, which was a huge help.


Fantastic ride Aidan! Loved following along with another front running SSer this year. Recover well now, you earned it. Just finishing on a SS is a very select group.

Not to play favorites but I see Marshall Bird is getting pie and I could not be more excited for him. Go Marshall!!!

Well done Aidan

I just wanted to add my congratulations to Aidan. Myself and all the other "tuesday swinley gang" have been keeping track of his progress and have been pretty blown away by his performance.

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