The Tour Divide challenge is based on one guiding principle: Cycle the GDMBR end-to-end, as fast as possible in a solo, self-supported fashion.
Who: Any determined cyclist may challenge the Great Divide Route at any time, in either direction, to qualify for the Tour Divide (TD) General Classification (GC).
When: All summer long...however, an informal common start date known as the 'grand depart' traditionally kicks off the season 2nd week of June from both termini.
Spirit: Above all, attempts are intended to be solo / self-supported, self-timed, and observed as one stage, i.e. the clock runs non-stop. The challenge is complete upon arrival to the opposite GDMBR terminus from start. There are no required checkpoints or designated rest periods on course. There is no finish time cut-off, however, current convention considers a competitive Divide Route finish time as approximately 1.5 times (x) course records. Currently this = 25days (~110 mi/day) for men, and 29.5 days (93 mi/day) for women. Item 3 FAQs
Modus operandi: To complete the Route, a rider may resupply food / equipment, rent a room, launder clothing, even service their bike at commercial shops along the way. The intent is to ride unsupported between towns, and function self-supported when in towns. Any services utilized must always be commercially available to all challengers and not pre-arranged. No private resupply, no private lodging.
Tour Divide strives for equal opportunity within the GC. Whether doing an independent time trial or tackling the grand départ, TD requires that every challenger—from those living along the route to those living on other continents—have an equal playing field. Therefore, outside assistance with navigation, lodging or resupply (especially receipt of supplies from a non-commercial shipper) is prohibited. 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. Item 4 FAQs
TD Route: Aside from the 4 permitted deviations listed below, challengers must always ride 100% of the Great Divide ‘main route’ as denoted by the most current map edition published by ACA. For TD`13, the 2011 printing is still the most current edition. Previous map editions may not be used unless updated with the most current ACA Addenda. Addenda 'sets' are specific to each map printing edition. *Don't disqualify a perfectly good time trial simply because your maps are outdated and/or you paired them with the wrong addenda. There is a supplemental GPX file of the official TD 'race route' revised annually. Refer to it, even if not navigating by GPS.
TD Permitted Deviations: There are four permitted deviations to the ACA Main Route detailed below. Alt. A is required of both southbound and northbound riders. Alt. B is required only for southbound riders. Alts C & D are optional for all, however have become the de facto race line over time. If you are competing for the overall, Alts B & C are standard. Three of the four deviations (A, C & D) are official ACA ‘Alternates’, therefore cues and mapping are provided on the ACA Maps. One deviation (Alt B) is not official ACA. See details below.
Alt A) Required: The ~12-mile 'C.D.T. Alternate' is a very challenging ACA-official alternate between Sapillo Campground on NM Hwy 35 and NM 15 (just North of Pinos Altos / Silver City). It must be navigated by all TD challengers, north or southbound. It features 7 miles of narrow singletrack and 5miles of forest roads. DO NOT underestimate the difficulty of this segment racing southbound!
Alt. B) Required for Southbounders only: Not an ACA ‘official’ Alternate. Gold Dust trail south of Breckenridge, Colorado must be navigated if racing southbound. This segment is not listed on the ACA section Map covering this area. Optional for Northbounders. See complete details here.
Alt. C) Optional (but de facto): The 116-mile 'Chaco Alternate' is a TD-legal, ACA-official alternate segment between Cuba and Grants, New Mexico. The main route is impassable, potentially dangerous when wet, so riders have the option to follow the Chaco Alternate (paved) route. See ACA Map 5-B for cues.
Alt. D) Optional (but de facto): The 40-mile 'El Malpais Alternate' is a TD-legal ACA-official alternate segment between Grants and the Pie Town Rd., through El Malpais National Monument. Zuni Canyon (main route south of Grants) is commonly closed for fire danger. See ACA Map 5-B for cues.
Advancing (forward) on the route by any means other than one's own pedal power is strictly prohibited. No drafting. Use of any type of air scoop or umbrella sail intended to harness wind power is also prohibited. TD is a solo challenge, however, racing in the company of other challengers is tolerated. Again, no drafting, and each rider must maintain separate gear. One complete survival kit per rider.
In the event of a serious mechanical that renders a bike unrideable, a rider may hitchhike by motor vehicle in ANY direction to repair the problem. The location of the incident must be well documented by SPOT tracking or other GPS logger. A rider may also receive assistance returning back to the exact location of the breakdown to begin forward progress. Again, the entire incident, form breakdown to return to the route must be fully documented by GPS. Item 4 FAQs
Shipping/receiving supplies (to the course): In the name of equal opportunity for international riders and to minimize the TD 'footprint', challengers are encouraged to race as reliant as possible on commercial services along the route. However, in advance of a start, a competitor may cache food or equipment resupply at US Post Offices only, care of general delivery. Typical practice is to ship a replacement chain and fresh bike shorts to the halfway point on route. If a racer misses a resupply due to PO closure, that box may be forwarded to another PO down route.
8a. Once a race clock begins, a rider may be assisted by a third party in receiving emergency repair/replacement items only. Food resupply is not considered an emergency. Emergency items must be shipped using a commercial shipper such as USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex, DHL, etc. Items may not be delivered privately by family, friends or even anonymous persons. Items may only be shipped to a commercial address (P.O., motel, bike shop, restaurant etc.), provided that address is equally available to all racers. Use of a private address (residence) along the route is forbidden. Use of the Race Updates blog to 'broadcast' for help (ie. conjure 'trail magic') is also forbidden. Item 5 FAQs
GPS navigators are permitted but non-essential. SPOT GPS trackers are strongly recommended but not required. Mobile phones are also permitted, however, mobile service on the GDMBR is spotty, at best (~15% of the route). Reliance on a mobile phone as a rider's sole means of outside communication is not advised. Carry a calling card. Item 6 FAQs
Tour Divide is a web-administered, do-it-yourself challenge based on the purest of wagers: the gentlemen's bet or agreement. Nothing to win or lose but honor.
Divide racing may be challenged at any time, however, TD emphasis is on a 2nd Friday in June (southbound) 'grand départ'. For this common start: Again, Tour Divide simply provides a web-based framework to present rider progress. This is where TD responsibility ends. Item 7 FAQs
- There is no Banff pre-start meeting
- There are no checkpoints or officials on course
- Riders alone alone are responsible for their safety
- Riders alone must police their conduct
- There is no mechanism to communicate to riders on course
- Riders alone are responsible for communicating with their loved ones
- Updates to the blog from rider call-ins are time-delayed and not intended ensure rider safety
- Online GPS tracking is also not intended to ensure rider safety. It is for info-only, and validation of course compliance
- Relegation: Tour Divide reserves the right to relegate a rider from the TD General Classification (GC) for confirmed rules violations.
No rider will be notified of possible relegation mid-race. It is the sole responsibility of all riders to know the rules, police themselves, and in cases of course deviation, recognize their error + correct it before proceeding on route. Ideally any rider who defaults on any part of rules 2 through 5 will honorably scratch from the GC. As stated in rule 7, "TD is...a do-it-yourself challenge...racers alone must police themselves".Note: If a racer voluntarily scratches from the GC mid-race, yet continues on to finish the GDMBR, their individual tracking page will remain online/updated for informational purposes, however, they will be removed from the group (GC) tracking map. Item 8 FAQs
Rule 2. endnotes:
 Pre-arranged is defined as prior to the start of the race clock.
 Outside assistance is defined as any third party assistance in navigation or lighting and any non-commercial assistance in food resupply and/or lodging. A service is deemed 'commercial' when it is for commerce, equally available to all racers (ITT + group-starters) year after year, preferably listed in the 'services' guide on ACA Route maps.
Rule 4. endnote:
 Racers may accept motorized transport backwards, directly off and/or back to route from bystanders, passersby or commercial transportation ONLY . A racer may not contact friends or family (private parties) living along the route for direct assistance.
Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men —Douglas Bader
To thine own self be true —Hamlet