And then there was one

So, another five, I hope, made it to the finish yesterday evening, including Cricket Butler, winner of this year’s women’s event. With her were Stephen Huddle and Brad Perry for sure, while it’s to be assumed the reason Jon Billman and Dave Tremblay’s SPOTS appeared stuck near Separ and in Silver City respectively was to do with low batteries rather than getting cold feet at the last minute Last year, mine did exactly the same, to the great frustration of those watching at home; it wasn’t a time to go shopping, however.

Congratulations to all on a finish time of around 26 days, nine hours and between 30 and 50 minutes. I know how difficult it was for Cricket and Stephen to have to stop racing last year, so it’s particularly pleasing to see them both finish this time out in such fine style (and faster than would likely have been the case had they continued last time). I doubt Stephen was rewarded with a bevy of single ladies waiting for him at Antelope Wells however – at least, if there were any, they didn’t have their SPOT trackers with them.

Interestingly, according to Shawn Sheppard on the race forum, Cricket’s finish means all four riders from the Carolinas (including Shawn, Tom Moriarty and Matthew Lee) made it all the way this year: ‘we grow ‘em tough down here,’ says Shawn. The Brits had achieved an 8/9 success rate until this year, when only Aidan Harding made it out of four starters, bringing our average down somewhat. Canada also suffered too. Blaine Nester might have made the podium, but the hitherto 100% record has been lost.

And that leaves Patrick Tsai, our heroic lanterne rouge. Yesterday was a straightforward day after his adventures on the official route into Grants the day before. Had he continued on the official route south of Grants he would have been the first racer to complete the entire official route while racing the Tour Divide That said, and as has also been pointed out on the forum, the countryside he did ride through won’t have been any less impressive.

Initially he will have ridden through the ancient lava flow of the El Malpais National Monument, which is clearly evident on the google map on the leaderboard. Most impressive when you’re there is not the big, black, horizontal smudge that is picked up from space, but the sheer escarpment to the rider’s left. In particular, there is a fabulous natural arch carved into this rock face about half way down the paved section.

Also from above, there are two veins of igneous rock that cross the route just north and south of Pie Town – I never noticed those. And even though the Plains of San Agustin made me almost want to give up there and then, I didn’t realise they look such impressive salt-pans when viewed from a satellite.

Patrick should pass through there today, though his progress after Pie Town, where he was about lunchtime yesterday, appears to have slowed, if his SPOT is showing correctly – I thought he might already have been past there. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to finish in a couple of days from where he is, Gila obstacles notwithstanding – then the lanterne rouge is Patrick’s for good.


Paul Howard


Two Wheels on My Wagon


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