Northbound at last



Sorry it’s taken so long to post a few thoughts about the progress of the northbound racers. I guess the volume of riders and the excitement of the racing southbound – plus all the detours that have had to be factored into account – has stolen most of the race watching time (you almost need three weeks off work just to watch the TD).

Anyway, Paul Attala has established what looks to be – barring major incident – an insurmountable lead in the race to Banff. He’s over BoreasPass– which he says is clear – and now in Steamboat. The speed with which he dispensed with New Mexicowas breathtaking. It’s only a handful of miles shorter than the traditional route through Montanaand on a par in terms of difficulty – certainly in the very north and in the Gila. In the context of this year’s TD, that would lead you to think he’s broken the back of the ride as Montanahas had some of its major difficulties circumvented (though a post on the race discussion forum suggests he’s planning not to take the snow re-routes…). Also, he’s not just heading to the finish, he’s also heading home, being a Fernie resident, which you’d think would provide extra motivation were any needed. Maybe his rivals will hope he’ll get distracted by calling in for a cuppa. Fracnk and Russ were in Comolast I saw, though reports suggested Russ had an injury of some sort (severity unknown).

Rob Colliver, from the UKand riding a southbound ITT (now just into Idaho) knows Paul well and he told me Paul would be a strong contender. He pointed to the fact he’s successfully rowed across the Atlanticand, in what’s becoming a recurring theme for this year’s race in either direction, can get by with very little sleep. It seems he’s not going to tire as he heads into Wyomingtomorrow and starts passing the first southbound riders.

It’s been interesting to note the comparative distances and altitudes covered by the northbound/southbound racers. The table on the forum has northbound racers comfortably ahead, but I think that reflects – and confirms - the fact the New Mexicosection is tougher going than Montanathis year.




Kurt’s night attack doesn’t seem to have slowed him down, but has only had the effect of closing the gap on Jefe rather than seeing him open up a lead. Kurt ended up sleeping for a few (not much more than four) hours in Atlantic Cityafter what seems to have been an aborted plan to push on still further. Zoom in on his tracker, and after arriving in Atlantic City he heads out the wrong way, appears to recognise his mistake, gets back en route at the top of the steep climb south out of town, then – supposition here – realises he’s in danger of compounding errors due to fatigue if he carries on and so returns to town for some shut-eye.

In the meantime, Jefe caught up again and passed through, but then stopped on the edge of the Basin. Then – coincidence? Plan? – Kurt set off into the Basin and Jefe started out again just as Kurt rolled past. Since then, they seem to have ridden together right across the Basin and through Rawlins.

I’m not a singlespeed aficionado but it seems a bit odd Jefe managed to keep up with the geared Kurt on such good terrain. Was there a headwind? Will he now suffer on the much more rolling – not to say mountainous – trails through Colorado? Will Ethan and Mike close up on them as, apparently, fresher riders?

Finally, some discussion on where the golden spike – where northbound and southbound racers meet – will be placed. Let’s hope it’s at Brush Mountain Lodge – looks like you’ve got a busy few days coming up, Kirsten.


Finally, finally, if you fancy a broader view of the Tour Divide than this commentary or even the race discussion forum can provide, consider getting hold of a copy of this year’s Cordillera. It’s not only a good read, it’s also raising money for the college fees for Linnaea Blumenthal, daughter of late TD racer Dave.




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