There may be trouble ahead...

So, the number of confirmed withdrawals continues to mount, with Heather Dawe, Suzanne Marcoe and Chauncey Matthews all having the misfortune of needing to call it a day. We appear to be down to 38 active racers now – the three mentioned above join Grant Triplow, Christina Domecq, Simon Temple, Bob Marr, Bob Moczynski and Jim Helms as definitely out, as appears to be Brian Aillaud.

Meanwhile, the role call of potentially race-threatening ailments also continues to grow: sore or swollen knees (Brett Foster and Robin Borstmayer), saddle sores, dodgy wrists and no bear-protection (Dave Preston), nausea and a cough (Eric Bruntjen) and a chest cold (Mike Prochaska). And that’s just what people are owning up to.

The sense of humour persists in the face of this adversity though. Eric Bruntjen wondered if being sick on Jon Billman would increase or decrease the likelihood he could feature in one of his articles. We’ll have to wait until the next issue of the Cordillera for the answer.

This medical charge sheet is no surprise, really, given how hard people are pushing themselves. At the rear of the field, Tony Huston casually revealed how he and Tom Santacroce rolled in to Ferndale at 3am. Scarcely half an hour later, Erik Lobeck resumed his pursuit of Matthew Lee. Talk about burning the candle at both ends.

Erik said he’d stopped in Helena for a motel and some quality sleep, which was what Matthew did last year – there’s only so long you can push to the limit without some recovery. With Erik’s early start it looked as if Matthew might pay the price for his late night into Basin as Erik closed the gap on him again, but Matthew has since maintained his advantage of around three hours.

Blaine Nester, sharing the hospitality of the Leipheimers in Butte, has cemented his grip on third place, while four riders – Dave Blumenthal, Forest Baker, Kevin Dean and Eric Nelson – are in and around Basin. I’ll try and keep a closer eye on this and the other groups in Helena and Lincoln in the next few days.

Further back, almost everyone has now passed Richmond Peak and left behind the intimidating forests of northern Montana. Replacing them comes the intimidating, rough and, according to Dave Blumenthal and Forest Baker, muddy terrain either side of Helena.

Riders should enjoy it while they can, however. Ahead, just where Montana begins to earn its nickname of Big Sky Country, the weather appears to be bringing new difficulties into play. It was south of Butte last year that the rain appeared and turned large parts of the route into a quagmire (that word MUD again). Now, Matthew Lee has reported that he rode in rain (and hail) most of the way from Basin to Wise River, with more rain forecast. To put the consequences of such weather in context, the road across the Medicine Lodge-Sheep Creek Divide has a sign at both ends that reads: Impassable when wet. Riders, of course, have to pass it. They have been warned.


Paul Howard


Two Wheels on My Wagon



Belated happy birthday to Mrs Billman;

Bon Appetit to French rider Nicolas Senie, who appears to be in Trixies;

Phillip Fogg: Schnell, schnell! (it’s the only German I know)

Cricket Butler – you’re on for victory in the women’s race if you make it to AW.



Love the blog post commentary,



thank you

Thanks so much for the blog..we are all reading it here in's good to get a clue of what's going on!

no tracking

Since Shawn Sheppard's tracker is not working, is there anyway you can give us some idea where he is riding. His family and all the people wanting to track him think there must be some way you can get the darn thing to work! Or at least have some of the other riders mention whether they have seen him that day. Thanks.

No tracking

I guess you've seen that Shawn has now called in - he was in Lincoln - and also that Scott Morris is trying to get a tracker to him. Until then I'll keep listening to other rider's calls for mentions of him -when he doesn't call in himself, that is, which is the fail-safe way of keeping tabs on him.

Greetings from Team France!

Just a little note to say thanks SO MUCH for this blog, to which I am utterly addicted. The 8 hour time-difference between France and Montana makes following the race that bit more challenging, but this and the podcasts are keeping me in the thick of the action.

Thrilled to discover my Other Half, Nicolas Sénié, got a mention this evening - merci!

And bon courage to all the riders facing into the mud and rain and general yuckiness over the next few days.

Nico Senie's Irish fan club

Nico Senie has an Irish fan club as well! Who are keeping a close eye on
him and delighted with his progress so far. The blogs are a great treat -
especialy when Nico gets a mention!

Go neiri an bothar libh

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