About a week ago we started seeing bicycles, loaded down with gear, flying down the railroad grade trail through our campground. One, a young man from Arizona named Matt, stopped long enough to tell us about the Tour Divide Bicycle Race.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is a continuous long distance bicycle touring route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA. As of 2010, the route is 2745 miles (4418 km) long. The official name of the race that follows the entire route is the Tour Divide.
Per Wikipedia, the race clock runs 24 hours a day and the riders are allowed no outside support other than access to public facilities such as stores, motels, and bike shops. The record time to complete the Tour Divide in its 2012 routing is 15 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes and was set in 2012 by Jay Petervary. The race, which has neither entry fees nor prizes, usually starts in the second weekend in June - at an event called Grand Départ. This year’s Grand Depart was June 14, with 143 riders (all men) at the starting gate. As of today, 104 are still riding.
Another rider from Los Angeles told us a little more. The race, he said, is about navigation, about planning and preparation, about resourcefulness, about being able to ride alone for a long time. He told us he broke his left forearm early in the race and lost a day having it set in a soft cast. The doctor told him to stop riding. He pushed himself even harder to catch up with the rest of the riders. He told us the riders pick up the railroad grade trail that comes through Warm River at Sawtelle Mountain Resort in Island Park.
We have had several riders come through. Some have spent the night with us; others have stopped briefly to refill their water and kept racing. These are an amazing group of athletes. We cheer them on and wish them well.