Great Divide Race/Tour Divide - Bike Magic

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Great Divide Race/Tour Divide

We’ve reported in the past about the ludicrously-epic Great Divide Race, a self-supported, no entry fee, no prizes monster that runs for 2,490 miles along the spine of North America from the Canadian border in Montana to the Mexican border in New Mexico. The winner in 2007 was Jay Petervary, who finished in a frankly incredible time of 15 days, 4 hours, and 18 minutes. To do it that quickly you need to be riding over 160 miles a day, for a fortnight. At that rate you might encounter a town a day to resupply, and there’s the little matter of 200,000ft of climbing, too.

The start is on 20 June at noon (local time), and included in the field will be well-known UK 24 hour soloist Jenn Hopkins. She won’t be the first Brit to tackle the GDR – our pic is from Matt Kemp, and you can find some more from Steve Wilkinson on fotopic, both of whom completed the race in 2007 – or the first woman or the first to singlespeed it, but she will be the first to combine any two of those things. In the spirit of minimalism, she flew out to the start with just a Camelbak (admittedly quite a large one) and a bike bag, with a plan to dump the jeans and shoes she was wearing at a charity shop just before the start…

While the GDR runs from border-to-border, the Great Divide MTB route (compiled ten years ago this year by the Adventure Cycling Association) upon which it runs actually starts another three hundred miles north in Banff, Canada. This discrepancy has resulted in the perhaps odd-sounding concept of a second, separate race along the whole 2,711 length of the route at roughly the same time – the inaugural Tour Divide starts today. There aren’t actually all that many windows of time opportunity for riding the route north to south given the huge variation in climate from one end to the other and the time it takes to ride it. The fast riders may take just over a fortnight, but the GDR’s cut-off time is 24 days. The Tour Divide doesn’t have a cut-off time, and with the extra length a month-long ride isn’t out of the question. Trying to fit that in between avoiding the worst of the snow in the north and not getting roasted alive in New Mexico pretty much dictates starting around now, hence the two races coinciding.

Keeping track of positions on an epically-long, wilderness ride presents something of a challenge, tackled by the two races in different ways. The Great Divide Race will be sticking with the tried-and-tested method of having riders phone in from the towns along the route, with transcripts posted at Meanwhile, the Tour Divide organisers have done a deal with the makers of GPS tracking gizmo Spot to come up with a Google Maps-powered leaderboard at You’ll be able to find daily updates on both races at, and we’ll do a round-up here on BM every few days (or when something particularly interesting happens)…


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