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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tour Divide

I assume a lot of you have been following the 2011 Tour Divide, the 2745 mile solo self supported race from Canada to the Mexico border. Ho-hum. We're getting near the end, entering the Gila desert. For all of you people who think more gears will make you ride faster, the last I looked Jefe Branham is in a virtual tie for the lead with Kurt Refsnider.  Jefe is riding a singlespeed bike.  Wowzer.   Leaderboard


Silk Hope said...

less weight and a whole lot less to go wrong.

Gunnar Berg said...


Johann Rissik said...

Same on the Freedom Challenge. Glenn Harrison on his SS Niner is whipping them. www.freedomchallenge.org.za

Gunnar Berg said...

I know very little about the S.A. topography. How flat is that? Rather, how hilly is it? The Tour Divide has 200,000 feet of vertical climbing, which is why a single speed amazes me.
I don't know if it's fixed. It just says "Single Speed 32x19". Anyone out there know?

Mimbres Man said...

It was a great finish! The Gila my home turf, and I can imagine what these guys experienced riding through there. Matthew Lee, 5-time winner and race director/creator, says New Mexico is the most beautiful and the toughest part of the race. I'd have agree with him.
First the North Star road from

The western part of New Mexico is sparely populated and there are not many places to resupply. We are talking places like El Rito (pop. ~1100), Abiquiu (pop. ~1,300), Cuba (pop. ~550), Milan/Grants (pop. ~11,200), Pie Town (pop. ~190), Pinos Altos (pop. <100), Silver City [my hometown] (pop. ~10,500), and Hatchita (pop. ~90). It you combined the population of those places, you might come up with 25,000 people.

The Gila is very tough territory. Hilly forest, but hot and dry. This year there was a reroute after the North Star road (Beaverhead to the Mimbres) that takes the rides up the Continental Divide Trail from Sapillio Creek to Meadow Creek (climbing all along a ridge). From Meadow Creek, riders took a USFS road that climbs to the NM 15. NM 15 is most downhill, but there is a steep climb into Pinos Altos over the continental divide then a 1000 ft drop in 6 miles to Silver City. Apparently Kurt and Jefe both ran out of water and food on this section. They were able to make to Pinos Altos where they recharged at the icecream parlor.

From Silver City there is about 15 miles of pavement to the Separ Rd. This is the last section of dirt of the TD route. The road is notorious with sand traps and washboard sections. It has claimed more than one rider over the years. This year it was Jefe who lost to Separ. His fork-mounted waterbottle cage broke and fell into his front wheel breaking two spokes and causing a flat. It probably set him back at least an hour.

Kurt was able to roll into Antelope Wells around 5:00 AM according to his call-in. I am estimating Jefe rolled in about 8:00 AM, so it was close. Definitely the closest finish that I can recall.

Big hats off to all the riders who started and to those who finish.

Also big thanks to Matthew Lee!