I’m not entirely certain how this all started. Dave Markman and I talked about it for a while, though I couldn’t tell you when that began. Bobby Wintle was off the walls with excitement, but how (and when) did I become involved in this?
I suppose none of that matters now. At this point it’s been slightly more than a month since I left Banff. Antelope Wells was two weeks ago. All of this is just to say that the Tour Divide was an intensely strange experience for me. Returning home was all too natural. Answering questions regarding the trip left me feeling increasingly disconnected from my involvement in the race, as if it were some book I had read long ago and hadn’t considered for quite some time.
Rather than scroll through the back pages of my mind trying to attach emotions to locations I struggle to recall, I’m going to leave photos. I’m certain I’ll arrive at a point wherein I can organize, collect, and put to words all the thoughts I’ve been hesitant to spend much time with, but this will not be that point.
It’s 9am on Saturday June 11th, and Bailey already has 150 miles of rugged Canadian terrain under his belt just 24 hours after starting the Tour Divide 2016 in wet and almost freezing conditions. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me back up.
The Tour Divide is a self supported mountain bike race spanning the full length of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, covering a total of 2768.4 miles with 200,000 feet of elevation gain. The route is the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route, mapped over the course of four years, and published in 1998 by the Adventure Cycling Association. Every year on the second Friday in June, a group of racers set off in the Grand Depart and attempts to complete the race as quickly as possible. The race is fully self supported, meaning there are no support vehicles for riders, no warm vans waiting at the end of the day to feed you and get your bike in shape for the following day. It is a test not only of speed and endurance, but of will and mental fortitude.
Bailey set off yesterday on his single speed Salsa El Mariachi into the wilds of Canada for an epic and challenging adventure that will take him pedaling along the spine of our country’s continental divide. Watch his progress on the live tracking website trackleaders.com. Read and hear a bit more from Bailey and his fellow riders at unlearnpavement.com.