Tour Divide day eleven — detours loom

Alex Harris captures his shadow in the evening light over the Great Divide Basin on June 23.

Alex Harris captures his shadow in the evening light over the Great Divide Basin on June 23.

As Tour Divide leader Mike Hall neared new Mexico well ahead of record pace, the likelihood that he’ll be able to set an official course record this year was further diminished by an announcement that part of the route near Silver City, New Mexico, would be closed to the public due to fire danger. Also on Monday, Santa Fe National Forest — which is a couple hundred miles north — officially closed to the public. Both regions include forest roads that are part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

“We just got word that the Silver Fire has closed Forest Service Road 150 which runs between The Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas,” reported Casey Greene, a cartographer with Adventure Cycling Association. “The closure is between the Beaverhead Work Center and Highway 35. This will require a massive road detour to the west. Roads to the south are still closed as well, including those on our Southern Tier Route. We are looking into detours for ACA tourists, but racers should wait for an official TD detour (they may be the same).”

Although there’s no word yet on whether the Tour Divide has established an official race detour or acquired a special use permit for mountain bikers in Santa Fe National Forest between Abiquiu and Cuba, it seems as though all riders will have to reroute around the Gila National Forest farther south. Either way, the bikepacking community has established that new records must be set on the most recent official GDMBR route as set by Adventure Cycling Association. Any temporary detours would preclude 2013 race results from the overall record classification, which unfortunately could also preclude Hall’s unprecedented ride should he reach Antelope Wells faster than Jay Petervary did in September 2012. But Hall can still establish a blazingly fast win for the 2013 Grande Depart, and he appears to be seeking just that.

Hall called in from Del Norte in the morning after spending a night high on a pass north of town to escape the wildfire smoke he could see filling the valleys. However, during the night winds shifted and he found Del Norte to be relatively clear. “It’s a lot less smokey that previously advertised here,” he said. “The wind seemed to have changed direction.” He also reported a minor incident riding into town. “I took a little tumble in the gravel this morning, but bike and body are all right.”

Hall remains on a 200-plus mile-per-day average pace. About 200 miles behind him, second position rider Jesse Carlsson was continuing on the route after a crash and possible encounter with lightning during an electrical storm in Como on Sunday night. After determining his body and bike were in good shape on Monday morning, he set out with ITT rider Kerrin Walker. The two appeared to ride together for most of the day.

There appears to be a closer race among third, fourth, fifth, and sixth position riders Alex Harris, James Olsen, Liam Crowley, and Forrest Baker, who were within 100 miles of each other — about 400 miles behind Hall.

With flood damage in Canada still promising unknown obstacles for northbound riders Cjell Money and Dylan Stewart, it appears that potentially the only current Tour Divide rider who might ride the whole route is yo-yo rider Billy Rice, who already completed a single run of the GDMBR when he finished his Mexico-to-Banff ride last week. Now that he has turned south, he will also have to face detours if conditions don’t change in the next week. For having so many miles on his legs, Rice continues to make impressive progress, and is now more than 1,000 miles into his southbound return.

Scratches on Monday included Steve Maritine, Mirko Haecker, Nick Legan, and Karlos Bernart. About 108 riders remain on the route.

5 thoughts on “Tour Divide day eleven — detours loom

  1. Pitstop Pedro
    June 24, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    This is one exciting race. Detours or not I really hope mike stays in there and blows the record books apart! Even if it’s not officially recognised I’m sure it’ll make the news back home.

    Thanks for the brilliant race commentary and good luck to all the riders

  2. Greg W
    June 25, 2013 at 12:55 am

    I have to say, I think it would be a massive injustice if Mike’s ride was not recognised as the record if the expected detours are required. Any detours are likely to be longer than the correct route (or could be set this way) and the detour will be officially set by the race organisers. You can’t plan for forces of nature and that shouldn’t stop an officially recognised time being set, otherwise his 2 weeks in the saddle are for nought.

  3. murfmonkey
    June 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Such a shame if Mike has to detour because that pace he is setting will be hard to beat!

    Thanks again for the race updates, Jill.

  4. June 26, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for your coverage. I have a rookie question about “The Basin” in Wyoming. Is that basically the stretch between Atlantic City and Rawlins?

    1. June 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Yes, the ~140 miles of the route between Atlantic City and Rawlins crosses the Great Divide Basin, which is larger geographical region spanning the Continental Divide, a high desert basin.