There is a mountain-bike ("MTB") race in the west that stretches from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the U.S./Mexico border. It's the Tour Divide: 2,745 miles along the Continental Divide. It is self-supported, the MTBers fending for themselves with respect to food and shelter. And it is a race, where long days and sleep-deprivation (and luck with all things mechanical) lead to winning.
The Tour Divide is not for the faint of heart and, after recently watching Ride the Divide with Mr. Mouse, it is clear that while the race is physically punishing, it is the mental game that is what's really tough. The movie was filmed during the 2008 race where sixteen MTBers started and seven scratched, and a woman finished the race for the first time. RtD follows three riders on their ride: two fall apart mentally from the long, long days of riding alone; the third, the eventual winner, has his head in the right place and just gets it done, while appreciating the solitude and bleak and beautiful landscape around him.
Mr. Mouse and I had both read Eat, Sleep, Ride, Paul Howard's account of the 2009 Tour Divide, so we knew a little of what to expect. Because of the limitations of the filming crew, much of RtD's footage is on the pavement or well-maintained jeep roads, so viewers don't get to see most of the awful conditions and rough terrain the MTBers had to deal with. There are plenty of shots of blistered heels, swollen legs and gnarly toes, however, and the riders happily share stories of bear sightings.
The Tour Divide is a brutal, crazy race, and one that kind of fascinates me. I have no interest in riding that distance on a MTB, even at touring speed (the 2008 winner finished the damn thing in 19 days). But I'd be interested in doing sections of it, just to see that scenery in person. Mr. Mouse and I are now reading another account of the 2009 race - Be Brave, Be Strong, by Jill Homer who set a new women's course record that year - so our interest is obviously piqued.
6 hours ago