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Fact file

Location:
Banff, AB, Canada
Length:
2745 miles
Terrain:
Off-road

LIVE CAM in Ovando

Kathy Shoendoerfer i Ovando MT has a live camera:

Blackfoot Angler's downtown webcam us up and running for the summer. Audio on from 6pm to 8 am

https://video.nest.com/live/6oAK3yyGlJ?fbclid=IwAR36xGEjB5YS5Ox9iFkqORn806MvfsZTH4G-JFk5nBv8qj1OhTktpA_reoc

The leaders will be coming through on 16th June around mid-day. Most racers stop there as it is the first resupply since Ferndale (or Columbia Falls for those who don't go the 2km off route to the Ferndale store) and Blackfoot Angler is a legendary TD stop.

Day 2

Day 2 started early with Evan Deutsch (Fernie) and Tony Leuser (trail side south of Fernie) getting going around 03:00, Aaron Denberg (trail side) around 04:00 and the Butt's Cabin crew of Lael, Josh Ibbett and Steve plus trailside sleepers Nate and Josh Kato all starting to move around 05:00. Sofi was leading by about 20 miles having not yet slept.

Tony's comment was "Morning all. Not enough sleep last night. Woke up after an hour or so and was just lying there so thought I may as well ride my bike. Scenery made up for it though... when the sun finally came up."

For those lucky enough to be near a resupply, the typical scene outside a gas station is like this image from Peter Sandholt:

05 Peter sandholt resupply

For those starting in Fernie, they're facing the 742m climb over Lodgepole into the Flathead, then Cabin Pass with it's 418m ascent after which it drops down into Wigwam Campground and a sharp turn into really bear scary section with dense bush on either side all the way to "The Wall". The Wall is a legendary extremely steep 400m connector trail to get out of the Flathead and onto the Galton Pass trail. In the dry it is a hard push with a loaded bike, in the wet it is like a Japanese Game Show contect of climb the greasy slide without the cheering crowd. From the bottom of The Wall to Galton Pass is a 758m climb, with a fast descent to the paved road to the border and on to Eureka - making a 170km haul from Fernie to Eureka.

In 2018 Lewis Ciddor hit the border in around 1:05:00, and the top 10 were all through in 1:10:00. The 2019 crew are flying with Sofi through in 1:01:11, and 28 racers within 1:10:00. By comparison, Mike Hall's record run in 2016 saw him hit the border in 1:00:45 on a shorter & faster route to the border.

Border welcome pic from Kim Raeymakers: Welcome to USA

Top 12 Border arrival times were:

Sofi Sehili: 1:01:11

Steve Halligan: 1:02:24

(Josh Ibbett likely about here, Spot not tracking)

Lael Wilcox: 1:03:30

Josh Kato: 1:03:40

Nate Gintzen: 1:03:57

Kai Edel: 1:04:35

Dylan Morton: 1:04:35

Tony Lesueur: 1:04:45

Evan Deutsch: 1:05:29

Bear Stillwagon: 1:07:01

Stefano Roumaldi: 1:07:05

Lucas Ratcliff: 1:07:12

Special mention to the first single speeder to the border: Alexandera Houchin in 1:08:13

Pic of Steve Halligan (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press) 05 Steve Fernie

Pic of Dylan Morton - (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press) 05 Dylan Morton

(Pic of Josh Kato - credit- see link at end) https://www.instagram.com/p/ByvQGCLhWPW/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Surprisingly Josh Kato and Nate were delayed at the border for nearly 1 hour for some reason, so Kai and Dylan caught up there. There is a diner there, but Eureka has better food with choices of the Subway and Jax Cafe so I doubt it was that. Josh Ibbett's Spot at this stage is still stationary in the Flathead where it stopped when he was riding with Steven ... hopefully this is a Spot issue and not a mechanical.

Pic of Josh Ibbett in Fernie - (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press) Josh-Ibbett DSC 3234 FERNIE

Whilst all this was going on, early front runner Jason Kiefer went so far off-course he crossed a Kootenay River and did a random loop around a mountain before returing to the road and heading off route to the border. That's abother relegated rider. Interested to hear that story.

This is the day it gets very real for the mid pack. They're mostly going to be sleeping somewhere in the Flathead with the bears or pushing through to the border very late.

The bears are real as Craig Newton's picture shows:

05 Bear Craig Newton

The saying is that "if you make it out of Montana you'll finish" ... and given only 40% finish the TD on average, the pack will begin to thin out with some riders scratching over the coming few days. We'll cover the mid-pack racers also, but with 140 starters we'll start that as they exit Montana. However, if you're following along there's Hal Russell riding his 6th Tour Divide at age 70 - he's going for the 70+ record that Rick Ashton set in 2017 of 30:07:07. Hal's best time is 27:05:26 set when he was a young 67, and finished in 28:16:04 last year despite having ripped off his derailuer up Medicine Lodge Road in MT and having to get that replaced. GO HAL! Also in the mid pack is former US Presidential candidate Gary Johnson returning for his 3rd run down the Divide.

More images from Koko Claims have come in from Marcel Besemer:

05 Marcel Koko

05 Marcel Koko 2

And these joyful clips from Mikki Suvia

https://www.instagram.com/p/BywOu6inF5S/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

https://www.instagram.com/p/BywOj6VHyhl/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

But it is not all Type 2 Fun out there, look at these 2 images from Peter Sandholt and 1 from Craig Newton show:

05 PS Road

05 Peter sandholt CA road

Craig Newton Day One

Sofi blew through Eureka without so much as a pause, Steve (and maybe Josh Ibbett) had a 60 min stop at the gas station (Subway is there too) and Lael was through in 20 mins. Josh Kato also did a 20 mins stop, and then Nate, Dylan, Tony and Kai arrived in quick succession with Dylan and Kai hitting Subway, and Nate and Tony going for Jax Cafe in town. With different stop lengths they were out as follows: Nate (15mins), Dylan (30mins), Tony (30mins) and Kai (40mins) with Evan Deutsch coming into town just as Kai departed.

Ahead for the leaders is Whitefish Divide, a 40km climb of 813m, which gives stunning views of the Glacier National Park. The back side of Whitefish Divide is not a place to stop as it is where the US relocates their "trouble" Grizzly bears. From the descent it is a 22km and 593 climb over Red Meadow Pass to be able to descend into Whitefish township. This divide crossing will likely still have some patchy snow.

The lead order was pretty stable but Evan Deutsch is starting to show his strong pacing as he caught and passed Kai and Dylan over Whitefish Divide and Tony over Red Meadow Pass.

The timing coming into Whitefish was:

Sofiane Sehili: 1:10:42

Josh Ibbett: 1:11:25

Steve Halligan: 1:12:43

Lael Wilcox: 1:13:24

Josh Kato: 1:13:20

Nate Ginzton: 1:13:49

Evan Deutsch: 1:14:07

Kai Edel: 1:14:35 (corrected)

Dylan Morton: 1:15:30 (corrected)

Kim Raeymakers got his seatpost replaced and was back on the bike out of Fernie at 09:15 trying to chase down the lead pack. He rode hard and got into the top 20 and finally stopped on the back side of Whitefish Divide. From Eureka he wrote Feeling pretty wasted because I pushed hard on the pedals today on pretty rough terrain.

Current Race order at about 03:00 race time:

Sofi: (453 miles - still riding in Swan Valley - has not slept since Banff!)

Nate: (420, stopped trailside south of Ferndale)

Josh Ibbett: (418, stopped trailside south of Ferndale)

Josh Kato: (412, stopped trailside south of Echo Lake Cafe)

Lael: (394, stopped trailside south of Columbia Falls)

Evan: (384, stopped in Columbia Falls hotel)

Steven: (383, stopped in Columbia Falls RV Park)

Kai/Lucas/Bear/Dylan (383, all stopped in Whitefish hotels)

Tony: (364, stopped north of Whitefish trailside)

Chris Seistrup (363, stopped north of Whitefish trailside)

Alexandera (350, still riding)

With the first 9 racers spread over only 5 hours, and different sleep schedules in play, the race up front is very close. Sofi will likely sleep at Holland Lake rather than pushing over Richmond Peak without any sleep. One of the few sections of single track is up there and the descent with the drainage ditches is more technical than most of the riding.

At the back of the pack, anyone not in Fernie is going to struggle to make the 31 Day "racer" cut-off and will risk becoming "orange dotted".

Pic of Lael Wilcox in Fernie (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press):

05 Lael FERNIE

Press article from Fernie with great pics:

https://www.thefreepress.ca/sports/mexico-bound-tour-divide-riders-complete-first-day-pass-through-fernie/

Day 1

With perfect conditions and no wind the pack got off to a flying start. Lead riders starting fast were Josh Kato, Josh Ibbett, Nate Ginzton and Steve Halligan. JK's Spot is playing up a little, so data is a little sketchy but once it pings it's accurate.

These pics were posted on bikepacking.net of riders on Smith Dorrien Road (first pic shows Josh Kato in orange): 04 Josh on Spray Lakes

04 Smith Dorien

The first time check is at Round Prairie (mile 101) - the turn to the steep hike-a-bike of Koko Claims. Lewis Ciddor hit it in 2018 in 8:07 ... this year 12 riders were through by then. Leading the pack was Nate in 7:21, with Josh Ibbett, Kai, Sofi, Steve, Jason Keifer, Kim, Dylan Morton, Lael, Aaron Denberg, and Stefano Roumaldi rounding out the top riders in that Spot ping order. (Josh Kato went through too but Spot didn't show).

Pic from Spencer Harding of Lael on the suspension bridge: 04 Lael on Bridge

Koko Claims is a tough 2-5 hours Hike-a-bike section added to the TD Route in 2017 due to the removal of the Pollock Creek Bridge over the Flathead. Even though the bridge has now been replaced and also a new Elkford - Fernie trail created, this new route has remained in the race for better or for worse.

Pic from Rugile Kaladyte of a racer hiking up Koko Claims: 04 Koko Claims

The front pack were fast over Koko Claims, which was clear of 2018's avalanche debris, and quickly hit the descent into the Bow Valley. That's where disastor struck for Kim Raeymakers, who going quickly through a rocky creek crossing when he hit the rear of his seat hard .... and ...

04 Seatpost Kim

... snapped his seatpost! Kim extracted the seatpost from the frame and reinserted the remaining portion and rode to Fernie where he'll get a new seatpost in the morning.

A lot of the front riders missed a turn near the bottom of Koko Claims and Sofi was the most unlucky and had to reclimb 100m to get back to the route and lost about 30 mins. Also, someone lost a set of maps which Tony Lesueur picked up and carried to the bike shop in Fernie.

The first resupply point is Fernie, BC (mile 160). It is new since 2017 and is at the perfect location for both the front runners and tail enders. The lead pack of Josh Ibbett, Steve and Nate rolled into town around 20:45, with Josh Kato 20 mins back. Josh Ibbett was gone in 30 mins, with Steve rolling out 10 mins later together with Josh Kato who had erased the 20 min gap with a fast resupply. Nate was stopped 60 mins in Fernie before leaving.

Jason Kiefer, Dylan Morton, Luke Ratcliff, Bear Stillwagon, Kai and Lael all came in to Fernie about 45 mins back at around 21:30, with Kim, Evan, Sofi and David Langley coming in 1:15 behind. For this group it is a tough call whether to sleep in Fernie and start early, or push on into the Flathead and try to reach Buttes cabin at mile 207. On top of the sleep comfort issue, the Flathead has one of the densest populations of Grizzly bears in the US. The route through there is known locally as the Grizzly Bear Superhighway!!

Dylan leaving Fernie with milkshake in hand (Pic Rugile Kaladyte):

04 Dylan Morton

Dylan, Nate and Lael leave in quick succession around 22:00, and Sofi and Kai follow around 22:45. Four more riders head out of town late to camp on the outskirts of Fernie: Tony Lesuer, Aaron Denberg, Scott Robinson and Alexandera Houchin.

So with 8 riders heading towards Butt's Cabin into the night (sunset is 21:50, light until 22:30), the race up front is begginning. The second group will be hoping that the leaders don't lock the door to Butt's Cabin as happened in 2013 when Mike Hall and Craig Stappler locked the door on the chase group and didn't open it when they arrived! (They even had the audacity to wait until the chasers set up their sleep systems, and then rolled their bikes out of the cabin and took off).

Nate stopped on trailside at midnight and Josh Kato's Spot stopped moving at 23:00 (maybe a Spot issue). Steve hit Butt's Cabin at 01:00, with Josh Ibbett 30 mins back. Lael, Dylan and Sofi arrive around 02:30 with Kai shortly behind. Sofi decides to keep riding and at this time is still riding up Cabin Pass at 04:44am.

Current race order at 04:45 15th June is Sofi (230, no sleep), Lael (210 riding), Josh Ibbett (209 riding), Steven (207, stopped), Dylan (207, stopped), Kai (207, stopped) Josh Kato (202 riding), Tony (192, riding), Nate (184, stopped), Evan (178, riding) , Alexandera (177 riding), Aaron (176, riding), Kyle Lagerman (173, riding), Stefano Roumaldi (171, riding), Chris Siestrup (167, riding) Peter Puenner (165, riding) and Janie Hayes (161, riding). It is early in the race and in 2018 one of the racers who slept in Elkford finished in the top 10, so plenty of movement up front to come.

Some big passes coming for the front pack on Day 2: Cabin Pass, "The Wall", Galton Pass, Whitefish Divide, Red Meadow Pass (with a likley snowy hike-a-bike couple of miles).

Day 1 has some logical stopping points and the number of riders who used them are as follows:

Round Prairie (mile 101): 24

Elkford (off route): 9

Koko Claims Cabin (mile 107, summit): 12

Bow Valley (mile 110): 6

Norboe Creek (mile 126): 7

Fernie (mile 160): 28

Butt's Cabin (mile 207): 5

For the NOBO riders, Graham Suffield rode over the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Alternative in the dark stopped at the entry to the Gila around midnight at mile 155. With a big gap on Daniel Thrush and Mike Jolly, the next TD rider he'll see will likely be the SOBO leader somewhere in Colorado for the Golden Spike.

And they’re off

The Grand Depart got underway at 08:00 with perfect conditions for a fast start for the 141 South Bound (SOBO) racers in Banff and the 5 NOBO racers starting in Antelope Wells.

The group photo in front of the Y looks is filled with nervous faces:

02 Grand Depart

The NOBO start is an action photo with one racer missing (the rider on with the Bob Trailer is not racing):

04 NOBO

Keith Brodsky (TD Vet and Banff local) got a nice clip of the roll out at the trailhead in Banff which you can watch here:

https://www.facebook.com/keith.brodsky.92/videos/10161898262490187/

Bethany Reantz has the NOBO on film here:

https://www.facebook.com/bethany.rentz/videos/10157488789364783/

These pics from John Schilling show how stunning the route through Canada is:

Spray Lakes Reservoir:

03 Spray Lake

Swing bridge on the short section of the High Rockies Trail that is included:

03 Swing Bridge

The long tough straight haul up the Powerline over Elk Pass:

03 Powerline

The forestry road down Elk Pass towards Elkford:

03 down Elk Pass

One racer lost his entire race money pre-start, another has lost his Spot in the first hours - so pretty standard first day nerves and errors. A few navigation mistakes have already happened with some adding mileage by missing turns, some adding mileage by hitting the HRT too early, and a couple racers skipping the HRT entirely and getting relagated within a few hours of the start.

The early pace was set by Josh Ibbett and Nate Ginzton. Nate was a surprise entry as he was not on the pre race starter list, but he's a known rider who has won the Smoke 'n Fire 400 bikepacking race in Idaho in 2016 , 2017 (beating Jay Petervary) and 2018 - and beat Josh Kato for 3rd place in in the Smoke n' Fire 2015. How Nate goes on the much longer TD will play out over the next few weeks.

Alex Cohen has posted up this set of great rider pics as they pass Spary Lakes on some single track:

https://www.facebook.com/alexzcohen/media_set?set=a.10161893460240504&type=3

Day 1 write up to come once they stop riding plus details on the Top 10 rider whose seatpost snapped ....

Route conditions, Racer’s Rigs and some pre-race podcasts ...

A little over a day to go and 141 riders are lining up for the Grand Depart from Banff (SOBO), with 5 more starting in Antelope Wells heading Northbound (NOBO). Michael Grosso is making good progress with his early NOBO ITT and is about to hit a few hours of snowy/muddy hike-a-bike on Brazos Ridge, before facing the unknown snowfall on Indiana Pass on Friday.

The route is clear through Canada and Montana, with just a little bit of hike-a-bike over the top of Red Meadow Pass. Richmond Peak is clear which is a big relief for those who know how treacherous that can be in the snow.

There may still be some snow on Brooks Lake Rd coming off Togwotee Pass in Wyoming, and the at the top of the Union Pass area for the first few riders.

Damian van Loon posted this of Togwotee Pass yesterday as he rode through on the TransAm:

Togwotee Pass

The big unknown is Colorado, which has had massive snowfall this season. The big three passes to consider there are Boreas Pass out of Breckenridge, Marshall Pass out of Salida, and Indiana Pass out of Del Norte. (Ute Pass and Lynx Pass are clear).

Grace Ragland posted this pic of Marshall Pass yesterday:

Marshall Pass

The annual Racer Rigs profiles are up on Bikepacking.com. Sit back and spend a some minutes checking out how nearly 80 of the racers are setup for the challenge.

https://bikepacking.com/bikes/tour-divide-rigs-2019/

For those who listen to podcasts, Ross Burrage (racing single speed this year) has posted up his two latest interviews with Lael Wilcox and Josh Kato on his The Hidden Athlete podcast.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/thehiddenathletepodcast/final-lael-wilcox

https://www.spreaker.com/user/thehiddenathletepodcast/final-josh-kato

TD Rider Profile: Stefano Roumaldi

My name is Stefano Roumaldi from Medicina, Bologna, Italy

Stefano 01

I work in the family body shop with my father and my brother whom I thank for the extra work during my absence.

Tuscany Trail in 2016 was my first long distance event and after that, I‘ve taken part in numerous Trails in Italy, where my best result was second place in Italy Divide 2017. Editor: Josh Ibbett won, Jay Petervary was 4th

Last year I was a rookie on Tour Divide but the inexperience and little problems didn’t stop me from closing the race in 18 days and 15 hours.

The memory of the beautiful journey and the thought of being able to do better accompanied me after my return and at the end, I’ve decided to race again in 2019.

For the Tour Divide 2019 I'll try to have fun and push as much as possible to take a few hours off my previous time.

This year I will be riding a Locomotive Cycle Midnight Express Titanium Bike , equipped with Miss Grape Bags and off course I’ll wear AepicaSport technical clothes.

Thank also to my friend Federico of Rush Bike for the technical support and the maintenance of the bike. A special thanks to my family that allow me to live a dream like TD .

Stefano Bike

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