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:
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:
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)
Pic of Dylan Morton - (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)
(Pic of Josh Kato - credit- see link at end)
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)
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:
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:
And these joyful clips from Mikki Suvia
But it is not all Type 2 Fun out there, look at these 2 images from Peter Sandholt and 1 from Craig Newton show:
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):
Press article from Fernie with great pics: