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Tour Divide: An Ultra-Cycling Challenge


Tour Divide: An Ultra-Cycling Challenge

Tour Divide is arguably the most challenging mountain bike race on the planet.

Beth Puliti

This self-supported race takes place along the Adventure Cycling Association’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route—all 2,745 miles of it. While there are no set distances to travel each day or assigned rest stops, the clock continuously runs as mountain bikers make their way from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Dubbed the "most challenging mountain bike race on the planet," racers typically take three weeks average to complete the race. Is it really that challenging?


By route's end racers will climb approximately 200,000 feet of vertical, which is equivalent to summiting Mount Everest from sea-level seven times.

The Race

Racers must be prepared for anything when backcountry biking, and Tour Divide is no different. Rugged terrain, abundant wildlife, little to no human interaction and more leave racers testing their physical and emotional limitations.

The Route

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is the world's longest off-pavement cycling route. Extended dirt roads and jeep trails highlight the course, winding their way through the passes along the Continental Divide. Racers will bike through Alberta and British Columbia in Canada, and Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico in the Unites States.

The Rules

The following rules are excerpted from the Tour Divide website.

  1. Tour Divide (TD) is observed as one stage. There are no designated rest periods. The clock runs non-stop. The stage ends for a rider when they reach the Mexico border crossing at Antelope Wells, NM.
  2. To complete the route a rider may resupply food/equipment, rent a room, launder clothing, even get their bike serviced along the way, as long as services are commercially available to all challengers and not pre-arranged.
  3. Racers must always ride 100% of the 'main' ACA Great Divide Route based on the most current edition of the maps. Previous map editions may not be used unless updated with the most current ACA Addenda.
  4. Advancing (forward) on the route by any means other than your own pedal power is strictly prohibited. No drafting. No hitchhiking. Any type of air scoop or umbrella sail intended to harness wind power is also prohibited. TD is a solo challenge, however, racing in the company of other racers is permitted, provided each racer maintains separate gear.
  5. Shipping/receiving supplies (to the course): In the name of equal opportunity for international riders and to minimize the TD 'footprint', challengers are encouraged to race as reliant as possible on commercial services along the route. However, in advance of a start, a competitor may cache food or equipment resupply at US Post Offices only, care of general delivery.
  6. GPS navigators are permitted but non-essential. Mobile phones are also permitted, however, mobile service on the GDMBR is spotty, at best (~15% of the route). Reliance on a mobile phone as a rider's sole means of outside communication is not advised. Carry a calling card.
  7. Tour Divide is a web-administered, do-it-yourself challenge based on the purest of wagers: the gentlemen's bet or agreement. Nothing to win or lose but honor.
  8. Relegation: Tour Divide reserves the right to relegate a rider from the TD General Classification (GC) for confirmed rules violations.

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