(GDMBR) racers now have not just one, but two options for competition this June. Beginning June 20th, the more established event known as Great Divide Race, will run north to south for 2,490 miles along the GDMBR across the US from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
In addition, some other hardy souls will compete instead in the Tour Divide starting June 13th in Banff, Canada, and will run 2711 miles south to the Mexican border.
Other than dates, the key difference between the two events is that the Tour Divide includes the Canadian section of Adventure Cycling’s GDMBR while the Great Divide Race does not.
For the past several years, Matt Lee (SoBe / Cannondale) and some others have been starting the Great Divide Race a day or two early – unofficially racing their own prologue event on the Canadian portion of the trail before the event officially began in the US.
When 37 year-old Lee from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, approached Mike Curiak about adding the Canadian section of the race to the Great Divide race, the answer was “no” with Curiak telling him he wants to maintain the border to border concept of his Great Divide race.
So Lee organized his own version, including the Canadian section, called the Tour Divide.
Lee offered several reasons for the longer Tour Divide. “The race is for the racers, and it is an experience for the riders. I say that if you organise a race and don’t include the top 225 miles of the trail, you’re not giving the racers the full experience,” said Lee.
“Last year, we had five people race the prologue. Everyone liked it and thought it ought to be in the race. The first 110 mile day is beautiful and scenic. Every year, I see moose and bear.”
For mountain bike access advocates, there is another compelling reason to add the Canadian section. “A portion of the trail runs through Canadian federally designated Wilderness,” said Lee.
Unlike American federally designated Wilderness, Canadian Wilderness permits mountain biking. “For that reason alone, it’s worth honouring the Canadian section. Its wilderness is open to mountain biking.”
Read more about the Great Divide mountain bike race at Cyclingnews.