The second Friday in June is something of a holiday in the bikepacking community. Each year, it marks the start of the iconic event that largely started our little niche and attracts hundreds of participants to attempt a 2,700-mile ride on dirt and gravel from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells New Mexico. After a tough event in 2019 fouled by winter weather and bitter controversy, an outright event cancelation in 2020 because of the global pandemic, and an abbreviated route in 2021 due to the US/Canada border closure, this year is shaping up to be fun to follow. We’ll be covering the event over on our Tracker page and have kicked things off with two rigs roundups that feature details on more than 110 loaded bikes. Expect a couple of reports from the field in the weeks to come, and find a preview of the route and who to follow below.
2022 Tour Divide Route (Fire Reroutes)
2,590 miles (4,168 kilometers) / +147,468 feet (44,948 meters)
This year’s Tour Divide course sees a few significant reroutes due to the wildfires in New Mexico and several national forest closures. All told, the route is about 150 miles shorter than classic editions and 80 miles shorter than the 2019 edition, which is the last time the Tour Divide ran using the full course from Banff to Antelope Wells. Here are the two routes compared, with the 2022 edition in blue, the 2019 route in red, and the 2016 route in green.
The most significant alterations are the three sections in New Mexico. The first two involve a new route through Chama that skips the closed Carson and Santa Fe National Forests, and a remote desert route from Cuba to Grants. Both are due to forest closures. The other major change routes around the Black Fire in the Gila National Forest, near the route’s southern terminus. At the time of publishing, the Black Fire has consumed an area of 298,440 acres and is 44% contained.
There are also a few minor changes farther north. A logging detour was removed in Swan Valley near Whitefish, Montana, bringing the route back to the original GDMBR path. There’s also a short section north of Hartsel, Colorado, that gets riders off the highway. The official GPX above was downloaded from TopoFusion and contains all of the reroutes.
Who to Watch
While no official records will be set this year due to the wildfire-related reroutes in New Mexico, there are still quite a few strong riders looking to push themselves on the course. Based on a quick scan of the Trackleaders roster, there doesn’t appear to be many more than a dozen women riding in the Grand Depart this year, but there are a few to watch. After a strong Pinyons & Pines finish, Katie Strempke will likely have a good run and is riding singlespeed. Ashley Carelock is another to keep an eye on after finishing second overall in the 2020 Arkansas High Country race.
On the men’s side, fan favorites Josh Ibbett and Sofiane Sehili will likely both be at the front of the pack, as will singlspeeder Andrew Strempke, who has set some blazing times on other routes this year. Tour Divide veteran and long-time Baja Divide record holder Pete Basinger will likely get after it too. Timon Fish is another name to watch, especially considering his recent Arizona Trail 300 record. Our friend Ben Handrich, aboard his beautiful new English Cycles Attack Owl, has also been training hard and is looking to ride fast. And we’ll be watching Ezra Ward-Packard, host of the new Bikepack Racing podcast. Stay tuned and follow along for more coverage via our Tracker, linked below.
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