Main photo by Eddie Clark from today’s feature
There’s a common thread among quotes from 2023 Tour Divide riders: no matter how meticulously you planned or how well-prepared you think you are, you have to respect the route and simply take it as it happens. For many this year, the crux of that that statement manifested in the Great Basin, a 150-mile mud pit that forced riders to carry their bikes, walk, or simply stop altogether.
The big story over the weekend was what that part of the route did to equipment. No doubt, Colorado bike mechanics along the Tour Divide have had a busy few days with bike maintenance and parts replacement. Bottom brackets, wheel bearings, jockey wheels, brake pads, and other such parts were trashed, and the faster riders, such as Lael Wilcox, Justinas Leveika, Jens Van Roost, and Ulrich Bartholmoes have been taking advantage of shops in towns like Steamboat Springs and Salida.
As I’m typing this, the majority of the leaderboard in both the women’s and men’s races have made it into Colorado to begin the long high mountain passes. Seventh and eighth place riders Ezra Ward-Packard and Steve Halligan are making their way up to Boreas Pass, the second highest point on the Tour Divide route. And women’s leader Lael Wilcox is some 30 miles behind them, taking a long stop in Silverthorne. Lael is a little bit behind her record pace but still progressing nicely. Katya Rakhmatulina has pulled within 80 miles of Lael, and Alexandera Houchin and April Drange are about 90 miles behind Katya. Alexandera has been picking up the pace as most of the steep climbing has given way to the long, singlespeed-friendly grades that Colorado is known for. We look forward to watching her progress over the coming days.
At the pointy end, the three leaders who all spent a night together in a porta-john last week have separated over the last couple of days. Perhaps they spent enough time together in that tiny space to need some solo time. Current leader Justinas Leveika is about 50 miles behind Mike Hall’s 2016 record pace with Ulrich closely behind him. It appears Jens had a long sleep and is about 90 miles behind both.
As the beautiful Tour Divide scenery continues, Alexandera Houchin reminds us that it’s not all about moving ahead: “Don’t forget to look behind you once in a while.” And John and Mira show off a different perspective of the route.
Sorry for the relatively short update, but we’ll be back with more later this week. For more detailed updates, check out Josh Ibbett’s latest videos below, where he uncovers the mystery of the “porte-loo” group campout, plus shows a couple of interviews from when photographer Eddie Clark caught up with the three leaders, as he mentioned in today’s feature.
And from day 10…
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