Tracking the 2022 Tour Divide (Part 2): Windshield Time
In part two documenting the 2022 Tour Divide, photographer Eddie Clark continues his pursuit of riders through the Great Basin, over Boreas Pass, and in more beautiful places that make this route special. Find his reportage here alongside another brilliant photo gallery…
Words and photos by Eddie Clark (@eddieclarkmedia)
Picking up from my last report, I’ll start with a brief rewind to a photo of my windshield from the Great Divide Basin. It’s what 99% of photographing the Tour Divide looks like, maybe 99.5%, and it’s my bane. This report covered less distance, but probably about as much driving time as any other day of photographing the Tour Divide, so let’s get to it.
After leaving an empty Brush Mountain Lodge, I took the smooth highway route to loop through Craig, Colorado, in a rush to get to Steamboat Springs, where I’d make my next plans on what to do. With no light left for photography, I decided to set up my base camp outside of Kremmling, where I’d operate for the next four days. I got to sleep a little after midnight. Sofiane had covered a lot of ground and was already in Breckenridge by the time I woke up. Knowing there’d be no good photos to get of Sofiane, I’d already decided to sleep in and catch up on downloading photos.
Well rested, I waited for Manu Cattrysse to get close, at which point I headed out to get the following photos near Williams Fork Reservoir.
Finally, I lucked out and got the photo below, which I’d been wanting to take since 2009. It wasn’t the golden sunrise or sunset light I’d dreamt of, but different with wonderful blue skies, calm waters, and workable light, which of course is how things tend to transpire on the Divide. You might not get what you want, but if you keep trying, you might get what you need.
Manu stopped briefly to say hi and talk about his ride, and I showed him the previous photo and commented about how long I’ve been wanting to take it. It was a nice and brief conversation that ended with me wishing him to have a fun and safe ride, and he was gone.
Time to move. Sofiane was quickly getting away from me, so I high-tailed it to Hartsel, where I originally thought I’d find him. He’d gotten by me again, so I kept on, committed to hopeful sunrise photos on the way to Ute Pass. Years ago, there used to be bison ranches here, but now it’s cattle and a lot of RVs. No doubt, I think the person inhabiting this RV was living the Walter White dream.
When I first saw Sofiane, it was in just an average place, so I just kept going until out of sight, and I think he just wrote me off as another pickup truck. I drove up into the Upper Badger Creek Wildlife Area and found this spot to stack up some photos.
The bad weather system was still in place, which meant there’d be no sunset light. For Sofiane, it meant another day of headwind, which he’d come to really start not liking, so there’d be no stopping or conversations.
More evidence of how long folks have been staking their claims in the West. No doubt, these cabins are aging much better than the newer homes and RVs.
I wanted to give Sofiane his space, so I took my time waiting for him to get over Ute Pass, but at some point he’d stopped for something, so I seized the opportunity to get over Ute Pass before him. I first took a Tour Divide photo here of Matthew Lee in 2009 with the Collegiate Peaks and Arkansas River Valley in the background, and it would be my last shot of Sofiane for this year’s TD.
A foreboding shot of Marshall Pass in the distance. Sofiane would see more bad weather in the coming days before finishing as the race winner. I’d hoped to catch him refueling in Salida, but his tracker didn’t move from the outskirts. I’d assumed he turned it off to throw off potential dot-stalkers. After all, he was on a mission, and I was fine with not getting photos that might slow him down. Sofiane put in an excellent ride in a year when conditions were far less than ideal, and I couldn’t be happier to see him achieve that elusive win.
After leaving Salida, it would be another late night of driving. Adrien Liechti got by me outside of Kremmling early in the morning, so another trip to Hartsel was in the works, and this time I got there first to grab these photos of him.
Adrien’s bike went missing on its flight to Canada, and in a show of good sportsmanship, Manu Cattrysse helped him out by lending him his second bike to race on (notice the name on the top tube).
Adrien refueling. I’d hoped to get more photos and time talking with him, but an enthusiastic passerby got a hold of my ear to tell me how he was a mountain biker 30 years ago while Adrien gave a quick nod and continued on.
The timing worked out for some Boreas Pass photos, where I’d catch Ben Steurbaut and Abe Kaufman just minutes apart from each other.
Boreas Pass served as another TD first for me in that I finally got photos of someone on the Gold Dust Trail. It may be a shock to racers going from dirt road to singletrack, but it sure is a fun trail on a mountain bike!
I later finally got some much-needed mountain biking in before having a big Mexican food dinner and then heading back to basecamp for the evening.
Timing is everything, and a number of racers got stuck behind these water trucks on freshly graded roads. I caught lead singlespeeder Andrew Strempke just ahead of the maintenance crews and leap-frogged him a few times to grab these photos before he descended Ute Pass.
The route goes over two different Ute Passes in Colorado, and this first one is in the Williams Fork Mountains, where a splendid view of the Gore Range can be had.
I next caught Daniel Connell on route behind the maintenance crew with a quite muddy bike. It didn’t matter. His attitude shone through, and he was still having a great time.
As much of an eye sore as this tailings pile from the Henderson Mine is, it’s worth considering that this mine is also the source of molybdenum, which is the moly in our Chromoly steel bike frames.
After a gap in racers, I caught Brian Toone on the Williams Fork Road near the reservoir in some nice evening light.
Zoe Chauderlot was still the leading women at this point, and I’d planned to get some more photos of her but made the mistake of not accounting for her stopping in Kremmling to refuel. Well, she actually got a hotel, which meant I’d get no photos of her that day or while she rode past me in the early morning dark hours. So, I went back uproute to grab these scenics of Kremmling and the Gore Mountains.
Another Tour Divide racer rode by before getting to Highway 40, but I missed getting his name (update: a reader informed us the rider is Steve Large).
On my last day, I’d catch the new women’s leader, Ana Jager, as she approached Kremmling.
Gas station photos while I had a brief chat with Ana before she hopped on her bike to get going.
One last shot of Ana along the Colorado River. She’d ride on to take the women’s win for the Tour Divide with a time of 19 days and 54 minutes. An amazing feat, and hopefully we’ll get to see more of her in the future.
At the time, I thought Zoe was still in the race, so I headed back toward Breckenridge to get more photos. Upon arriving in Silverthorne, I saw her dot hadn’t moved, and a brief check on social media revealed she had scratched. She accomplished as much as she had wanted from the race, and you have to respect that. It was an impressive ride given the conditions she was dealt.
A quick survey of Trackleaders revealed I could still catch Katie Strempke on the climb out of Radium. I headed back, waited, and grabbed another landscape, this time of the Colorado River and an Amtrack train just upstream of Radium.
After a deluge of vehicular traffic, Katie emerged and smiled at the prospect of having the giant climb almost behind her.
I headed up the route to grab a few more photos of Katie before calling it the end of my Tour Divide. Katie rode on to finish her race, and in doing so became the second woman and second placed singlespeeder to finish the Tour Divide with a time of 19 days, 16 hours, and 11 minutes.
Many racers have finished, others are still racing the clock to get to Antelope Wells, and even more are just riding to get to Antelope Wells. Hopefully, they’ll all finish their journey on the Divide.
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