Thursday, June 11, 2015

Following the 2015 Tour Divide

Last pre-ride — spinning with Keith near Cascade Mountain. 
Before I set out on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and don't update my blog for a month (hopefully), I wanted to post all links for tracking my progress in the Tour Divide and Beat's progress in the Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa.

Beat's race began on Thursday, June 11. The 2,400-kilometer route across South Africa involves mountain and desert crossings, several off-trail portages, and map-and-compass navigation. Beat and Liehann are traveling together and aiming for a 20-day finish.

The Tour Divide begins Friday, June 12. The 2,750-mile route travels from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, along the Continental Divide. I am hoping for a 20-21-day finish, but mostly aim to remain flexible and have another fantastic and soul-rending experience.

Following the Tour Divide: 

Official Tour Divide tracking page.

My Delorme tracking page (with text updates)

My Twitter account (text updates)

My Facebook page (encouraging notes appreciated)

Race discussion at forum

MTBCast call-ins (I have a feeling this service, while great, is going to be bogged down this year. I may or may not try to call in during the race.)

Following Beat in the Race Across South Africa: 

Official Freedom Challenge tracking page and race updates.

Beat's personal tracking page for the Race Across South Africa.

Liehann's personal tracking page for the Race Across South Africa.

Freedom Trail Twitter chatter

If you haven't read my book about my first Tour Divide adventures, you can purchase an eBook (Amazon provides software to read on any device) or paperback at Amazon. Purchases help keep me in Sour Patch Kids and Babybel cheese wheels for the duration of my ride. I also have three other books:

Ghost Trails: Journeys Through a Lifetime

Arctic Glass: Six Years of Adventure in Alaska and Beyond

8,000 Miles Across Alaska: A Runner's Journeys on the Iditarod Trail

It looks like there will be a large showing for this year's Grand Depart of the Tour Divide — probably more than 150 riders. I looked on Trackleaders to get a sense of the women racing.

Here's a short intro to some (probably not all) of the Ladies of the Tour Divide, southbound GD, 2015:

Lael Wilcox | Anchorage, Alaska | Rookie. I spent a fun evening with Lael on Wednesday. There are going to be more experienced racer types on the trail this year, but I think Lael will be a top contender for the win. She has natural athleticism, lots of bike touring experience, and the right attitude all working in her favor. She was leading this spring's Holyland Challenge in Israel (in front of all the men) before severe weather forced a restart. She toured across South Africa, Egypt, Greece, and Israel during the winter. She rode more than 2,100 miles from Anchorage to Banff over 19 days, as a nice little warmup. She's strong and ready.

Alice Drobna | Bend, Oregon | Veteran. Alice won last year's Tour Divide on a rigid singlespeed Moots, finishing in 22 days, 6 hours, and 36 minutes. I believe this is the second fastest women's finish on the full GDMBR route, next to Eszter Horanyi's record of 19 days, 3 hours, and 35 minutes. Alice set a new women's record on the Arizona Trail 750 in April. She is attempting to become the first woman to finish the "Triple Crown" of bikepacking, which is the Arizona Trail 750, Tour Divide, and Colorado Trail Race in the same year.

Sara Dallman | Willmington, Ohio | Veteran. Sara won the 2013 race in 22 days, 19 hours. She also finished in 2012, and has more than a decade of adventure racing behind her. Lael, Alice, and Sara are probably the women to beat, but this is the Tour Divide and there are always dark horses and a lot of luck involved. (And no, I'm not talking about "You make your own luck." No, real luck.)

Bethany Dunne | Canberra, Australia | Rookie. Bethany and her husband, Seb, are both riding the Divide, but I'm not sure whether they're planning to travel together. Both are shooting for sub-20-day finishes. Bethany was the first woman in this spring's Kiwi Brevet in New Zealand.

Sarah Jansen | Northfield, Minn. | Rookie. I scrolled through Sarah's Tumblr and she appears to be your typical bright-eyed rookie with big dreams who put a lot of preparation into this event.

Katie Monaco | Portland, Oregon | Rookie. I used to ride with Katie when I lived in Missoula, Montana. We were part of a women's Tuesday Night Ride group, the Dirt Girls. Katie started bike touring shortly after I moved away from Montana, and we occasionally e-mailed back and forth with questions and advice. I'm thrilled that she's starting the Tour Divide this year.

Michelle Dulieu | Rochester, New York | Veteran. I believe Michelle has raced the Tour Divide twice before. She had some setbacks that took her off the trail for more than a week in 2012, but she returned to the course to finish that year.

Lynne Silvovsky | San Luis Obispo, California | Rookie. Lynne is a computer and electrical engineering professor at Cal Poly. In 2013 she broke a women's powerlifting record with a 292-pound deadlift (!). She's aiming for a 25-day finish. 

Eleanor McDonough | Knoxville, Tenn. | Rookie. Eleanor is racing in honor of her brother to raise money for brain tumor research. That's about all the info I found in my cursory Google searching, but I believe she's shooting for a ~22-day finish.

Marketa Marvanova | Czech Republic | Rookie. Marketa is just 20 years old, but she's won the Craft 1,000 Miles Adventure two years in a row.

Tracy Burge | Clarksville, Ohio | Veteran. I met Tracy during the 2012 Tour Divide. Beat was acclimating for the Hardrock 100 in Frisco, Colorado, and I rode up Boreas Pass one rainy afternoon and just happened to bump into her. I think she had many setbacks in 2012 that led to a finish around 50 days. She's back again and no doubt (like me) looking to fix the cracks.

Carolyn McClintock | Cincinnati, Ohio | Rookie. Carolyn and Tracy plan to travel together. She's also riding a Moots YBB (which is what I'm riding), and stated that she's aiming to finish in 40 days.

Jen Marsh | American living in South Korea | Rookie. Another friend of Tracy's. It seems she's aiming for a 23-day finish. From her letter of intent, she said she's been dreaming and preparing for this attempt since 2007.

Team Rice Burner | Texas | Rookie/Veteran. The stoker on Billy Rice's awesome Cjell-Mone-built 29+ tandem is his 16-year-old daughter. I met her today and she strikes me as a sweet, quiet, typical teenager, with her nose buried in her smart phone. I'm astonished at her taking on this ride with her dad. I'm sure they'll have an incredible experience.


  1. Good luck and have fun. We will be tracking you!

  2. Best of luck! (Both the make your own and the "real luck" varieties).

  3. God Speed, Jill. Followed you before, will follow again. Your pictures are worth the price of the trip, so be safe and good Luck! Of all kinds.

  4. Another excellent post. Safe Travels & Ride Strong

  5. Whoop! Whoop! Let the Adventure begin!!

  6. Whoop! Whoop! Let the Adventure begin!!

  7. Just finished the book tonight! See you tomorrow am! (That is if I don't sleep through the start ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

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  9. Bon Route and Bon Chance!!!!

    Having read all your books I'm looking forward to another epic adventure I can ride vicariously.

    Ride Long and Prosper.....and safely too.

  10. Hey Jill...I see you scratched today, sure hope you're ok! I can't wait to hear what was going had less than a thousand miles to go (that you rode OVER 1800 miles of the race doing OVER 100 miles a day still blows my mind! I'd have been wiped out by the second day, flinging my bike off a ledge and whimpering all the way to a bus station).


Feedback is always appreciated!