Deciding to do the Tour Divide comes with a lot of questions and concerns.  I can tell you their not as scary as they seem. If you start with a plan and break down the process your worries will change into confidence. Your biggest issue is finding the proper information.

This page is meant to be a simple overview of the Tour Divide (GDMBR).  During my own Tour Divide I realized there was a need for a guide covering the route just for bikepackers. This page is broken down into simple sections so you can easily get a feel for the route.  It’s also part of a larger all inclusive guide, so you can focus on riding your bike instead of searching the internet for hours on end.

Where do you start?  This Tour Divide Guide is a great starting point but if you want to know more, checkout the “Guides” button below.  You’ll find information on resupply, transportation, gear and more.

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Stats

DISTANCE

2745 Miles (4418km)

DIFFICULTY (1-10)

5-6

Elevation Gain

200,000 Feet (60,960m)

HIGHEST POINT

11,913 Feet (3631m)

TIME REQUIRED

13—40 Days

% SINGLETRACK

<1%

% UNPAVED

70%

Time of Year

June to October

Race Date

June 8, 2018 (8 am)

Closest Towns to Start/Finish

Banff, AB and Lordsburg, NM

Race Record

Male Mike Hall (2016) 13:22:51
Female Lael Wilcox (2015) 15:10:59

Overview

The Tour Divide is an 2745 mile route that stretches from Banff, AB to Antelope Wells, NM.  The route is roughly 70% off road, consisting of gravel roads, jeep track, and a very small percentage of single track.  Traveling through the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, and the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, the trails covers a wide range of landscapes.

The route took four years to map and was released by the Adventure Cycling Association in 1998.  The first ITT of the route was in 2005, while the first Grand Depart was in 2008 (usually held on the second Friday in June).  Only a handful of riders attended the first Grand Depart but today close to 200 brave men and women toe the line to test themselves against each other, the route, Mother Nature and most importantly, themselves.

Starting in Banff, AB the Tour Divide (GDMBR) winds it’s way through the Canadian Rockies along glacial rivers and grizzly country.  As it travels south the route samples many different types of landscape.  In Montana and Colorado you’ll experience mountain wilderness, Idaho and Wyoming offer up grasslands and endless rolling hills, while New Mexico and southern Colorado have high desert.  Near the border you are treated one last time with time spent in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Don’t let the fact that the route is mostly dirt roads and lacks technical single track fool you. The attrition rate is 60%.  Exhaustion, hypothermia, boredom, and mechanicals are common place on this, the longest bikepacking route in the world.

Map tour divide bikepacking guide TD Tour Divide Transportation Guide tour divide guide

Update

Adventure Cycling Association has extended the GDMBR to Jasper, BC and maps should be available June 15th.  Those racing have coined the longer race route the “Tour Divide Max”  More information will be posted here when it’s confirmed.

Route

TD Tour Elevation Profile - tour divide guide

Elevation profiles provided by John Schilling.  Support John’s effort by purchasing prints, sticks and mugs of these profiles.

TOUR DIVIDE RACING

TOUR DIVIDE 

The Tour Divide (GDMBR) is not an sanctioned or organized race in any way. Consequently it’s regarded as large group ride that follows a fixed route, a set time, a set of simple rules and that’s all.  Those who partake should understand this and obey the gentleman’s agreement to “race” fairly and follow the rules.  There are no checkpoints, race organizers, aid stations or aid of any kind.  You solely responsible for your won well being.

The TD starts in the Banff, AB at 8 am at the YMCA.  There is usually a neutral roll out and the racing starts when you hit the dirt road just south of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

Suggested Start Date:

Friday, June 14th, 2018 at 8 am.

Registration:

Send a letter of intent after winter solstice to tourdivide@gmail.com.

RULES 

Bikepack racing is generally not organized, no entry fees are collected or prizes given out, but there are a general set of guidelines all bikepacking races follow.  As a result the rules are designed to create a level playing field for all who decide to participate.

*Note these rules are the general rules for bikepack racing and each event may have their own specific rules and they also change from time to time.  With that said it’s important you read and understand the official rules which can be found at the link below.

1. Racers must completely cover the route under their own power.

2. No outside support is allowed.

3. Food/supply caching on the trail is not allowed ahead of time (but one can ship items to a Post Office).

4. Motorized transportation or hitch-hiking, EXCEPT for travel to hospital/medical care, is NOT allowed at anytime.

The following are allowed, but not encouraged. Please use sparingly.

5. Unintended assistance from fellow racers is ACCEPTABLE.

6. Trail magic is OK – but please, no begging or fishing (hinting).

7. Mailing resupplies to Post Offices is ACCEPTABLE.

For full rules visit TourDivide.org.

No entry fee, no prizes, absolutely no support 

IMPORTANT RACE INFORMATION

Registration: Send letters of intent after the winter solstice to tourdivide@gmail.com.

The input form for 2018 starters is located  in Google Docs.

You can also see who’s already signed up on the unofficial starters list for 2018.

The 2018 GPX file will be posted on TopoFusion.com a few weeks before the start.

In-Race Updates called “Rained Out” are used to update racers of  any route changes/detours. Links will be emailed to you and also posted here (via text message or email for non-US phones).

A Bear Spray discount (15%) is usually arranged in the months leading up to the start. Keep a watch on the Facebook pages.

Salsa stem caps are usually available at the start in Banff.  You can get yourself a free piece of pie when you get to Pie Town, NM.

SPOT TRACKING 

Racers and those touring the Tour Divide (GDMBR) are encouraged to carry a Spot tracker, though they are not mandatory.  Due to the remoteness and sheer difficulty of the trail I personal believe you’d be crazy not to.  Racers can sign up at Trackleaders.com one month before the race if they choose to.

SPOT HIRE 

You can rent a Gen3 Spot from Trackleaders.com around one month before the start of the race (You’ll receive information to your email you used when signing up).  Check Trackleaders or Bikepacking.net forums for information at that time.

SUPPORT THE ACA 

The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) has no ties to the race but they did build the route, have created amazing maps and their a great resource .  It’s because of them we have this amazing route to race/ride.  Please consider joining the ACA.  Membership is only $45 and as a member you get all kinds of discounts and other perks, most noteworthy a discount on maps.

Breaking up the boredom tour divide guide

MUST KNOW

  • The diversity of the route has to be one of the biggest highlights of them all.  From the Canadian Rockies, to the Great Basin, to the Rocky Mountains, and finally the deserts of New Mexico you see it all.
  • The support from the communities you go through is pretty amazing.  Don’t pass up on their hospitality and remember to be polite.
  • Some of the top highlights have to be the Flathead Valley in Alberta, Grand Teton National Park and the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, Boreas and Indiana Pass (the routes highest point at 11,913′) in Colorado, Polvadera Mesa, and the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.
  • The long days and hours in the saddle can get boring.  As a result they will test you both mentally and physically.  Be ready to be inside your head a lot.
  • Limiting your time in town gets harder as you move further along the route.  Fighting that voice that say’s “Just one more soda!” or “Just a few more minutes rest.”, can be hard to silence.
  • The weather is unpredictable due to the route’s nature.  Be ready for all types of weather from rain, snow, hail, wind, lightening and heat.
  • There are some segments between towns that are longer than most but none are unmanageable if you have the right bag sit up.
  • The only two places where water was an issue was the Great Basin and Beaverhead area in NM.
  • Camping along the Tour Divide is not hard to find.  There are plenty of primitive and developed options for camping, hotels, or lodges on the route.
  • There are no areas that require special permits but do be careful to respect no trespassing signs along the route.
  • Those touring want to checkout Warmshowers.com.

DANGERS & PITFALLS 

  • Extreme weather.
  • Bears (Grizzly and Black)
  • Remoteness of route.
  • Lack of water.
  • Strenuous terrain.
  • Exposure
  • Costs can add up.
  • Hypothermia
  • Fires
  • Riding on roads at night.
  • Mental & physical fatigue.
  • International border crossing.

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