Mathew Lee rides on in memory of Dave Blumenthal.
Race report and images by Eddie Clark
(June 27, 2010) Continental Divide, Colo.—Tragic news besets Tour Divide racers and fans in the second week of racing. Racers and fans mourned the loss of rider Dave Blumenthal who passed away during the second week of racing as a result of injuries suffered in an accident while riding through Routt County, CO. In other bad news, forest fires in New Mexico have required a mandatory course reroute between Abiqui and Cuba onto paved highway, which has negated the possibility of any course records being broken for this 2010 edition.
Upon receiving the news, Mathew Lee who was leading the race considered quiting out of respect, and because the course closure negated any possibility at breaking his course record. “Breaking my record was a main reason for returning”, noted Lee. However, after some tough phone calls and soul searching Lee has pressed on and is “Doing it for Dave”.
On a more uplifting beat, riders have been treated to dry roads and beautiful weather from the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming through southern Colorado. Colorado has indeed been graciously welcomed by many riders with its’ lush vibrant mountains, a real relief for riders from the cold, rain, mud, and snow of northern Wyoming and Montana.
“These Colorado mountain passes have just been beautiful, and the grades are perfect. You can really give ‘er on these climbs”, noted Canadian racer Blaine Nester from atop Boreas Pass.
When it comes down to it, from a riders’ perspective, the racing is almost secondary. Instead it’s more about riding your bike in a self supported fashion along the Continental Divide as fast as (almost) possible. There is something about travelling along the Continental Divide from a remote route such as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that speaks to your soul.
Most obviously are the awe inspiring mountain ranges and diverse abundance of wildlife. The communities and people that inhabit them also provide a refreshing social profile of the rural West. It’s also a pleasure to stop and talk with other cyclist’ who are riding the GDMBR, since it’s mostly a lonesome route and everyone is eager to share their interesting accounts.
As the race counter marches on, a lead group of seven riders are now in New Mexico and closing in on the finish. Mathew Lee still leads by half a day followed by Blaine Nester and Eric Lobeck whom have been somewhat riding together. Behind is single speed racer Aidan Harding of the UK, then Eric Nelson and Forest Baker. Supposedly winds and poor weather having been slowing the crossing of New Mexico.
Behind in Colorado, two main packs of riders are making their way south. In all, only 22 of the 48 starters remain in the race. Check back next week for the final week of Tour Divide Race coverage!
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