Lee takes win, 2010 Tour Divide dedicated to Dave Blumenthal.
Race report and images by Eddie Clark
(July 12, 2010) ANTELOPE WELLS, N.M.—In light of the passing of rider Dave Blumenthal, the 2010 edition of the Tour Divide was dedicated to his memory. Many physical and emotional ups and downs in this years’ race tested riders’ worthiness and grit, and all the finishers are now making their way home or already are home for a well earned rest.
A shortened course due to Forest Fires from Abiqui to Cuba, NM, ensured all bets were off for any possible records being broken in this year’s racing. Although, the only record that seemed close to being broken was Mathew Lee’s own fastest time. Notably, single speed rider Aiden Harding of the UK did come within 15 hours of setting a single speed record, but that was with the course reroute.
|2010 winner, Mathew Lee claimed another Tour Divide Race victory.|
Aiden Harding had a brilliant fourth place finish for his first attempt at the TDR, and on a single speed no less.
To recap the numbers, out of 48 starters, only 23 riders finished with official times. It was a tie between Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington for the most finishers with three each, and only two international finishers. Notably, Nicolas Senie was the first Frenchman to finish the Tour Divide. Divide veteran Cricket Butler of North Carolina made up the twenty percent of female finishers in this grueling edition of Divide racing. Interestingly, only seven of the thirteen veterans received official finish times.
Typical afternoon thunderstorms chased most racers with rain, hail, and lightening across the southern half of Colorado. Once in New Mexico, ferocious dogs, rough 4x4 roads, heat, stiff head winds, and random storms battered the racers through the Carson National Forest, the Gila, and all the way to finish at Antelope Wells.
At times, the rains turned the roads into more unridable mud wallers forcing riders like Eric Lobeck off his bike for miles. In Grants, a criminal contingent was encountered when a would-be thief tried to steal Mathew Lee’s mountain bike while he was eating at Micky D’s. Fortunately the thief ditched the bike (at 31 pounds, it couldn’t have been too heavy!) and it was reclaimed in minutes.
In true Tour Divide spirit rookie rider Patrick Tsai skipped the detour and rode the full Tour Divide course. Tsai was also given the dubious title of being the ‘lantern rouge’ in this years’ edition with a finishing time of 28 days, 7 hours, and 9 minutes for last place. Considering this years’ attrition rate, it’s still a finish, and an exceptional accomplishment.
Finish times aside, the real rewards of riding the Tour Divide must be being immersed in the beautiful scenery, seeing abundant and diverse wildlife, and forming endearing friendships. In the end, all of the finishers are winners for pushing their limits to pedal day after day to complete this most challenging 2745 mile adventure along the Continental Divide.