Monday, December 31, 2007
GDR Versus Tour Divide
After a couple of year's of forum chatter about differences of opinion regarding the running of the GDR, Matthew Lee has started a second race, Tour Divide, along the GDR route with the addition of the 211 mile Canadian section and without the time cut-offs and cell phone rules that were implemented last year. Looks like some of the previous riders are lining up behind Matt's new venture. For me this is a tough decision to make.
If the future of this route being raced heads in the direction of the Banff to Antelope version than I would want to be part of that just to avoid any nagging doubts later about "I wish I had done the Canadian section". The idea of switching to the Tour Divide changes my planning more than just adding 211 miles to the total mileage. I was planning on riding to the start in Roosville from my house (a 235 mile tribute to Kent Petersons 500 mile doorstep-to-start warm-up). This additional mileage seemed like a nice prologue that I was going to take slowly to adapt to the touring lifestyle. If I was to do the Tour Divide I would have to have fly or have someone drive me to Banff. Looking at these two options it is hard for me to say that I would enjoy the Canadian section so much that it would offset the flying/driving and missing out on my own prelude.
There is the other question of starting times. Some people were not happy with the June 20th starting time of the GDR this year (Tour Divide starts June 13th), though it adhears to the tradition of starting the first Friday after the Summer Solstice. I am not sure a week matters that much for me. Moving the departure one way or the other isn't an effective way of avoiding the random wrath of Mother Nature. Despite the daunting heat of 2007, previous years have endured more problems from rain than anything else. The first year the race was run some people had to have their bottom brackets replaced enroute due to damage from wet conditions. Also, with it being a La Nina weather pattern this year we are off to a good start for snow pack. All of the Montana Basins are above average for snow. Could be a lot of snow on the passes regardless of which time you start.
I do worry about the growing number of people on the route. Having done some major bike touring routes in the Western US I have discovered that business and locals eventually become less welcoming of the stinky cyclotourists that want to use bathrooms and fill water bottles. Historically this race has benefited from incredibly friendly people along the route and I hope that I am able to pass through their burgs before the hospitality dries up. I think about how many stories I read from last year that involved a cook reopening a restaurant kitchen to fix food for a GDR racer. With 20 years of cooking experience I assure you that this is a heroic act of selflessness that should not be counted on repeating indefinitely. Having a week head start on a second group of riders could avoid encountering some of the hospitality fatigue.
I will be following the hubbub and will not worry about making a decision until some of the dust settles. For my own selfish reasons it is unfortunate that this had to happen this year. This is not something that I want to spend too much time thinking about. I don't have too many strong opinions about who is wrong or right in this debate. Like many things it will work itself out but probably not this go around.
at 9:52 AM