Here's a Tour Divide Race update for those of you not fanatically following the leaderboard, forums, podcasts and what all.
The terrain is gorgeous but very challenging and Montana, the first state, weeded out those who were not well prepared. Several more left with unfortunate injuries, including one broken collar bone suffered in a crash at speed riding down a pass. As of Saturday morning, 19 racers of the original 48 have abandoned, including one at the start line.
There has been snow on top of many of the passes, causing even the fastest racers to walk their bike for up to 5 miles at a time. And torrential downpours (FLOOD warnings were issued for most days this week) causing deep mud which also requires walking the bike.
Two racers sprinted out to a very large lead and stayed more than a day ahead of the pack for awhile. One of those is race founder and record holder Matthew Lee.
A number of riders, including some fairly well prepared ones, have suffered equipment failures due to the mud. Erik, the racer who was challenging Matthew Lee at the front, spent more than 24 hours sitting in the tiny town of Lima waiting for TWO new deraillures, a new chain and new chain rings to be delivered. Waiting. He is now back on the bike, moving extremely fast, but has a long way to go and he just reported that he's lost his front brakes.
The pack has split up into several "groups". I put that in quotes because in many (but not all) cases the people in these groups cannot see each other most of the time. This is NOT a pelaton.
Matthew Lee is way out in front. He's through Montana and the corner of Idaho and well into Wyoming now. About 70 miles behind him is a "group" of 5 riders (spread out over 40 miles) going hard trying to catch him. A couple of them rode through the night the other night.
There are two riders about 40 miles behind them, including Aiden Harding, the current fastest singlespeed rider. Forty miles behind them is a group of three, and then a gap of about 70 miles with only one racer in it. A pair of riders actually together, then 40 miles back starts a string of 10 riders over about 30 miles, including Cricket Butler, the only remaining woman.
Then 20 miles behind them is a group of four spread over 30 miles including Pete Faeth on a singlespeed. This morning Kent caught this group and (fingers crossed) appears to be moving forward through it today. Behind them are 4 isolated riders spread out over 250 miles.
Kent is experienced, prepared, and committed. I believe he will finish, and finish with a good time.