by Tom Purvis, greatdividerace.blogspot.com.
Things turned brutal in the second week of the 2006 Great Divide Race (which follows the Adventure Cycling Association's Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, over 2,490 miles of remote, mountainous terrain along the spine of the continent to the New Mexico/Mexico border; entirely self-supported). Of the eight racers who started in Roosville, MT at noon on June 23, five were still racing at the beginning of the second week. And Matthew Lee, the race leader, was on a record pace.
On Sunday, July 2, two racers dropped out unexpectedly. 21-year-old Kevin Montgomery had mentioned that he was having knee pain, but the news that he was leaving the race came quite suddenly after sending in reports that all was well. He also cited lack of available nutritious food as a reason for leaving the race. He left the race after arriving in Wyoming on July 1. Rudi Nadler from Tucson, AZ called in a little later that morning from West Yellowstone, MT to report that he was leaving the race for physical reasons. Rudi was the last of three racers who entered rigid, fixed-gear bicycles.
The next day, Monday, July 3, Matthew called to report that Colorado's monsoon summer rains were continually slowing his progress. He was still working toward his goal of breaking the record of 16 days and 57 minutes set by Mike Curiak in 2004. But the rains were beginning to frustrate his progress.
Also on July 3, John Nobile reported that he had successfully crossed the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, arriving in Rawlins, WY at around 8 PM. He started a day late, due to a cancelled flight, and was making very good progress. Still a few days behind Matthew Lee, but making a good pace and apparently holding up well.
Matthew arrived in Salida, CO late on July 3. He had been caught in a huge storm earlier and had waited it out under an abandoned bus. As he approached Salida he realized that his fork had seized. He started seeing his bid for the record slip out of reach. He left Salida late that night, heading into the wet darkness, encountering a mostly cleaned up landslide that closed the highway south of town for several hours earlier. After climbing for a few hours, he decided that he would have to abandon his goal of beating the record. He returned to Salida to see about getting his bike fixed. He finally left to continue racing on July 5.
Later in the day Nobile called in from Steamboat Springs, CO to report that he was leaving the race. Even as he'd been making good progress, he was failing to beat a cold he'd picked up in previous days. And by that time it was clear that a rainy July was in full swing in the mountains of Colorado. Riding for over a hundred miles every day in the mountains with a cold in the rain was a risk John could not take.
Now that the race has entered it's third week, there are only two of the original racers still out there. Matthew Lee last reported in from Grants, New Mexico near midnight on July 8. He was hoping to make Pie Town, NM on the 9th. From Pie Town, he'll have another 300 miles to the finish in Antelope Wells, NM. Matthew encountered a huge amount of wet weather, both in Colorado and New Mexico. This year's weather has had a big impact on his race.
The other racer still on the course, Kenny Maldonado from New York City, last reported in from Lima, Montana, (about 70 miles from the Idaho border along the route) at 10 AM on June 7. His stated intention was to do the race at "a more leisurely pace", a strategy that appears to be working for him.
Follow the action daily as racers check in by phone with Tom Purvis at greatdividerace.blogspot.com.
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