Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tour Divide 2011: The Gila to Antelope Wells Recap

My recap...(I originally posted this as a comment on a friend's blog).

It was a great finish! The Gila my home turf, and I can imagine what these guys experienced riding through there. Matthew Lee, 5-time winner and race director/creator, says New Mexico is the most beautiful and the toughest part of the race. I'd have to agree with him.

The western part of New Mexico is sparsely populated and there are not many places to resupply. We are talking places like El Rito (pop. ~1100), Abiquiu (pop. ~1,300), Cuba (pop. ~550), Milan/Grants (pop. ~11,200), Pie Town (pop. ~190), Pinos Altos (pop. <100), Silver City [my hometown] (pop. ~10,500), and Hatchita (pop. ~90). It you combined the population of those places, you might come up with 25,000 people. Only Grants and Silver City have 24 hour services.

The Gila is very tough territory. Hilly forest, but hot and dry. This year there was a reroute after the North Star road (Beaverhead to the Mimbres) that takes the riders up the Continental Divide Trail from Sapillio Creek to Meadow Creek (climbing all along a ridge). From Meadow Creek, riders took a USFS road that climbs to the NM 15. NM 15 is mostly downhill, but there is a steep climb into the village of Pinos Altos. After P.A. is a climb over the continental divide then a 1000 ft drop in 6 miles to Silver City. Apparently Kurt and Jefe both ran out of water and food on the CDT and they were able to make to Pinos Altos where they recharged at the icecream parlor.

From Silver City there is about 15 miles of pavement of US 90 to the Separ Rd. The Separ Road is the last section of dirt of the TD route. This road is notorious with sand traps and washboard sections. It has claimed more than one rider over the years and this year it was Jefe who lost. One of his fork-mounted waterbottle cages broke and fell into his front wheel breaking two spokes and causing a flat. It probably set him back at least an hour.

Kurt rolled into Antelope Wells around 5:00 AM according to his call-in. I am estimating Jefe rolled in about 8:00 AM, so it was close. Definitely the closest finish that I can recall.

Big hats off to all the riders who started and to those who finish.

Again, big thanks to Matthew Lee!

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