Monday, May 21, 2012

Bryce to Ride Divide on Cohutta

Ultra cyclist Bryce Walsh will ride the Cohutta in the 2012 Tour Divide, an unsupported race that challenges riders to traverse the backbone of the U.S. and part of Canada, starting in Banff, Alberta, and ending in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The Tour Divide is the world’s longest off-pavement cycling route. At completion, a rider will have climbed nearly 200,000 feet (the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest from sea-level seven times!).
Racers must not only navigate old forest service roads and jeep trails but also complete the ride wholly unsupported (barring a few exceptions). Bryce, who
 is also a cycling coach at Vision Quest in Chicago, will ride through Grizzly country, bivy sack along the route for rest and endure16-plus-hour days in the saddle. He’ll be riding through desolate country, but will occasionally pass through towns, where he can resupply and rest up.
“Just ride until you have to sleep,” Bryce says of his strategy, which is something he’s used to doing in endurance races around the world. Bryce’s 2011 race roster included 
the Paris-Brest-Paris and the Hill Country 600 (Race Across Oregon).
“I’ve been joking that I was doing a 7,400-mile training ride in Africa,” says Bryce with a laugh. “And I’m hitting up all the Wizard of OZ animals, from lions and tigers to bears.”
Humor aside, Bryce has some apprehension about the race. “The Divide is the one that is a little bit out of my comfort zone, because I am 
not as experienced of a mountain biker. Riding on trails at night when I am tired... I wonder how the off-road aspect will translate. I don’t know if 
I can do it,” he says. “That’s what’s exciting about it.” The Tour Divide record is 17 days, 23 hours, 45 minutes, set by Matthew Lee.

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