Ride the Divide

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I watched Ride the Divide last weekend on Netflix and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a documentary following the 2008 “Grand Depart” of the Tour Divide, a 4418km unsupported mountain bike race from Banff, AB to the USA/Mexico border in New Mexico.


The race is very much a gentleman’s agreement and a time trial. There’s no way for anyone to police all the riders so they just do it on the honor system. There’s also no need to leave on the “Grand depart” date, you could start at any point in the summer and submit a time.

The race mainly follows three riders, including the winner, Matthew Lee, who’s a veteran of the race and ends up winning in 2009 and 2010 as well (and possibly the other years but I can’t find results). All the riders except Matthew are shown going to very, very dark places within themselves as they grapple with the loneliness of riding all day, every day for roughly three weeks.

It makes me wonder a little bit if it’s just editing magic that prevents us seeing Matthew mentally breaking down, or if he really is a mental Superman on the ride. The timing of it makes me want to believe he’s that tough. It’s when the other riders are falling apart that he’s enjoying the scenery the most.

The ride looks absolutely beautiful, and three weeks is a pretty good summer vacation. Given how I’m pretty obsessed with this film it may sound like I’m about to throw out a suggestion of “Tour Divide summer ’14?”. But, I can’t imagine training for that. Training for a year or more to get your body used to riding 12 hours a day for 3 weeks? Eugh, I can’t spend that much time on a bike and not lose my mind. Great film though.

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