The Media Roots of the Tour Divide...
[BUMP FROM 6/22/11]
A dose of backgrounding is always a helpful supplement to the "live" reports of any race. You get a lot more out of the info when you have some "set & setting."
Racers and spectators both go through challenges in a race like the TD. Yes, racers aren't the only ones provoked, inspired ... changed ... by a race like this. (Last year we followed along only to one day get the news of the death of one of our heroes. His SPOT stopped moving...)
Here are FOUR nifty ways to get further insight into the event. Indeed, following the news, updates, call-in's, blogs, and Bikepacking.net forum thread -- the whole richness of the Quicky Web -- still only gave me HALF the feel for the event that these media backgrounders did!
So, remember, following this race requires the savvy you get from combining the live/online scene with the media/heritage backgrounding of the following lore items.
In no particular order...
*1: Steve's Online Report: A couple years ago my eye was attracted by a cluster of 8 riders who closed in on the finish well after the leaders had reached the end. You might think a race is over when the winner finishes, right? Not with the TD! Heck, from the little SPOT dots it looked like something nifty was brewing out there in the lonely mountains. Sure enough, there WAS an interesting story there, of life riding in what writer/racer Steve Wilkinson called the "peloton." He wrote it up and posted it. Here's a link to his report on the 2009 TD: http://www.bikepacking.net/multiday-race-reports/the-story-of-eight-tour.... (The Snack-Shack and the Toaster House were news to me and are big uplifts as the peloton closes in on the finish.)
*2: The Cordillera, Journal of the TD: You can download an eBook at this link for a nominal fee. Or you can pay a tad more and click'n'wait for a lovely little perfectbound paper version to be mailed to you, which I did. What a sweet cover! A bunch of essays and reports look at the race from all sorts of angles. Amazing writing and insights. You'll be impressed! Not redundant to other sources. *REALLY, GET ALL THE ISSUES THAT HAVE COME OUT SO FAR.* http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-cordillera-volume-1/11051486
*3: "Ride the Divide," the movie: It's a hit. Documentary storytelling from everywhere along the line of racers. One woman rider had her legs swell up terribly but she pressed on and luckily made it thru the crisis. The footage of spacey winner Matthew Lee bushcamping was the best, I thought. He's filmed laying under an evergreen, saying how natural the process felt, getting in the rhythm of flowing thru the bush. Sleeping out then getting up and getting rolling again. You could tell it wasn't breaking him down, that he was grooving on it. (One of his many tricks is famously NOT to get hooked on the motels, and because he's on his own he doesn't get bogged down with the conflicting timings of trying to keep a group moving. http://www.ridethedividemovie.com/store/
*4: "Eat, Sleep, Ride" by Paul Howard: Paul, of the UK, is amazing. He races AND he's a great journalist/reporter/writer. I'm more impressed by art talent than athletic. But to have both? He raced TD in 2009 and has since then been TD's main online reporter. (I helped on the website last year and it was amazing watching him steadily come up with great reports.) He also once followed the Tour de France, riding each stage every day, and wrote a book about it. Now he's also written a book about his TD experience. (The UK edition is called "Two Wheels on My Wagon.") Via Amazon (and the OYB-benefit link): http://www.amazon.com/Eat-Sleep-Ride-Badlands-Breakfasts/dp/1553658175/jeffpottersoutyoA.