The Tour Divide Guide

The tour divide is one of the most challenging yet equally rewarding annual mountain bike rides that start in Canada and ends in Mexico. Riders cover a distance of more than four thousand kilometers in this ride and are therefore considered an ultra-distance cycling ride. It is not a staged race which makes it an ultimate test for the riders. Time is continuous and riders have to put in their best efforts not only one day but every single day. The tour divide bike race follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike route and features a number of terrains. Usually, riders are able to complete this ride in two weeks or more.
The ride does not require any entry fees or sponsorship, therefore anyone can be a part of it. You can simply show up on the day when the ride starts and enroll yourself. All you need to do is sign a letter of intent and you are good to go. The tour divide mtb race begins on the second Friday of June every year and riders from all over the region participate in it. On average riders travel a distance of 280 km and follow the bikepacking style where they carry minimal equipment for camping and enough supplies to last the distance between supply towns. Riders are tracked using SPOT satellite messengers which record the progress of each rider throughout the ride. If you are thinking about participating in Tour Divide, the following are some of the things that you must know.

Part 1: Knowing the Route

The tour divide race, as mentioned above, stretches across the Great Divide Mountain Bike route which was mapped by the North American Adventure Cycling Organization in 4 years and was published in 1998. Ever since a heavy influx of riders is experienced on these long dirt roads and jeep trails each year. Cyclists transit through the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, making their way towards the American soil where they travel through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado and finally reach New Mexico.

By the end of the race, riders not only cover a distance of 4,418 kilometers but also gain an altitude of 200,000 feet. There are no formal stops on the route which means that riders have to rely on what is available to them for food, shelter, and other facilities. The route is convoluted by intense trails and forests that are home to grizzly bears and cougars. It is mostly unmarked, as a result, it requires proficient navigational skills.

tour divide bike

Part 2: Prep

Physical Training

The Tour divide race requires extensive physical strength. Riders have to ride for extended hours to cover their daily targets. This essentially means riding for 16 or more hours and covering more than a hundred and fifty miles a day. You should start training for the ride well before the race date. You should begin your physical training at least six months before the event and should be largely based on strength and endurance-building programs.

Mental Training

Long rides like these not only require physical strength but also demands mental strength from the rider. You have to be mentally strong enough to not ride one day but ride for consecutive weeks. Usually, riders quit in the mid-way because it becomes very stressful and hectic, just within days. They have to face tough conditions which include diverse and extreme weather conditions, limited food supplies, risks of injuries, and mechanical failures. Not to mention, riders are also emotionally challenged as they miss their home and their loved ones.

Ultra distance races as such or any other can only be completed with motivation, burning desire to win, and sheer dedication. It’s only when you start to believe in yourself, that you unlock your true potential. As soon as you start your physical training, you should mentally prepare yourself for the ride. This can be done by understanding the route in detail and meeting or communicating with riders that have already completed the Tour Divide in the past.

Part3: Gear

Good gear is quintessential for rides like these. It allows you to remain comfortable during the ride and you can cover greater distances. Gears and Equipment can be categorized into 8 main segments that include;


Needless to say, you need a good mountain bike if you want to participate in Tour Divide. It has to be lightweight and should have enough space so that it can carry all your equipment while ensuring that riding comfort and handling won’t compromise. A full suspension is always better as it allows for shock absorption and riding comfort.


Bag setups usually differ from rider to rider as it is highly dependent on personal preferences. Generally, your bags should contain all the essentials alongside first aid and some repair tools. It is always advisable to carry waterproof/water-resistant bags as placing and removing a rain cover on each bag is time-consuming and hectic. Waterproof bags would not only keep your luggage safe from rain and snow but would also allow for better accessibility and consumer utility.


Sleep is important for your performance. If you don’t rest enough, you couldn’t ride for long periods of time and the fatigue would increase. Ideally, you should have a sleep system that can protect you from all kinds of extreme weather. You should at least have an all-weather foldable tent alongside a quilt. It should be enough to house all of you and all your luggage if needed.


As there are no formal stops, you should carry basic tools that would allow you to fix your bike. You should also carry some spares with you such as tubes, brake pads, or a chain set. Other items include a puncture repair kit, chain lube, and a portable air pump to name a few.

All in all Tour Divide is an extensive biking event that would test all that you have learned as a Mountain Biker. You just need to keep yourself focused and complete the ride. Crossing the finish line first or last doesn’t matter, completing the ride is a huge achievement in itself.