It takes a hard man to ride a mountain bike 2,700 miles along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico, gaining over 200,000 feet of elevation in the process. It takes an even harder man to ride it with his wheels rarely touching a paved stretch of road. It takes a really hard man to do it entirely self-self supported, carrying everything he needs.
It takes a mad man to want to do it again—the kind of mad man who would say something like, “Cross-country racing is fun, but too short for my liking.”
Price Point team rider Markley Anderson is no stranger to challenges, physical or mental. Formerly a paratrooper in the infamous 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, Anderson has competed in powerlifting, bodybuilding and endurance and adventure races such as the TransAlp and the BC Bike Race. But when he arrived at the Mexican border in the dark, shaking beneath a crusted layer of salt and dirt 24 days after leaving the surreal postcard-like setting of Banff, Alberta, Canada, he swore he would never do it again. Now Anderson is quickly learning the meaning of the old adage never say never.
“It has a magnetism like no other event I have ever had the sweet and painful pleasure of getting to know,” Markley writes in his 2013 Letter of Intent. “Funny how one can be attracted to something that beats you down to what I can only describe as a crushed saltine cracker in a bowl of chicken noodle soup.”
Much like the men and women who attempt it, The Tour Divide is an entirely different kind of animal. There is no entry fee, you don’t need a license and there is absolutely zero support—save for emergency extraction, should you need it—along the way. Not a single prize is awarded. And although there is a mass start known as the Grand Départ in June, the race can be completed by anyone any time during the year.
Mild-mannered high-school counselor by day, masochistic mile-muncher by night, Anderson has already begun training and preparing for 2013.
“After having some time to reflect and heal from the wounds that the Tour Divide inflicts, I find myself wanting to venture back and improve my overall time— some kind of crazy romantic quality about the Tour,” Anderson muses. “In 2013, I plan to race the Tour Divide again with the focus being more on speed. Now that I have the experience from having done it, I will be better prepared in regards to equipment, training and mental resolve.“
Anderson will be attempting to best his own 24-day time set in 2011.
Follow this blog to see if he succeeds.
Read more about Anderson’s bike and gear here.
by Don Stefanovich