In a Facebook post yesterday, Guy Martin stated publicly that he wouldn’t be competing in the Isle of Man TT race this year. He’d mentioned that he was thinking about that – and what he might do instead – a few times in the past year, such as at the Singletrack Awards Dinner and the Kendal Mountain Festival. Now he’s revealed what he’s going to tackle. He wanted a challenge, so he picked one of the hardest bike races of all: The Tour Divide.
It’s reputed as the toughest cycle race in the world, covering 2745 winding miles of wild country From Alberta to New Mexico. Along the way it has more than 200,000 feet of climbing. As well as the navigational challenge of the route being unmarked, and the challenges of self-sufficiency required, there are also bears and mountain lions. On average, a rider needs to cover around a hundred and fifty miles a day, and those days will often be sixteen hour slogfests where you need to focus not so much on speed, but more on just keeping the pedals turning.
As a former Strathpuffer competitor, Guy is obviously a fit man and no stranger to endurance events, but as far as we know he’s never done any bikepacking before. He now has six months in which train, settle on strategy, and test kit to the point where he sure he can rely on it continuously for, well, 14 days if he intends to break the record, 10 weeks if he (unlikely!) gives up on racing and makes it more of a tour. That preparation is going to be an interesting journey in itself.