Initial Reflections on the Tour Divide

by Andy Amick on August 8, 2014

in Bikepacking, Dreams, Tour Divide 2014

The monster that is the Tour Divide is still too big for me to put into words. A month after finishing, I’m trying to process the ride in my own head.

All of it reminds me of a story my wife tells about her grandma. One morning when grandma was making breakfast, she asked the grandkids if they would like scrambled or fried eggs. Scrambled was a unanimous choice. Grandma responded with “Ok, we’ll have poached.” That is how the Tour Divide reacts when you think you have a plan or you think you have it all figured out. You get handed an answer that wasn’t even an option.


The first week was extremely difficult due to the weather – rain for 6 straight days with several periods of snow mixed into that.

Tour Divide, Red Meadow Lake

It was so wet and snowy that my camera couldn’t even get a good picture. This is pretty much the same view I had slogging through several miles of snow at the top of Red Meadow Lake outside of Whitefish, MT

Going up and over Richmond Peak was the worst period for me weather-wise.  Shivering while wearing all of your layers, including a down jacket, will cause some concern.  I never once thought of quitting the race, but that day, I did seriously consider stopping for the day after only 30 miles.  Luckily I kept going and the weather began to get better.

Tour Divide, Richmond Peak

The “trail” going up Richmond Peak. Not only was there snow on the ground, there was also several fresh inches of snow falling to make it more interesting.


The people along the route were absolutely fantastic!  There are the well-known spots at Ovando, Brush Mountain Lodge, and the Toaster House in Pie Town which lived up to their reputation.  In between those, there were lots of great people that would offer to help (even though we couldn’t accept it), give encouragement, or simply be excited for the riders to be on the adventure of riding our bikes for 2700+ miles.

On the outskirts of Helena, someone put together trail mix bags and some encouraging signs.

On the outskirts of Helena, someone put together trail mix bags and some encouraging signs.


There are no easy days on the Divide.  That may be the biggest lesson I learned from the riding itself.  I had planned a few short 90 mile days to let the body recover a bit.  Those turned into anything but easy due to the road surfaces or weather.  One example is the short 72 mile day from Abiquiu to Cuba.  Nic Handy and I were riding together and we were going to cruise the miles and then have the energy for a huge 160+ mile the next day.  Yeah right!

Even with the weather of the first week, the route was beautiful and every day had some amazing views.  When averaging 100+ miles a day, each day brings new landscapes and vegetation so the views never got old.

tour divide, bikepacking, brazos ridge, new mexico

Brazos Ridge in New Mexico at sunset

That’s it for now.  There will be plenty more details on the people and places of the Tour Divide.  Here’s one more picture of the brilliant blue Colorado skies that I was able to enjoy for several days.

marshall pass, salida, sargents, del norte, colorado view

View from the top of Marshall Pass in Colorado


About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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