Local Knoxville, Tennessee mountain biker Eleanor McDonough is participating in the Tour Divide race from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the US-Mexico border at Antelope Wells, NM. This 2745 mile bicycle race began on June 12, 2015, and will take self-supported riders through windswept valleys and mountain passes of the Continental Divide to the badlands of the Mexican Plateau. With a completion time of about 3 weeks, this race is well suited for the ultra-fit and those willing to get out of their comfort zone.
Allan had the opportunity to photograph Eleanor (and her two adorable dogs) on the mountain bike trails near her home a few weeks before her departure to Bannf and I met her recently if ever so briefly, at the Appalachian Mountian Bike Club Epic Weekend at Big South Fork. Eleanor, or E as she is known to her close friends and supporters from the bicycle community, has been training intensely for this race and will require all of her energy to strategically ride the remote Great Divide Mountain Bike Route safely, speedily and skillfully. She'll travel over pavement, gravel roads, four-wheel-drive roads, singletrack and old railroad beds achieving over 200,000 feet in elevation gain along the way. I encourage you to read the description of the trail route as it is steeped in history and you will have a greater sense of the trials and tribulations riders are facing on this quest. Frigid nights, hot days and the possibility of bad weather are taken in stride.
Eleanor is riding to raise funds for Musella Foundation to benefit her older brother who has survived brain cancer for 11 years as well as other cancer patients and their families. Click here for more information or to make a donation. Follow Eleanor's progress here and track the progress of all the riders here.
As a novice mountain biker and someone who has never logged 100 miles in one day on my bicycle, let alone every day for nearly one month, I am fascinated by the dedication and training of these riders. Females typically average around 93 miles a day with a completion time of just under 30 days. That's a lot of time in the saddle on long stretches of formidable terrain, alone, with only the supplies and resources you can carry on your bicycle! This is certainly not a race for the unprepared.
There are some very strict rules to this race and one is that no one aside from locals of the towns the ride passes through can have any interactions with participants and then it may only be brief. This is one of the reasons I find it so important to Eleanor's friends and family to have access to the tracking website so they can be there with her as best they can. Ever since hearing about Eleanor's ride I have tried to imagine myself taking the same journey and I can't fathom the amount of training and preparation she's gone through. She's in my thoughts as she traverses the country and makes her way south. Please keep her in yours as well.
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