Featured photo for Cannondale & The Tour Divide
Photo: Matthew Lee

Cannondale & The Tour Divide

I was perusing the official Cannondale site, not that I am in the market for yet another bicycle any time soon, but because I was curious as to whether some of their newer models had any technology that would address some of the problems that afflicted mine (e.g., chainsuck) during the Tour Divide mountain bike race.

I’m still unsure of that, but I did come across a nice blurb about the Tour Divide and about winner Matthew Lee.

Ask people on the street who the greatest endurance athlete is in cycling, and most will respond simply: Lance.

We posit that they’d be wrong. Dead wrong.

Next question: What cycling event is longer than the Tour de France, is completed in fewer days, raced at a higher elevation, has no doping scandals and zero little coverage, even in niche cycling media?

Answer: The Tour Divide Race. It runs from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico—along the Continental Divide.

Once again, SoBe/Cannondale rider Matthew Lee won the race, completing the route (without support!) in less than 16 20 days. To accomplish this feat, his machine of choice was a Cannondale’s 29’er.

To learn more about this race and the astonishing handful of riders who participate every year, visit the race’s official web site; to read about the route, please see Adventure Cycling’s page on the race.

[Original page is here.]

Might I also add that Tour Divide’s course is also much more difficult than the Tour de France’s because over 85% of it is off-road, with steeper climbs and things like downed trees and snow to traverse. And that Matthew Lee is the undisputed God of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, having raced it far more than anyone else in the world.

The other Cannondale in the race, my yellow ’96 F700 hardtail, also demonstrated that even the company’s 12-year-old offerings are competent. The 26er was lightweight and rugged, and the DD50 HeadShok performed magnificently. I was particularly thankful for its lock-out feature requiring just a flick of the wrist. Beginning with Week #2 of the Tour Divide, I was locking out the fork on 90% of the uphills, enabling me to climb much better. I also locked out the HeadShok on all pavement sections so I could pedal out of the saddle without any energy being wasted on compressing the fork.

Day 26: It didn't get any better: monsoons, mud, steep climbs, horrible chainsuck, and multiple flat tires through the Gila Wilderness.  But I'd only stop after it got dark and I literally crashed.

Kudos to Cannondale and congrats to Matthew!

Photos not created by Felix Wong may be subject to copyright.
Matthew Lee at the finish of the 2008 Tour Divide. Photo: Matthew Lee.
Photo: Matthew Lee
Matthew Lee at the finish of the 2008 Tour Divide.