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I'd like to participate in Tour divide.

One of the hard part is planning where to sleep.
Especially hard when you have to research those from abroad. (I'm from south korea)

I realized they carry a tracker (spot tracker) for safety purpose and it's broadcasted and you can see them online (http://trackleaders.com/)

Wonder if I could find out where they slept (it could be out in wild, or it could be a proper lodging) from the spot track info?

I'm aiming for the record (you dream big!) and wonder if there's a way to find out where those top performers slept. :(

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  • 1
    Do you have access to files containing the Spots' pings?
    – Paul H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 6:22
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    I don't think @WaltoSalonen's point got through. They barely sleep at all
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 12:48
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    @eugene I don't think Mike Hall wrote much that got archived. Here's one article. And here's what his friend and fellow ultra-distance winner Emily Chappell wrote about him (it tells you a lot about his attitudes, but not the practicalities).
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:44
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    ...This interview might be the most relevant
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:52
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    @eugene I didn't include any names, but when I search for "tour divide [ride|race] report" I do get some relevant results. Also some for the GDMBR, which should be useful.
    – Adam Rice
    Nov 9, 2020 at 17:11

2 Answers 2

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It will take a lot of work, but you can get the data you need from trackleaders.com

First you bring up the live tracker for the year you are interested in for example for Mike Hall's record run http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide16

Next you navigate to the 'Race Flow' tab. This shows a time vs distance chart for the top racers that year. You can look for lengthy flat spots - that is where they slept. We can see in this example, Mike rode at a slower pace initially than some of the leaders, but rode for 41 hours before sleeping for approximately 3 hours.

When you have the time and distance from this chart (zoom in to get more accurate) you can then move to the 'Main Map' tab, wind the replay back to the period you are interested in, and zoom the map to find the exact spot they stopped.

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    OP might also consider that they might not be able to ride for 41 hours straight. That is a world-class effort, and many would call an 8 hour ride a big day. Not maintaining a similar speed would also put OP in a different location even if the times match.
    – Criggie
    Nov 9, 2020 at 12:08
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    @Criggie's spot on. I know people who can ride 40+ hours straight, but even among long-distance cyclists they're rare. Others can get away with cat-naps that will be hard to spot in the data (or of course a bit of both.
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 12:24
  • wow, yeah you can really see where they stopped.. thanks!!!
    – eugene
    Nov 9, 2020 at 13:44
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    @Criggie OP said he was aiming for the record, so my example was based on record pace. Once upon a time before TD became quite so popular and hardcore I was planning an attempt myself - didn't expect to ride much more than 10-12hrs/day. Sadly illness and injury prevented me going - maybe i'll do it at a more relaxed touring pace when I retire :)
    – Andy P
    Nov 9, 2020 at 17:50
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    When reading blogs of faster riders, the common theme is more around planning to be at locations where services (food/water) are available during the hours they are open. Some of those are key locations that can easily delay you 8-10hrs if you time it wrong. Sleeping on the other hand can be done virtually anywhere if you have appropriate kit.
    – Andy P
    Nov 9, 2020 at 17:53
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If you look at the riders who do well in these events, of course they don't sleep much, but beyond that (and not wasting time*) they don't have so much in common though I can think of a few examples where the winner skipped a night early on and kept that lead. Some sleep sooner but shorter. Crucially they only sleep when they really have to, and know enough about what they're capable of to understand how much sleep to get, so:

  • Planning for a good spot isn't relevant (except basic safety) as you'll want to be too exhausted to care.
  • Trying to go as far as last year's winner before the first sleep takes no account of different riders or differing conditions (riding conditions e.g. headwind, and sleep conditions e.g. shelter/not freezing).
  • Trying to go as long (time) might be better but you won't find that on a map and it still doesn't help with rider differences.
  • You don't want to nod off on a bike and wake up by crashing hard (though drifting off the road and waking up propped in a hedge seems fairly common).

Of course your sleep kit is inter-related with your sleep strategy - is it almost instant to use? good enough for every night but heavy? only fit for emergencies and catnaps?

Successful riders' own words probably help more than the data. A few examples I've come across that discuss the sleep aspect in some detail

  • Where there's a will by Emily Chappell (TCR '16 first woman). Award-winning and recently released in paperback.
  • I've heard Ian Walker (North Cape 4000 '18 winner) talk about it, probably in this lecture
  • I heard an interview with Fiona Kolbinger (TCR '19 winner) but can't recall where.

*One I've heard in various versions - if you're not riding, sleeping, or eating you're wasting time.

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  • thanks for great suggestions.
    – eugene
    Nov 9, 2020 at 13:45
  • One minor nitpick is that you identified two riders in the Transcontinental Race, which I'm pretty sure is on tarmac. The sleeping arrangements there might differ from Transamerica, which is a mostly MTB race. Nevertheless, they should be good reads for general ultraendurance strategy. Lael Wilcox, a former women's Transamerica winner, may have some writing as well.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:15
  • @WeiwenNg that's true (or at least road; it includes a fair bit of gravel road) North Cape was also (mainly) tarmac. It's not 100% accidental. The TCR route tends to have long sparsely-populated sections (from reading Emily Chappell's book and talking to riders). In a comment the OP mentions hotels, which will be similarly few and far between. TCR probably has more places to just sit/lie and sleep in existing shelter (though some form of bivvy is likely to be necessary) while Tour Divide is likely to have more options to pitch a bivvy or even a tent but fewer bus stops/church porches.
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:28
  • The Trans Am Bike Race is entirely on tarmac; the Tour Divide (the subject of the question) is mixed surface. Lael Wilcox has won both, I believe.
    – Adam Rice
    Nov 9, 2020 at 20:47
  • @AdamRice the tour divide is particularly interesting in that this photo of Mike Hall and others at the start shows a mix of flat and drop bars, gravel tyres, and in one case front suspension. I'm more familiar with British and European riders - while I don't personally know any of the ones I've mentioned, I have riding companions in common with some of them.
    – Chris H
    Nov 9, 2020 at 21:00

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