Lachlan Morton’s attempt at the Tour Divide route is off to a fast start, with the rider having crossed the US border and settled in for a rest at Whitefish on his second day after clocking up a total of 363 miles (585km).
Not that it has been all smooth sailing in the opening stages of the EF Education-EasyPost rider’s planned journey of approximately 2,600 miles from Banff in Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells in New Mexico, United States. As Morton set off in the Canadian Rockies at 9:03am local time on Tuesday August 29, there were fires sparked by lightning that meant he had to take diversions along the way to his planned day one rest stop at Fernie.
The 31-year-old Australian still pushed the pace and arrived at the mountain town at 7.30pm. He then set off again before 2am on Wednesday to settle in for a long day on the bike under a blanket of rain fuelled by instant coffee – with its consumption clearly not driven by his taste buds.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have kept drinking it if it weren’t 1am. That s— was terrible,” said Morton in an update put out by his team on the tracking page.
But there was far more than thoughts of bad tasting beverages to punctuate his 18 hours on the bike. He went through the US border, stopped to quickly grab food in Eureka and then pushed on into the wet weather with his rain coat zipped up and drink bottle filled with hot chocolate.
There was a pack of wolves, herd of wild horses and moose along the way as the early morning drizzle, turned into showers and it felt like those could even turn to snow as Morton took on the two final climbs of the day in Montana, which peaked at an altitude of nearly 2,500m.
“I have never been so cold for so long on a bike ever,” said Morton from Whitefish once stopped. “But I feel amazing on the bike.”
Morton is setting out to tackle the route of the Tour Divide, an annual self-supported mountain bike race which in 2023 took place through June. The fastest known time is 3 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes set by the unmatched ultra-endurance behemoth Mike Hall at the event in 2016.
Morton has, however, set himself a self-imposed quota of 12 hours of rest every 48 hours and while he’ll be chasing the fastest time possible, even if he did beat Hall’s time the presence of a camera crew would likely preclude it from being considered a record. Additionally the course of the self-supported race has gone through alterations in the meantime, as has the Great Divide Mountain Bike…