One of the constants of bikepacking races and records has been dealing with sleep deprivation while pushing the body’s physical limits, but Lachlan Morton wants to try and deliver a fast time over The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route without giving up too much valuable rest time.
The Australian, who has a habit of taking an unconventional approach, is setting out to go as fast as he can over the remote and rugged 2,671-mile (4,298km) trail from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, with one proviso – he is delivering a self-imposed quota of 12 hours of rest every 48 hours.
“I’ve done a few ultras now and they have all involved a fair bit of sleep deprivation in trying to go fast,” Morton said in a statement from his EF Education-EasyPost team. “The last one I did was the Colorado Trail around this time last year. And I enjoyed that experience, but in the last kind of push I was pretty sleep deprived and wasn’t enjoying it and had that realization that ‘I don’t want to do this again.’”
The fastest known time of 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes was set in 2016 by the unmatched ultra-endurance behemoth Mike Hall, who died in 2017 when struck from behind while racing in Australia.
The trail is home to the self-supported Tour Divide each year, with this year’s winner Ulrich Bartholmoes completing the journey in 14 days, three hours and 23 minutes, getting impressively close to Hall’s record despite the race presenting sections of the peanut butter mud that played havoc at Unbound for the riders to push their bikes through.
The German rider’s tracking dot data recorded a total stopping time of three days, seven hours and 31 minutes on the Tour Divide, which equates to approximately five and a half hours a day total stopping time though that is total stopped time, not just rest time, and in this case also included ten hours tucked out of the weather in a port-a-loo waiting for the sticky mud to dry enough to be slightly more passable.
“I want to do this on a pretty good amount of sleep every night for a few reasons,” said Morton. “The main one: I want to enjoy the riding, and it becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy what you are doing when you are running on minimal sleep, for me anyways, because you are not as present and aware. I don’t want to enter that space.