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Tour Divide with Hal Russell (Podiumwear PRO)

For those of you unfamiliar with the Tour Divide, let's bring you up to speed quick :

  • The Tour Divide is an Endurance Mountain Bike Event started in 1999
  • All participants of the Tour Divide are entirely Self-Supported
  • The Tour Divide traverses the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
  • The Adventure Cycling Association describes the route as so:

    "Ride the longest off-pavement route in the world. The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is Adventure Cycling's premier off-pavement cycling route, crisscrossing the Continental Divide north to south. This route is defined by the word "remote." Its remoteness equates with spectacular terrain and scenery. The entire route is basically dirt-road and mountain-pass riding every day. In total, it has over 200,000 feet of elevation gain."

  • The Tour Divide is 2,745 miles in it's entirety.

There. Now we're set.

We had the opportunity to support one such participant this year, Mr. Hal Russell. Hal exemplifies everything we love about cycling. He's one of the kindest, hardest working folks you'd hope to meet. We gave him a jacket and a jersey for this year's journey, and here's what he had to tell us about it :

Podiumwear : How many years have you attempted the Tour Divide, Hal?

Hal : I have attempted the Tour Divide 3 times. 2013, 2014 and 2015. I have finished it all 3 times.

Podiumwear : What was your favorite memory from this year's attempt?

Hal : Actually - as always - it is the whole race. All three years I have began the race with three objectives :

  1. To meet nice interesting people a long the Tour Divide Trail from all walks of life.
  2. Embrace the beauty, danger, and purity of the adventures encountered along the continental divide.
  3. Remember Vietnam; close doors and pay tribute to a few old Vietnam friends.

My favorite memory or memories was of the person I rode with the last week of the race through New Mexico. Jen Marsh and I had ridden solo the whole race until just outside of New Mexico. Our paths had crossed a few times briefly with me always staying just ahead of Jen. Finally Jen caught up with me in Horca, Colorado and we decided to ride to the New Mexico border together. Jen and are both Army War Vets and we found our personalities pretty well matched in being able to handle the hardships and beauty of everything the race presents. When we were slammed to a dead stop with storms and mud - Jen was able to smile and endure whatever came our way. We smiled, laughed and probably even shed a tear or two racing and working as hard as we could to make it to Antelope Wells in 28 days. Jen is the toughest person I have ever ridden with.

Another pretty neat memory was an encounter with a rattle snake on a trail outside of Del Norte, Colorado. The snake was in the trail and as I rode past it the snake struck my shoe, but didn't bite me. I stopped and to make sure I was okay and took a few pictures. To me this is what the Tour Divide is about! It is the adventure! 

Podiumwear : What was your biggest challenge on this year's attempt?

Hal : I guess it was getting through the mud in New Mexico. However, the race itself is the challenge; you just deal with things as they come. That is the Tour Divide, I do not wonder if I can finish. For me - I know I can - what I don't know is what will happen next? That is what is cool about the race and keeps me coming back!

Podiumwear : How long have you known Mac and the gang at Truman Lake Bikes?

Hal : Well, since Mac had his first race at Warsaw maybe seven or eight years ago. I just kept showing up and they sort of took me in as one of them. I found a bike home there!!!!!

Podiumwear : What is the smallest thing you take with you that you found the greatest use for?

Hal : This is the easiest question, but maybe it is the biggest thing! It is not a physical that can be measure in size. It is the well wishes, good karma and help I receive from my family, dear friends, old Vietnam friends and friends I make a long the trail.

We were lucky to meet Hal through Mac at Truman Lake Bikes, and if you're in the area be sure to visit Mac and all the gang! I hear they tune a fork better than anyone in Missouri.

Be sure to follow along as we continue to sponsor Hal and all his epic adventures in the future!