The Tour Divide is THE bikepacking EVENT . In the world of sport there are some events that have a special value, beyond the competition. The Tour Divide is one of those, it certainly is for Sofiane Sehili who for 8 years had dreamed of finishing the 4,200 km of the route with her arms raised. 8 years of dreams, of effort, of training, of endless km, to get to this 2022, the one in which the dream became reality.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the most famous and prominent off-road bike route in the United States , if not the world. The route crosses the Continental Divide from north to south starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and ending at the US-Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, for a total of 4,200 km.
Sofiane had dreamed of winning this race for 8 years, for him it was THE BIG achievement . He would have liked to try to set a new speed record too, but the fires in New Mexico forced the organization to change the route and so no record attempt, that will be for another time.
Even if the 14 days 16 hours 36 minutes it took Sofiane to cover the 4200 km of the Tour Divide are very few. Sofiane was really fast. He faced cold, rain, mud, wind, hunger, lack of sleep and fatigue, a lot of fatigue, but the joy of winning is something truly incredible. And Miss Grape couldn't be happier than that, to have been a small part in making this dream come true.
Sofiane's words tell it all.
“After dreaming about it for 8 years, I finally did it: I won the Tour Divide.
8 years ago I was sitting in a restaurant in Steamboat Springs, CO, talking to Bruno Van Wilderode . I had met him that same morning at Brush Mountain Lodge. We were talking about the Tour Divide and I told him “I want to race. I think I can win it." He replied something like “You're crazy, that's impossible”. Which is what any rational person would think if someone with no cycling experience told them they wanted to win the toughest bikepacking race in the world.
But I'm a stubborn individual and when I set my mind to something, I just don't let it go. Over the course of several years I transformed from a tourer to a racer. Learning on the job, making mistakes. The skill was there, but the experience was not. I took my time, I had to persevere against adverse luck. But eventually I became a successful bikepack racer. I've scored major victories on some of the most brutal courses on the bikepacking circuit.
I felt like I was capable of winning anywhere except on TDs. I tried it in 2019, but the largest June snowstorm in Colorado history derailed my plans.
I could have given up. I could have told myself “You have nothing to prove. You have proven that you belong to the elite of the sport. You don't need that victory. Nothing will change for you." But I made that promise to myself at 32, in 2014 when I had the hardest time possible at the Divide. I promised him that I would get so strong that, one day, I would be the fastest from Banff to Antelope Wells .
Knowing you had what it took wasn't enough. I really had to do it. And so I did. Not to prove it to the world. Not to prove the doubters wrong, but just to keep a promise I made to myself. Because these are the most important things”