The Tour Divide is an annual unsupported bikepacking race that traverses the Continental Divide from Banff in Canada to the U.S. border with Mexico. The route is over 4000 km long with more than 60,000 meters (read LOTS of mountain passes!) of climbing. It’s a route that captured my imagination long before I started riding. Having the good health, time & resources to even attempt a ride like this, is something that was beyond my wildest dreams as recently as a few short years ago.
In 2020, having never attempted anything like it before, some friends & I had this crazy idea to enter Curve Cycling’s Race to the Rock. A 2500 km route from Normanville, South Australia to Uluru in the Northern Territory. Party pace, constant tunes & all the snacking. That experience was even more fun than it sounded. Since then I’ve been HOOKED.
Aside from thousands of kilometers of solo bike adventures within Australia, a good handful of little (1000 km or less bikepacking races) & an ITT of the 2022 Race to (from) the Rock course, last year I dipped my toe in the international bikepacking scene by taking on Curve Cycling’s Rhino Run bikepacking race in Africa. It turns out cycle tourism on an off-road race route is the best way to see a new place; I can’t think of any other circumstance that would lead me to ride alone under desert skies at night, communing with Aardvarks & hyenas.
And so, here I am again, lucky to be on the edge of something big, scary & crazy exciting. This time, as a proud *official* member of the Curve Cycling squad, ready to take my almost brand new Big Kev called “Miles” on what could be the ride of her life, through the snow, the forest, all the mountains, the desert & more.
What’s special about Big Kev is that it’s an XS titanium 29er “gravel plus” bike, with a Curve Cycling Ride 415 carbon fork. Vittoria Mezcal 29 x 2.25 up front & 29 x 2.1 in the back.
Big Kev is kitted out with a SRAM AXS (Rival/ GX) Mullet drivetrain (34T oval up front & 10/52 in the back). The wheels are Curve Cycling carbon Dirt Hoops, complete with DT Swiss rear hub & a Shutter Precision dynamo up front.
Curve Cycling Walmer Bars were a revelation when I first tried them on my trusty Kevin of Steel & I’m really excited to go long with them. The sweep, the flare & the width are all game changing for bikepacking & day to day fun. They’re what you’d get if MTB bars & drop bars had a bikepacking baby. There’s plenty of storage space for bags & the extended 31.8 section either side of the clamping area means that my aero bars & endless gadgets are super easy to mount. I love that there are loads of options when it comes to hand positions, great for leverage when the terrain is tricky & they’ve given me a confidence boost when I’m descending. Most importantly, they’re very comfortable, especially with all the cushy gel I’m running under that crazy long bar tape!
I’ve been fortunate enough to run Klite dynamo lights & USB charging for all of my off road journeys. This time the kLite Bikepacker ULTRA V2 light is mounted to VAP Cycling Butterfly 3 aero bars; having the light so far out front means the ‘daylight’ these crazy lights produce isn’t impacted by any of the gear I’m carrying on my bars.
My VAP aero bars have some sneaky 3D printed mods, thanks to Curve Cycling technical lead Jimmy “JTS” Röstlund. JTS also designed the 3D printed Klite Qube rear light mount that fits my Big Kev’s seat stay perfectly.
I’ve been running Revelate seatpost & feed bags since day 1; so durable & well designed. My Aussie made Bike Bag Dude top tube bag has also been with me since that very first race; this Dude makes such DURABLE stuff. My sleep kit is all wrapped up in an Exped waterproof compression bag that fits neatly in the sling that comes with the aerobars. An Exped Flex Mat (trimmed to April Size) is so tough it doesn’t need a bag & rounds out the camping portion of the cockpit.
I’ve earned a reputation amongst my bikepacking friends, for over packing things like tools, spares, first aid, electronics & gluten free snacks & I wouldn’t have it any other way. Carrying all the things, to all the random little places, whilst having as much fun as possible is what this silly game is all about.
If you would like to follow April on her journey on the Tour Divide you can dot watch on Trackleaders.com Tour Divide 2023 Live Tracker from June 9th, 2023. You can also follow her here: @aprilawol