The Tour Divide Race got off to a rocky — or rather snowy — start as at least ten riders had to be rescued in Fernie, B.C. due to weather in the past three days, according to CTV News. The race officially started on June 10 in Banff. The Tour Divide is about 2,700 miles long and stretches from Banff down to the US-Mexico border along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
According to CTV, Fernie had more than three inches of rain over just two days. Rain turned to snow at higher elevation in the Kootenay mountain range.
Fernie Search and Rescue began responding on or around June 10, according to a post shared to the Tour Divide Facebook group by Simon Piney with Fernie Search and Rescue. Fernie Search and Rescue responded to three more riders as of yesterday.
“We are hopeful that this is the last of these riders who have kept all the SAR groups very busy over the last few days,” the group posted on their Facebook page.
“We slightly lost count, but I think it would be between 10 to 15,” Fernie Search and Rescue leader Simon Piney told CTV. Athletes were in different stages of hypothermia and some crashed and sustained head injuries. The conditions have been notoriously bad this year, Piney said.
Conditions haven’t improved beyond the Canadian border. Another rider required rescue in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park in Montana on Tuesday, according to the Daily Inter Lake.
The rider activated his GPS device for help after he crashed, lost his way, and then encountered floodwaters. The response team consisted of U.S. Border Patrol, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Park Rangers, and Fernie Search and Rescue again, but they couldn’t find the rider’s location due to flooding. A Minutemen Aviation helicopter picked up Park Rangers and flew to the Kishenehn Drainage and discovered the injured rider, a 25-year-old male from Wyoming.
Bikepacking.com notes that no records can be set this year due to wildfire reroutes in New Mexico. Sofiane Sehili is still leading this year’s group and is currently tracking just south of the Teton National Forest.