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Lachlan Morton Scorches the Tour Divide Route Record, but Won’t Get the FKT

"I don't know if fun's the right word."

a man rides a bicycle with a storm in the backgroundLachlan Mortan on his way to a scorching Great Divide time; (photo/Ryan Hill/EF Education-EasyPost Instagram: @_ryanhill_ / @efprocycling)
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It’s been an eventful year on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), and the hits keep coming. The most recent happening is Lachlan Morton‘s scorching 12-day, 12-hour, 21-minute finish — a time that technically beats the late Mike Hall‘s 2016 fastest known time (FKT) of 13:22:51.

There’s only one problem. Morton had a film crew along during his effort. Because a crew violates the Great Divide’s spirit of “true aloneness,” many sources report Morton won’t be awarded the official FKT.

The Tour Divide, the yearly race along the GDMBR, kicked off on June 9, with Ulrich Bartholomoes leading the men’s division with 14:03:23 and Lael Wilcox crushing the women’s division with 16:20:00. Morton began his solo attempt along the route on August 29 and finished on September 10.

The ride saw the 31-year-old Australian dodging a thunderstorm in Wyoming, which he called “hands down the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had,” in an interview published on the EF Education-EasyPost team website. Later, he rode the final 600 miles without a functional derailleur.

(Photo/Ryan Hill/EF Education-EasyPost. Instagram: @ryanhill / @efprocycling)

Morton started his career in road cycling but is known for his long-distance endurance events. Still, crushing the Tour Divide was a new experience for the rider.

“I’ve never spent such a long period of time so singularly focused. It just simplified everything: living a life for a few weeks where you’re just riding, getting to the next point, finding food. It strips everything back and makes you realize how complicated we make our lives,” the cyclist noted.

“And also, the fact that the U.S. has so many beautiful and wild places. As someone who’s not from the States, you don’t necessarily think of that as the first thing when you think about the U.S. For me, the single biggest appeal of the country is the fact that there are so many amazing national parks and spaces that you can go and experience, and it’s just beautiful and wild,” Morton continued.

No Sleep? Not This Time

Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence on timed endurance efforts, but Morton prioritized recovery on this ride, snoozing at least 6 hours a night. The strategy paid off, allowing Morton to push even harder when awake.

“There were only two times when I felt sleep-deprived,” he said. “And just remembering that feeling from previous ultras, I was like, ‘Oh, this sucks. I’m glad I’m not experiencing this every day.'”

(Photo/Ryan Hill/EF Education-EasyPost. Instagram: @ryanhill / @efprocycling)

And, of course, with a route as remote as the GDMBR, wildlife is a certainty. Morton saw scads of moose, wild horses, a pack of wolves, and more bear signs than he was comfortable with. And every time he did, it reminded him that he was out in the wild, doing something special.

“That’s a big part of being human, right? Being out there and realizing that we are not the top of the food chain. We’re pretty ill-equipped when it comes to surviving in extreme environments. Going out and experiencing those things has a lot of value, and I hope that by doing this ride, more people are inspired to go out and experience those things. It was nice to ride it fast, but I think the people I met who were touring the route and out there experiencing it, they were the real winners of the Tour Divide.”

(Photo/Ryan Hill/EF Education-EasyPost. Instagram: @ryanhill / @efprocycling)

Earlier this month, endurance cycling legend Jay Petervary’s own FKT attempt was derailed when a vehicle struck him outside of Silverton, Colo. Petervary is expected to recover fully.

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Who Is Lachlan Morton? Professional Cycling's Outlier

Lachlan Morton has stepped out of the traditional path of professional cyclists to become one of the sport's most prolific adventurers. Read more…

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