Robust or Bust | Tour Divide won on SRAM X0 Hub and SRAM XX1
Jefe Branham wins the Tour Divide with SRAM X0 Hub and XX1
The now annual Tour Divide is a grueling 2700+ mile race which started six years ago back in 2008. Traditionally starting in Banff Alberta, Canada and traveling through British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico it follows the Adventure Cycling Association's Great Divide MTB Route.
The race criss crosses the Continental Divide as it winds its way south along a mix of dirt roads, jeep trails, gravel, pavement and singletrack. It began with just a few brave souls and has grown to well over 130 hardy riders heading out to test their mettle.
Second place finisher back in 2011, Jefe Branham returned in 2014 hungrier than ever. Now a long time test pilot for many things SRAM and RockShox he chose SRAM XX1 along with the new SRAM X0 rear hub for its robust reliability and efficiency to roll on to victory against all odds.
"Simply riding the Divide is a huge undertaking for even the toughest of athletes, to Race the Divide is something in and of itself.” – Branham said.
“I became obsessed with the Divide way back in 2005 and raced it in 2011. It was a dream come true and I managed to not only finish and pull off second place. Parts of me thought I was done with the TD, satisfied and beat down enough to leave it alone. Yet in the back of my mind the Divide brewed until this past winter when I decided to race it again this June 2014. I went into the race this year with the lofty goal of not only racing, but winning, setting a new record and trying to get as close to 14 days as I could manage. Not one of these dream goals is easy, with over 130 racers from all over the world and the massiveness of the course itself, so many things can go wrong, and usually they do.I trained like mad. I planned and tested gear. I built my bike exactly how I wanted it to be, a balance of light weight, durability and performance. I ran an Ibis Tranny 29er, with a Niner Carbon fork, simple, light, snappy and strong. I chose the SRAM XX1 drivetrain as it served me without fail all last season, including winning the Colorado Trail Race. l also ran a SRAM XO rear hub for it was smooth and flawless over many, many miles, I ran Avid BB7 brakes for the simplicity, reliability and field serviceability. The rest of the bike reflected upon durability and function.
Pulling in over 150 miles a day, everyday for over two weeks. Eating gas station food and greasy diner food, sleeping in the ditch, getting up tired, hungry and sore and doing it all over again. No support, no massages, no team cars, jut you and whatever is out there to keep you focused fueled and motivated.
For me the race this year was a battle. I managed to pull off the front line within the first 24 hours by not stopping to sleep and riding through the first night. I ended up riding the whole 16+ days all alone, no other racers to share the high and lows, just me, myself and I. There for the battle became staying focused and still hitting race pace everyday even as my body began to shut down leaving me with swollen knees, sore feet and butt with eyes that refused to stay open. Everyday I would hit highs and lows. Down inside the trenches of the lows I would wonder what was I doing out here, why is this worth all the pain, why not quit, go home and drink beer. Surfing the incredible highs I would see how good life is, how it is really all about perspective and living in the moment, find what you love and do it! Somehow I managed to get through the lows, telling myself it will get better, that Jefe's don't quit and just keep pedaling you will get there. The highs made be grateful to be out there, grateful to be alive and made me push myself a little harder and faster.
The Tour Divide is a life changing undertaking. It makes you confront your demons, admit your weaknesses, live with your faults. It also can open your eyes to the beauty that exists in everything, everywhere. I fell in love with landscapes and places from Banff in Canada all the way to Antelope Wells on the border with Mexico. I had my faith in humanity restored by the kindness of strangers in tiny towns along the way, they fed me, sheltered me and encouraged me to carry on in my quest. If you open your heart to the experience it will fill you with wonder for the diversity of the world along the Divide.” Jefe Branham – 2014 Race winner
In an extreme test of mental strength and perseverance you need components and equipment that will not fail you, components that will continue to drive you forward, encouraging and inspiring you along your journey – the relentless quest to conquer your inner demons against all odds. To help you reach the summit and enjoy every second and all of the beauty on the way down. The SRAM X0 Hub and XX1 drivetrain were Jefe's weapon of choice throughout his battle that would see him all the way to the finish line ready for more.
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