Lachlan Morton drinks from a water bottle while riding his mountain bike on a dirt road at dusk.

Lachlan Morton is taking on the Great Divide

Morton will have self-imposed rest requirements as he rides border-to-border.

Caley Fretz
by Caley Fretz 28.08.2023 Photography by
Sean Greene/EF Pro Cycling
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Lachlan Morton’s next objective is the 2,696 miles (4,339 km) from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico that make up the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a border-to-border, mostly off-road, self-supported effort that weaves across the Continental Divide.

It will take him roughly two weeks, he says. Maybe a bit more. The Fastest Known Time (FKT) is held by late ultracycling legend Mike Hall, who finished in 13 days, 22 hours, and 51 minutes in 2016.

The route climbs over 200,000 feet (69,900 meters) and is one of the most iconic bikepacking challenges in North America, made famous by the annual Tour Divide, which takes place in June each year.

Morton is raising funds for Adventure for All, a national non-profit organization that empowers individuals with exceptionalities (Down Syndrome, Autism, and other intellectual and developmental exceptionalities) through outdoor adventures. To date, Morton’s other fundraising efforts have raised over $1 million USD.

More sleep this time

As with Morton’s previous efforts on the Colorado Trail and elsewhere, a camera crew will document stretches of the ride, removing him from eligibility for the official FKT due to rules surrounding support. Morton says the FKT isn’t his goal, and he’s changing up his approach to the effort in a way that may (or may not) make going quicker than Hall impossible.

In an effort to make these efforts more sustainable, both mentally and physically, Morton is self-imposing a downtime requirement. He will rest for a minimum of 12 of every 48 hours, hoping to minimize the sleep deprivation that characterizes ultra bikepacking attempts.

β€œI want to do this on a pretty good amount of sleep every night for a few reasons,” he said in a press release from his EF Education First-Easy Post team. “The main one: I want to enjoy the riding, and it becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy what you are doing when you are running on minimal sleep, for me anyways, because you are not as present and aware. I don’t want to enter that space. Also just to be safe, I think that your decision-making and general awareness are pretty diminished if you are running on minimal sleep. I have never ridden this route before. It is a big undertaking, and to try and do all of that while pushing on minimal sleep, I think would be kind of reckless for me. But I still enjoy pushing big distances and mileage, so I am going to be β€” while I am riding β€” trying to cover as much distance as I can and trying to do it in a time that is as fast as I can while still sleeping.” 

Still, it’s a race, even if it’s only against himself. And this isn’t Morton’s first rodeo. His bikepacking exploits include the Alt Tour, where he rode the entire Tour de France route, plus transfers, faster than the race itself, the Colorado Trail, where he set an unofficial FKT, GB Duro, which he won handily, and a ride to the Ukraine border, among other adventures.

Morton will set off from Banff on Tuesday, August 29. You can follow Morton’s dot here.

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