I pose here a question. I do so in the hopes of getting some "gut" reactions. I have an opinion and withhold it so as not to influence the conversation.
This is related to developments currently unfolding for the Tour Divide; mostly affecting North to South racers.
Give me your gut reaction after reading the history and the current challenges faced this year.
TD hasn't run the same route year over year. As singletrack is built or discovered it is added to the route. As well, paved sections are often removed when suitable dirt stretches of Forest Road are located. As such, direct comparison of "record times" is somewhat difficult.
ACA maintains maps for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) which serves as the "official" race course, with exception to pre announced changes to TD racers. This year there are several "changes" that are now on the official TD route, but not the ACA maps for those touring the route for fun. So, TD is not 100% the GDMBR - but about 98% instead. All this is clear to racers and is incorporated into the official race GPS file.
The Grand Depart is always the second Friday of June - "always" being since 2008. Grand Depart is what you all know and recognize as the "race" and is what the movie was following (Ride the Divide). This sort of creates a race within a race. The overall "world" record is for all years raced under the rules of TD and may be obtained during the Grand Depart (GD) or also can be at another time of a racers choosing as an ITT (individual time trail). Currently the record is held by someone (Matt Lee) who left during the GD of a given race year.
The Spot Tracker for Grand Depart creates a GC competition (here is the race within a race part). If you sign up and leave at Grand Depart, you are on the overall TD GC race tracker. If you leave one day early, one day late, or another time, you are not in the GC competition for the TD that year - you are instead an ITT'er and only gunning for the overall "World Record" time.
This Year's Challenges:
This year's race is faced with record snow pack depth in the Canadian and Montana Rocky Mountains. Still lots of snow above 4,000 feet; some as deep as 60" (5 feet). These snow sections, from the perspective of the TD route may last for 10-15 miles at a time. With a little over 2 weeks to the race start, it is unlikely there will be major melt to make the snow a non-issue. But if there were a sudden heat wave, there would be dramatic flooding in the region.
The route uses long sections of an UNIHABITED swath of land known as the Flathead Valley. It holds the largest concentration of grizzly bear in the world, it has next to zero services (food or lodging), and obviously has no cell phone coverage. It has several high passes (gaps as we call them on the east coast) that the route crosses, that as of yet, no one has even ventured through to scout the route to determine safety/usefulness.
As the fear of nearly impassable routes, avalanches, and rivers flooded by snow melt have crept into the picture, the TD is faced with re routing the course from its intended path.
Here is the Question:
TD has announced that the official course is still the official course and anyone that wishes to challenge those conditions is not going to be stopped from doing so. However, because there is a risk the route won't be navigable, there are alternates. These alternates are at lower elevations and on mostly paved, snow free roads. No racer will be penalized for using the alternates.
How do you score/rank/track/list racers on a race course that has more than one route?