Great Divide Mountain Bike or Bust!
There, I’ve said it.
In what can only be called a roller coaster ride of an adventure, I completed the epic Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the Mexican border at Antelope Springs, New Mexico. This tour of the Rockies has it all: fantastic scenery, Grizzly bears, the bugle of elk, the howl of coyote, too much water, not enough water, lightning, headwinds, grinding climbs, exhilarating downhills, very few cars, great people, etc, etc. It makes me feel good just thinking about it!
Back in 2004, I road my bicycle cross country from Oregon to New Jersey in what I called Transcendental Transcontinental. Since then, I’ve been thinking about this trip as the next logical step. Mountain bike, camping, Rocky Mountains, trout fishing, lots of cool gear, and all that you can eat – what’s not to like?
Check out the recent National Geographics Top Ten American Adventures. Holy Cow, Great Divide is #1! Strangely, there is no discussion about grizzly bears. They make it sound like a walk in the park and everybody is invited, but don’t fool yourself, it is challenging in many ways.
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route runs down the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada to the Mexico border with 29 Continental Divide crossings and approximately 200,000 feet of elevation gain. You travel through the jagged granite peaks of the Canadian Rockies, through the dense pine forests of Montana, a brief jaunt through a wild corner of Idaho, then the scenic Teton National Park and Great Divide Basin in Wyoming. Colorado brings the high mountains passes and golden aspens, and finally the unexpected forests of New Mexico and high deserts to the Mexican border. I’m just scratching the surface. You get it all on this trip.
The Adventure Cycling Association created this route in the 1990’s utilizing unpaved Forest Service roads, jeep trails, single track and some paved roads. And, I would say they got it right. There are plenty of ups and lots of downs on this trip, geographically, physically, and mentally.
When I rode my bicycle Xcountry, I especially enjoyed the west. There were herds of wild horses and abundant wildlife on a daily basis. Also, Western hospitality is still alive and well. And of course, the “great outdoors”, wide open spaces, stellar trout fishing (they are in there, you just have to catch them), lower % of idiots per mile (this was my observation and as far as I know there is no scientific evidence to prove otherwise). Need I say more. I was hoping that this trip would be like backpacking on a bike and it was, and a whole lot more.
Follow along with my Great Divide Travel Log that started on July 28 in Banff, Alberta. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
And a Bicycle Runs Through It.
Oh, did I mention trout fishing? Call it coincidence but I just happened to ride my bike through some of the best trout fishing in the country. My trusty flyrod was ready to test the waters as Man vs. Trout. Quite often, I found myself with the challenging dilemma of “Bike or Fish?”
I also attempted to continue the Great North American Beer Challenge as I travel the Rocky Mountains while searching for the best beers in the west. Again, somebody has to do it…
The Devil is in the Details
As part of the planning process, I had lots of questions even though I had the benefit of this being my 2nd grand tour. I had an idea of what works and what doesn’t but this trip is
Check out my cross country tour on the Sierra Cascades route
different enough where I still needed to work out the details. Check out my Planning page and my Gear page where I try to share my logic and experience in what worked. I also sent home a lot of gear, so you can see what I didn’t really need.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route provided lots of challenges and lots of rewards. I really enjoyed this trip!
Also, check out my recent Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route adventure @ Sierra Cascades Website and Travel Log – as I parallel the Pacific Crest Trail. Here’s to fair skies and tailwinds!