Great Divide Route - CycleBlaze

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Great Divide Route

Rachel and Patrick Hugens

We've completed the Coast to Coast "another one for the bikes" tour and the planning for the next tour has begun: The Great Divide Route starting June 1, 2022.

Suggestions and advice. Thanks.

Racpat

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1 month ago
Jeff LeeTo Rachel and Patrick Hugens

I assume you're talking about the Adventure Cycling Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

My wife and I did the southern half of the route in 2016, starting in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, and leaving the route in Silverthorne, Colorado when we'd had enough of it (but continuing on to Canada on our own route.)

I don't want to discourage you from doing it, but since you asked for suggestions, mine is: Just know what you're getting into.

It's not like regular bike touring in the USA- at least my kind of bike touring, where most days you can stop in country stores or small towns and chat with local people, eat leisurely meals in cafes, and maybe have a large pizza for dinner.

In my opinion, it's a lot more like backpacking. In the southern half, anyway, you will have to carry a lot of water, and also filter water. There are no Dairy Queens for days at a time :)

I like climbing a lot - I've done the silly "Everesting" challenge. I'm pretty fit for my age - I routinely ride centuries on a single-speed bike. I found the southern half of the Divide, though, to be really difficult. I would have quit multiple times early on if I'd been by myself. Mentally, I found it very hard. It's a lot of empty, rugged landscape. Distances between shelter are pretty great. Some of the "roads" in New Mexico are so rugged you will have to carry your bikes. 

And you really should ride it on mountain bikes. I'm sure people have done it with regular touring bikes (some crazy person has even done it on a unicycle, I seem to remember), but I think it would be painful to do it on anything other than a mountain bike with tough tires. We used rigid frame Salsa Fargos, and they were fine.

So that's my two cents. I looked at your CycleBlaze profile, and you appear to be more adventurous than me, so I'm sure you'll be fine. Just know that it's an order of magnitude harder than any other Adventure Cycling Route, in my opinion, even their Western Express route, which was probably the hardest thing I'd done before the Divide.

Good Luck!

Jeff

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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo Rachel and Patrick Hugens

I've spent a lot of time reading Great Divide journals, for someone who will never ride it. There are several reasons - 

the extreme dirt on some of the route is not recumbent friendly. 

I've never been a dirt rider, and some roads are hike a bike, instead of riding. 

We no longer camp, and this is definitely a camping route. 

Navigation could be an issue. From accounts I've read, going the correct directions isn't always clear.

Water/food availability. But, especially water. 

Being comfortable in the wide open, all alone, potentially for days on end.

Having said all of that, the route sounds like the kind of challenge that would make a rider dig deep and really learn who they are. It will never be me, but I wish it were.

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1 month ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Jeff Lee

thanks jeff

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1 month ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Kelly Iniguez

thanks kelly,

We are ready for the challenge...and seems like most of the issue is water, which weve had to manage on other tours.

Racpat 

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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterTo Rachel and Patrick Hugens

I agree with most of what Jeff said, but the fact that you’ve toured in some pretty remote places suggests you’ll probably be fine. I’ll just add a few comments based on my limited experience on the GDMBR - an ACA van supported ride along the Wind River Range. I have a couple of posts on the trip in my latest journal (Reaching New Heights).

One consideration is direction you’ll travel - I’ve heard N to S is best. We encountered some fierce northerly/westerly winds going through the Great Basin - luckily for us we were headed south/southeasterly but we met some folks at the Diagnus Falls camp site who were pretty beat up after battling strong headwinds all day.

In addition to lack of water, you’ll be pretty much off the grid for days on end. That’s part of the appeal, but it means primitive camping and no cell service or electric outlets.

Bears- You’re probably pretty well versed in bear safety protocols so I won’t elaborate. However, I was quite concerned about bears and carried bear spray on my bike - the Mountain Feedbag by Revelate Designs worked great,  keeping the spray within easy access. I’d bought a bear spray cozy from REI that fits in your water bottle holder but the bear spray I rented didn’t fit in the cozy. I also bought a larger mountain bike bell from REI - I silenced it once I was out of bear country. I didn’t see any bears but two of the group spotted a grizzly a short ways off the trail.

I used my Ti gravel bike for the ride - Routt45 from Moots - and 44 mm WTB Raddler tires with a tubeless set up, the widest tires I could fit on the bike. They both worked great, but I had the skinniest tires among the group. About half the group had bikes with some suspension - you do get bounced around a lot but it didn’t bother me so much. 

Hope you find these comments helpful. It will definitely be a great adventure!

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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Rachel and Patrick Hugens

I don't know if you are aware of or follow Ryan Van Duzer over on Youtube, but he's got numerous videos documenting his travels on the GDMBR. Might be worth checking out. 

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1 month ago
Jeff LeeTo Kelly Iniguez

the route sounds like the kind of challenge that would make a rider dig deep and really learn who they are.

Unfortunately, when I dug deep, what I learned is  that I'm kind of a wimp ;)

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1 month ago
Kelly IniguezTo Jeff Lee

says the guy who thinks nothing about pedaling back to back century days!

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1 month ago
Jeff LeeTo Kelly Iniguez

The actual bike riding is generally the easier part of touring for me; the mental aspect is harder. And in New Mexico and Colorado on The Divide, the remoteness really affected me drastically. I was literally weeping a few times. The inability to carry enough calories on the bike for my relatively high metabolism was also a big problem for me on the route.

I have enormous respect for people who complete the route - especially solo. And the people who race it are another level of impressive.

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1 month ago