The final days before launch…
December 13th, 2014
I’ve been very busy with planning and training for the Great Divide Ride or as it is officially known: the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Much of the following description of the route was taken from Michael McCoy’s book: Cycling the Great Divide. Michael spent two years driving a jeep and mapping out the route. McCoy’s book is considered the bible for anyone taking on the challenge.
Originally, the route began at the U.S./ Canadian port of Roosville, Montana and ended at Antelope Wells, New Mexico a distance of 2,470 miles. Although, it has been extended northward to Banff, Canada, I plan on starting at the original start point. Call me a wimp.
The goal, which was achieved, when establishing the route, was to keep it within 50 miles of the Continental Divide. It would have been impossible to have the route on the actual Continental Divide which is essentially on the ridge line of the Rocky Mountains. There is the Continental Divide Hiking Trail, but In no way could you have a bike route on that trail, although, I’m sure someone will try riding it.
The Americas Continental Divide, which by the way runs from the southern tip of South America to Alaska, is defined as a drainage divide, where water from one side of the divide flows east and for the other side it flows west.
What it the route like? Well 85% is dirt and gravel roads, 10% paved roads, and 5% single track trails. The route travels 695 miles through Montana, 72 miles through Idaho, 481 miles through Wyoming, 544 miles through Colorado, and 678 miles through New Mexico. The lowest elevation is 2,577′ near the Canadian border and the highest, 11,910′ at Indiana Pass in Colorado near the border of New Mexico. I’ll be crossing from one side of the divide to the other 27 times. The scenery, mostly in the back country, is made up of forests, farm and ranch land, the open range, small towns, cities, for example, Butte and Helena, Montana, the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, and the deserts of New Mexico. I’ll also get a chance to view the spectacular Grand Tetons.
Adventure Cycling has published well defined and descriptive maps of the Divide Route. In addition to the maps, I will take, Cycling the Great Divide with me. Besides spending mucho tiempo riding the route with my imagination, I have also watched several utube videos that riders have uploaded. Through the videos and “flying over” more than a few miles with Google Earth, I have a pretty good idea what I’ll be subjected to. Through the several long distance tours I’ve ridden, I’ve learned that there are good days and there are bad days. Also, the decision to ride is mine alone.