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The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)

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The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)

Old 11-03-09, 06:22 PM
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porter
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The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)

I guess this is my advertisement for riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.:

My girlfriend and I have just finished a self supported tour of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) from Banff in Canada south through the Rockie Mountains across Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to the US/Mexico border. We had a wonderful time cycling through amazing scenery on a daily basis and met many wonderful people, both locals and cycle tourists, along the way.

We started slightly latter in the season than we had hoped; departing Banff in the beginning of August. Despite the late start we had great bug free weather all the way through to Colorado - generally cool mornings warming to shorts and t-shirt weather early in the day. In Colorado the cold weather caught up with us on the high passes but we were able to wait out the worst of it and head south into New Mexico to warmer lower ground.

Both of us completed the route using Surly LHTs and panniers with 2" tyres, mine a 700c and Nancy's a 26". There were a wide variety of bike setups used by other tourists from fully suspended MTB with BOB trailers to hardtails with panniers and a few others with similar setups to our own. The most common setup seemed to be hardtail MTBs with panniers - though we were happy with our setup and undoubtedly this route can be ridden on a wide variety of bicycle setups.

For us nightly accommodation was a mixture of free dispersed camping on public land, paid camping in RV Parks and State and Forrest Campgrounds and the occasional motel when the weather got rough.

Some of the riding is challenging and because the route follows the Rockie Mountains there are lots of ups and downs. Generally the riding surface is good though there is occasional sections of rocks, gravel, sand, washboard and mud. The route was mostly dry for us and we had the greatest problems on gravel roads with steep gradients, though we both came of our bikes a couple of times in sandy sections.

If you like getting away from the masses and don't mind some challenging riding at times, I would recommend this route. Nancy has written a daily journal posted on CrazyGuyonaBike which has lots of information, including our experiences. Also we have put together a photo slideshow of some of the better photos; showing the roads and scenery you are likely to experience along this route.
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Old 11-03-09, 08:52 PM
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Congratulations, that tour (along with your tour of Alaska the previous year) is an accomplishment to be proud of. I've started reading the online journal. It's very interesting. I lived and worked in D.C. for more decades than I care to admit to, retiring to one of the areas you passed through in NW Montana. Spring and fall are rainy seasons here and it looks like rains impacted some of your trip through Montana. Good luck wherever you decide to settle down, even if it's back in D.C. (Truthfully, there are times I miss D.C., although I don't miss the gridlock and the unhappy and/or angry commuters.) Rest and catch your breath. Again, congratulations.
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Old 11-03-09, 10:15 PM
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I'll be sure to read your journal entries on CGOAB. The GDBMR is on my short list whenever I can retire.
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Old 11-04-09, 08:33 AM
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I may be hitting you up for specifics on the stretch between Steamboat and Salida. I look forward to reading the journal.
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Old 11-04-09, 09:25 AM
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I'll be happy to provide any information I can. My girlfriend and I are continuing our tour and will be heading into Mexico next week and then hopefully south into Central and South America if we continue to enjoy the riding.
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Old 11-04-09, 09:57 AM
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Mucha buena suerte en Mexico. Vaya con Dios, y los otros precauciones, tambien.
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Old 11-04-09, 10:43 AM
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Yeah not being able to speak Spanish is our biggest concern - we've met some marvelous people on our tours to date and not being able to interact with the locals (at least at the start) will be disappointing. We're going to do our best to learn at least some Spanish as soon as possible.
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Old 11-04-09, 12:01 PM
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Congrats! How did you like taking the LHTs off road for that long? I'm thinking of doing the great divide with my cross check as part of a panamerica trip next year
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Old 11-04-09, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
Congrats! How did you like taking the LHTs off road for that long? I'm thinking of doing the great divide with my cross check as part of a panamerica trip next year
Ditto that! My girlfriend and I are in the process of building 26"-wheeled LHTs for a Pan-American ride starting next summer. Hopefully we'll sample a bit of the Great Divide before heading west to the coast from Missoula. What'd you think about the LHT, on pavement versus everything else?

Great slideshow, by the way!
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Old 11-04-09, 07:22 PM
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By the end of the ride I felt my bike (700c LHT) was more stable on the dirt then on pavement. I was carrying quite a bit of weight (guess 50-60lbs) quite high up on the bike and the bike shimmied/wobbled in a 5mph range between 20 and 30mph on pavement depending on how it was packed. Didn't notice this at all on the dirt roads.

I felt the bike handled the rough stuff well - though I haven't toured on any other bike off-road to make any comparisons or really done any other MTBing. Pretty much every one we met was happy with there setup - some of the riders with trailers commented that it was difficult pushing up hill (not sure why) and that the trailer bounced around a lot while descending fast.

If I was to do the GDMBR again I will use the 26" Thorn eXXp (with panniers) that I am having built up for the next leg of the tour. Ordered this bike largely for the 26" wheels but I'm hoping it eliminates the shimmy as well.
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Old 11-04-09, 07:57 PM
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Excellent slideshow! I'm sold on riding the great divide someday very soon!
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Old 11-05-09, 08:21 AM
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Hey there

I did the Montana section with my then girlfriend and now wife in 1998. We saw one other bike the entire 18 days we were out. We loved every minute of it. Thanks for the great photos.

Christian
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Old 11-05-09, 09:33 AM
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Thanks for the memories of my own Divide Ride.

Your photos really capture the changing feel and landscape on the Divide.

And make me think about doing it again! [So easily corrupted and so little time left!]
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Old 11-05-09, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for the pictures. It gives me a real idea of what to expect next summer when I do the GDMBR. BTW I met Maude and Baptiste at the Rising Sun Campground on the Rising-to-the-Sun Hwy (Glacier NP) on 8/19/2009. I admired their Hilleberg Nallo 2GT so much that I bought an Allak when I got home. I followed the link you provided to send them a message.
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Old 11-06-09, 11:57 AM
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the journal that Nancy is keeping is very entertaining. Good luck with the border crossing.
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Old 11-06-09, 06:21 PM
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I had already browsed all your pictures on CGOAB. Couldn't resist running through the pages. The slide show is great. I'll go back and read the journal; I'm also interested in the Colorado piece.

I looked on your gear page for info on your camp chairs. What kind are they? I want a good chair for my trips.
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Old 11-06-09, 07:14 PM
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I got the idea for the chairs from a post on this site - they are sold by a company called Crazy Creek.

https://www.crazycreek.com/

If you are camping at organised campgrounds and eating in restaurants everyday they're probably not the thing for you. If you are free camping and having lunch at the side of the road then they may be. Normally we use them at least twice a day.

I think carrying these (and most of the other crap we have) qualifies us are members of the Juggernaut Class of cycling tourists.

Last edited by porter; 11-06-09 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 11-06-09, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by porter View Post
I got the idea for the chairs from a post on this site - they are sold by a company called Crazy Creek.

https://www.crazycreek.com/

If you are camping at organised campgrounds and eating in restaurants everyday they're probably not the thing for you. If you are free camping and having lunch at the side of the road then they may be. Normally we use them at least twice a day.

I think carrying these (and most of the other crap we have) qualifies us are members of the Juggernaut Class of cycling tourists.
Thanks for the link. This is one of the best I've seen. I may give it a try despite the weight. It's hard to get much of a break from the bike if you don't have a comfortable seat.
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Old 11-07-09, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by porter View Post
Yeah not being able to speak Spanish is our biggest concern - we've met some marvelous people on our tours to date and not being able to interact with the locals (at least at the start) will be disappointing. We're going to do our best to learn at least some Spanish as soon as possible.
Spanish is very easy to learn. Suggest you start by memorising lots of vocabulary. Much better to start this early, as you can really only absorb so much per day. But seriously, 200 words of vocab, with no grammar, is much better than lots of grammar and no vocab.
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Old 11-18-09, 07:25 AM
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Looks like a fantastic trip! I've been dreaming of doing the great divide for a while now, but I haven't been able to schedule that much free time.

How did the 50mm Marathon XR tires work out on your 700c LHT? I remember on a previous thread you mentioned that the clearance was very tight. Was it sufficient for riding dirt/gravel roads?
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Old 11-18-09, 07:35 AM
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I am planning the ride on my LHT (26in) and am wondering if a different bike with a front shock would be a better choice. How was yours for hand comfort?
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Old 01-17-10, 11:23 AM
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i was looking at a mid august start of 2010. How did the LHT work for ya. Despite the variety of bikes what do you think would work best. Would a cross bike be an acceptable ride for the route?
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Old 11-14-19, 11:44 AM
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Solo Travel on the Great Divide

Hi, I am interested in riding the whole route in 2020. I want to do it self-supported, but am a big nervous about doing it solo. It would be nice to have some company. Any ideas on where I might be able to connect with others in a similar situation. I'm a 36-year old female with lots of biking/camping experience. I'm taking a break from corporate life for an adventure. Thanks for any help!
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Old 11-14-19, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KBrownson View Post
Hi, I am interested in riding the whole route in 2020. I want to do it self-supported, but am a big nervous about doing it solo. It would be nice to have some company. Any ideas on where I might be able to connect with others in a similar situation.
If you join Adventure Cycling Association (members get map discounts) you can place a "companions wanted" ad with them.

Note that ACA recommends groups of at least two, and preferably three. If one person is injured and needs outside assistance, one can go for help while the other can stay behind with the injured party.

BTW...Don't buy old maps. There were some route changes starting this year or last. Updated maps were created.
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Old 11-14-19, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by KBrownson View Post
Hi, I am interested in riding the whole route in 2020. I want to do it self-supported, but am a big nervous about doing it solo. It would be nice to have some company. Any ideas on where I might be able to connect with others in a similar situation. I'm a 36-year old female with lots of biking/camping experience. I'm taking a break from corporate life for an adventure. Thanks for any help!
On the route. Iíve done two sections the last two years and there are really quite a lot of people riding the route. It seems many people join up as they go so not likely you would have to travel alone for long even if you donít have a pre-arranged companion. Whitefish Bike Retreat could make a good starting point (if you want to start in Canada, you can probably get a shuttle from WBR) where you might make connections. WBR people are super nice. I have not done it this way personally but did encounter many who joined up en route. North to south seems the most popular direction so I would guess would be easier to make connections on the fly than if riding south to north.
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