The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is without a doubt one of the preeminent off road touring routes in the US/Canada. Now that I’ve ridden the route essentially twice and have done some extensive touring within Colorado, I can’t help but think how one could enhance it.
Personally, I enjoyed my time more when the route stuck close to the actual Continental Divide, rather than opting to drop down into a relatively easy going valley or basin to gain some mileage towards the end goal (finishing!). I always greatly anticipated gaining the summit of the passes, then rocketing down. Knowing Colorado a little more intimately now, it’s a shame how much of Colorado is missed with the relatively easy path the GDMBR takes.
The GDMBR has many goals, and one of the most important one is to get a heavily laden bicycle and rider (cyclists on a mountain bike, pulling a trailer) eventually to the end of the route. If the route is too long, too hard, and/or with too many Divide crossings, it’s just never going to realistically happen for a good majority of people. If we throw these constraints out of the window, and focus on the goal of staying as close to the Divide as possible, while also keeping the route terrain somewhat similar: gravel roads to 4×4 trails, we start drawing out something a little different.
Below, I’ll be describing a route that takes you off the official GDMBR just before Ute Pass, and rather takes you up and over the Continental Divide at Rollins Pass, parallels the James Peak Wilderness as you travel south to Idaho Springs, then brings you back west to go up and over the Continental Divide again at Argentine Pass, finally depositing you once again onto the official GDMBR in summit county. It circuitous and it’s a whole lot of fun .
I’m on my hands and knees looking intensely at my just-now broke bicycle, right outside of the main drag of Nederland, CO: elevation 8,228 feet. I’m only 20 miles away from home – 20 miles away from finishing a 300 mile ride. But, my chain has lodged itself between my largest rear cog, and the wheel’s drive side spokes.
It was many things, to many, many people. Here’s what it meant to me:
Salvagetti + Happy Coffee: a bike drive thru to by coffee + bike parts, open early in the morning. Another master idea by Scott. I borrowed those beefy tires from one of the mechanics of Salvagetti to try to ride this beast of a machine on some of the more technical parts of the Colorado Trail, in hopes of bagging some 14ers. Long story short: unsuccessful trip in many regards (Trailer?!), but I learned a lot and vowed to try again. September, 2010
I think I was on a date. We had just visited The Denver Art Museum. Practically across the street, there’s a block of row houses converted into businesses. One was a bike shop, with a hand painted sign, illustrated with a bike, and an Italian flag.
Shortly after finishing up 34 days of bagging some high peaks, self-powered.
Since completing my own Tour 14er, where I rode to, then summited the 58 (by my count) Colorado mountain peaks over 14,000 feet, I’ve started to get a fair bit of correspondence from people telling me that they’re inspired by what I’ve (and others) have done. They think to themselves: Boy howdy: I own a bike and there’s a group of mountains nearby that have that siren-like song attracting me to climb them – why not use my bike to ride to all of those mountains, then summit: fair means and self-supported?
Then they ask me, “So well: what are the details? How do you pull this off?”
Start time is scheduled for Friday @ 4:00am at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO – There’s a small chance I’ll start a little earlier depending on how my schedule works out. Trackleaders has been kind enough to take the time to put up a Tracker for this, so you may follow along:
Mike DeBernardo and I started on the Denver end of the trail this year on the Colorado Trail Race. Funnily, we found ourselves as the only two people starting out on the Denver end of the trail this year for the Grand Départ – everyone else – almost 75 people!
I’ve reported a finishing time of, 7 days, 2 hours, 57 minutes and 58 seconds. Happy to have just finished; a day past what I guessed for myself and two day past what I had hoped from myself. Story to be expanded, as my fingers heal enough, to allow me to type.