Adventure Cycling‘s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR for short) is one of my favorite off-pavement bike routes in the country. I’ve done two tours of it myself while racing it, and have used segments the route itself quite a bit while doing shorter bikepacking tours. It’s well-designed, lots of beta about accommodations exist, and you’re bound to find like-minded people traveling on the route to bump into.
When I designed my Tour 14er, and later Highest Hundred tour, knowledge of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route was key in piecing together my own custom route. It’s actually pretty surprising how many 14ers can be accessed without getting too far from the main GDMBR.
Here’s some of the more convenient detours off of the GDMBR to Colorado’s 14ers. Names of mountains will be linked with the appropriate route to the summit from the trailhead my directions give access to.
My usual advice for anyone doing a long-distance backpacking trip would be to pick a trail runner that you really enjoy, and find that you can wear all-day. The days of extremely heavy, overbuilt, inflexible, high top boots for backpacking are over (save them for special purposes, like full-on Winter conditions).
My pick for both my all-time favorite trailrunner and what I would usually pick for backpacking is the the La Sportiva Mutant. Sized correctly, they hit the sweet spot for me as a more than viable trail runner (I would run an ultra in these, without hesitation), kicks for fastpacking – like my time in the Weminuche, and even for a scramble a low/moderate pitch of alpine rock when the great majority of the time is on the approach – like the Maroon Bells traverse. I personally stick with low to mid height shoes, because of my ankles – I want the mobility that a lower shoe gives, as I want to keep my ankles constantly challenged by terrain – it’s the only way they became, and remain: strong. And believe me, I’ve had some serious challenges with ankle injuries.
But, all shoes exist on a spectrum and no one shoe will work for everything. For a wishlist, I would certainly want:
A more bulletproof upper. Off-trail hiking can cause a number on the uppers of a pair of well-ventilated trail runners.
A tough outsole. I’ll be carrying a lot more additional weight than I usually do – even when I’m on my own fastpacks.
Generally, I want to make sure that whatever shoes I use will last me until the end, and I’m not hobbled – I’m workin’ here.
Housemate Nolan wanted to do the Flatiron Quinfecta for his 25th Birthday Challenge (climbing the standard east face route of each of the five numbered flatirons) and I was happy to help him make that happen. I started off guiding him on the the easiest flatiron routes just a few months ago.
“The route Freeway is one of the first scrambling routes you do in the Flatirons,” Simoni said. “It’s just really easy. It’s the first one I did. I was training for something much larger, and we had to do a lot of scrambling and at night.
For my housemate’s birthday, we did the Flatiron Quinfecta – a local scrambling challenge to climb the five number flatirons in a day. My housemate has really only scrambled for a limited amount of time, and I was most impressed of his fortitude in successfully completing the task. Happy birthday, dude!
Out on the remote, amazingly wild ridgelines of this state’s most dangerous backcountry locations Justin Simoni would ask himself the most recurring question of his unprecedented trip: “I wonder why no one does this?”