WHAT TO KNOW
ABOUT BIKEPACKING THE
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) stitches together gravel and dirt roads for over 3000 miles along the Continental Divide of the United States and Canada. With the right gear and planning you (yes you!) can ride it in a couple months and have the adventure of a lifetime. Here's a sampling of what you need to know.
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Unless you're racing the Tour Divide, leave plenty of time to enjoy the route and deal with any issues. About 2 months is a typical touring pace. You might be able to ride more miles per day, but you'll want time for weather / mechanicals / town days / lounging at the perfect campsite / etc.
Traditionally the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route runs north to south, but you can ride south to north too. I loved riding northbound because I crossed paths with all the southbounders, started early without hitting snow, and saved the scenic mountains of Canada for the grand finale.
Though it's called a "mountain bike route," the GDMBR is actually perfect for a sturdy gravel bike or rigid mountain bike like the Salsa Fargo. Most of the route is on well-maintained gravel and dirt roads where suspension isn't needed, though some folks may find it more comfortable.
There are two drier sections of the route: Wyoming's Great Basin and parts of New Mexico. Depending on the year and season you might need 6 to 8 liters of capacity for one of both of those. Otherwise 2 to 4 liters is typical.
You can buy food every 1 to 3 days on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, with perhaps a rare stretch of 4 days if you're slow. Options may be limited in small towns, but unless you have dietary restrictions you can buy all your food as you go (no need to mail resupply boxes).
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route passes through tons of beautiful national forest land where you can camp for free anywhere. Towns can be tempting, but you'll save money and enjoy more peaceful nights in the wild if you pedal out of town and camp.
Most people who ride the GDMBR are just ordinary folks. I certainly am! Yes, you need to be prepared and do your research to stay safe out there, but you don't need to be a superhuman cyclist. Just one pedal stroke, then another, then another...
Read more about the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on my website, exploringwild.com
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