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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Interview With A Bikepacker - Upcoming Series

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route calls.

With summer fast approaching, I see a steady stream of new views of my blog posts about riding the Great Divide. It looks like many bikepackers are out there preparing for their own adventure.

There are many ways to answer this call.

Canada brought snow to Colin and racers of the 2022 Tour Divide.

Dot watchers tracking Colin on the 2022 Tour Divide.

In 2022 alone, three cyclists I know rode the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in three very different ways. Local fast guy Colin Schindler raced the Tour Divide from the Grand Depart in Banff to Antelope Wells to finish in 19 days. Endurance athlete Kate Geisen rode north bound with her adventure racing teammate Chuck Vohsen on a self-described "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" tour. And cycling buddy Paul Brasby rode the Great Divide route south bound from Rawlins to Abiquiu, as he continued his journey of riding sections of the route as his time allows. All cherish their unique experience.

Adventure racing teammates Chuck Vohsen and Kate Geisen on their 2022 Great Divide ride.

Kate Geisen and Chuck Vohsen celebrate their 2022 finish at Banff.

To those introduced to the Great Divide by the 2010 movie "Ride The Divide," the Tour Divide race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico seems to be the default way to ride this route. The Tour Divide race generally follows the ACA Great Divide route, with several significant deviations, including shorting the crossing of the Great Basin to avoid relatively new pavement south of Rawlins and taking two paved alternatives in New Mexico to avoid probable monsoons due to the mid-June starting date. The Tour Divide also mandates that racers precisely follow its course and abide by its rules. For those seeking a racing environment, whether racing the course or watching from home, this is a popular choice.

However, the Great Divide route was not created as a race and did not originally start in Canada. The Genesis Of The Great Divide. The Adventure Cycling Association first published the Great Divide route in 1998 as a 2,500 mile off-pavement tour from Roosville, MT to Antelope Wells, NM to complement their library of popular paved cross-country tours. The ACA later extended it 250 miles to Banff and then another 250 miles to Jasper.  Over the years, many cyclists have ridden all, or parts of, the now 3,000 mile Great Divide route in many different ways and combinations:  the entire Jasper to Antelope Wells through ride, the original border-to-border, ACA route, Tour Divide route, sections, create-your-own route, south bound, north bound, yo-yo, solo, with friends, commercial tour group, self-supported, vehicle supported occasionally, vehicle supported daily, camping only, motels, etc. There is no one, single way to experience the Great Divide.

Paul Brasby revels in the big trees, big mountains, and big skies of Montana on his Great Divide ride.

Paul Brasby and friend Mark Hoffman ready to roll from Como on their 2022 Great Divide ride.

For a look at three very different approaches to riding the Great Divide, Colin, Kate, and Paul share their experiences in a series of posts over the next three weeks. The big picture take-away?

The Great Divide is your journey. 

Ride it your way.

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