As we seem to be struggling to get together the latest edition of Nine BOB Note we have set up this page for longer articles from members that you might want to read. The idea is that is its just for BOB Members to read when you get a moment but allows for a bit more detail than the latest news site.
Andy Wrigley rides the Great Divide
I asked Andy to write an article about his amazing trip from Canada to Mexico and he said that it would be easier to answer questions. So here are the results of our e-mail exchange.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (Gdmbr) goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells on the Mexican border. It is 2700 miles long and and follows the Rockies through Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico. It follows the continental Divide, the Divide where water either flows West to the Pacific or East to the Atlantic as closely as possible. The route crosses the Divide 34 times so there is a lot of climbing, about 60,000 metres in total! The highest pass is Indiana Pass at 12,000 feet (which I’m doing tomorrow – eek!) The route comprises 70% rough dirt Road, 20% tarmac and 10% singletrack. There is also a version called the Tour Divide (slightly different route) which is a race in June. The record of 13.9 days was set this.year by Mike Hall. I intend to take 55 days overall. I’m currently at 2100 miles with 800 left to go (fires in Wyoming forced a diversion).
How did you hear about the route?
There was an article by Jenn in Singletrack Magazine four years ago which was inspiring and it looked awesome as a chance to see some of the wilderness areas of the USA, whilst bimbling by bike.
How long did it take to plan and what kit are you using?
I decided to do it 3 months before I started so didn’t have long to prepare but wasn’t working which helped. Some of this year’s racers had been preparing for 3 years!
Kit: Bike; Salsa Fargo rigid 29er, with off road Woodchipper drops; double taped and double gel pads and 2.4″ tyres (Hand injuries are the most common reported due to the rough dirt roads). Why? 29er for distance, off road drops for comfort and headwind riding (there has been a lot due to the Southerly winds which has meant no rain for over 6 weeks!), rigid so no suspension to break (typically 400 miles between some bike shops), steel for durability, singlespeed -able just in case. Trusty 15 year old Brooks B17 leather saddle. Exposure Dynamo hub to keep GPS and phone charged (if it ain’t on Strata it didn’t happen right?) and for the superb Exposure Revo dynamo light.
Otherwise std bikepacking kit. Six Moons Design Lunar Solo tarp tent which I have slept in open to see the stars and keep condensation away except when raining (not since Canada). I bought a warmer sleeping bag and a thermal liner as the night temperature has been colder than expected (down to -7 c in Colorado) and have been fine since then. One pair of shorts that I wash every other day!
I’m also using a Spot tracker which pings my location via satellite every 10 mins and has an SOS button. My family are “dot Stalking” me and it’s funny to get a Facebook message from my mum when I arrive at a town telling me where to eat!
What precautions did you take for bears etc?
I read a lot before hand but to be honest had no idea. I bought bear deterrent pepper spray in Banff and had a whistle but was lucky to ride through “Grizzly alley” around Fernie with a lovely couple, Veronica had a PhD in North American carnivores and had spent years working with Grizzlies, so I learnt loads. Bears basically want to avoid humans so making plenty of noise ensures a surprise encounter is avoided. Hanging food at night well away from your tent ensures there is nothing to attract them. I’ve made lots of noise so I haven’t seen any bears but it’s a bit scary when riding alone and you see lots of Grizzly scat on the trail.
I gave my bear spray away when I entered Colorado as there are only Black bears now which can be scared away easily. Plus it’s bow hunting season so the animals are all hiding. However there are also Mountain Lions throughout the Rockies so you can’t be complacent. I have done a couple of solo night rides and it adds a new dimension. Particularly when you see a pair of eyes lit up!
I have seen a couple of wolves (one circled me before running off) and what I thought was a mountain lion popped onto a trail and then off when it saw me. Oh and a couple of cougars in remote bars (sorry….)
Most memorable trail section and why?
It has to be Colorado for the autumn Aspens. So pretty. Actually not sure as every day the route gives new stunning country although some of the Montana singletrack was fun.
Who is that hipster beardy bloke?
Dunno. See him everywhere. Seems to be getting thinner as well!
Have you learnt any new things you wish you knew before you set out?
How ****** cold it can get at night here! And that there is at least one brewery in every small town – who knew?
What’s the most historically interesting place you visited?
Man made; All of the Divide crossings have some connection with the exploration of America in the 19th century. Such as the first time settlers crossed into Montana or Wyoming. Each has its own story and has been special imagining how hard it must have been for those people.
Natural ; Aspen trees that grow as a colony from the same root system. The oldest is 80,000 years old.
Are Americans seriously going to vote for trump?
As Virgil said at the border when we were chatting about the similarities between Trump and Brexit. “who knew there were so many disaffected middle aged white men out there” I try not to talk about it or hunting. All the Merkins I have met have been super lovely so I try not to spoil it by delving.
Which was the most challenging day and why?
The first day. Riding out of Banff, alone, for the first time in Grizzly country I was convinced there was a Grizzly behind every tree and they would attack on sight (opposite of reality) . There was also bear scat on the trail every 100 meters. I was also not used to the altitude so slower than expected. In any case a Grizzly can easily run at 40mph so you couldn’t out ride them. I spent the night in a toilet somewhere convinced I was going to return to Banff and fly home the following day cursing my self for taking this On! But I had a readjustment the following day!
But that day aside I have loved every minute. The countryside is so beautiful and people have been so nice it’s been brilliant!
Some great pictures