Today we finish Sean's recap of spots from his tour of the Great Divide Route. -Kid
Brett and I have finished our 2752-mile journey from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Even though I’ve stopped pedaling, I still feel like I’m taking the trip in fully. I’m constantly playing out different days in my head or looking at maps to figure out in more detail where I have been. I thought I would share some of my favorite “spots” during the trip.
Wish I Could Do It Again Right Now Spot: Every once in a while the place you see in pictures actually looks the same in person as you thought it would.
The beginning of the Tour Divide (or end for some) is absolutely gorgeous. The Canadian Rockies from Banff down to Elkford are huge to say the least. A picture taking opportunity exists every 10 feet. You could spend days or weeks here just taking it all in and trying to convince yourself what you are seeing actually does exist.
The trail is quite fun through here too. It’s a mix of dirt, gravel, jeep road, and singletrack through thick Canadian forests below snowcapped peaks. You also get to skirt quite a few glacial run-off lakes which bring a beautiful blue to the water.
Every mile left me in disbelief about how amazing this area is. I’m so thankful there are areas like these that remain mostly untouched and protected. The trails here are so lush, and the vegetation so thick, that it shows little wear or use from others.
It left you feeling like you were the first person to ride certain sections for years. This was a really cool feeling! I can’t think of a more amazing way to kick off our tour and I would love to ride it again and explore more of the area.
The Spot I Enjoyed The Least: When leaving Cuba, New Mexico, Brett and I were faced with a detour. Our planned route using ten miles of Highway 550 was shutdown because of some major car accident. We reviewed the map and found what looked like a parallel ranch road that would take us to our route off of 550.
We headed down State Route 197 and took a left on our dirt road. It looked promising. After about half a mile it split. We reviewed both routes and took a right. We followed this for another mile with a positive mindset. Then slowly things began to change. The road began to narrow and was less worn in, then the brush kept creeping in, finally it became more of a streambed. This curved into a canyon that looked like it had no exit, and sure enough, it didn’t. We found ourselves on cow path that ran out.
We reviewed our maps and GPS units. Both of us still felt good about our route and our road had to be right over there.
We shouldered our bikes and climbed out of the canyon. We kept climbing higher and higher in soft sand skirting sagebrush. We saw no sign of the road. We continued to hike to where it should be and felt more and more desperate for this road. The sagebrush was incredibly thick here forcing us to shoulder our bikes. Even with my bike on my shoulder it was hard to find a path through the brush and the limbs kept clawing at my legs and arms. My bike kept constantly getting caught in the branches. We should have been right on top of this road but we guessed that it had finally been overgrown. We discussed what we should do and decided we would continue on. We ended up hiking about 0.7 miles through nasty, thick sagebrush before finding some unknown ranch road.
I vowed at that point never to go off route again for the rest of the trip.
Favorite Food Spot: Brush Mountain Lodge. If you ever do the Tour Divide make sure you stop at the Brush Mountain Lodge,
14 miles south of Slater, Colorado, Kirstein made us the best dinner and breakfast I had on the entire trip. She actually knew we were coming before we got there.
After the Tour Divide Race she will watch the general Divide Spot Tracker page to see when she might be expecting people. We called before we came but she already knew we were coming and began preparing dinner.
We arrived late, around 9:30 PM that night, but Kirstein was in great spirits and made a huge serving of homemade spaghetti for us. She actually made the sauce when we got there! We also had fresh fruit on arrival and six pieces of garlic toast each.
The next morning she made scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage (DOUBLE MEAT!), toast, fruit, and coffee cake! It was amazing!
On the Tour Divide, it’s stops like these that can completely make your tour. Thanks Kirstein!
I'll close this with one last image from the trip. It was a moment in time that is now a memory in my mind…and an inspiration to create more. Get out there and get it done!
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Sean 'Mailman' Mailen
I was born and raised in the hills of Tennessee. I decided in high school I wanted to design the best bikes and parts possible; I’ve been following my dream ever since. I love about every possible mode of cycling, mountain biking is the most fun, but if I’m on two wheels I’m happy.