GDR Tour: Checking In From Steamboat

Salsa engineer Sean Mailen and his buddy Brett Davis are touring the Great Divide Route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Follow along with them via Trackleaders. -Kid

Here we are in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It seems like it's taken 17 days, but it also seems like we just left Banff the other day.

This trip continues to amaze me. After leaving Butte, Montana days ago, we climbed out of the valley and hit mountains again. Brett and I both knew that this was July 4th weekend and we were going to have to be on our guard. The ATVers were out in full force. I have to say most were really nice and enjoying the mountains like we were, but the ones we were worried about liked to mix fireworks, alchohol, and ATVing together. Sure enough, on the back side of Mt. Fleecer just around dusk, a whole group of ATVers came down the hill and ran Brett and I off the road. We were happy to get to camp that night. The next day we rode in some of Montana's most gorgeous landscapes. Big green hills and valleys topped with a little snow. We stopped in Lincoln that night and ran into some of the northbound racers. Ross was there and looked to be in good condition. He had cracked his frame near Steamboat and got it welded back together at Moots. He was happy to spend the night in Lincoln and head out in the morning. 

This 100% does not suck.
We continued on through Montana and finally exited through the Centennial range River Valley. We were attacked at dusk by hordes of mosquitoes and finally stopped at the Wildlife Refuge camp in Lakeview for relief. They let us sleep in their research shed which was a blessing. We left the next morning when two college interns needed to count ants. 
We rode through Idaho rather quickly and came into Wyoming. We were greeted by a state line sign that had been thrown into the woods and had two large shotgun blasts through it. Hello Wyoming. We did two more Continental Divide crossings to get us into Pinedale the next day. It was exciting to be on the edge of the Great Basin, next to the Wind River range. The next morning after fixing Brett's rear wheel, replacing broken bottle cages, getting breakfast, and finally resupplying we headed out at 1 PM. This was a late start but we knew that we could get some fast miles in across the bigger open basin. That night we camped about 10 miles south of Atlantic City in The Great Basin. It has been one of the best bivys we've done so far. It was great being out on the great expanse under the stars. 

Welcome to Wyoming...
The next morning we got going early because we wanted to cross the basin in a day. We passed a Swede who was riding the Divide and carrying the whole kitchen sink. He was hauling a lot of stuff, including a lawn chair! The Great Basin was actually full of a lot more life than I expected, though not human. Antelope, wild horses, and cattle roamed the sagebrush landscape. Thankfully for Brett and I, we had a strong wind at our back, which even helped us climb the small hills out there.  

...we still need the O, M, I, N, and G. Any volunteers?
We arrived in Rawlins with our odometers reading 127 miles for the day and enjoyed hot showers and big hamburgers. My metabolism has reached new levels, and to eat 7000+ calories a day has become an enjoyable endeavor.  
Day 16 which took us out of Rawlins presented us with more than we wanted with sore legs. We climbed into the Medicine Bow Wilderness in a never-ending headwind and 3 to 4 thousand feet of climbing. It was an uninspiring day that taxed me physically and mentally. We continued on into Colorado which lifted my spirit, but the best part was knowing we would soon arrive at the Brush Mountain Lodge. This is a must stop on the Tour Divide, and a complete Godsend. We called Kirstien when we crossed the border and she said she had been tracking us and knew we would be there soon. We couldn't believe it! We arrived to homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce! It was amazing! She put us in a great room and then asked what we wanted for breakfast. The next morning we ate like kings: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade banana bread, blueberry pancakes, coffee, etc. I felt like a new man and Brett was also enjoyably stuffing his face. We hung out for awhile till Stephen, an ITT racer, showed up. He ate well too and then we all headed out. It was great to ride with Stephen for a bit and see a bit more of the racer setup and mentality. We arrived at Sand Mountain and then dropped down into Clark, Colorado. We stopped at the Clark General Store for ice cream and waited out a storm. 24 miles later we arrived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We stopped by Orange Peel bike shop and got the town beta from Brock. We then found our room at the Nordic Lodge and hit the cantina for, of course, more food.  

Yup, looks right about halfway...
All in all, it's been quite the journey. Brett and I have really enjoyed the trip so far. Warm smiles, friendly folks, and great food can really make the sore legs and body less noticeable. The equipment seems to be holding up really well. I think my body has finally broken into my saddle. Brett and I have done our fair share of cracking, splitting, abrading, ripping, tearing, fracturing, and fatiguing our gear but what really matters out here is resourcefullness. This has been a good learning experience for me as a rider and designer and I really look forward to getting back and applying this knowledge to our Salsa products. There is no better way of product testing than getting out there and riding it, and I'm thankful I'm getting to do that on this trip. 
So after more rest and eating today, Brett and I will continue on tomorrow. I look forward to seeing more of beautiful Colorado. I'm also looking forward to getting down to Salida to see our friends at Absolute Bikes. These guys were a great help to us during our Salsa photo shoot and ride testing in Salida this spring and it will be great to drop in and say hello. My fiance has also sent me a package there which I really look forward to getting. She has been amazingly encouraging on this trip and the kind words from her and family help keep me going. 
That's it for now. Onward toward New Mexico!

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Brett Davis El Mariachi Overnighter Reveal The Path Ride The Divide Tour Divide Touring

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Sean 'Mailman' Mailen

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.


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cmherron | July 13th, 2011

Awesome.  I hope that someday I can find a buddy who is willing to do this route with me, my family will be supportive of the venture, and we find some way to make our finances work during that time.  Good luck guys, keep them wheels turnin’!

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TD | July 13th, 2011

I too have this dream. Anybody have good book recommendations on the Great Divide ride? I Found 2 books so far.

Cycling the Great Divide: From Canada to Mexico on America’s Premier Long Distance Mountain Bike Route - Michael McCoy

Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide - Paul Howard

I’d love to read rider stories till I get a chance to experience it myself.

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Adventure Monkey | July 13th, 2011

That’s why I love you guys. “Adventure by Bike” is more than just a slogan.

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Nick Valdes | July 13th, 2011

Very cool.  I am enjoying following the updates as they come.  This series of posts has me set on embarking on a voyage of my own sometime in the next 12 months.  Keep up the good work and great photography!

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TD | July 14th, 2011

I too have this dream to ride this route. I found 2 books to read more about the Divide. I tried posting the titles but it probably looked like spaming so it never made it up. Have you guys read any good books about the Great Divide from an average rider or pro racer?s perspective? I can?t do the route yet but wouldn?t mind reading more about it. Salsa employees or blog visitors, any good recommendations?


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MG | July 14th, 2011

Thanks for sharing your adventures…

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Brian Hall | July 14th, 2011

@TD, check out Cordillera Vol. 1 and 2 for great personl accounts of Tour Divide experiences. You can order them on and part of the proceeds go to a good cause.

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | July 14th, 2011

Jill Homer also has written a book about her Tour Divide ride. I haven’t yet read it, but here is a link to where you can buy it, as well as a link to her blog.

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TD | July 14th, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions. I will have to read Jill’s book for sure as she’s a Bay Area writter.

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doug in STL | July 14th, 2011

Just want to say I’m enjoying immensely your adventure tales. What I think makes this extra special is that you guys @ Salsa actually know how to WRITE. Call me old school, but the lack of typos and bad grammar in your posts is really refreshing to see in a blog format. I’ve shared your posts with family members who are not bikers and they, too, are very impressed with your writing and, most of all, your energy and enthusiasm. Ride & Smile!

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Jim C | July 15th, 2011

I have to echo Adv. Monkey’s comments.  It’s great to see that you folks at Salsa Cycles “walk the walk” and truly live by your slogan.  Thanks for allowing us to share in your great adventures by posting these awesome blogs posts.  They are as enjoyable as they are motivating.

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