Setting Off: Touring The Great Divide Route

Today we share the first post of a big trip Salsa product designer Sean Mailen, and his buddy Brett, are undertaking: Touring the Great Divide Route. Follow their ride with Trackleaders. -Kid

Tomorrow, I’ll take my first spin of the crank and start pedaling from Banff, Alberta, Candada toward Antelope Wells, New Mexico. My good friend Brett Davis and I are embarking on our tour of the Great Divide Route.

Many of you are probably familiar with the Tour Divide Race (this years edition started almost two weeks ago). Brett and I will follow this exact same course, north to south (with or without the snow detours) but with no racing expectations or motivations. If you are aren’t familiar with the course, check out, and start dreaming!

Brett and I considered doing the race much like my boss here at Salsa, Joe Meiser, did two years ago. We deliberated the pros and cons of doing the race, or just starting at the same time with no pressure to keep the pace, and we finally decided to start two weeks later because of the snowpack and to keep the pressure off.

I know myself. I know I like to be competitive. And I know that when the choice comes down to doing another 60 miles late in the evening or stopping, resting, and enjoying a campfire I want to make sure I do the latter…on this trip at least! Brett and I don’t plan on stopping at every vista or burrito joint (well maybe the burrito joints) but we do want to enjoy the ride. Take photos and take it all in: that’s what I want to do on this ride. I’m looking forward to the simplicity and amazement that I’ve heard the scenery will provide.

I feel like this dream has been a long time in the making. I guess its inception happened when Brett showed me his “50 Greatest Mountain Bike Rides” book. Kokopelli, the Grand Loop, Slick Rock, and the other usuals were all there, but Brett wasn’t pointing those out. He was pointing out the Great Divide Route: 2745 miles of dirt road, jeep trail, and singletrack. What an epic I thought at the time, and well, I still do.
That was back in 2006, and since then I’ve ridden some great singletrack, graduated from college, and started working in the bike industry. The GDR has gone back and forth in my mind; sometimes in the forefront and achievable, and sometimes in the back as a never achievable aspiration.

Now it’s here. I’ve been spending the last couple of months preparing for this trip, along with preparing for marriage (another epic dream and much more important than the GDR…achieving two dreams in one year ain’t bad!). I feel like everything is ready to go now; the bike, the body (thanks to Chris Balser/Bicycle Fit Guru [url=][/url] for helping me with my IT band problems from the Trans Iowa), and the gear.

I’ve got a lot of great resources around here along with my prior experiences that helped me decide what to bring. My big ticket items are of course my Selma Ti one-off, Revelate Designs seat bag, and a custom frame bag and toptube bag made by Brett. I wanted to achieve a load that wasn’t on my back, was at or below 50 pounds, and would be very reliable. It isn’t the lightest load out there but it will help me achieve my number one goal, which is to enjoy the ride as much as possible.

This is my gear list:


• Salsa Selma Ti one-off w/ Fargo fork

On Bike:

• Garmin Edge 800 w/ Energizer charger (thanks for this idea Tim Ek!)
• Clip-on aero bars
• POE AC Elite pad strapped on handlebars
• Fargo fork with two water bottles

On Me:

• Helmet
• Princeton Tec EOS light
• Ibex wool bib shorts
• Ibex wool jersey short sleeve
• Ibex woolie long sleeve
• Wind vest
• Ibex knee warms
• Arm warmers
• Cycling cap wool
• Sunglasses
• Gloves
• Knog light on helmet
• Defeet wool socks
• Shimano Mtn. shoes

BD Toptube Bag:

• SPF 45 sunblock
• Miscellaneous food (Starbucks Via, Clif Shots gel, Clif Blocks, Gummi Bears, Nature Valley bars, Snickers, Reese’s, bacon, Little Debbie’s, etc)
• Vitamins, joint soother, Advil, endurolytes
• Cell phone

BD Frame Bag:

• ER Kit (Band Aids, athletic tape, Neosporin, steri strips)
• 3L Camelbak bladder
• Alcohol stove
• Alcohol fuel
• Dr Bronner’s soap
• Titanium spork
• Titanium cook pot
• Lighter /matches
• Scotchbrite cleaning pad
• Aquamira water purification drops
• mp3 player and headphones
• Olympus E-PL2 PEN camera (I love this camera!) w/ Ultrapod
• Phone charger, camera charger, mp3 charger, usb mini cord
• Extra batteries
• Extra Ziploc bags
• Trash bags
• Maps
• Compass
• Passport
• New frame pump, mini tool, 2 chain links, chain lube, tire levers, duct tape, zip ties, 2 tubes, patches, ER hanger, Leatherman tool
• MSR pack towel
• 100% DEET in a .5oz. bottle
• Personal hygiene (toothbrush, deodorant, toothpaste, nail clipper, moisturizer, handy wipes for bathroom break, chamois cream, some Nathan’s wipes)
• Journal and pen
• Bandanna
• Ear plugs

Revelate Designs Seat Bag:

• Kelty 30-degree sleeping bag
• Marmot down jacket
• Tyvec ground cloth
• Spot Tracker
• Defeet wool socks
• Another pair of socks
• Fleece tights
• Ibex woolie long sleeve
• Nylon rain jacket
• Rain knickers
• Crocs

Wish us well as we begin this long-awaited journey!

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking El Mariachi Explore Overnighter Ride The Divide Sean Mailen Tech 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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Nick Valdes | June 24th, 2011

Good luck!  I look forward to hearing feedback and seeing photos.  This route is on my bucket list.  I’m jealous.

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Tim Ek | June 24th, 2011

Good luck Sean! May your batteries stay forever charged. Please, do some extra lookin’ around for me.


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JB | June 24th, 2011

Are you bringing a tent, bivy, or tarp?

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R | June 24th, 2011

Pardon my ignorance, but what does it mean that the Selma is a “one-off”  Does that have anything to do with that Selma being geared?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | June 24th, 2011

I’m chiming in with a few answers for Sean since he is headed to Banff at the moment.

JB - He will be sharing a tent type shelter with his riding companion Brett. Monday morning’s post will be an introduction of Brett. Later next week there will be a breakdown of Brett’s gear.

Don’t hold me to it, but if memory serves the tent is a floorless pyramid type shelter (I am a personal fan of that type of shelter!)

R - Yes. Officially, it is not an El Mariachi Ti or a Selma Ti…but a mixture of the two…hence a one-off.

Enjoy your weekend.

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HugoFar | June 24th, 2011

IMHO touring is so much more fun than racing… You get to enjoy the views and actually eat well. It may be too late and he’s obviously made his choices,but from my ride of The Tour Divide route in 2009 I’d suggest an ST Thudbuster seat post and front suspension. These two things make a huge improvement to comfort,and hence enjoyment of the adventure.Have fun.

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Mom and Dad Davis | June 24th, 2011

  Have the time of your life and be safe…you and Brett will be in our thoughts and prayers,,,Seize the moments!

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beth christie | June 26th, 2011

Sean (and Brett!),
I’m thinking of you both and sending fair weather vibes your way! Wahooo—you’re on your way and we are all supporting you on this great adventure. xxoo b

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Christine | June 26th, 2011

Sean and Brett! You have a whole East contingent following you now!  We ate lots of calories just for you!  Good luck guys!

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Mr. Buddy Davis | June 26th, 2011

Are you almost home yet? Are you almost home??!! Chow! BD

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Bubba and the kids | June 26th, 2011


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Alan | June 26th, 2011

Sean, have a fantastic trip! I hope you’ll book time at the office to share your stories when you return.

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M&D Davis | June 26th, 2011

Sean and Brett,
Following you all day…looks like alot of climbing today…what an adventure…be safe and welcome to Montana tomorrow! Love to you both!
Enjoy Glacier Park….watch for bears!

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Adventure Monkey | June 27th, 2011

I can’t wait to hear about this adventure! It’s on my bucket list too.

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Jenna | June 27th, 2011

Yeah, boys! Thad and I can’t wait to hear about the adventures that await! Buen viaje!

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Other | September 3rd, 2012

Really no matter if someone doesn’t be aware of after that its up to other people that they will assist, so here it takes place.

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