By Shane Hutton
So I am on a bus. It's 9:33pm and we have just pulled out of Deming. Now it's sinking in. The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route has been completed with a few alternates in between.
It didn't finish the way I had planned with a slight deviation off the planned route from Grants to Deming. It was something I had no control over and in the end I learnt to just roll with it.
As with all plans, the adventure starts when it all turns to shit :) However I have really enjoyed riding a different part of NM. It was also possibly a blessing in disguise as I was hit with some huge storms in the last few days which turned the trail into a quagmire forcing some others off route.
The storm I had at Elephant Butte was absolutely spectacular verging on scary when the ground was shaking with each thunder clap and blinding lightning strike,they were so close.
The flat tyres URGHHHHHHH holy shit I think I had 6 in 1 day. Then Another 2-3 the next that was frustrating. They have a thorn here called the goat head and man oh man does it suck.
The elevation was relentless until the final day down and back to Colombus the border where I only racked up 300mtr over 117km. My average since leaving R has been 117km and 1,300mtr a day.
I don't really know where to start with this ride. It has been everything and more than what I had imagined. The billions of stars at night the coyotes howling the huge Bald and Golden Eagles soaring through the sky. 1 bear and a huge Bull Moose and a huge rattlesnake.
The glaciers the rolling plains the meadows the desert and the Aspen stands wow the ASPENS. We got to see them in their full colours and as I got further south I got to relive them as summer has stretched out here.
Every single person we met along the way contributed to this trip. Here goes : Mark, the Alaskans Tom,Chris & Dave, the English Sam, Claire & Andy, Larry , Brian ( legend So Cal) , karen & Ray, Dan & Bev, the Kiwis Josh & Sammi, Joe, Dave & James ( Aussie ) , Ray & Desi ( Canadian) , Chris who we got to share the trail with for an extended period and what an absolute legend, Ray & Karen, JD, Peiter & Carolyn , Brad & Michelle from Eureka, Wolt, Stephan, SunJ, the Canadian family with the 2 12 year old girls pulling their own BOB trailer and doing the full trail. The 3 guys heading north, North bound John, the 2 hikers. Matt who donated me $100USD man I nearly fell over the random stranger who left me $20 to help fix my pannier. Randy and Sharon for taking me out to a nice restaurant and paying, Harry for the beer & who cooked me eggs and toast randomly before I set out 1 day.
Every other person we didn't meet but did hear about you all made this trip special.
Last but not least Richelle. You are amazing and if anyone should have the word inspirational thrown at them it's you.
You went so much further than any of us thought possible ( including yourself ) you amazed me over the course of 9 weeks and almost 4,000km. To keep on pushing along was astounding and I am so proud of you.
In summary the last 12 weeks or so have been absolutely jaw droppingly??? Beautiful. The quiet nights and days, the quirky towns and the beautiful crazy mountains
This trail Is a must do for anyone whether you are a road rider mountain biker or just a weekend warrior.
You MUST find a way to do this. Ray & Karen ( touching 70 years young) would car shuffle and ride the distance between. They went from New Mexico to the Wyoming border this summer and will do the rest next year. AMAZING
You can even hike the route, known more commonly as the Continental Divide.
I am looking forward to leg 3 of the trip but am really quite sad this part is done. I guess I hadn't thought too much past This stretch and now it's finished.
Like all big plans it takes sometime to let it settle in.
If you have any questions about this trip or would like to plan you're own ride the divide and have son questions drop us a line. We can also help in planning and or guiding trips along this route.
by Richelle Olsen, She Science Ambassador
Huh? Whats that? You thought we were riding together? Well we were, until....
So last we checked in, I was having a couple of days break on the trail at Steamboat Springs, to rest the very tired legberts, and the even more exhausted mind....well after my lift in the car to Breckenridge there was a lot of soul searching done, more tears, but much more relief when I finally decided that Colorado was the end of the Great Dividing MTB Route for me.
10 weeks and nearly 4,000kms was pretty much my limit for now. There was another 1,600kms to go to get to the Mexico border (with something like 22,000m of climbing), and probable stupid headwinds, and well I knew I just didnt have it in me. We were both disappointed, but very relieved. I was happy with my decision for a break, and Shane was happy that I was happy. He was also pretty excited that he would be able to spend the next 1,600kms smashing himself, doing in 2 weeks what would have taken 4 weeks if I was still riding with him.
And so began 2 parallel adventures.....
First things first, I had to get myself to Salida, 160km away, as there were a couple of parcels I was expecting there (new tires for me, and a replacement OR jacket for Shane). For me to get there, it involved a lift to the bus, a 1hr bus ride to Denver where I had to drop my bike off at a bike shop to be boxed up, and for safe keeping for a few days, then jusp on a Greyhound bus for the 3hr bus ride to Salida. Rolling into town on the bus, who's bike is sitting outside Maccas? Shane's of course, the little bugger had beaten me under his own steam, even after climbing Boreas Pass in the snow!
It was nice to have one more night together in Salida, and as it turned out the next day was our anniversary which was even better! But then it was proper goodbyes, and well, Ill be honest, I was left feeling a bit lost and directionless. No Shane, no bike, no purpose. I was used to this constant forward motion, and well suddenly I was stalled "resting". It also didnt help that I discovered that there was a stabbing the night before at the hostel I planned to stay at. Gulp! No matter i stayed there anyway and felt very safe, i even borrowed a bike to cruise around on, that was better.
But I'm nearly ready for the next chapter in the adventure....Shane's only 2 days from the Mexico border, after having some crazy adventures of his own (dog attacks, replacement panniers, rattlesnakes, crazy headwinds, sleeping out back of Walmart.....thats just the tip of the iceberg, I'll let him write about what he's been doing). Once he gets there, he will make his way back up to Napa via lifts/buses/trains etc, where I might make him take a shower, before we head out on the bikes again to ride the Number 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles, then down to the border and cross at Tijuana, and ride through Mexico till the money runs out! The adventure continues!
Shane encounters his first skunk just outside Wise River on the Great Dividing MTB Route
A brief glimpse at life on the trail, through Montana, on the Great Dividing MTB Route.
After being on the road a little over 3 weeks, we have done some reflecting on those little acts of kindness we have received from strangers..
Heather and Jeff in Whistler who plied us with beers and chips, and many many words of advice in bike touring, the Divide, bears and happy bums. And donated us their bear spray! When strangers become friends!
The young couple in whistler who donated some cheese and jalepeno sausages, yum!
Then the Irish/English couple in Whistler who donated beers and sausages.
Then there was the crazy dog man who was a gift from the gods when he took our panniers for us as we climbed up the insane Highline road to Seton Portage.
And Mark a fellow cycle tourer who shared many a cycling story, our campsite and his powdered hummus with us at Pavillion Lake. We ran into him again in the Main Street of Canmore, a few weeks later!
Then there was the couple in Revelstoke who shared their beers, and a potential trail building job for Shane, including a chopper ride to the site....ahhhh!
The campground in Canoe that offered half price camping for cyclists!
Tanya from the Kicking Horse Hostel in Golden, who provided her yard for camping and access to all her facilities for free. The mozzies were a not so welcome bonus!
And the poor Dutch couple at Lake Louise who asked to borrow a lighter for their fire, and suddenly found us drinking their beers, and Shane building their fire!
The life saving Japanese couple we met in Banff at the Banff Adventure Film Fest, who gave us a lift back to our campsite, and saved us from walking home in the storm.
Wilma from the Rocky Mountains Chalet in Canmore who saved us from the cold and the rain, and every hotel being booked out, and gave us a 2 bedroom apartment she wasn't meant to rent out, and did it for half the price, angel!!
The crazy 3 Alaskans, Dave, Tom and Chris, who we shared days 2&3 on the Great Divide. Great company, some amazing stories, delicious brownies, a few shots of rum, and now a place for us to stay when we go to Alaska at some point! It was really sad to leave the gang!!!
The Calgary couple at the Blue Lake Campsite, there for the serenity, then 5 cyclists destroyed their peace, so they sat us down in their comfy chairs and shared their beers!!
And that's only 3 weeks worth!
The random RV park in Baines Lake, just before we crossed the border into the States. We rolled up to an RV park, pretty much full of permanent RV's. Befre we were off the bikes, some retirees offerred us beer. Then they invited us to their annual park Pot Luck Dinner, at the local hall. Picture table after table full of home cooked food they had been cooking all day, as well as a big table of desserts, and free beer. This was INSANE we ate so much that I we had to roll around town on the bike for an hour before we could even consider going to bed!
Then there was our fantastic Warm Showers hosts in Denver, Allison and Jim, who let me stay 2 nights in their beautiful home, its so nice to have the comforts of home!
There are certainly some amazing people out there!!!
After some 9hr plus days in the saddle, and 2 weeks since our last rest day, this week we rolled into Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for 2 days of R&R. Eating, reading, replacing tyres, bottom brackets, brake pads, and eating some more! Steamboat is a great little town for that!
But alas, yesterday morning it was time to hit the road again, a 70km day of gradual climbing up over Lynx Pass, and beyond. Rolling out of town it was quickly apparent that not only were we climbing, but We were climbing into a bitch of a headwind. By 20km in I was falling further and further behind Shane, so slow that I was wobbling all over attempting to stay upright, with my legs pretty much saying no way, we are NOT doing this today...and I was getting more and more pissed about being out there. And knowing that I'd be out there for another 3 days of climbing until we reached Breckenridge!
Shane, bless his cotton socks was asking what was wrong, and through my tears all I could explain was that I just didn't want to be on the bike. Not today. Not for the next 3 days. We managed another 10kms of trying to convince myself that I could do it, before we sat under a tree for some lunch, and I decided once and for all that i couldn't muster the mental strength to push myself through the next few days...I would go back to Steamboat and meet Shane further down the trail.
One of the toughest decisions I've had to make..
Skipping part of the trail that I have been following for over 2 months and over 3,000kms. But holy crap I've done over 3,000km that's massive for me, in reality I'm surprised I've lasted till now to crack! And we are riding for the fun of it, what's the point in riding when you are miserable?
Leaving Shane to ride it alone, without me his chief map reader, and without me there if something happens. This is the hardest. But there's other tourers we know just ahead and just behind him on the trail, so there's people around. His biggest hurdle will be to stop himself from covering the 250kms in one day! And as a bonus, he gets to ride at his own pace without waiting for slowpoke here. He says he doesn't mind waiting, but it makes me feel better knowing I'm not holding him up!
What will people think of me, bailing out when it gets too hard? Ah who the hell cares I'm sure people will understand!
So I find myself today back in Steamboat. Shane rode back with me yesterday (returning with an amazing tailwind!) as we needed to repack all our stuff, so we both had a tent each (we have been carrying 2 for this eventuality!) and Shane could offload some of his stuff onto me so he could go a bit lighter. He headed out early this morning, but not before stopping for a breakfast burrito at Taco Cabo!
I slept until 9am, packed up the tent and have been hanging out in Karen and Ray's RV with Bodie the Golden Retriever all morning reading and laying on their couch. Karen and Ray are doing the Divide Trail as day rides, and car shuffling back to their trailer each night, at age 70 they are absolutely inspirational! They have spoilt us with beers, dinner, spare tyres and great company. They are out riding today while I veg out! It's worked perfectly as they are headed to Denver tomorrow, so will drop me off at Silverthorne on the way, so I can meet up with Shane Sunday night or Minday morning. This break was meant to be!
I'm hoping these couple of days will be the reset that I need, but I'll decide on Monday whether I take a few more or not...
Yes, I do feel I'm missing out, but I'm so super excited to be doing nothing right now!!!!
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Packrafter, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete