Author Topic: Great Divide MTB Route options?  (Read 7264 times)

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Offline MrBent

Great Divide MTB Route options?
« on: April 03, 2015, 12:06:22 pm »
Hey, Riders:

Doing some dreaming and scheming about the GDMBR.  I know my plans are a bit whacked, but they are not without precedent.  My wife and I are thinking about attempting the GDMBR on recumbent trikes.  It has been done this way once before--see Heidi's blog on Crazyguyonabike--so we know it's possible.  Our particular wrinkle will be taking our faithful hound along if he's fit enough, which seems likely.  Our ride is still a full two years away, so this is very preliminary research.

Some background:

In 2012, my wife, our hound, Django, and I pedaled the Great Divide following almost exclusively paved roads.  I tell this sordid tale in my book--Cracking the Spine: http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Spine-Tricycle-Odyssey-Mountains-ebook/dp/B00LBCHGTO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1405429131&sr=1-1&keywords=cracking+the+spine.

That was a tough trip for sure, but on the times we got off pavement, we had some serious fun.  It was hard, of course, but the virtual absence of traffic and the overwhelming quiet were addictive.  We ended up doing about 30 miles or so of dirt between Bozeman and the Yellowstone River and another stretch of dirt leading to Ute Pass, which I've found is part of the official GDMBR. These went well, and our rigs were not customized for dirt, my wife in particular pedaling a trike with 20" wheels--pretty dang low!  For a bigger dirt adventure we'd upgrade my trike--currently 26" in the rear and 20" in front to a 29X24 config. while my wife's would be 26X24.  We'd use 2+" rubber all around.  The dog trailer is the best available, a Cycletote, which we'd likely upgrade to 26" wheels.

So here's my thinking about the route so far: 

We'd have to use the now alternate south of Sparwood in BC--the "Fernie Alternate" as "The Wall" seems a no go with trikes? Everyone portages, but the trikes couldn't even be pushed up that from what it seems.  We'd be fine on the Fernie route, however.

The next crux comes at Richmond Peak above Rt. 83 in Montana, a section we grew to hate because of the traffic.  Instead of Richmond Peak, which Heidi did successfully, here's an alternate I've mapped using Google, so I'd like some Montana locals or other experienced riders to comment:

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7369730

From satellite views, the route seems to follow consistently well developed logging roads.  We'd have to ride SOME of 83, but not much.

The other crux would be Fleecer Ridge.  Again, Heidi rode this somehow, but we'd likely do the simple alternate.

From my reading, it seems like everything else is workable, especially on jacked trikes with fat tires.  If I had my way, I'd go with a suspended two wheeler, but my wife is a confirmed triker, so this is the way we'd do it.  We have insanely low gearing, so I suspect that many stretches that two wheelers push, we'd crawl up steadily on our three wheelers.

Besides the expected--DON"T DO IT, YOU FOOL!--comments, what do you think?  Any other sections that have workarounds we should know about? 

Thanks!

Scott

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2015, 12:16:55 pm »
My only concern for you would be that since you most likely would go slower due to the climbs, you would potentially need to carry significantly more food and/or water than a DF bike in places thus slowing you down even more.

I have all kinds of bikes (including an ICE Adventure trike and a HPV Streetmachine recumbent bike) but would be reluctant to use a trike on the GD solely due to the slow speed due to so very much climbing.  Other than speed, trikes are great!

However, whatever you choose to do, enjoy the ride!

Offline MrBent

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2015, 01:16:05 pm »
Good pt. re. speed, John.  I think we should be able to manage 30+ miles per day of riding, which should make it possible.  Yeah, we are wicked slow on climbs.  I've got a route mapped (http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3961972) that we'll try next year using my proposed GDMBR setup.  This route involves some substantial dirt portions, so we'll get the feel for time/distance calculations.  We've toured a lot on a Greenspeed tandem trike, so we're no strangers to slow.

Offline SandLizrd

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 08:09:50 pm »
Everyone is insanely slow on the climbs and everyone had best plan provisions.  As long as you're ready to HAB you will be OK - can't get much worse than that.

I would warn you about New Mexico.  The Gilas were the roughest toughest place I'd ever been.  But then I got to Polvadera Mesa and it became the roughest toughest place I'd ever been with wheel-sucking mud.  Burned Mountain was bad and Brazos Ridge was worse, I pretty much slid down the rocky gravelly washed-out mountain but soon it turned into sandstone slabs and the six-inch drops gave me traction.  So that was better.  The next miles of one-track (you could call it washed-out-two-track but... no, it was one-track) seemed easy.  But I didn't have a bent trike or a dog.

You're going to have some long hike-a-bike days, but don't let that stop you!  How do we train to push a bike up a talus slope at 10000 feet?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 08:21:29 pm by SandLizrd »

Offline MrBent

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2015, 10:27:05 pm »
Hey, SandLizrd!

Thanks for the pep talk.  Yeah, an epic is the point.  I'm thinking of constructing harnesses for pulling the trikes up hill, which I think might be easier than bending over to push.  I don't think Heidi had to do a lot of pushing.  The mud in NM worries me, but one gets through what one must, mustn't one? Heh.

Scott

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2015, 01:35:57 pm »
I did this on a 29er MTB in 2012 or so.

There are sketchy bits that can be avoided by taking pavement.  Fleece Ridge and Richmond Peak come to mind.  Washed out bits in the Gila NF too.  Ask the few northbound riders about conditions ahead - and follow their advice.  Although I would do the GDMBR again, I would never handicap myself with a trike.

Good luck!

Offline Venchka

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2015, 09:18:00 pm »
Good Luck!
You make my plans to use the gear I have on hand seem normal enough.
Co-Motion Americano. 700c x 40 X'PLOR MSO tires. Old Man Mountain racks. Jandd panniers. Backpacking gear.
I reckon we can make it.
Worst case: follow the Divide on pavement instead of off pavement.
Cheers!

Wayne



Sent from somewhere around here.
Wayne
Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain Forest.
Quote
You've come far pilgrim...Feels like far...Were it worth the trouble?...Huh? What trouble?

Offline MrBent

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2015, 08:56:51 am »
Hey, Wayne:

I hear you, but we've already done the Divide on pavement, which is what's got us itching to do it dirty style.  We'll see what happens.  We still got a couple of years before I can get the time off.

Cheerz,

Scott

Offline Venchka

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2015, 12:12:58 pm »
I am aiming for 2015. Sometime during July to September. I don't feel locked in to either dirt or pavement. I just want to cover a lot of miles. Fill in some gaps in my early travels.
I crossed a big hurdle this month: I dropped a few pounds from my gear and proved that 40mm tires fit the bike.

Wayne


Sent from somewhere around here.
Wayne
Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain Forest.
Quote
You've come far pilgrim...Feels like far...Were it worth the trouble?...Huh? What trouble?

Offline MrBent

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2015, 12:27:01 pm »
Hey, Wayne:

From our experience doing the paved Divide, do your best to avoid paved Montana.  That was, overall, the low point of the tour because of poor shoulders and sometimes very heavy traffic.  Wyoming was good, Colorado okay to good but only because we went through so late in the year--late Sept/early Oct.  Mid-summer might be a different story.  New Mexico has some really good paved cycling, at least on the routes I've taken.

Scott

Offline Venchka

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2015, 07:32:35 pm »
Thanks Scott. I'm taking good notes.

Wayne


Sent from somewhere around here.
Wayne
Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain Forest.
Quote
You've come far pilgrim...Feels like far...Were it worth the trouble?...Huh? What trouble?

Offline sfuller

Re: Great Divide MTB Route options?
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2015, 10:17:28 pm »
This is an old, old thread, but I thought I would chime in. I've ridden recumbent trikes for a couple of years in my past, and I just finished a successful southbound run of the Tour Divide a couple of months ago.

Northbound, IMO will be more difficult than southbound. Fleecer Ridge in particular will be be completely hellish. It was difficult walking DOWN Fleecer with a regular bike. With a trike, you're going to be in for a hell of a workout. The steepest section will be just shy of a mile long and gain around 930' (approx 19% average). You will also need to be careful of your rear derailleur. On my wife's Catrike Trail, the derailleur is perilously close to the ground. There were lots of fist size or larger rocks all over the route. Plenty of sections of washed out ATV trail around Park Lake between Butte and Montana as well. Mud will be your other foe if you happen to hit rain in many of the sections.

With enough study, the really hard parts of the route can be routed around in many areas, but even the reroutes won't be easy.

It will definitely be an adventure. :)