Author Topic: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning  (Read 2955 times)

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Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« on: March 29, 2018, 08:42:26 pm »
I would truly appreciate some input here.  Especially from people who have done the Great Divide Route.

I am planning for summer 2019 to do the Great Divide with my 2 sons.  They will be 22 and 26 and are in excellent condition but are not cyclists.  They are training now to get ready. They are meatheads and love a challenge  - they are not interested in dawdling along smelling the flowers.

I will be 55, and have been a lifelong cyclist.  I did the TransAm route 2 years ago averaging 575-600 mile weeks (with about 1 day off per week). 

Im wondering about what to expect to be able to do mileage wise.  I have a hard time converting "6 centuries in a row on the Transam Route" to "Great Divide mileage."

I dont have unlimited time off of work, so I cant just start and see how it goes. I will have about 9 weeks at the absolute maximum to complete the route. I also havent scoured the elevation route maps yet - but it seems to me that the last half of new mexico is probably easier to get more miles in than the Canadian Rockies.

So what do yall suggest as what kind of mileage I should plan for.  ?Start off with shooting for 30 miles a day and ramp up over the first few weeks to averaging mid 60's?  Try for closer to 40 miles/day initially?  Or would starting slower (25 miles/ day and ramp up to closer to 75miles/day toward the end) be a better plan?

 I really appreciate any and all advice - especially from people with experience on the route.


Offline John Nettles

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Re: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 09:44:48 pm »
I have only done parts of the GD but have done a fair amount of gravel roads though admittedly most are not as steep as the GD.  I typically count on doing an AVERAGE of about 65%-70% of what I can do if the same route was paved.  In other words, if the route was paved and I felt I could do 60 miles, I would assume I would do about 40 miles of the GD.  Obviously, if the route is steep, sandy/muddy, lots of turns, etc. the distance would be less than if it were a nice packed gravel/dirt road that was generally flat with no confusing turns.

If you have looked at McCoy's book, you will see there are very few 60 mile days on gravel/dirt.  I would guess you would use most of the 9 weeks to do the entire thing, especially if you add Canada to it.  Be sure to factor in getting from Antelope Wells back to a place to grab transportation back home.  Finally, keep a few "buffer" days in your pocket in case you get bad weather, mechanical issues, sick, etc. and it slows you down.

I would suggest you consider taking the paved roads in NM if you are running out of time.  Most are scenic and have low traffic.

Wishing you a great trip!

Offline jamawani

Re: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2018, 08:41:32 am »
Remote BLM and USFS roads in the Intermountain West are not about mileage.
I have lived, worked, and ridden in Wyoming and Montana for 30 years.
More often than not, the people I have to help are young, gnarly dudes.
Logging and mining are not the only means of consuming nature.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2018, 09:50:01 am »
I think that it really depends on what type of trip and experience you and the boys are looking for.  Assuming everyone is in decent riding shape (as described); I'd think 50-75 would be easy enough (route dependent for that day).  That is assuming riding from 8am to 5pm or later and some leisure stops.  As I'm sure you know from your Trans-Am experience, a lunch stop in town can easily consume 3hrs if you let it. 

I rode from Banff to Lincoln last year, with only 60 days training and still averaged over 100 a day.  But, I was practicing race mode. Not in pacing, but in riding from 6am to 7or8pm.  I tried not to stop much, but took the actual riding easy.

A prior trip, we rode from the Border to Ovando and back to Swan Lake.  Riding harder, but taking more stops and smelling the roses in-between.  I believe we were averaging 90 a day then, but stopped early each night.

In summary, be flexible.  Know the route and the challenges each day for climbs and trail. The maps have a wealth of info.  Maybe start with the 50-60 that it would take to get to that first campground.  Another 50-60 gets you to Elkford, then play it by ear.

Have fun, it is a great route.


Re: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2018, 09:49:15 am »
Thanks for the advice -

I appreciate it.


Offline chestnutski

Re: Advice for Great Divide daily mileage planning
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2018, 02:57:49 pm »
I have experience with both routes and am about your age (58)
My wife and I rode the GDMBR border to border in 5 sections over 9 years.  We followed McCoy's book for about 90% of the recommended stopping point each day.  We averaged 40 miles/day.  Our mileage did increase in New Mexico.

This past fall I rode the western half of the TransAm.  I averaged 72 miles/day.  I could have averaged more, but daylight was less, and the cold and rain limited my mileage on some days.

I found the TransAm much easier due to the abundance of services along the way.

PM if you want any more details of the tours.