Author Topic: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts  (Read 2908 times)

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Offline zoidsdad

Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« on: December 22, 2019, 02:12:12 pm »
Great Divide “Section 6” – I am organizing a small group of 70 year-old’s who are hoping, in April 2020,  to complete the southern section of the Great Divide Bike Tour. Alas, I am not sure that we are wanting to do this trip “unsupported”. We all come from the river running culture with many extended trips under our belts. We have the experience, the gear, and the attitude to complete at least a two week (and easily more) bike/camping trip – just not sure that we are ready to carry all of our gear with us – sorry. We are NOT in a rush – we are used to “floating” down rivers enjoying our time together and would bring that same attitude to our biking trips.

With that said, we are planning to first experience the Southern section of the Great Divide (Antelope Wells to Grants) and hoping for a drier, warmer and more doable experience starting around April 15th. I have both a 4-wheel drive Jeep, as well as a hi-clearence 15 passenger “people mover” (tandem wheels in the back) that I have converted to be a very simple outdoor camper/gear hauler. I could use either of these vehicles on this trip.
 
My questions then are this:
 
First, is April 15th, too early to start this ride? I see that the predominate elevations are around 7,000 – with a max of 8,200. I am thinking (hoping) that this route should typically be open and dry by this time of the year.

Second, what are the roads like? Can all of them be traversed with what is basically a hi-clearence van – or would a 4-wheel jeep be necessary? We could EASILY do a portion of the trip without a support vehicle on the exact same route as the bikers – but having the vehicle meet us (via an alternative route) at some point down the road.
Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Bob harris

Offline CMajernik

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2019, 03:25:44 pm »
Bob:
Section 6 is one of the easier sections to traverse. It probably has more pavement than any of the others sections. And I think you could drive either your jeep or van. But I will ask someone who drove that part of the route 2 years ago.

As to whether or not the snow will be gone you can check https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/snow_map.html and under Snow click on Stations Only.

Locals will have more information about road conditions. I recommend you call the USFS Gila National Forest Supervisor's Office in Silver City, NM, (575) 388-8201. You'll be going through the Silver City Ranger District (575) 388-8201, the Wilderness Ranger District (575) 536-2250, the Black Range Ranger District 575-894-6677, the Reserve Ranger District (575) 533-6232, and the Quemado Ranger District (575) 773-4678.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline zoidsdad

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2019, 06:13:13 pm »
Carla - thank you so much. That is all great info.

We chose this section because we figured that it would be the best (and probably only) section of the route that would be doable in our April time frame. We are hoping to continue later in the summer with additional sections - probably 4 and 5. If the source you are contacting that drove section 6, two years ago, also has info on Section 4 and 5 in terms of accessibility with a jeep or van, that would also be much appreciated.

cheers - bob

Offline CMajernik

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2019, 12:51:06 pm »
Bob:
This is what my friend says about section 6:
"I can’t think of any places where 4WD would be necessary unless it rains—and even 4WD wouldn’t help in some places if wet and muddy, like Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway on the west side of El Malpais. I would recommend heavy duty tires through the Gila corridor north of Silver City, where there’s a lot of rough rock in the road surface."

I'll check with him about sections 4 and 5.

Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline zoidsdad

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2019, 10:44:30 am »
Carla - thank you once again for the great info. And a Happy New Year to you. Here is a pic of the potential "sagwagon"

Offline CMajernik

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2020, 10:57:54 am »
Bob:
Here's information about driving on sections 4 and 5 (north to south). Since you're going in the opposite direction just reverse the locations.

In general, there are alternate routes the van could take to meet up with riders who are following the main route.
Colorado:
*Slater Park, south to Steamboat Lake is very rough. They might want to do the Columbine Alternate, or at least the van could do that and meet back up with the riders at Steamboat Lake.
*The fording of Rock Creek (north of Radium) could be scary in a van, but there's an easy way to skirt it on State Highway 134.
*655 heading south into Del Norte gets pretty gnarly, but again is easy to detour around for the van.
New Mexico:
*Yes, Brazos Ridge is 4WD territory. The van should choose other roads, perhaps leaving riders at the junction of 17 and 117 (near crossing of Cumbres & Toltec RR) and going through Chama then heading over to Hopewell Lake on pavement (then perhaps driving north on 64 and 133 to meet up with riders at some predetermined camping site).
*You would not want to drive (wreck) the van up Polvadera Mesa south of Abiquiu. Then, continuing west toward Cuba on 144/315, there's also some rough stuff. If I'm remembering correctly, the van could make it a ways up FR 70 east of Cuba to meet riders somewhere along the way. (Suggestion: Carry a chain saw or at least a bow saw. I did run into some downed trees in this area and ended up bicycling some stuff I could have easily driven otherwise.)
*Cuba to Grants is probably navigable by the van, but not if it's raining (this holds true in quite a bit of New Mexico).
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2020, 01:06:34 pm »
The "van" pictured appears to be more like a bus.

Offline zoidsdad

Re: Great Divide Trip for Old Farts
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2020, 10:00:37 am »
Carla - thank you again for the invaluable information.