Author Topic: The Great Divide Trail  (Read 3418 times)

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Offline ags405

The Great Divide Trail
« on: March 01, 2011, 09:41:52 pm »
Im new on this site and have not completed looking through all the post so hopefully I am not repeating a discussion. My son would like to bike from Homer, Alaska down to Texas then Phoenix and then to bellingham to catch the ferry back home to Kodiak, and of course he wants me to go with him. I am very excited about the oppertunity to do this (which wont be for a couple of years graduation trip to see grandparents). My first question among many to come is concerning the Great Divide trail and my bicycle; I have an X3 USX Trike by Suncycles which i really like. The question is will I be able to ride the route with a trike? I know theres differing opinions about trikes but I am mostly concerned about the trail itself. Several of the pictures I have seen show people with mountain bikes and on paths that my trike would not be able to go nor are they carring any gear other than a water bottle. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. If its not doable then I need to know early on so I can get the right kind of bike.

Thank you

Offline RussSeaton

Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 11:25:14 pm »
These are a few quotes from the description of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route.

"A wide variety of road conditions exists along this route. Surfaces range from pavement, good gravel roads, four-wheel-drive roads, singletrack, or old railroad beds."

"Heading into New Mexico, the road surface deteriorates, with much more rocky riding."

Your call on whether a tricycle can be ridden on those surfaces.

I assume you would go from Phoenix to southern Caliifornia and catch the Pacific Coast route north to Bellingham Washington.  I've heard going north on the Pacific Coast route is very, very, very undesirable.  The wind is very strong from north to south along the Pacific coast.  You might consider going south to Phoenix first along the Pacific coast.  Then north on the Great Divide route.

Offline kstarmac

Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2011, 12:08:36 pm »
I have to agree with Russ on the "undesired" route going north on PCH. I did the ride a few years ago from N to S with a nice tail wind the whole way to SoCal. People that I did see going northbound seemed to be barely moving and really struggling in some areas of the coast, especially the central coast. Believe me, those winds off the coast are strong blowing south. I remember going through Piedras Blancas area by San Simeon, and looking over at a guy traveling northbound with a fully loaded bike. The look on his face told the story. He was not enjoying life. KS

Offline indyfabz

Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2011, 12:11:22 pm »
I wouldn't describe it as a "trail" in the sense of a bike trail.  It's a route that is mostly off-road.  More from the map for Section 1:  "Particularly in dry summers, portions of the route can become quite washboarded, making for uncomfortable riding.  To prepare for it,, your bike should have at the very least a front shock absorber.  A fully suspended bike is even better.  The outfit of choice for most riders today is a fully suspended bike and a trailer, such as a B.O.B., in which to haul gear.  In addition to providing a smoother ride, this set-up permits you to carry a greater quantity of food and water, a real advantage in some of the more remote areas traversed by the route."

Also from the map, "We discourage you from attempting to ride this route solo; in fact, a minimum group size of three is strongly recommended.  If a rider is debilitated in the backountry, you will want to have at least one person to stay with the injured/sick rider, and another to go for help.

As for going north to south on the Great Divide route, the map points out that to complete the entire route at once, you would have to start in New Mexico before May 1, which would put you in the high country of CO while snow still covers most of the route.  Also, the map notes that going south to north would require you to negotiate some very tough uphills.  As such, AC recommends that you ride north to south.

Offline John Nettles

Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2011, 04:34:14 pm »
Go to CrazyGuyonaBike.  Search for "Eat, Sleep and Ride the Divide" by Heidi Domesen.  She rode did an extended tour on a Trike and part of it went from Alberta to Mexico along the Great Divide.  Contact her and pick her brain.

For areas of the GDR that might be more difficult on a trike than you want to deal with, there are usually paved or at least gravel alternatives nearby.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!

Offline ags405

Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2011, 05:20:11 pm »
Thanks for the responses. At this point my son and I are in the infant discussion stage of the bike trip, and just discovering the resources that are available. Lots of information to sift through. Last night after posting this I just found the CrazyGuyonaBike site and have started reading Heidi's trip.

We do know that the Ferry Office in Bellingham will be our departure point to go back to Alaska and we have toyed with the idea of starting there as well. Since we are still in the planning stages any and all suggestions will be considered. Two places we will be going is Abernathy, TX and Phoenix, AZ to see grand parents. Thanks for the input.

Ambrose Stapleton


  • Guest
Re: The Great Divide Trail
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2011, 09:16:18 am »
As Heidi proved, it's possible to do the GDMBR on a trike.  But I know, I wouldn't have much fun over some parts, especially the single track, Fleecer Ridge, and the mud.  However, the ACA map has routes around all of these obstacles, so if you are willing to take the asphalt once in a while, the "GDMBR" is doable.

South to North on PCH is bad for the wind, which tends to flow north to south in the summer, but also because all of the good scenery is on your left across traffic.  This means that if you want to take in the view, you'll need to make a left across (sometimes considerable) traffic, then do it all over again when you want to proceed north.

South to North on the GDMBR has the advantage that you can beat the monsoon (and hence the mud) in New Mexico, but you'll not have much water when crossing the Great Basin of Wyoming.  You'll be able to experience first hand the ardors of the pioneers when going through that area!  But again doable if you can carry a couple of gallons of water - each.