Banff, end of phase one
3962 kilometers over 60 days. Of these 14 days when no cycling was done so ~86km/day on the riding days. My original plan had been designated as a training ride first down the Dalton and then to Watson Lake on routes I had cycled before. After that the Cassiar, Yellowhead (this portion) and Icefields were new routes.
I had two larger mechanical failures: a torn off derailleur on the Dalton and a broken hub that finally failed near Smithers. I replaced both tires along the way. The failures were a bit more than expected, though I now will take an extra freehub kit when I cross into Latin America.
However, overall it was a great trip! Reasonably relaxed, there are days when I could definitely have ridden a bit longer, but perhaps not day after day. No point in burning out so early on an extended trip. Also really liked having the long hours of daylight. I brought along a flashlight but never used it the entire distance to Banff.
The photo above shows the Banff Springs hotel, starting point for the next phase of the trip. This one on my mountain bike and along the Great Divide route. Today I brought my bike in to Bactrax bike shop. Nothing major but the mechanical disc brakes had a bit of a “squeal” to them and also nice to get everything well adjusted and ready for the trip. The mechanic did look at my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and suggest I might want something with a bit more tread. I will see how this goes on the trip and if necessary swap tires in Whitefish or similar place.
Photo above shows bike pump placed at start of the trail.
A few notes about the Great Divide route as I’ve learned it, as well as potential plans here:
- The Great Divide Route was mapped by 1997 from Roosville, MT to Antelope Wells, NM. In 2004, a Canadian segment was added from Banff to Roosville. Total distance from Banff to Mexico is 2768 miles.
- The route evolves slightly each year. One of the larger changes in 2010 was a more remote section in Canada through the Flathead Wilderness. The old pre-2010 route remained as the “Fernie Alternative”. I will likely choose the tamer Fernie Alternative.
- I have two books with me (one kindle one hardback), that provide an itinerary for the Great Divide. Both split the US portion into 62 riding days. One doesn’t have a Canadian portion and the other splits it into 8 riding days – but this is not the Fernie Alternative.
- Since 2008 there has been a Tour Divide Race (fun film by the way). The fastest racers have figured out how to ride it in 14 days!
- Not sure what my pace will be – certainly a lot closer to the 70 day pace than the 14 day, but not sure if I’ll be more or less than that or whether I’ll want to or have to take some rest days along the way. Will figure this out as I go along.
- While there are a number of motels and spaces to stay on the route, a common pattern might be two or three days of remote cycling – followed by a motel town. If it just happens that wifi doesn’t work in that town or not present, then could occasionally be a week without an update. Initially expect enough surface water to filter, but further south in New Mexico might need to carry more water as can be a day or two gaps without water as well.
- I’ve read a book or two (on Kindle) and some journals of the route. Some of them have me slightly intimidated on difficulties of the trail for myself and the bike. However, not clear how much this highlights particular areas or not and in most places as necessary, I’ll back off and cycle the paved routes that sometimes go not too far from the GDMBR. Same story if weather turns colder this fall or we’ve got a snowstorm or similar. Part of the experiment.
Overall, looking forward to trying this hybrid approach to GDMBR to also see how my mountain bike rides and how touring on this works. Based on how it goes, will use this to learn how to adjust my trip further when I get to Mexico and Phase three.
In the evening, had dinner with Wayne and Trish, also alumni of the TDA Africa trip in 2013. Fun catching up. Also likely they will join tomorrow when we set off from Banff.