Cycling the Great Divide


The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is the world's longest mapped off-pavement cycling route. The Great Divide extends for 2,470 miles (4,000 km), from the Port of Roosville at the Montana-British Columbia border to Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the doorstep of old Mexico. From the Canadian border the route trends ever-upward, until reaching the crescendo of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado (with plenty of ups and downs in between). From there, the Rockies, and the Great Divide, again assume a generally lower elevations as they continue south into New Mexico.

The route was planned with the goal of staying within 50 miles of the Continental Divide whenever possible. There are total of 23 crossings of the Divide with elevations ranging from 2,577 feet asl near the Canadian border to 11,910 feet at Indian Pass, Colorado (780 m - 3,600 m). The map below shows the route.

greatdividemap.gif (17729 bytes)

In 2000 I cycled across the USA from San Francisco to Maine to celebrate my 40th birthday (my trip log is at along with others). In 2002 I wanted another challenge to celebrate completing my contract with MWH. Central Asia beckoned, but it was not a good time to be a white guy on a bicycle in that part of the world so the Great Divide seemed like a good alternative.

I was joined by Sean Rainsford from MWH at the insistence of my wife Lis who said that the grizzly bears would then at least have two to choose from and on 19 August 2002 we arrived in Kalispell, Montana to start our trip. Sean left in Steamboat Springs Co. to return to work. I completed the trip at Antelope Wells New Mexico on 14 October 2002 and then cycled to El Paso Texas to fly back.

I had covered over 2500 miles (my odometer failed a couple of times so I don't know exactly how far I went). The trip was hard on me physically but even more so on my bicycle. BTW: I sometimes had to leave the route for repairs so bear this in mind when comparing my actual route to the 'official' route.

This journal was written during the trip and uploaded to the web whenever the opportunity presented itself. Questions or comments to:


A special thanks goes to the Adventure Cycling Organisation of Missoula, MT for creating the route. It was very hard work but worth it.

I've also made some observations on the highs and lows of the trip. I've also some suggestions for those thinking of doing it themselves. A number of people asked about my gear so I've put together a non-exhaustive gear list.

Give it a go ... you won't regret it. Eat, sleep and ride the Great Divide. If you know of any other web journals on the trip please advise and I'll post the links here.