Warning: Bike Geek Post! Most cyclists have a certain bike part they tend to destroy. OK, some, like Scott Pauker, seem to destroy most everything, but for me it’s bottom brackets. This post isn’t meant to start a which BB is better debate, we’re all at the mercy of the manufacturers and their latest “standards”. For touring I’ve settled on the external bearing standard, because it’s currently the most widely used and easiest to replace. Also, unlike square taper bottom brackets, one size fits most, with the right adapters.
When Jeff and I started out on the Great Divide, Montana seemed so far away, an almost impossible distance to ride. But after about a month of pedaling there we were, roiling through Big Sky Country. Montana has a true western feel with huge vistas, lots of cowboy boots, small country stores (I recommend the one just off route in Ferndale), and big pickups with Montana mudflaps. Jeff needed to get back to Vermont by end of August for work and time was quickly winding down.
I’m interrupting the posts on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to catch up on a few trips from the summer of 2014.
Visiting Bus 142, aka the Chris McCandless bus, aka the bus from Into The Wild had been an almost 20 year dream of mine. There is something about Chris’s story, as told by Jon Krakauer, that lit a spark in me. As evidenced by the amount of people from around the world that make, or at least try to make, the pilgrimage to Bus 142, it lit a spark in many others as well.
While Colorado was the state Jeff and I looked forward to the most, Wyoming, specifically the Great Basin, was the section we had the most concern about. Southbound riders told us many stories of fierce headwinds and thunderstorms, but few of sunshine and tailwinds. How much water and food should we carry, will a headwind slow us to a crawl, will a storm come and make the route impassable, etc? This all got put to rest after meeting the inspiring Todd family in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. When I asked Mike, the family ringleader, what his favorite GDMBR section was, he paused for a moment, then said “the Great Basin”.
First off, if you haven’t read Part 1- Arizona and New Mexico yet, you should go back and check it out.
ColoRADo, it’s the state we were looking forward to the most, and after dragging our bikes through the mud along Brazos Ridge, we were glad to finally arrive. With food supplies low we were also glad to arrive in the town of Horca, but that happiness didn’t last long. The one “food store” in town was closed for remodeling, so we scraped up what we could from the restaurant and gift shop, then rode on.
Yes, I know the GDMBR technically doesn’t start in Arizona, but at least in my opinion it should. Logistically Douglas, AZ is much easier to get to than Antelope Wells, NM and while services are limited, it does have a Super Walmart and a pretty good Mexican restaurant. As for getting there, the option I’ve used in the past is to fly into Phoenix on Jet Blue, because they only charge $50 for a bicycle up to 99lbs and take the $40 Transporte Directo shuttle to Douglas. As for a cheap place to stay once you arrive, the Motel 6 in Douglas is clean, not too noisy, and under $40. All this aside, the best part of starting in Douglas is the Geronimo Trail, a mostly dirt road that stretches nearly 80 miles from Douglas Arizona to Animas New Mexico.