Some years ago, Clement Salvadori of Rider Magazine wrote an article on his ride of the Great Divide, a version of the mountain bike trail that follows the Continental Divide from the Canadian border down to the Mexican border along the Rocky Mountains. It was this article that caught my Dad's attention, particularity the part about the ride taking place on relatively easy dirt roads, as well as Salvadori's comment that it was the most scenic ride he has ever done. This is quite a statement coming from someone who has ridden in many different parts of the world.
(A preview of one of the Divide crossings):
Fast forward to February 2010 and I'm headed out to go dirt biking with my buddy Paul at Hollister Hills, just south of San Jose. Paul had mentioned on the long drive down to a previous month's ride in the desert his plans of riding the Great Divide in the summer and it sounded like a great idea. My Dad and I had been talking about doing a summer ride together since it was very apparent I would be transferring jobs and should be able to take a few weeks off. Two years ago I was in a similar situation, transferring job positions from Allentown PA to San Jose CA, so we used that opportunity to ride across the country together. So on my drive down to Hollister I give my Dad a call and proposed the idea of riding the Great Divide instead of a twisty tarmac ride around the Rocky's (which we had previously discussed as the ride for the summer). A little hesitant at first, he quickly warms up to the idea. The fact that he has a XR650L sitting in the garage is very beneficial. All I had to do was find a suitable adventure bike.
But first, meet the inmates. Here I am, drawn to motorbikes like a moth to the light as a very young kid. Some would say my addiction started early, others would say I was indoctrinated, but who cares since the outcome was great, right?
Here are the two that are responsible for me, back in their golden youthful years, Mom and Dad. He got me riding dirt bikes at the age of 12, and thankfully she was completly cool with the idea. In fact, she was very happy to see my Dad and I riding the Great Divide together. Growing up, we did a lot of motorcycle riding together so you could say it's our thing.
I began searching for a adventure bike...my requirements were that it be reliable and cheap, especially since I already owned two other bikes. I was considering taking my Wee Strom, but wanted something tougher that I could throw around if need be. I also discovered that the Strom wasn't as dirt friendly as I had thought (at least for rough stuff), so I decided to sell the Strom and buy a SV650 as well as whatever other adventure bike I would need. Due to the cheap requirement, it was narrowed down to three obvious contenders: XR, DR and KLR. For some reason everyone loves the KLR, but I don't. Why? Because it's water cooled. I think that a true adventure bike for riding miles from civilization should be air cooled in the name of simplicity. Who wants to worry about a water pump breaking or a radiator puncture? So then I began to focus on the XR and the DR. I opted for the DR due to it being slightly more road friendly then the XR, and due to the fact that I found a great deal from a fellow image Baron (Badassbobthecattlerustler). He was located in Orange County and I was still in the SF Bay Area, so we met in Bakersfield to perform the transaction. Luckily I had some buddies out in Death Valley for h8chain's DV Ride, so I continued on a few more hours in order to break the DR in the best way possible - good ole desert riding. The best thing about the DR650 is that it had all the right mods, including suspension, and to make things even better Baron is the same weight as me. Score!
This is how this RR will work - we did this ride in July 2010, and it is now August 2010 and am finally able to get around to sorting/uploading photos and writing this RR. I'll be writing a few days worth of RR here and there, whenever I am able to. Hope you enjoy!
And now on to the trip....
After months of preparing, many emails and phone calls, it was the end of June and we were ready to kick things off. Dad had left Michigan, all loaded up on his XR650L, heading for our meeting spot of Kalispell Montana. All I had left to do was direct the movers with the packing of all my stuff I would not need for the ride, as it would be my last day living in Mountain View CA. The semi truck would then go off to Los Angeles, where all my stuff would sit in storage until I arrived 3 weeks later, ready to move in. I must say, I feel pretty lucky to have been able to take this time off in between job positions...who else in their mid twenties can afford to take that chunk of time off? Not many....this will be the ride of a lifetime.
Note: some people call it the CDT (Continental Divide Trail), some call it the CDR (Continental Divide Ride), but technically it should be called the GDR (Great Divide Ride). The motorcycle route is based off of the mountain bike route put together by Adventure Cycling, and they called it the Great Divide Ride in order to differentiate it from the CDT, which is the hiking trail. Also, thanks to Big Dog, since we used his tracks to make navigating much easier.
Here are the final GPS tracks after the journey: