2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Boise, ID to Antelope Wells, NM)
For the last four years, I have been thinking about riding the Continental Divide Trail. I began reading up on it; mostly from ride reports in this form, but there are also other good sources of information elsewhere on the Web. Among the many resources available from which to glean information about this ride, I found the following to be most helpful in learning about and planning this trip. They contain a wealth of detailed information about the ride, maps, GPS tracks, important waypoints, etc. The CD put out by Dave Steven (230+ pages of descriptive text, useful suggestions and recommendations, pictures and maps in both a PDF and MS Word format) is most helpful.
1. BigDogAdventures.com (2005) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=108842
2. Cannonshot (2010) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=603076
3. Dave Steven (2006) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=112968
4. Kevin Naser & Jim Lamm (2005) http://www.twotaildog.com/Motorcycli...vide_Intro.htm
5. Jaco Hamman (2009) http://www.jacohamman.com/ContinentalDivide.htm
6. Adventure Cycling Association Route Summaries: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/greatdivide.cfm
7. Dan Moore (2008) http://www.dantmoore3.com/continental-divide
8. Michael McCoy (Paperback — Jun 1, 2000)Cycling the Great Divide: From Canada to Mexico on America’s Premier Long Distance Mountain Bike Route
9. Frank Clifford (Paperback – May 13, 2003) The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide
The Continental Divide Trail began as The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in 1998 by the Adventure Cycling Association based in Missoula, Montana. It encompasses 80 percent dirt and gravel roads, 10 percent paved roads, and 10 percent single-track trails, and extends from Banff, BC, Canada, to Antelope Wells, NM, on the US-Mexican border. The motorized version of this trail in essentially identical, except for routing around the non-motorized single-track sections, of which there are not many.
Reliable maps are essential in doing this trail, even with GPS routes/tracks. The Adventure Cycling Association puts out detailed maps of the route with annual updates that are second to none. I chose instead to use Benchmark Maps for the states involved (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico). Using Michael McCoy’s detailed description of the route in his book, Cycling the Great Divide, coupled with the GPS tracks from the sources above, I highlighted the entire route onto the Benchmark maps, which I then disassembled (removed the binding staples). I selected only the pages for the route which I arranged sequentially placing them a large map case (Atlas Case by Cyco Active) that I attached to my tank bag by Velcro in place of the smaller map case. This way I could view the whole Benchmark map page without folding it, and it allowed me to reassemble the individual pages back into their respective state map books at the end of the trip.
After several planning meetings held over the course of last winter, our initial group of about 10 interested participants ended up with only 3 of us going – Jim Carney, Lowell Mannering, and myself (Craig Olsen). We elected to leave later in July; hopefully to miss some of the rainy season in New Mexico and the snow pack over the high mountain passes in Colorado. We were fortunate on both accounts encountering no snow covered roads and no muddy impassible roads from rain that others have described in their ride reports.
We chose to ride from south to north since we would end the ride closer to home, Boise, Idaho. We also omitted the Canadian portion of the ride, going only from Antelope Wells, NM, to the US-Canadian border near Roosville, BC.
We stayed in motels – credit card camping instead of tent camping. It was nice to have a hot shower and a comfortable bed at the end of a long day of riding, and it allowed us to travel lighter (no need to carry camping gear); but it had the disadvantage of forcing us to keep on a schedule which proved to have its drawbacks as pointed out later.
I was riding my KTM 990, Jim was on his KTM 950, and Lowell was on his KLR 650. Jim and I had on Pirelli Scorpion dual-sport tires to get us to the beginning of our official route. Lowell had on knobby dirt tires (DOT approved for highway), and we all carried a fresh set of knobbies that we would change to somewhere along the route.
We left July 18th, and the first two and a half days and 1,207 miles were spent getting to the start of our ride, Antelope Wells, NM. The first night was spent in Moab, UT. Just after we checked into our motel, the rains descended in a torrent, but let us by the time we went to dinner at Moab Brewery where they have an interestingly ceiling, decorated with things that you can do in Moab for fun.
As we left the next morning, the sun was shining the rim rock around Moab was beautiful.
Further south on Hwy 191 near the Utah-Arizona border we encountered this unusual rock formation like a keyhole.
Prior to leaving Boise, there had been some concern that Hwy 191 south of Alpine would be closed due to fires in the region, but by the time we got there, the road through to Clifton was open. This segment of highway is filled with 100 miles of twisty turns, many of which are posted 10 MPH, 180-degree hairpins that puts nothing but a big grin on your face. Sorry, no pictures of the road – we were too busy leaning into turns and rolling on the throttle. The few pictures we did take through this section show the clouds (threatening rain) and the series of mountain ranges seen from Hannagan Meadows Lookout.
The copper mine at Morenci is most impressive and colorful.
Lordsburg, NM, was the destination for lodging our second day out. It is 1,115 miles from Boise, ID, to Lordsburg, NM (571 miles the first day and 544 miles the second day).