Motorcycling the Great Divide Trail


Update: I’ll be doing this trip in July of 2016. Soon!

In 2008 I was able to create the space for myself to ride a bicycle across the United States for three months. I started in Norfolk, VA and finished in Astoria, OR. I did not plan a route, per se. I did, however, carry maps and often asked for directions to make sure I wasn’t misreading my map or missing a unique destination based on the wisdom of local opinions and expertise. When all was said and done I clocked in just over 4,700 miles making more lengthy stops in Memphis, TN, Little Rock, AK, Kansas City, KS, and Lawrence, KS. I also hitched four rides totaling just over a couple hundred miles, met many wonderful people, and learned that everyone is much nicer than I ever imagined. It was one hell of an adventure.

There was one point very early in my bicycle trip where I considered ditching my bike for a motorcycle. I was still mentally weak: I hadn’t yet developed the strength to stay in the saddle for 6+ hours a day, much less conquer the physical demands of the hills of North Carolina leading up to the Appalachian Mountains. Lucky for me I stuck with the bicycle.

Fast forward a couple of months; near the end of my bicycle adventure I made up my mind to one day cross the USA on a motorcycle.

There are several ways to cross the USA on a motorcycle. Most routes, as one might expect, are made of pavement. Some are made of a mix of half pavement and half rock road. Fewer are made of a mix of trails, rock roads, and pavement. And only a couple are made mostly of trails and rock roads.

One of the best parts of my bicycle across the USA trip was a two-day stint on rock roads between northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska. Everything was much quieter, more peaceful, slower, and… well… simpler. Another perk worth mentioning is I didn’t have to watch out as much for cars, trucks, semi-trucks, log trucks, hay trucks, and dogs. Dogs are bad.

I grew up spending a lot of time on a farm in Texas. I learned to love the fields and the rock roads that connected them. I decided to investigate the idea of using rock roads to cross the USA. I was able to find a couple of well known routes. The Great Divide Trail (GDT) stood out, and is the route I chose.

Unlike my bicycle trip across the USA, which I rode by myself, I would like to share this experience with friends. A few have expressed interest, so I have extended an invitation. They’re mostly based on the western edge of the USA so the GDT seemed a good fit. The logistics alone will make this quite challenging as each person is accountable for their own gas-powered machine, and getting to and from the start and finish points of the GDT will be no simple trek for any of us.

I’ll attempt to keep track of my ideas, choices, decisions, and outcomes of each step along the way. If everything goes accordingly, myself and my friends will set off sometime in the summer of 2015. The adventure will take approximately 14 days and cover 2,600 miles. We will start in Antelope Wells, NM, and finish in Roosville, MT. We will cross the Great Divide no less than 30 times. Our lowest elevation will be 3,900 ft and our highest will be 14,270 ft. We will do it all on motorcycles.

 

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