Braving Snow and Sun for New Maps of the GDMBR

August 24, 2017 - Jamie Robertson is a cartographer at Adventure Cycling and kindly submitted this guest blog for Geopoints Bulletin.

Adventure Cycling cartographer Nathan Taylor rides up Red Meadow Pass west of Polebridge, Montana on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

It’s hard to believe, but this spring will be the 20th anniversary of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. To celebrate this amazing route, beloved by so many cyclists, the Routes and Mapping team at Adventure Cycling is making all-new maps to be released in spring 2018.

We’re excited about the new maps — a new layout, more detail, and bi-directional cues are just a fraction of the improvements we’re working on. However, before the nitty-gritty cartography stage, we researched the whole route again from Antelope Wells, New Mexico to Banff, Alberta to verify information and turns along the route. 

To this end, Nathan Taylor and I, cartographers at Adventure Cycling, set out from HQ in Missoula to research our backyard to the north. Using a truck and bikes, we traversed the route from Seeley Lake, Montana to Roosville, Montana. We happened to be researching the route during the Tour Divide race, and seeing so many people using the route amazed us. Through days of driving rain, these intrepid racers gritted their teeth and powered through Montana’s soggy Flathead Valley as they ticked off the miles to Antelope Wells. We moved at a snail’s pace compared to the racers as we took photos, recorded GPS waypoints, and made notes at service locations and towns along the way. 

Our week of research contained everything that one can hope for on a Great Divide trip. Early spring conditions on Red Meadow Pass meant pushing our bikes through a little snow, but the solitude and rawness of being in the mountains during that quiet time of year made it all worth it.

Jamie pushes through snow on Red Meadow Pass.

After a screaming descent to the North Fork of the Flathead River, sunny skies and perfect conditions greeted us as we cruised perfectly tacky roads through the lupine and glacier lilies. Then we rode back up into the mountains to cross over Trail Creek Pass on our way east to Eureka, Montana.

It was inspiring to meet many cyclists on the route and to see residents along the route waving and offering assistance. This great trip left us yearning for more miles — if only we had more time to keep riding north!

Wait, where are we?

As the riding season winds down this fall, the Routes and Mapping team will be working through two seasons of fieldwork, synthesizing all of that data into new, attractive maps. We can’t wait to show them to the world and inspire great trips for the next 20 years on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Stay tuned and look for the new maps in Spring 2018!

Photos by Jamie Robertson

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Yes! I want more off-pavement bike routes! Find out how you can help Adventure Cycling expand and overhaul the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route AND create the new Arkansas High Country Mountain Bike Route!

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GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Milyko, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

Comments

John Nettles

Out of curiosity, what type of camera??? took the photo with the location data imbedded (GPS, altitude, etc.)?

August 29, 2017, 5:37 AM
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Jamie Robertson

Hi John - It's an app called Solocator. Very handy.

August 29, 2017, 3:44 PM
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Dave Lofquist

I will be riding the GDMBR next summer with my brother in law. Unfortunately, I purchased the maps a couple of months ago... in addition to the new format, I understand the route will be about 400 miles longer. Which map sections must I now buy again to have the whole new route? Or are the changes significant enough so that I should just order the new set of maps?

Thanks, Dave

August 30, 2017, 9:36 AM
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Jamie Robertson

Hi Dave - I sent you an email RE the gdmbr maps.

August 30, 2017, 12:51 PM
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Jane Willers

Hi. We're coming from the UK to do the Great Divide route next July. Will the new maps definitely be ready for us to buy well before our departure? I was just about to buy a set for us to do some preparation but I'm thinking I should wait now. Any advice? Thanks, Jane

September 7, 2017, 9:17 AM
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Jamie Robertson

Hi Jane - I sent you an email RE: great divide maps.

September 7, 2017, 12:47 PM
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John Enterman

Hi Jamie,

Could I please receive the answer you mailed to Jane? I'll be starting the GDMTBR at the end of June 2018 and would like to plan well ahead. Thanks in advance, not only for your answer but also for your work in updating the route!

Regards, John

September 17, 2017, 10:44 PM
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Jamie Robertson

Emailed! Thanks, John. We're excited about the new maps.

September 18, 2017, 8:29 AM
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Ian Boddy

Hi Jamie

We are another 2 Brits coming to do the divide next July. Could you also email me the same response as John and Jane about hanging on for the release of the new maps bearing in mind the time taken to ship to the UK in advance of a July start.

Thanks in advance.

October 1, 2017, 2:56 AM
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Debi

Can you recommend a website that updates route closures and alternatives - my daughter is cycling GDMBR with a friend and much of the route in Canada and Montana appears to be closed due to fires. Ideally need something that is updated regularly - I am following the route from UK Thanks in advance

September 18, 2017, 1:20 AM
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Jamie Robertson

Hi Debi - I'm happy to report that a huge shift in the weather recently has put a lot of the fires down and more rain is expected through the week. We have a forum that we use for all temporary route closures. you can check it out here: https://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?board=15.0

A great site to see the status of fires and closures is: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

You can also toggle on active fires on our interactive map: https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/interactive-network-map/

Good luck and feel free to call our office if you have any other questions.

September 18, 2017, 8:25 AM
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Daniel Boser

Hello,

A buddy and I are planning on tackling the GDMBR next year - just the northern portions to Montana. Where can I view the new information to aid with our planning purposes?

Thanks,

Dan

October 2, 2017, 10:49 AM
Reply
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