August 9, 2017
In the July 1994 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine, Adventure Cycling’s Assistant Director Mac McCoy asked readers, “Ready for the longest mountain bike trail in the world?”
He had just completed the Herculean task of convincing his boss Gary MacFadden and Gary’s bosses, Adventure Cycling’s board members, to let him cut loose from the office and hit the road to map our first off-pavement route: 2,493 miles of dirt backroads from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide.
But even after the board members gave the green light, Mac wondered, “What if it turns out nobody wants to ride the thing? What if dirtlubbers ask ‘Where’s the singletrack?’ and roadies wonder ‘Where’s the pavement?’”
Nearly twenty years later, the answer is clear. Bike travelers were ready! In the years since Mac mapped the route, thousands of cyclists — from endurance athletes to families — have packed their bags and tested their tires on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Now, nearing its 20th anniversary, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is ready for an overhaul and an extension. With your support, we’re taking what we’ve learned over twenty years and tweaking the maps to give you the best riding experience possible. We’re improving the look and organization of the maps, making them easier to read, and adding directions for northbound riders. Plus, we’re mapping almost 400 new miles to both connect with Jasper National Park and create a spur into our headquarters in Missoula. But we need your support to make it a reality.
“But I don’t do dirt.” you say. “I’m a road rider.” So was Matt Cohn, one of the board members Mac had to convince in the early 90s. Matt later wrote Mac in 2010 and said:
“This year, we will finish the last segment of the ride, Pie Town to Antelope Wells. I think our group is setting a new record for the longest time to complete the trail ... twelve years to be exact. The route has been amazing and the riding is unforgettable. Frankly, it has ruined me for road touring.”
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is for all skill levels of cyclists. While endurance icons like Jay Petervary and Lael Wilcox test their mettle by racing the GDMBR, families like the Todds, Mike, Debbie, and six kids age 10–17, make the most of their summer vacation by riding the route. Last year, composer Payton MacDonald filmed his documentary Sonic Divide while riding the route and playing music by various composers. Cricket Butler built her dream business, The Whitefish Bike Retreat, near the route. And these are just a few of the people our members have helped to create rich life experiences — because our members supported the dream of a long distance mountain bike route.
When you donate, you help create more life-changing adventure. Your support revitalizes communities along the route and helps make people’s dreams become reality.
Your donation will go toward extending and improving the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route AND mapping the first year-round, off-pavement route in Arkansas. That’s 1,400 new miles in Arkansas and almost 400 new miles along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Please leave us a note in the comments and tell us about your favorite off-pavement place to ride.
Top photo Chuck Haney | Photo 2,3 Aaron Teasdale
The Thomas Stevens Fan Club is brought to you by the development team, Annette, April, and Michelle. They share an office with a classic Parisian Metropole bicycle. Want to know more about how you can support Adventure Cycling and all the amazing work they do? Call them at 406-532-2760 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org