The Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail is a 2768.4 mile, mostly off-road backcountry cycle journey starting in Banff, Canada, working its way south to Antelope Wells on the American-Mexico border. The route follows the Rocky Mountain chain, criss-crossing the Continental Divide, passing through some of the most dramatic mountain landscape in the world.
In July 2018 two friends and I rode the northern section through the Canadian states of Alberta and British Columbia crossing the border into the American border state of Montana.
To 'Ride the Divide' is a major challenge for bike and rider as the trail passes into remote and difficult terrain and all you need to live - shelter, food and Bear Spray must be carried with you.
You are not totally alone on the trail, you share it with Grizzly Bears, Mountain Lions, Cougars, Wolves and also fellow cyclists from all over the world seeking out adventure and the joy of travelling through wild and remote landscape.
The open vista is not the common view. The forest trail is what dominates the memory of this journey. Deep and dark the ever present fear that at any second out of the 'green' will emerge some creature or another with an appetite.
Often though the desire to extract timber from these primordial forest means that gravel 'logging tracks' have been driven into the heart of the wilderness
The forest is all embracing and vast. Light in the forest creates the most marvelous colour and pattern
Riding the trail is not easy some sections are downright hard requiring portage even scrambling. The closeness of the forest in these situations can be oppressive, bearing in mind that here you are the visitor.
The rewards for all the effort is the opening of a new vista of all too rare (particularly in North America) landscape that seems somehow new, unseen.
The end of the day is a wild campsite, next to a clear cold stream. A place to light a campfire and hope that the beasties have already had their dinner.
Even in the middle of the forest, like minded folk are drawn, not just for cycling but for all sorts of reasons. We met many people on the forest trail from survivalists, forest rangers to hunters and fishermen. All had in common a desire to be there and a generosity of spirit and time to share their stories with us.
The ride was all too soon over as we pulled into Whitefish, Montana. A nice thought though is there is still over 2000 miles of the trail to go and well another visit to continue this journey is not beyond the realms of possibility.