Highlights from the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

From 1995 to 1997, Adventure Cycling Association mapped the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the longest off-pavement mountain-bike route in the world spanning 2,774 miles from Canada to Mexico along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Now, Adventure Cycling and Co-Motion Cycles, in association with Revelate Designs, present highlights from the route and gear suggestions for cyclists wishing to tackle the entire Great Divide, or a short section.

Has the Great Divide Route inspired any of your own adventures, either past or planned?

 

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Alaskan adventure film ‘Hunting For Monsters’ now available

Last summer, two Alaskan explorers embarked on a journey from Cook Island to Bristol Bay, Alaska, and turned the adventure into a film, “Hunting For Monsters”. Now the film is available to rent or buy from Vimeo On Demand.

Lake Iliamna, Alaska’s largest lake, is home to many native communities, the worlds largest sockeye salmon run, potential site of the controversial Pebble Mine and the elusive Lake Monster – Illie. On a hot mid-July, Bjørn and Brent were deposited to the far shore of Cook Inlet in a landing craft cargo ship and began their human powered journey through Iliamna country to Bristol Bay, hoping to catch a glimpse of the illusive creature and slice of Alaska where monsters can still roam free.

Watch the trailer here.

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Review: Kelty Ignite DriDown sleeping bag

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When you’re camping out in winter, your sleeping bag is one item you do not want to skimp on. The Ignite Dridown 0 bag makes use of Kelty‘s new DriDown coated down, which helps retains the fluffy features’ loft and warmth. While I certainly didn’t sleep out directly under the rain, I did get it plenty moist on some rainy nights to be convinced that DriDown works. Another bonus: if you’re on an extended journey, it also dries more quickly, which is essential when you have limited opportunities to dry your gear.

Read our review.

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A journey to the Conch Republic

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By now you’ve read all kinds of good advice in Bicycle Times on riding your bike through harsh winter conditions, but sometimes the best strategy to deal with it is to escape. I’m not ashamed to admit that during the second of… oh what, three? four?… polar vortices, or dips in the jet stream, or whatever ridiculous weather patterns we’ve had here in the Northeast, I escaped to sunny southern Florida, courtesy of the Adventure Cycling Association. It was the second of its three annual Florida Keys tours. And it was fabulous.

Read about the trip here.

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Review: Jeff Jones ATB

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Jeff Jones is something of a mad genius, putting his impassioned theories about the ultimate bike ride into practice with fantastically swooping custom built frames. We’ve been fans of his iconic Titanium Spaceframe mountain bike since riding one for our sister publication, Dirt Rag, six years ago. But as with most geniuses who are drawn to bicycles, Jones believes in sharing his discoveries as widely as possible, so he’s expanded his business beyond custom frames (for which there is a lengthy waiting list) and into factory-produced versions.

This “ATB” bike is so called because it’s intended for all terrain: city, path and mountain. It’s based on Jones’ steel Diamond frame, which started life as a mountain bike. However, with some parts-swapping, this “mountain” bike makes a good commuter or comfy long-distance touring bike as well, with far fewer compromises than your average knobby-tired steed trying to change its stripes. Jones is fond of saying that he only makes one bike—a “high-performance non-suspended bicycle”—that can be used for a variety of riding styles.

What’s the secret to this chameleon nature? It’s in the geometry. Jones frames have a more relaxed seat tube angle and shorter chainstays, putting the rider’s weight further back over the rear wheel. The bottom bracket is settled low between the wheels to add stability. Combined with the Jones Loop H-Bar, which places your hands at a relaxed angle, the resulting position is fairly upright, yet efficient in pedaling and confident in handling rough terrain. Add to that the frame’s huge tire clearance, and you have a bike that can attack just about any situation or riding surface.

Our model was built with the steel Jones Unicrown fork, which has a 135mm hub spacing (wider than the normal 100mm); this stiffens up the front end, particularly useful for loading front panniers. (It also means that you could fit a “fat” front rim and tire, up to 26×4.7, for off-road adventures.) The bike came with 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple tires—Jones is a believer, along with Schwalbe, that bigger-volume tires are actually more efficient on the road due to less rolling resistance, as well as being safer and more comfortable. Tubus racks and Planet Bike fenders round out the build. Jones also sent a set of Ortlieb front and rear panniers and trunk bag, and a frame bag made by Revelate Designs, to provide plenty of options for bikepacking or touring.

A group of Bicycle Times staffers took turns riding the Jones in a variety of ways. (Another benefit of the geometry is that one available size easily accommodates a fairly wide range of heights.)

Read all of our thoughts about the bike here.

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Second World Cycle Race starts March 1

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There are a lot of races that bill themselves as the “toughest”, but none can hold a candle to the World Cycle Race, a wild ride around – you guessed it – the entire planet.

The 18,000-mile (or more) route is entirely up to the rider, and contestants can choose to ride east or west from the starting point in London. There are no stages or checkpoint. The route is entirely up to you. There will be a small ceremonial ride through London before racers toe the line for the official start at noon.

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While countless men and women have circled the Earth by bike and set numerous records along the way, the first mass-start World Cycle Race was held in 2012 with Englishman Mike Hall taking the win in 107 days, setting a record for unsupported circumnavigation. Only three of the nine starters completed the ride.

Brooks of England is hosting a pre-race celebration at its B1886 boutique in London tomorrow night, February 28, and a few racers, including Hall, will be on-hand to answer questions and inspire your own tour. There is a good chance several of the riders will be riding Brooks saddles, and the brand released a special edition World Cycle Traveler for the 2012 edition of the race.

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Want to get in on the action? The 2015 edition starts April 4, 2015. You can sign up now. Maybe I need to clear my calendar…

 

 

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Adventure Cycling releases maps for new 518-mile off-road route

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The Adventure Cycling Association has release a new two-map set that guides cyclists through the breathtaking landscape of central Idaho. Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR) offers a spectacular 518-mile off-pavement route, offering four substantial singletrack options, and featuring access to more than 50 hot springs in the Gem State.

The route is the first from Adventure Cycling that includes backcountry singletrack options, said Cartographer Casey Greene. “It’s also something that our members have been asking for, and with the innovative new bikepacking gear and techniques that have surfaced over the past 10 years, it seemed like the perfect time to develop this kind of route,” Greene said.

Learn more and see map.

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‘Bike. Camp. Cook.’ serves up delicious recipies for the road

One my favorite things to do when long distance riding or bikepacking is consuming mass amounts of food. Tara Alan, author of “Bike. Camp. Cook” and I have this in common. While Tara and her husband spent two years traveling on bike from Scotland to Southeast Asia, she was determined to cook from scratch and she put all her tips, tricks and recipes into this book.

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My husband and I try our best to travel as light as possible. This means often sacrificing my husbands healthy, home cooked meals to eat from freeze dried packs, gel packets or gas station junk food. I was excited to get my hands on this book in hopes to school myself on a little from-scratch, camp cooking.

Keep reading.

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Love adventure? Apply to become a Blackburn Ranger

To paraphrase a famous Army cadence:

“I wanna be an Blackburn ranger / I wanna live the life of adventure”

Sponsorships for the non-racers out there can be rare. Blackburn is stepping up into that gap and offering support to the adventures out there with the Ranger brand ambassador program.

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The main criteria for Ranger-hood is a commitment to ride either the Pacific Coast bicycle route or the Great Divide mountain bike route. Of course, Rangers will be responsible to share their adventures via the various social media platforms. In return Blackburn will outfit Rangers with Blackburn gear (including prototypes!) and a small travel stipend to help defray the cost of your adventurous undertaking.

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Also in the perks category: Ranger Camp at the Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, Arizona, paid for by Blackburn. I don’t know about you, but I’d be down with missing out on some spring showers to hang out in Arizona April 25-27. The application process involves submitting a short essay, a few photographs and uploading a short video to YouTube. Best get busy!

Learn how to enter here.

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