Trip Overview

This blog will follow two totally inexperienced bikepackers, Geoff and Cam, and their journey from Banff to Mexico via the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The route follows the Continental Divide, exposing riders to high altitude, diverse wildlife, and solitude. To learn more about the route, check this out. Randy will be the official bookie so get in touch with him if you'd like to place a wager on how far we will actually make it.

In the mean time, you can track our progress here thanks to our SPOT device.

This will be a site where we will try our best to post some pictures and stories along the way. Happy reading!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Day 48 - THE END. MEXICO!!

This is it. The final day! It wasn't too hard to find motivation this morning to get on the saddle. But in classic fashion, we realized we didn't have too far to pedal today so we milked the morning and slept in...  We said our goodbyes to Lilly and took off for the border.  The ride into El Paso was much more beautiful than anticipated.  We took a back road which curved through all types of farming land.  The majority of the day was spent amidst vast pecan farms.  We zoomed into El Paso and headed for the border.  This was sort of confusing because there are three border crossings, all of which we were warned not to go over.... Didn't leave us with much of a choice.  We decided to take the main crossing as it likely has better pedestrian crossings.  We were in a long line of traffic before we decided to just find a sidewalk and zoom by the motionless cars.

Getting into Mexico was unbelievable.  We literally just continued biking, looking for a check-in or customs, but we never met this.  Just guards with guns telling us to keep biking.  Before you know it, we were in Mexico without once having to show ID.  So all those movies are realistic, afterall...

We didn't spend too much time in Juarez - basically just taking a few pics and turning around to return to Texas.  Getting back into the US was a little bit more difficult, but all in all the border crossings were much more pleasing that we had anticipated.

And there it is.  The trip is finished.  We both (silently) had our doubts about finishing this journey. Day after day in Alberta, helping eachother hobble off the bikes while our legs are cramping were the source of many doubts.  The great basin of Wyoming ate our spirts, the 15 mile climbs in Colorado were challenging, but somehow us two kids from Moncton, NB conquered the Divide.  We couldn't be any happier with the outcome and the journey to get us here.  It couldn't have been done without the support of all our friends and family at home and afar.  The only thing I think we would have changed is an earlier ban on apricots.  Thanks for reading and keeping up with our adventure!  It was a pleasure sharing.

Geoff confused about these mountain things

Pecan farm



The beginning of the end

Pick your side

The sign makes our bikes look clean

The dummies did it. they did it


The largest cast copper statue in the world

Making this the largest cast copper penis in the world


Day 47 - Elephant Butte to Las Cruces

This morning we hit a local diner for breakfast as we placed a recent ban on oatmeal. I'll begin by noting the differences between the trip when you're on route compared to off route...

Elephant Butte was one of the first towns we hit that wasn't on the map set.  When you're on the actualy route, the people you run into in towns are aware of the divide and its riders.  They aren't overly surprised to see others doing it, but are still very welcoming and share encouragement.  The great things really happen when you venture off route.  The people we ran into in Elephant Butte were hilarious.  Many people would stop and ask us what we were up to and were shocked to hear of our trip.  At breakfast, the manager actually came out to get us to autograph a napkin???? He said he was going to hang it on the wall.  After a few conversations, we were packing up and leaving the diner.  A man well into his sixties followed us out and struck  up a conversation.  He was delighted to learn what we were doing.  He asked us "How are yall doing for money?".  We responded that we saved up for the trip and have just been roughing it, as the trip requires.  He dug his hands into his pockets and pulled out a wad of cash to give us!!! We had to refuse, but its this type of generosity we've been getting that really helps you get through the tough days of the trip.

We began to pedal towards our destination of Demming, NM.  As we were leaving EB, we saw two businesses side by side.  One named "Mr. G's", the other "Randy's".  Thought this was pretty awesome that our fathers secretly had businesses in New Mexico.  Taking after Walt, likely.

About 20 or 30 miles into our ride, Cam's final flat occured.  This must have put him in the double digits for the trip.  We tried patching the tire.  Didn't work.  Tried redoing the rim tape.  Didn't help.  Tried another tube.  Not working.  About 2 hours, 3 tubes, and 4 patch jobs later, we had no choice but to give up on the tire.  We concluded that it was too hot for the adhesive to work properly on the patch (it was booooooiling hot out).  We honestly had no option but to hitch hike to the nearest bike shop.  This happened to be down the road (off route, mind you) in Las Cruces.  A couple hitched rides later we found ourselves at the bike shop.  We were paying for some heavy duty tubes when another shopper overheard us talking about local campgrounds.  Lilly came up and offered us a spot to crash at her pad.  She was a young professor of Creative Writing at New Mexico State University.

Lilly took us out for dinner at a local mexican joint for dollar tacos.  Cam and Geoff's dream come true.  We debated cancelling the flights and staying there forever.  We hung out and exchanged stories for the evening before crashing.  What a treat.  Much better than any campground around.  Thanks, Lilly!!!!  And sorry about leaving my disgusting rotting shirt at your house. I really didn't mean to!

Mr. G's!!


Pre-flat riding.

Day 46 - Magdelina to Elephant Butte State Park

We left this morning headed for Elephant Butte State Park.  This was located on New Mexico's largest (and only??) lake.  The ride consisted of 41 miles of dirt, and another 40 of pave. The thing about NM is this... we were riding in the monsoonal month of August.  When it rains here, the "dirt" roads are impassable, as the sand/clay becomes extremely sticky and destroys your bike.  The maps advise you don't ride in the rain, and after having takled to some North bound riders earlier in the trip, this caution is to be taken seriously.

We awoke to a menacing forecast of thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.  Great.  We began pedaling at 8am hoping to beat the storm.  We were surrounded east and west by dark, dark storms.  But once again our main lady Mother Earth was looking out for us.  We rode through a crease of nice weather no wider than Moses' ocean path. Cam is convinced Mother Earth thinks Geoff is Jesus so that's why we've been treated so nicely.

We made it onto paved unscathed but with storms chasing us.  We stopped for lunch and down came the rain.  What timing!  We began the paved portion of the ride and within minutes were caught in a monsoon.  The rain drops must have been 8oz patties.  It hurt when they hit you.  And they also turned all the forehead sunscreen into iris sunscreen.

We eventually made it into Elephant Butte State Park.  Home of the best tentsites ever.  They had built these three-walled shelters that protected you from the wnid and rain.  We fell asleep to super loud thunderstorms and showers.  It was quite peaceful.

Dips and dives

View from the campsite

Geoff caught a lightning bolt

Day 45 - Pie Town to Magdelina

We awoke this morning and spent the AM hanging out with Mike.  This guy was awesome.  This was his third and final leg at the Divide (we met a lot of people who break the trip up into a 3 or 4 year adventure).  Mike looked like he could do the entire route in a day, though.  The man looked like a marine.

The pie place opened at 10am so the three of us went to see what it's all about.  We split a pie three ways and the chatter stopped until every last blueberry was gone. Worth every penny.

The town and the Toaster House was just too cool to leave early, so the two of us said bye to Mike and ended up hanging out there until 4pm or so.  We only had a 50 mile day or so until Magdelina.  We did this as an afternoon/evening ride.  We rode through this giant 25 mile wide basin that was home to two national observatories.  One of which was a giant telescope, the other being an array of 50 or so X-Ray imaging things.

sunrise on the balcony

The Toaster House!!! A true oasis

Savant Geoff posing under a string of shoes hikers have left behind.

the penthouse penthouse


Blueberry n Peach

Bumper stickers the pie crew gave us.  Bikes don't have bumpers and poor kids don't have cars - watch out mom n dad.

Only found this in the morning! Stocked fridge that all hikers and bikers are welcome to.


This is Nita, the lady behind all the magic.

Ride into Magdelina