Amanda Delcore
Great Divide
Reflections at the end of the GDMBR

I finished the GDMBR on September 29, 2015 at 3:43pm. This is especially important, because the border crossing is only open from 8am-4pm. You've been warned. I had just enough time to get my passport stamped, cross the border, turn around in the dirt road, get mildly hassled by the Mexican border patrol, come back to the U.S., and buy a soda from the vending machine before they closed the gates behind me.

It's hard to sum up a 2 month,1 week journey in a few words. But it's easy to say how it feels to look back at the trail.

On my way back to Denver, I had to drive by sections of the GDMBR. I paused my speedy rental car from the Sargent's trading post. It had taken me days to reach Sargent's from my stopover in Denver. I could now go from Sargent's to Denver in a matter of a few hours. 

Going by bike moved my soul. Going by car just moved myself and my stuff.

Looking up the gravel road to the Marshall Pass, I recalled that I had chosen the rockier way up. (Forest Road 203: 3,000 feet in 7 miles.) The aspens formed a tunnel over me, the rocks forced me to take my time.

I was alone and challenged over and over again. I stopped early. I camped at a backcountry site and watched the sun evaporate from a nook in the mountains. I wrote in a journal.

The next day I shivered as I sailed down the other side of the pass in the chill of the morning. 

One hand, then the other, tucked behind my leg for warmth... I chose not to carry a set of heavy gloves.  Even in that moment, I didn’t wish for them.  This moment of pain would pass, and become a small percentage of the whole journey.

The morning light lit up every fiery aspen and deep evergreen.  I flew by stands of trees, sighted streams below, and looked upon a valley that was rolling out in front of me.  I wound my way down the pass in a conflicted paradox, shivering in pain but practically floating with awe at the gorgeous wilderness that - as far as I could tell that morning - was for my eyes only.

I would never have that moment back.  BUT - it is completely embedded within me now. All the moments of pain, uncertainty, hunger, and thirst. All the descents of sheer joy or terrifying chaos. All the people and the places. And all the lessons learned.  They've shaped me in a way that can't be undone.

And I suppose that's why we do these things.  To experience the world, to leave our tire tracks in the dirt, to be sculpted by endless hours of pedaling and consuming gas station food, to share camp stories with strangers, and inadvertently - to inspire others.

I hope that my stories have informed, inspired, or otherwise had a positive effect.  Even if you can’t take an extended leave from your job to do a trip like this, remember that adventures happens at the intersection of the unknown and the unusual… and you can find that anywhere if you push yourself to see the same places with fresh eyes.

ONWARD!

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Amanda Delcore

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Amanda Delcore
  • Genesis moment for the trip I was visiting the Radavist website and I saw the Blackburn #outthere banner ad. Congratulations… the marketing worked. I was probably at work, day-dreaming, like most outdoor enthusiasts. I had always wanted to hike the Continental Divide in Colorado… Prior to learning about the Blackburn Ranger program, I even blocked out a month in my work calendar to hike the CDT in a sort of act of defiance. Seeing the Blackburn Ranger program got me thinking… why not bike it? I did some research, I admittedly didn’t contemplate the consequences, and started scheming furiously about how to make a killer application video.
  • Have I traveled by bike in the past? Yes I bike toured parts of Maine and New Hampshire solo. I biked from Portland, Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire; I camped, did day-trip summits in the morning and rode to the next spot in the afternoon. I also bike toured the Blue Ridge Parkway in early spring.
  • Goal for the route? I’m not one much for goals. I shy away from formally setting goals, because I find that reward is fleeting and there’s not much else to do but set a new goal. And in units of time, the route to achieving a goal is almost the entirety of the experience. For me, the real reward is the process of following an interest or a curiosity. I am interested in inspiring other females to bikepack; to this end I’m running a Women’s Bikepacking Series in my hometown of Philadelphia. I am curious to see if I can replicate this series in some way during the tour. I am also keen to ride with friends and make new connections in the cycling community; as a start, there are at least three different people riding with me during different parts of the trip.
  • Hope to get out of the journey? A deeper understanding of myself and my capabilities. I hope to learn how to endure the extremes of nature and everything in between. I think much of our lives are setup to spend most of the day indoors, and we miss out on how pleasant and how ugly nature can be. On this trip there will be mornings that are cool, clear, and sunny, but there will also be afternoons of thunderstorms or intense heat. I hope to gain an appreciation for the full spectrum of nature and the patience to roll with it.
  • What’s in my bag? I’m not there yet in my packing…. : / I think they are going to be my lumbar pack, a thumb piano or another tiny musical instrument, a bandana, and ??? I’ll try to figure this part out in the next week and a half.

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