Katie & Laura
Great Divide
Silver City, NM to U.S./Mexican Border Laura:

OH. MY. WORD. I’m seriously at a loss for words at how AMAZING the past couple of months have been on the GDMBR!!! Katie and I reached the border last Monday and it was one of those “ummm I guess this is the end?” moments. Super weird. It helped that we still had to bike the 45 miles back to Hachita that day but we took a 2.5 hour break at the border and ate lunch while reminiscing about the ride and some of our favorite moments. We then had our own photoshoot with the infamous Antelope Wells border crossing sign which was fun for us but probably SUPER FUN for the border guards who were monitoring the cameras. Hahaha.

The rest of the week we were able to bike from Hachita to Tucson via Douglas and Bisbee (MY NEW FAVORITE TOWN) and then we stayed in Tombstone and got our tourist on. We got to Tucson by early Thursday and spent the rest of the day Thursday/Friday eating everything, packing up our bikes, watching movies on tv, doing laundry, walking around tucson, getting my legs waxed (quite the experience), hitting up thrift stores, and making friends with cool random people.

For my blog I think I’ll share some of the things I either re-learned/learned/discovered/am STOKED ABOUT which relate to the GDMBR/bikepacking/gear….in BULLET format of course
-    WOOL WINS! This may be old news to some of you but to those that don’t know WOOL IS THE BEST MATERIAL ON THE PLANET. Some of its perks -- it doesn’t pick up your gross sweaty body odor, it wicks moisture from your body well, if you have a thinner wool it dries super well, and finally if you have QUALITY wool (example: Kitsbow’s wool) it is surprisingly DURABLE. On our ride I had the following items in wool: sports bra, underwear, shirt, tank top, camp pants, buff, socks --- and guess what?? They’re all still in PRIME condition and I’ll continue to use them. Ok sorry for the wool rant but I JUST LOVE WOOL SO MUCH
-    Accept kind handouts from people (aka water, food, etc.) even if you may not want the item at the moment...you will want it ten minutes later
-    People love receiving “Thank You” postcards
-    If you don’t have one already, make yourself personal “business” cards with your contact information and hand those out to people you meet on your ride. It is SO MUCH EASIER to hand out a card than to find a pen and a piece of paper or trash to write on. Katie and I did this and it was AWESOME and people appreciated it
-    Take care of your bike DAILY!!! Katie and I had ZERO mechanical issues on our ride which probably had a lot to do with luck mixed with the fact that we had a quality setup and kept our chains clean and lubed. We carried spare spokes, tubes, patches, plugs, valves, derailer hangers and a few other things and the funny thing is the only thing we ever had to use was a spare tube ONCE.
-    Say “Hi” to everyone you see and if someone wants to chat with you get STOKED cause they’re most likely awesome.
-    LAUGH
-    If you have questions about the area you are in, find a local and ask them. We were lucky to not have cell service often so when we had questions about farming equipment that we saw or how an area got its name we didn’t have Google as an option and got to know locals by asking them!! It made our ride SUPER fun and the locals always loved answering our questions and sharing with us
-    Wave to all the cars
-    Try not to have a tight schedule so that you’re open to spontaneous side adventures
-    AVOCADOS are life and they actually pack really well if you buy them with the right firmness
-    Peanut Butter never gets old and is AMAZING. Hahaha on a tour it also seems to go with EVERYTHING which now that I’m home sounds gross :)
-    STRETCH!!!!!! Katie and I stretched a bit at the beginning of our ride but then we slowly got lazy and stopped
-    When you set up camp put all of your bags in the alcove of your tent so that in the morning you can fully pack up (except for your tent of course) in the comfort of your TENT!!!! Katie and I did this and it was AWESOME.
-    SLEEPING PRO TIP: if your sleeping bag has “dead space” at the bottom of the bag when you’re laying in it (aka empty space), put a jacket or clothes at the bottom where your feet are to fill that space and snuggle your toes into. Also, sleeping with less layers keeps you WARMER. On our ride I slept in a wool shirt and wool underwear every night and had my wool pants and puffy vest at my feet to keep my toes warm. I was cold maybe twice the entire time.
-    Double check your bags in the morning to make sure they’re all secure before rolling out
-    Climbing to sing along music is AWESOME (we listened to a Disney playlist on our big climbs and sometimes our 90s playlist. EPIC.)
-    EAT. Eat in the morning, eat while you’re riding, eat a good lunch, eat snacks and eat a warm dinner. EAT.
-    If the area you’re in allows campfires and you have the time/energy MAKE ONE!!!!!! Campfires after a long day of biking are PRIME and make it easier to stay up looking at the stars because you’re warm and cozy
-    It's ok if your tent isn’t dried out by the time you pack it up in the morning because you’re going to unpack it again that night and it typically can dry out before you turn in for the night
-    Write in your journal each day so that you save those awesome memories!!!
-    Take pictures but don’t go crazy aka don’t get so sucked into taking pictures of everything that you forget to live in the moment and enjoy it while you’re there
-    Carry a needle and thread!!!! Weighs like nothing and can help fix a lot of things
-    DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!!!!
-    Food is always worth the weight. Don’t get so sucked into the vortex of ultralight (unless you’re racing then that makes sense) and allow yourself to splurge at the grocery store. It's not a big deal to carry an extra few pounds of food for a couple of days and you will be SO GLAD you did when you get to camp and have an AMAZING SPREAD. On our ride I got a weird soda sweet tooth (I typically am not a soda person) and bought Root Beer ALL THE TIME and often had a couple cans stashed somewhere on my bike :)

I am SO GRATEFUL that we had the opportunity to ride the divide! It was a life changing experience and I’m SO STOKED to go forward a better person because of it. Bikes are GOOD. People are GREAT. Nature is BEAUTIFUL. My first experience with bikepacking has been one that I will treasure forever and I know that I’ve got a lot of epic bike trips/tours in my future.

Huge THANK YOU to Blackburn Design and all of their sponsors for sending us on this EPIC ADVENTURE! It was EVERYTHING and MORE! Katie and I LOVED answering questions about our setups and the longer we rode the more we realized that our setup were BOSSSSSS. One guy (who I’ll leave anonymous but lets just say he is a big deal on the GDMBR and everyone knows him) saw our setup and noticed our Blackburn bags and said, referring to our Outpost bags, “So cool that Blackburn is making those bags. Its game over for everyone else now.”

Katie:

We made a run for the border on Monday morning. It was all on pavement so the miles flew by. There were a lot of sotol cacti along the sides of the road and I felt like they were all cheering us on. When we made it to the border I was hoping there would be some sort of celebration, but alas there was just a sign and a border crossing. We took pictures and ate our lunch near the sign as we reminisced about the last two months. It was surreal that we'd finally made it. Not sure it really settled in until after we'd biked to Arizona. After lunch we got our passports stamped and grabbed a cold drink before making our way back to Hachita.

From Hachita we biked back to Tucson in order to catch a plane home. We took route 80 as far as we could. Tuesday we biked just over 100 miles, the farthest we'd done in one day, and made it to Douglas, the largest town we'd been to in a long time, approximately 12,000 people. It was weird seeing so many lights as we biked into town, but helpful to slowly get reacclimatized to larger towns.

Wednesday we biked through Bisbee and Tombstone two rather historical towns on route 80. We biked through Bisbee and enjoyed the art all through the town. When we got to Tombstone we were able to see a gun fight and go on a tour learning about the history of the shoot 'em up town. It is a fun touristy town that was originally founded upon silver mining. Best of all they had delicious ice cream.

Our last day of biking came and went as we descended around 2,000' on our way to Tucson. Again the miles flew by and we didn't even have to pedal for a large part of the day. Once in Tucson it finally started to settle in the journey was over. We spent the next day and a half eating burgers and shakes, packing our bikes up to ship home and mentally decompressing by watching far too many movies at a cheap motel.

The last two months had been spent living day to day biking for camp spot to camp spot, seeing beautiful views, and meeting new people and it was all coming to an end. I had mixed feelings of being ready to head home and wanting to continue biking. The Great Divide is the bike trip of a lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm still not sure I'm ready to get back to real life, but I sure hope I can incorporate this trip into my life as I head home and start on a new adventure.


- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Katie & Laura

Gear List

- My Ride -

- My Favorite Blackburn Gear -

- Complete Gear and Bike spec lists coming soon! -

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Katie & Laura
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? When Laura called me on the phone and said, "Hey I found this Ranger program while I was on the train today and I thought that you'd be a good PIC (partner in crime)."
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? Yes -- a couple of smaller bike packing trips
  • What is your goal for the route? Our goal is to morph all of our random outdoor skills into a successful ride of the Great Divide!
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I see this as a soul-searching adventure for 2 months. I want to be able to get away from my normal 6am-3pm job and be on an adventure that separates me from life's distractions. I want to share my experiences with various biking communities along the route and hope to learn from them as well.

- Great Divide Milestones -