Katie & Laura
Great Divide
Katie:
I've had 4 months to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare for this upcoming journey. As I've shared my plans with friends and acquaintances they've been met with a mix of excited support and confused disdain. Many wonder why I’d willing choose to put myself through such physical rigor, when at the end of most days I will be camping in less than ideal conditions and may not get more than a washcloth bath.

In all honesty I can't say I knew much about the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route until earlier this year, but what I do know is that I am always up for a new challenge. I can’t say I don’t worry about things like bear encounters, extreme weather, and failure more anything else; however, I know that facing these fears will help me stretch and grow. I believe life hands one many opportunities. Half of it is following your dreams and passions and the other half is being open-minded to things outside your comfort zone.  They may be things that lead you in a different direction than you originally intended, but in the end get you so much closer to where you want to be. I am so grateful and excited for the wonderfully opportunity I have to get out there and do something life-changing!
 
In preparation for this ride Laura and I have had a number of planning sessions. During these visits we’ve gone on rides including an overnight bike packing trip with all our gear. We had friends meet-up with us to help us get excited about our trip. We also took the time to prepare our own dried vacuum sealed meals that we will be mailing to ourselves along the route.  This took a bit of planning, but was such a worthwhile endeavor. We’ve also planned for detours along our route and spent some time learning about our bikes.  Though we could always do more to feel more prepared I am can definitely say I am ready to get started!
 
Gear list (as pictured)
Spork
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Spare tube
Multi-tool
Electric and duct tape
2 bike lights
Biking glove
Zip ties
Pocket knife
Sunglasses
Spare spokes
Tire levers
Super glue
Derailleur cable
Arm warmers
Wool Tank top
Wool T-shirt
Rain jacket
Down jacket
Wool button-up
Wool socks x2
Skirt
Wool bra x2
Beanie
Wool leggings
Camp sandals
Giro cycling shoes
Biking short x2
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss
Razor
Camp towel
Sunscreen
Chapstick
Mouthwash
Passport
Bear spray
Iphone charging cord
Solar charger
Usb charging cord
Action camera
Bluetooth speaker
Spot tracker
 
Not pictured
Jetboil (shared)
Camelback
Zip ties
Needle and thread
Tweezers
Soap
Ibuprofen

Laura:
I can’t believe I am writing my first official entry for our ride! Time seriously flies! The past few months have been quite the whirlwind!! Katie and I started this experience with very little bikepacking experience (as in I had none and she had ~3 nights worth) so to say we’ve been busy reading and studying up would be an understatement! Haha we are still very much inexperienced bikepackers but we’re feeling more prepared thanks to all of the other awesome riders out there who have posted gear lists and shared experiences. Hopefully this blog can serve as a fresh source of information to anyone interested in getting out there, regardless of experience level.

We’ve been stoked since the day we heard that we would be representing Blackburn and that level of stoke has been MAGNIFIED as we have learned more and more about what we are about to do!!! BIKE THE GREAT DIVIDE! How have we prepared? Good question….I’ll break it into a few little categories that I’m asked about most often: Bikes, Food, Logistics and training.

Bikes: Blackburn’s partners hooked us up! Katie and I will both be riding Niner ROS9s with Brook’s saddles, WTB Wolverine tires, SRAM ROAM 50 wheels, Ergo grips, Rockshox SID fork, and then of course the full build out of sweet bags from Blackburn. These bikes ride like gems and we’re excited to get some Canadian dirt on them starting next week!

Food: FOOD!! Katie and I are doing this ride on a budget and where this can be seen most heavily is in our food prep! Have you ever seen those expensive “just add water” backpacking meals? Well Katie found a couple do it yourself recipes and we made 80 dinner meals on our own!! We have two options -- couscous with chicken and veggies or pasta with sweet potatoes and veggies. #fancy We’re for sure going to eat at restaurants when given the chance but to have healthy affordable options makes me feel so good! For breakfast we packed oatmeal with chia seeds and nuts. For lunches we’ll do simple things like tortillas, peanut butter, fruit if we are lucky enough to have and anything else that is easy to eat while riding.

Logistics: Other than a few important dates, we don’t really have a crazy schedule to keep. We will definitely keep moving forward but we want to have the freedom to know that if we see something or meet someone that intrigues us we can stop and spend time in that particular area. It’s not often that you have time to stop and smell the roses so we definitely want to take advantage of that while we can. We also plan on trying out warmshowers.org, a neat service similar to couchsurfing except it's just for cyclists. The main reason we’d like to try out warmshowers.org isn’t for the actual warm shower but more to get to meet individuals along the ride.

Training: hahahahaha. That’s literally what I do when someone asks me what I’ve done in my training preparation. I laugh. Not because I haven’t been biking a lot, because I have. But because the type of biking I’ve been doing has been my usual flowy/techy single track climbs/decents on my full suspension bike. Nothing like the forest road doubletrack which makes up most of the GDMBR. I actually just got back from a little trip in which I was able to bike in Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, Washington and which culminated at a biking camp at Whistler. We’ll see how many of those gnarly Whistler downhill skills come into play during our ride….hopefully none of them but then again it would make for a cool pic to see a fully loaded bike hit a sweet drop or clear a gap….ideas :)

This has been a long post but then again this trip has been a long time coming. I’m grateful to Blackburn and their sponsors, Kitsbow, Big Agnes, SRAM, WTB, Brooks, and Niner Bikes -- you will for sure be hearing unfiltered reviews from me around their products that we use. Lastly, I am so grateful for supportive family and friends who are genuinely stoked for Katie and I to get out there. LET’S RIDE THE DIVIDE!



- PRE-RIDE -

Great Divide's profile picture
Katie & Laura

Gear List

- My Ride -

- My Favorite Blackburn Gear -

- Complete Gear and Bike spec lists coming soon! -

Katie & Laura's profile picture
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 -