Philip Benningfield
Great Divide
Living Vicariously through Others Being an avid mountain biker in a mountain biking town sounds terrific and it is most of the time. When it is not an enviable position is when the Tour Dividers and bike tours start showing up at my business, Café Dawn: a small town coffee shop where we try to meet the needs of people from all over the world.

This year alone I have seen British Colombians, a fellow from New York touring on a fully loaded fat bike, numerous Americans, and a Divide racer from Hamilton Ontario, J.D. Pauls. The difference for me with J.D. was I did not live vicariously through others riding, but packed my bags and joined for a few miles along the Divide route.

Listening to a racer is inspirational to me. For a solitary human to sit in the saddle and crank pedals for three weeks or more, through distant, unknown lands, alone the majority of the time, takes serious mental focus. I hear from all the successful riders the mental side is the key to a happy journey.

For those of us who only get small tours in each year, it would seem to be a physical battle, but the mind is so much more powerful than swollen quads. My mind, as well, is the reason I truly get so much satisfaction from watching from the sidelines (but not for long). And it doesn’t hurt as a business along the Divide route that I get to ply racers with espresso and muffins and burritos and cookies and pie and sandwiches and….

Great Divide's profile picture
Philip Benningfield

Gear List







Philip Benningfield's profile picture
Philip Benningfield
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? Have your traveled by bike in the past? My motivation comes from some instinctual need to see what lies over the next mountain pass, to see a pristine meadow flushed with wildflowers or filled with stoic elk, or follow a never-ending ranch fence line in as obscure a place as possible.
  • What is your goal for the route? What do you hope to get out of this journey? Any undertaking along the GDR is tempered with as little expectations as possible. I find no need to try and experience the trip beforehand as the actual ride far surpasses any expectation. The goal each and every time is to get away from the busy world and witness, with as minimal a kit as I can survive with, the peace found out in the middle of nowhere!


  • Tattered warm Pearlizumi gloves
  • Sleeping Bag Feathered Friends Hummingbird 20-degree sleeping bag
  • Marmot 650-fill down coat
  • Jagged Edge skullcap

- Great Divide Milestones -