Great Divide Intro

11 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Great Divide Intro
Yamaha Divide

Motorcycling The Great Divide

America The Beautiful

With Kevin Naser and Jim Lamm

This adventure was based on the book Cycling the Great Divide by Michael McCoy. A few years back, Mr. McCoy mapped a bicycle route from Rooseville Montana (at the US/Canada border) to Antelope Wells New Mexico (at the US/Mexico border). His book includes maps and a detailed description of the route, laid out in a 62 day schedule for mountain bicycles. The book, which is still in print and readily available, is all you really need to do this ride, on a bicycle or motorcycle.

If you’re traveling by motorcycle, a GPS is also advisable since you are moving quite a bit faster than a bicycle would be, and you won’t want to be stopping to look at maps every few miles. GPS files based on Mr. McCoy’s book are available for free on the Adventure Cycling Association’s Website. and they also sell maps of the routes. Several people have also modified the GPS routes specifically for dual-sport motorcycles.

If you want details just email me, I can send you what I used and I can point you to others who can also help.

The route is about 2600 miles long and we crossed the Continental Divide of the United States 27 times. It’s about 80% dirt, the rest of the time you are on asphalt or concrete just trying to get to the next section of dirt. The dirt varies from moderately technical single track, to gentle double track, to hard and fast gravel or sand. We took ten days to do it, two weeks or more would be even better.


There are plenty of places to camp along the way, both in public campgrounds and, if you don’t mind primitive camping, quite often you could just pitch your tent along the trail. There only a few places where gas is a worry, I think I went about 260 miles between fill-ups a couple of times.

I did the ride on a 2001 Triumph Tiger, and Jim was riding a Suzuki DRZ400. As you can see, a wide range of motorcycles can be adapted for this ride. The 300 mile range of the Triumph Tiger was nice to have, and the fuel injection was also good, due to the large elevation changes encountered. Other than that, either bike was fine, you could do it on about any dual-sport motorcycle.

The Tiger was a bit large for much of this route, and a bit short on ground clearance, but despite the short-comings we made it through and had a blast doing it. Adversity is the root of adventure. I don’t regret taking the Tiger and I would do it again in a minute.

That being said, my advise to you is that the ideal motorcycle for this route would be a large single cylinder dual-sport such as a Kawasaki KLR650, BMW F650, Husky 610, KTM 640, etc. with suitable modifications.

The thought that I want to leave you with is that this is truly the America the Beautiful ride. You don’t know how pretty America is until you see some of these places. In that respect, it is fitting that our little adventure began on Independence Day. I will also say that it will be better done sooner than later.

Wilderness land in the USA is being bought up and developed at an alarming rate. It has become popular with America’s well-to-do to buy a piece of wilderness and build a large log home on it. Baby-boomers are retiring from California, selling their $1.5 million homes and moving to Idaho.

Phoenix is spilling it’s gut’s all the way over to New Mexico. My advise, go now, see it while you can.

Now enjoy the photographs that Jim and I took. When you are finished, drop me a line, let me know what you think, and let me know where you have been. As you mouse over the pictures a latitude and longitude will appear next to your pointer. These are the closest navigational coordinates that I had, in most cases they are accurate, in some cases they are an estimate.

If you need accurate navigation information, email me.

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