A CannonRide Down the Great Divide (solo)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Cannonride? Some of you know the format: maps, GPS tracks and waypoints for download, lots of pictures of the route, and some (hopefully) entertaining stories about history and interesting side trips and stops along the way.

    Overview Map
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    The Great Divide Ride is a mountain bike route developed by the Adventure Cycling Association that runs down the continental divide from Banff, AB to Antelope Wells, NM. Although some of the route involves trails that exclude motorized travel, motorcyclists have adopted much of the route as it primarily uses forest roads and other highways. Maps and tracks are available from the Adventure Cycling Association.

    I have included the Canada section on this ride which requires some significant rerouting for motorcycles. I have developed some tracks that account for this that I will post for others to use. The detailed maps I post in the report will show the Adventure Cyling Association tracks and the tracks (and alternates) that will be useful for motorcycles. With changes for motorcycles and other options, the route is approaching 3,000 miles.

    By the way I stopped by the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters in Montana while on this trip.
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    A nice group of folks dedicated to putting out great products for their following.
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    A few scenes from along the way.
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    #1
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Overview of the Canada portion of the ride. The red line is bicycle only trail.
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    The beginning.
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    For me, the route begins on the Mount Norquay Scenic Drive which overlooks Banff. Start at the top and enjoy the views of the city.
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    The Banff Springs Hotel was originally built in 1887-88. In 1925 it burned and was rebuilt. After the fire they found a secret room with no windows or door where some believe that a ghost that haunts the hotel lived.
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    As you wind down the switchbacks toward town, be on the lookout for mule deer and rocky mountain sheep.
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    Banff was administered by the national park system until 1990 when it was allowed to incorporate. There are about 7,500 permanent residents.
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    The town has an interesting railroad depot. Many tourists arrive by train. In fact, in 1883 three railroad workers stumbled onto the natural hot springs there. In 1885, Canada established the area as a federal reserve and began promoting the area as a resort and spa to help support the railroad. The railroad built hotels along the line to support this.
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    A closer look at the hotel.
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    The bicycle ride starts at the Spray River trailhead behind the hotel.
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    Since this trail excludes motorized travel, we have to go around and over some mountains on a very entertaining separate route.
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    #2
  3. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    Nice!
    :thumb
    #3
  4. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Cool pics... Bicycle tracks should be considered single track lol.
    #4
  5. z@ch

    z@ch Turn it up to eleven

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    Oh this is gonna be gooooood!
    #5
  6. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

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    in!

    Go Bryan!
    #6
  7. c-zulu

    c-zulu Resident Dirt Burner

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    Looks like a start to another outstanding RR. :thumb
    #7
  8. Fredfredburger

    Fredfredburger CTRL ALT DEL

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    great pics, great start.

    :lurk
    #8
  9. gettr

    gettr Professional Loser

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    :lurk
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Great ride and pics.. Banff pics are fantastic!! thanks for taking us along :thumb

    :lurk
    #10
  11. yeroc40

    yeroc40 Been here awhile

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    Not that's a great teaser, I'm in!
    #11
  12. jcorni

    jcorni Adventurer

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    OK, I will ask, what camera are you using? great looking fotos. Can't wait for the report. Thanks for taking us along.
    #12
  13. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    the RR I've looking for!
    #13
  14. sky hy ironman

    sky hy ironman Been here awhile

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    A closer look at the hotel.
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    Impressive work & subscribed
    #14
  15. LeeU

    LeeU Been here awhile

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    I'm in Cannonshot!!:clap
    My buddy Burt & I have done it twice, including last year.
    Anxious to see your Fleecer Ridge ride pics!!:lol3 :eek1

    LeeU
    #15
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Thanks for tuning in!

    Besides being (hopefully) entertaining, the purpose of this thread is to document some detail that might be useful for others that are considering this ride.

    The cameras I used on this were a waterproof Pentax Optio (used during inclement weather) and a Nikon D60 with a 18-200 lens that I carried in the tank bag. I still pretty much used the Nikon as a point and shoot. :lol3
    #16
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    I should mention that before you leave Banff, you may want to ride the 9 km Tunnel Mountain Scenic Drive. This ride runs on the east side of Banff and takes in views of Bow Falls, Bow Valley, the hotel, Mount Rundle, and the Hoodoos (fingerlike eroded rock formations with a hard cap).

    (Red is bicycle only, dark blue is motorcycle track.)
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    Canmore is just down the road from Banff and was developed by the railroad as a source of train fuel (coal) and as a switching yard. The coal mining was good for a while but the last mine closed in 1979 causing the town to diversify. Now it is a tourist town much like Banff. There are some old buildings still around downtown. These include a union hall, four bed hospital, hotel, and Mountie barracks.

    This log, straw, and mud Northwest Mounted Police barracks was built in 1893 at a cost of $450. It was big enough for two mounties and two horses.
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    The place was recently restored to its 1921 state at a cost of $450,000.
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    When you drive through the touristy downtown the air is filled with the delicious aromas from the various specialty restaurants.
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    It used to be that you had to go the long way to get where we want to go. Now you can take the Smith Dorrien Trail up and over the mountains.
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    The trail starts at the Canmore Nordic Center. The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics held cross country skiing and biathalon events here.
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    At this time of the year, they were hosting mountain bike events.
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    One of the few places I saw guard rails.
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    Looking back down at Canmore. They have some kind of water/hydro power project going up here.
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    This is a good part of the road. Much of it is potholes, rocks, and stutter bumps.
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    Always beautiful scenery in this area.
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    As I was riding along I saw the hump and a strip of back hair from a grizzly right along the side of the road in some vegetation. Having had four encounters on a backpacking trip in the Northwest Territories I was quick to recognize what I saw and stop before I got too close to the bear. The bear reacted to me by taking a few steps into some trees, facing me for a bit to check me out, and then ambling off into the woods. By the time I got the camera out, this is the parting shot I got.
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    But here is a shot of a grizz just for reference.
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    These notable claws contribute to distinctive tracks.
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    Just a reminder to not be too casual about bears. About five years ago a 35 year old woman and two friends were jogging on a popular trail near Canmore when they encountered a grizzly. The woman took refuge in a tree while the others ran for help. The bear dragged her out of the tree and killed her.

    I made sure I stopped there and took a good look around. After all, it was important.
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    #17
  18. bthebert

    bthebert Been here awhile

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    Glad to hear it's still working for you, Bryan. Mine's still going strong as well. Nice to be able to just "rinse it off" if it gets dusty or dirty.

    Looking forward to your report.
    #18
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    The red bicycle only track runs through Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The park is named after the guy that served as Premier of Alberta for 14 years. The park is beautiful and is home to grizzlies, black bears, elk, deer, moose, cougars, lynx, and wolves. The bike trail goes over Elk Pass on the British Columbia/Alberta border. The coal mines further south in Alberta got into it with the hikers over this pass. Instead of having to go way around, the coal companies thought this pass should host an all weather route over the divide. Environmentalists killed this proposal off.
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    Avalanche slides on the sides of some of the mountains are visible.
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    Rocky mountain sheep.
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    The alternate route takes us over Highwood Pass - the highest drivable pass in Canada. By the way, it was pretty cool temperature-wise that day.
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    While we pause on top of the pass, I'll pass on a little about the bike I was riding. I picked up an 09 KLR 650 for this ride as I figured it would work well to ride out and back and handle the roads on the divide ride well. When I started the trip I had 1,500 miles on the bike. I added some crash bars, a bash plate, and some D606s.
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    I also added a larger windscreen that I like when it is raining or bugs are thick. It also protects the electronics a bit. I messed around with rear luggage and finally decided to just go with a basic waterproof Cabelas bag. I ratchet strapped that and a tent on the seat and rear luggage rack. The white mesh bag has some laundry that hadn't dried overnight that will dry during the ride.
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    I used a 60 series GPS. Since I was solo I used a SPOT tracker - a good idea as some of this is pretty remote. I also wired in my satellite radio. I ran earphones out the line out jack which has variable output levels. Worked well except when I got into heavy cover or in the "shadow" of a mountain. I put heated grips on as well, which I used from time to time.
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    Even though this portion is on pavement, it is a fabulous ride. Very scenic and entertaining.
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    This guy crossed in front of me.
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    More avalanche slides.
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    #19
  20. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

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    Great RR Bryan, sure enjoying this one as the other.

    Tell me as you motored down # 40 through Kananaskis Country, did you stop off to view that awesome golf course????

    Did you smack a few???

    Looking forward to this RR!! Keep us smiling!:clap

    #20