By Phillip Benningfield
Imagine cursing a face full of persistent 25- mph wind, eating food like it was your last meal, being shocked by vistas beyond your expectations, and resting at an idyllic campsite. You’ll then have a very small taste of riding a bike along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Throughout the quiet, the pastoral, the mountainous expanses of this spectacular region of Colorado, a serpentine route for bicyclists exists that takes one far away from local issues, errands and busy summer months.
A portion of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) travels over 300 miles from Breckenridge, Colorado, over Boreas Pass through Como and Hartsel, across the Badger Creek drainage east of Salida, and up Poncha Pass to Old Marshall Pass. Once through Sargents and a highway stretch, the route turns south in bucolic Doyleville and immediately into rolling high desert after leaving Tomichi Creek. Further south along an actual flat stretch, one reaches the Cochetopa State Wildlife Area, then up and over Cochetopa Pass, then again up Carnero Pass past La Garita and Penitente Canyon. Along the western edge of the San Luis Valley to Del Norte the views of the Sangre de Cristos and Southern San Juan Wilderness are panoramic. Finally, the route climbs deeper into the San Juans to Indiana Pass (11’910’)– the highest point along the entire 2,745 mile route – to Platoro.