The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

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. 

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The General Store Cornucopia

By Phillip Benningfield

Older roadside establishments in the San Luis Valley are scarce, happy to serve, and hard to resist. Ones that have endured hold on to putting one at ease and know being present is more important than speed. In our neck of the woods – or high desert – a handful of places have registered time and again in my memory as giving one the sincere feeling of being appreciated. The people I have met are unassuming and friendly – but even more so, mindful of your need to be left alone. And to sweeten the taste, these stopovers are on the quieter roads of Colorado.

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Motoring the Back Roads

By Phillip Benningfield

So often we are stuck on the paved roads, busy highways, four-way stops; relegated to the same path, or in too much of a hurry to get to the next stop. Here’s an novel idea: sit back, roll down the windows, cruise slowly and play “Lowrider” on the 8-track while your passenger drinks a tasty libation.

Colorado is overflowing with perfectly safe, absolutely serene, and kinda smooth back roads. These well-maintained dirt roads do not require anything more than a passenger car and the will to see all the vast hidden lands at a nice low-rider speed.

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