Route Selection

Planning long distance rides off the beaten track require some homework. Luckily, most of our riding has been on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route put together by Adventure Cycling. This has been a wonderful route. The maps provide details on where to find the next grocery store and water source as well as some brief history about each area. It’s the perfect bike packing starter to test your ride and yourself before leaving the country on grander exploits. 

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Of course, it would be easy if we could just follow the route. But we can’t. Distracted by friends, family, the glamor of big city lights, we keep making detours. This can get tricky. Hairy vehicle packed highways. No shoulders. Fast speed limits set us on edge. As a result we try to connect dirt roads as often as possible. This is where Google Maps and Delorme’s Earthmate App come to the rescue.

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Another helpful resource is the National Forest Locator Map. Each national forest has a link for bicycle trails but I’ve found the motorized use maps to be the most helpful. These cover all the dirt roads through the area and what vehicle type is allowed.

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Lastly, the Department of Transportation in each state has put together a bike map that provides shoulder widths and traffic volume for the main thoroughfares. This is for use when all else fails and we have to ride the road. The maps themselves can be a bit difficult to find. I’ve had my best luck searching “(state name) Department of Transportation Bicycle Map” and Google usually finds what I want. Most states have been spot on with their descriptions of the road ways. New Mexico has not. Find local knowledge or consult the police for good road riding.

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Photo by Elizabeth Ellis

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