September 9, 2015
September 9, 2015
The Great Divide
The Great Divide section of the North American Epic has truly lived up to its name. Not only have we crossed mountains that divide the east and western United States multiple times, we have also experienced vast changes in scenery, weather, and temperatures along the way. This section has been the most transitional so far, from the predominantly forest areas of Montana, to the more rugged desert landscapes of Colorado and Utah. Nights have become colder, as we camped many times at high altitude in the mountains. Whilst days have become hotter and dryer, as we edge closer and closer to the Arizona desert. Rain has become less frequent, but now strong winds gust across the open and barren landscape, causing days of difficult riding. On the upside, we are finally out of bear country!
To top off all this change has been a mammoth 8-day riding section between West Yellowstone and Moab. Featuring 1000 kilometers of riding, and nearly 8000 meters of climbing. Fortunately this stretch, the longest on the tour, comes before a double rest day in Moab – gateway to the stunning Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Australian rider, Rod, remarked ‘It’s been a very tough section, the wind on the climb in Colorado was as hard as I’ve had’. Climbs were certainly a hot topic around the tea table on this stretch. German rider, Beate, described the week as ‘very tough, that’s for sure! Hard climbs, very hard climbs’. Riders were uplifted by meeting the challenges thrown at them by The Great Divide section. ‘The climbs are impressive and challenging, some make you want to cry but they’re worth it!’, said American rider, Tom, rather poetically, ‘It wasn’t just 8 days, it was 8 days of longer kilometres and bigger climbs!’, he added.
However, all the riders agree that this section has been one of the most beautiful of the tour so far. The final afternoon into Moab provided a rollercoaster ride alongside the Colorado river, through classic desert canyons, of the classic Western films of old. It was one of the best days I’ve had!’ said veteran German rider, Volker. ‘The scenery has been amazing’, continued Beate, ‘the Flaming Gorge, was just – gorgeous!’ Australian rider, Roger, said ‘It’s been fairly dramatic scenery’, whilst his fellow compatriot, Dianne, described Wyoming as ‘very much like home in northern Australia’. For those from the land down under, the heat and dryness will be a welcome change. However for those from cooler areas of the world, this next section will be a big challenge, with the Arizona desert and Baja California still to come.
Once again, the great people at Clif Bar have kept the riders fueled and energised on the climbs and long days. The mint chocolate Builder’s Bars have been a big hit, as well as the Bloks Energy Chews for the those tough mountain climbs. Full tour rider, Wayne, humorously remarked that this difficult 8 day stretch should have it’s own accolade within the tour – ‘EFI on 8-in-the-middle’. With more distance behind than ahead, and with the biggest stretch under the belt, the North American Epic riders certainly deserve a relaxing couple of days in the heart of canyon country!