Calendars Matter

I wanted to begin my Canada-to-Argentina bike trip on the 2,745-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The guidebook said That you should start by mid-August. I figured I could ride faster than most, so I decided to leave on October 3. The weather had been great, so I wasn't worried. I should have been.

  • Survive: Calendars Matter

    In addition to leaving late, I also packed way too much stuff. I filled an entire bike trailer plus two large panniers with eight books, a small guitar, and enough spare parts To build a second bike. 

  • Survive: Calendars Matter

    October 3 brought the first snowstorm of the year. As I was fixing my third flat of the day, a kind soul stopped and offered me a beer.

  • Survive: Calendars Matter

    On the fourth day, it snowed six inches. The route was downhill, but with my trailer and poor traction, I crashed every time I gained any speed.

  • Survive: Calendars Matter

    It was so cold that I had to occasionally pull over and melt the ice in my shifters with a lighter.

  • Survive: Calendars Matter

    I regretfully gave up on the Great Divide trail, opting for a warmer route through Nevada and into the eastern side of California. On to Argentina!

Michael McCoy is the author of Cycling the Great Divide (Mountaineers Books) and works for the Adventure Cycling Association.

"Byron was overloaded and underprepared. Bikepackers should think like backpackers when rigging their kits. Had he carried half as much weight and studded his tires (or been aboard a fat bike), he might have been able to deal with the snow and the cold—up to a point. Since he left so late, though, winter would have caught up with him somewhere on the route, regardless of how well prepared he was."
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