Today my bike wheels rolled up to the Mexican border. After 3000 miles over single track, tote roads, dirt, gravel, water, mud, and even pavement, I have completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail. This last ride, just 45 miles, was completely flat and boring. Such an inappropriate ending for the richly rewarding experience this Bike Trail has been.
A couple of weeks ago, Brian asked me if this ride was epic for us. My first thought was that nothing I could do could be “epic.” Epic was Ben Hur. Epic was Shackleton’s voyage to South Georgia. The word just seemed too big. This was a bicycle ride that ordinary people like myself can do.
Brian’s question did trigger some introspection on just how I ended up on this ride though.
There was my first 50 mile Trail Race. A climb of the largest mountain in the hemisphere, Aconcagua in Argentina. A kayak trip in the wilds of remote Greenland. A bike trip through the Andes from the equator to Ushuaia at the bottom of South America. And others. Each of these were stepping stones in my confidence. A feeling that I belonged. That I could do these things. That a very ordinary person with the right attitude could succeed at these challenges if he/she put their mind to it.
So when I asked Brian if he wanted to join me in doing this trip, I never even questioned that we could do it. When I was getting ready to climb Denali in 2010 my great friend Nancy said, “Buck doesn’t know his limitations.” There is a lot of truth in that.
Back to the “epic” thing.
Along the way from Jasper down, I was so impressed by encouragement by people of all ages and types. Signs in all communities offer discounts to bikers and hikers. Some lodging is even hikers and/or bikers only. People wave at us. Cars beep their horns. Folks stop to talk to us about our ride. People along this route are all very conscious of what this route and the people biking it mean to their communities.
We met more international riders than we did Americans. This Mountain Bike Trail has become iconic worldwide. In just 20 years. We are riding with Italians, Scots, French, Japanese, Czechs and many more nationalities. It has become famous as the best and longest mountain bike trail anywhere.
Is this an epic trail? There’s no question about it. This has been an epic trail for us too.
There is nobody meeting you at Antelope Wells. No friends with hugs and congratulations. No medals. In fact it may be the quietest border crossing in the US. Almost too quiet for two good friends to end their epic ride. We gave each other a big hug. We poured ourselves into this ride and absorbed all we could. I thanked Brian for being such a good friend.