Friday, August 29, 2008


This summer, I am doing a mountain bike ride with my Mom (aka Grammi) and son Richie. We are doing an 8-day section of the 'Ride the Divide' mountain bike route (Canada to Mexico, all within 50 miles of the divide, but mostly forest sevice dirt roads as opposed to hard core singletrack.)
The posts here are mainly taken from email reports I sent each night of the ride. I have added some post-ride edits, but for the most part the journal was written at the end of each day along the ride. For those of you who read the email reports, major additions here will be additional pictures, and captions. I'm adding a few pics in the body of each report, but click on the link at the end for a link to an album, where I have more pictures, captions, and the pics are much larger to see...the 'slideshow' button is a good way to view them.
The pictures I took were all taken from my 'hiptop' (mobile phone). The marketing name for this is the T-Mobile Sidekick LX. This takes relatively impressive pictures, though there is no ability to zoom or adjust the lighting. Still, not bad for a phone. Grandman had a better camera, and I have added some of his pics too. For instance, he gets credit for the nice shot above.
We are riding from Aspen Alley, WY to Salida, CO (over 300 miles.)

Here is an overall map showing the places we stopped each day. You can find a button leading to a more detailed map of each day's route at the end of the report for that day. As an example, we certainly did not take the most direct route to Kremmling from Gore Pass :)

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 1 Aspen Alley, WY to Steamboat Lake State Park, CO

Day 1: Aspen Alley, WY to Steamboat Lake State Park, CO (50 miles)
Wed 8/13/2008

This was a fantastic but challenging day given my fitness level.

We spent a relaxing night at the Saratoga Inn, and drove an hour to Aspen Alley. By the time we got there it was 10:00, 65 degrees, perfect weather.

I decided that Aspen Alley would be a fun place to start our big ride. It is a scenic spot on a dirt road (48 miles south of Rawlins, just 15 miles from the CO border.) The road straightens and goes through a grove of Aspen was a beautiful spot.

Aspen Alley, fitting spot to start our big ride!

After just 2 miles climbing on a dirt road, we headed down a dream paved highway (WY 70)...gorgeous scenery, downhill, and almost bereft of traffic for 13 miles. Richie had a thrill/scare when he heard a sound near him on a bomber downhill...he slowed a bit, and a big deer shot across the road in front of him, very nearly hitting him. Mom witnessed it.

We had two choices to get to our destination for the night...both are described as being very scenic. The main route has a major hill at the end of the day that it described as gnarly, steep, and rocky. 4-miles up then 4-miles down, and the guide book describes this as a 'pusher'. Yikes. We opted for the 'easier' alternative route through Columbine. While I fully believe that the Columbine alternate route was probably indeed easier, it was by no means easy!

We turned on to route 129, a dirt road that first heads east, paralleling and criss-crossing the CO/WY border. (For those doing the full ride, there is no 'welcome to CO' type sign as a photo op for your crossing into CO.) We meandered upstream along the Little Snake River, enjoying several modest but scenic ranches nestled in the valley. The road then turns south, and the map ominously says 'cross Little Snake River and begin climbing'. What ensues is almost 20 miles of uphill, with alternating gradual and steep stretches. We climbed almost 2000 feet here...on par with the 'named' passes we hit later in the ride. Halfway through this section we passed the ridiculously fancy Three Forks Ranch...with a multi-million dollar lodge.

This section kicked my butt. Richie was up front, Grammi was in 2nd, and I (pulling the BOB trailer) was well behind. It was a very nice road, and other than the 3-mile section of 3 forks ranch there was very little traffic.

Hahn's Peak is in the background...close to our camp spot for the night. It is a bit nerve-wracking to ride into the cattle, but Grammi and Richie are doing it.

The climb ended in Columbine, CO (not much more than a general store here.) We then had a sweet 5-mile downhill to our campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park.

I saw a deer today and we encountered several herds of cattle along the road. I was disappointed that I didn't see an antelope during the ride today, though we saw lots yesterday, and one cluster tonight driving to Steamboat Springs for dinner.

I'm beat, ready for a good nights sleep at our little cabin at the park.

Richie chillin at said cabin

Oh yeah, I was a total numb-nut today. (Go figure.) While I was bombing down the paved WY 70 early in the day, I caught a glimpse of two menacing, huge, dark colored animals lurking in the trees just off to my right.

'BEEEEAAARR!!' I shout, and hit my brakes to turn around for a better look. Grammi was behind me, so she slowed down too.

I pedal back, and see two docile black cows munching grass. Duh. I turn back around and tell Mom that it was a f***ing cow, not a bear.

Tomorrow should be an easier day, and we are all ok with that. the scenery today and the remoteness of the ride was just fantastic.

LINK below to photo album (More pics, and much larger, plus I have written clever captions for all the pics. I suggest you hit the 'slideshow' button to view the pictures in the album.)

Click here to open Day 1 album in a new window

Click the 'View Elevation' button above to open full size, interactive map of the Day 1 ride

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 2 Steamboat Lake State Park to Stagecoach Lake State Park

Day 2: Steamboat Lake State Park to Stagecoach Lake State Park (51 miles)
Thursday, August 14, 2008

While today was 1 mile longer than yesterday, the level of exertion was considerably less. We all feel much better than we did yesterday.

The day split up nicely: in the morning we rode almost 30 miles from our cabin to the ski resort town of Steamboat Springs, which was a splendid place to stop for lunch. This ride started with a really nice 10 mile dirt road, passing through some more ranch land. It also was mostly downhill, and sunny but cool temps, so it was a pleasure to ride.

The next section was not as good...17 of the next 20 miles was on paved CO 129, which was fairly busy and had only an intermittent shoulder. Fortunately it was flat, so we made good time.

After lunch we cruised on a bike trail that led to a back road out of Steamboat Springs, and it was nice, staying away from the bustle of town. We then switched to a road I really enjoyed...transitioning from old pavement, to dirt road, to a primitive dirt road right along the Yampa river. This road (after a few good hills) brought us to our end point at Stagecoach Lake. We got a great campsite here, with views of the lake. Tonight is one of only 2 nights that we are pitching tents.

We are very appreciative of Grandman's sag support. We originally were going to do a supported ride, but it was cancelled because not enough people signed up. This potential disaster was averted when Grandman offered to Sag for us. He has saved our ride, and has really helped out with the route and carrying all of our gear.

So in summary for me today was a good day, though not as epic as yesterday was. That being said, I needed a break, and today delivered with good scenery and relatively easy riding.

Link to Day 2 Photo Album below

Click here to open Day 2 album in a new window

Click 'View Elevation' button to see full size interactive Day 2 map

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 3 Stagecoach Lake SP to Gore Pass

Day 3: Stagecoach Lake State Park to Gore Pass crossing 1, 25 miles
Friday, 8/15/2008

Not all miles are created equal...this was a tougher day than yesterday was.

Well, today we hit our first batch of bad weather. It was cool with menacing clouds most of the day, but at the end we caught some rain, with lightning and thunder close by. Mom was spooked by the lightning and bolted (pun intended) past me. I thought it was very cool...the thunder was booming to our right, and echoing off the mountains to our left.

We had a treat to start the day...we crossed the dam that creates Stagecoach Lake, and then enjoyed our only singletrack of this trip...about 2 miles paralleling the lake.

Dam crossing

Next up was our first official (named) pass of the trip...Lynx Pass. This is a gravel road that connects Stagecoach Lake with Gore Pass. It climbs, mostly gradually, for 17.5 miles. There is one small respite around the midpoint of the climb in an area known as High Meadows, where the road flattens out for a few miles. The road was wide at first, and narrowed as we slowly spun up the pass.

Almost as soon as we left the lake, Richie complained of knee pain. Ruh roh, this happened one day earlier in our training on a rented bike, but he has never had trouble on his own bike. We fed him Aleve, and suggested he put his bike in the easiest gear on the hills. Also Grandman suggested that he raise his seat a quarter inch. Fortunately all these little things seemed to do the trick, and his pain lessened.

Grandman and Richie seem to think Grammi's hair looks funny. Not me (but I did have my camera handy to document the moment!)

We crested the Pass in a light rain, but it rapidly got cooler and rainier on the short descent (3 miles) to Gore Pass. We had hoped to ride another 5 miles, but we were all happy to see Grandman and we decided to end our day right there. Good decision, as it rained even harder over the next hour.

Atop Gore is good until the lightning show started

Tonight we are staying at a ranch on the other side of Gore Pass. My Uncle Nelson and Aunt Jean have a wonderful ranch right here on Gore Pass, and we are enjoying their company (and roof) on this stormy and cool afternoon.

Link to Day 3 Pictures:

Click here to open Day 3 album in a new window

Click 'View Elevation' button to open full size interactive Day 3 map

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 4 Rainout

Woke up this morning…

39 degrees

Today’s scheduled mileage is somewhat light (albeit on interesting and challenging terrain) so we decided to drive to Kremmling (our scheduled destination for the day) to do laundry and grocery shopping, and hope for a turn in the weather.

The drizzle turned to steady rain, and we heard a most depressing forecast for today…rain all day, highs in the 40’s, with wind picking up in the afternoon.

Ugh. I’m willing to endure some hardship, but today would be cold, wet, and muddy…certainly uncomfortable and potentially even dangerous given the steep downhill and remote roads scheduled for the day. Unless we see some incredible improvement by noon, we are not going to ride today.

It is infused in my nature to try to do every mile that we had planned to ride. The thought of skipping a day, leaving a hole in our trek to Salida, bugs me to no end. (Particularly since this day is so interesting…stream crossing early in the day, and then a 2000 ft plunge to Radium that is described by Mike McCoy, the route designer, as the most thrilling downhill on the entire Divide ride.)

Who said Richie had to ride every day to have fun?

After I wrote that, Richie started a fun day with helping Uncle Nelson with ranch chores. They planted some trees, and rode horses. Some cattle got out of the fence, so they even got to wrangle them back to the right side of the fence. This was a great time for Richie!

Day 4--Gore Pass Crossing 1 to Gore Pass Crossing 2, 5 Miles
Saturday, 8/16/2008

Sure enough, the sun broke out around noon time, so I decided to ride at least the next 5 miles with the stream crossing. The 5 miles were on a nice remote road, and the stream was challenging, deep enough to cover my front sprocket. I rode about ¾ of the way across, then had to put my feet down and walk the rest. The BOB trailer did great, it was submerged but the stuff inside stayed dry.

Big Rock Creek

I was tempted to continue to ride to Kremmling, but Lynn pointed out a nasty cloud approaching. I stopped, and sure enough a soaking rain started up again and continued through the early evening.

We have decided to pick up the ride tomorrow from where I left off. We had been planning to take an easy day later in the ride, but by shifting things around a bit we will still be able to complete the full ride. Hooray!

Link to Day 4's Photos:

Click here to open Day 4 album in a new window

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 5--Gore Pass to Kremmling (via Radium)

Day 5: 2nd Gore Pass Crossing to Kremmling (via Radium), 32 miles
Sunday, 8/17/2008

I was looking forward to this day, and it turned out to be a great one. It was foggy and cool again in the morning, but unlike yesterday the forecast called for clearing and warmer temps. We pushed off from almost the top of Gore Pass, at an elevation of 9,000 feet, at 9:10 with 44 degree temps. We were all bundled up with most of our warm weather gear on our bodies. The long-fingered gloves were particularly helpful.

The first 6.5 miles this morning were a combination of ups and downs, with more downs than ups, through tremendously scenic terrain. (Abundant Aspen and wildflowers.) The road was probably the most primitive we have been on to date, possibly 4WD. I certainly would not want to take my car on it. This leads to a section that plunges down to the ‘town’ of Radium right along the Colorado River. In total we dropped 2,000 feet in just over 6 miles on an isolated dirt road. It is a fun descent…a bit steep at first (so lots of braking) but it moderates towards the bottom so we could pick up some speed in parts. Really fun, and by the time we got to Radium (elevation 7,000 ft) the temps were up to 65 degrees, and we had shed all of our cold weather gear. Radium is in a completely different climate zone than we were just in…sagebrush was the prominent vegetation. All in all, a super-fun morning of mountain biking. We were passed by precisely zero cars in the entire 13-mile section from Gore Pass to Radium.

Mud in our cleats caused Mom to almost fall at one point, which would be a whole lot funnier if I didn’t actually softly tip over 5 minutes later due to the same problem :)

From Radium the next 10 miles contained two long and difficult climbs…the first one 2 miles, the second one 4.5 miles. We then had a scenic downhill most of the rest of the ride, marred only by the fact that the well-graded dirt road was host to a bunch of speeding cars, trucks, and vans. Everyone bombs down that road, making it a bit uncomfortable to bike on.

My favorite part of this ride is getting to remote areas, and we got ‘there’ today.

Link to Day 5 Photo Album:
Click here to open Day 5 album in a new window

Click View Elevation button to open full size interactive Day 5 map

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 6--Kremmling to Silverthorne

Before I sign seen this week was at the dining room of the Saratoga Inn...

"Unaccompanied children will be given a shot of espresso and a free puppy"

Day 6: Kremmling to Silverthorne, 52 miles
Monday, 8/18/2008

Another fun day on the Divide ride. We started again with chilly conditions in a dense fog, but it burned off within the first hour of our ride. We took a dirt road out of Kremmling (CO 33) east along the Colorado River (near its headwaters, so not as major as the river that eventually carves the Grand Canyon.) This road then turns south, and for the next 20 miles we pedalled gradually uphill through a broad basin known as Middle Park, riding around Williams Fork Resevoir.

That brought us to our second of three 'named' climbs on our route...Ute Pass. We rode past a horribly ugly (and active) molybdenum mine. This mine scars the landscape along the ride in many ways...from the ugly dam that contains a huge tailings lake, to the ugly huge building housing the entrance to the mine, to the stench we had to endure riding near the mine. However, it is hard to complain too loudly about this considering that the bikes we were riding are largely composed of molybdenum-hardened steel!

4.5 miles of steep, paved, and non-trafficy uphill brought us to a thrilling downhill...also paved, so we could let our bikes fly down the pass. The view from the top (and along the descent) was spectacular.

We had an interesting stop on the drop...Mom was in the lead, and she was flagged down by a motorist on a pullout. He had been watching a black bear (a real bear, not a cow bear like I saw on day 1.) Mom waved down me and Richie, and we saw it briefly, before it moved back into the trees. Mom unfortunately never saw it, but the motorist had snapped some pics, so she saw it on his camera screen.

The day ended with probably the worst stretch of congestion and traffic on the entire route from Canada to Mexico...10 miles along CO route 9 into Silverthorne. Thankfully there was a good shoulder, but it is not a fun stretch of road with cars and trucks zooming by.

All along the ride we have witnessed the problem CO is facing with the pine beetle. These bugs infest pine trees and quickly kill them. This problem has been evident all ride, but today was the worst. We saw entire mountainsides that were covered with dead trees. It is sad to witness, and hard to imagine what the solution is.

Two more days to Salida! Tomorrow is our first crossing of the Continental Divide.

I didn't take many photos this day, so Link to short Day 6 Album:

Click here to open Day 6 album in a new window

Click View Elevation button to open full size interactive Day 6 map

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 7--Silverthorne to Hartsel

Day 7--Silverthorne to Hartsel, 68 miles
Tuesday, 8/19/08

Yeah, 68 miles and I'm beat. Interesting day, with a mixture of great and not-so-great terrain.

We started at 9:00 with sunny skies. Our first task for today was to get to Breckenridge, 17 miles away entirely on a nice paved bike path. This was a great early morning cruise, and we rewarded ourselves with an 11:00 a.m. milkshake. One of the glories of doing a ride like this is that you can eat prodigious amounts of food in the name of 'fuel'. Let's see if you can match milkshake to rider...we have Strawberry, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Coffee Toffee.

Next up was a turn east from Breckenridge to climb our 3rd and final named climb...Boreas Pass. This was a highlight, and marked several milestones for our trip. The top of the pass marked our only crossing of the Continental Divide. At 11,482 ft it is by far our highest elevation of the ride (and in fact is the 2nd highest point along the full Great Divide route.) The vistas all along the climb were breathtaking. Richie really loved this climb. The first 3 miles are paved and steep, but the final 6 miles are along a defunct railroad bed so the grade is relatively gentle. Surprisingly so given all the milestones reached on this climb.

Fun times on the climb up Boreas Pass


Father and son atop Continental Divide

After an 11-mile downhill (not quite so fun due to bumpy road conditions) we spilled out into vast South Park. The remaining 30 miles of today's ride was on a dusty road that climbs and falls through the relatively arid and treeless terrain of South Park.

South Park, the mountain bike ride is less funny than the TV show. (btw, the TV show is indeed named for this part of CO.) It is as if a section of the Great Basin in Wyoming has been dropped in to central CO, except South Park has nice mountains circling around in the distance. It is a tough stretch, particularly at the end of a looong day. At 7:15, with a lightning storm looming, I pedaled in to our destination (Hartsel Springs Ranch Lodge, highly recommended next time you find yourself in Hartsel!)

How did we get back into WY?! Astounding contrast from the terrain earlier today.

You find out interesting things about your companions on a long ride like this. For example, I discovered that my sweet mother has closet grasshoppicidal tendencies. She swerves on her bike to crunch the poor things. Shocking!

I'm very proud of both Richie and Mom on this ride. They are doing a great job, and have both been extremely upbeat throughout the ride.

Here is the link to the Day 7 slide show...a good one imo...
Click here to open Day 7 album in new window

Click View Elevation button to open full size interactive Day 7 map

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day 8 Hartsel to Salida, final day

Day 8, Hartsel to Salida, 52 miles
Wednesday, 8/20/2008

The home stretch started with a remarkable 30 miles in South Park. Somehow this section seemed better than yesterday...very likely because the bugs were not as bad, the temps were cool, and our legs were fresh. More than once I thought we were approaching the end of the Park, but it just kept surviving and stretching beyond each vista. The mountains were closer though, so it was increasingly scenic. All told we cycled 60 miles along dirt roads in South Park.

One thing that was fascinating is that many roads intersected the dirt road we were riding (CO 53) and there were street signs at all these intersections...described on my map as 'hopeful subdivision roads'. If you look at this area on Google maps there is an amazing grid of looks like a city. Believe me, the streets might be there, but there is no city...we saw maybe 20 houses in the 30 miles we rode here.

Click here to open a Google map showing this area south of Hartsel

The blue line on this map shows the main road...zoom in and hit the satellite button to see these roads are not exactly crowded with homes, as further evidenced by the picture below.

Evidently, if you build it they do not always come.

After lunch, at long last, we cycled up into !!TREES!!...Aspen and healthy pine felt good. I gave a salute to South Park and we started our final tough climb. The first part of the climb was gentle, but the final 2 miles had some of the steepest sections we encountered during the week.

There were cattle all over the place (by far the most common animal that we saw during the ride) but concentrated even more heavily here. I'm afraid that the nice soft dirt we were riding on was dried up manure...there were lots of fresh samples too. The cows were mad at us, and gave us lots of annoyed moos.

Richie powered right up the climb. He never once was forced to walk his bike. He gets the king of the mountain award. I'm very proud of him...he handled everything with a great attitude, and rode very strong all week.

At the top of the climb we were rewarded with another long (and bumpy) downhill all the way into Salida. We had a group high-five, and while the route beckons on southward to New Mexico (and Mexico), our ride was done.

Sappy time...

Major thanks to Paula, Jed, and Kirsten for supporting us throughout our training and cheering us on from home. We appreciate you putting up *without* us for over two weeks. We miss you and are really looking forward to coming home. (As an aside I learned today that Kirsten was moved up to level 7 gymnastics, something she worked very hard for all summer. Proud Daddy!)

Thanks too to Grandman, aka SagMan. Richie was always very happy to see him along the way (me and Mom too) and without his help we simply would not have been able to ride.

Finally, thanks to Mom and Richie. This is a major undertaking, and doing it at age 14, and, uh, age Medicare-eligible, is awesome. Maybe even wicked awesome! We will all have grand memories of this ride.

Link to the final day photo album below (2nd album below):

Click here to open Day 8 album in a new window

Link to Grandman's pics of the ride:

Click here to open SagMan's Album (captioned by Rich)

Click View Elevation button to open full size interactive Day 8 map

Monday, August 4, 2008

Epilogue--A few post-ride thoughts

I'll use this spot to post some random thoughts if and when they occur to me...

The grand total mileage came out to be 335 miles. This is slightly longer than what Adventure Cycling shows as the official mileage from Aspen Alley to Salida, due to the fact that we occassionally rode off course to get to our various overnight spots during the trip.

Answer to the milkshake riddle: Grammi was the healthnut who ordered Strawberry, I went for the caffeine spike of coffee-toffee, and Richie SweetToothMan opted for the cookie dough.

Speaking of Adventure Cycling, I have to thank them for plotting out this course (2008 is the 10th anniversary). Their maps are unbelievably great. We never got close to getting lost during this ride, and the maps are printed on waterproof paper. I mistakenly left them exposed on the outside of my BOB trailer the night we had heavy rains along Gore Pass. No worries, they still appear (almost) as fresh as the other 4 maps that we did not use on our ride. Find out about them at

I was surprised that during our 8 days out on the route, we encountered only one other rider who was doing the ride. On the first day Grandman met Tim, gave him a coke and let him use our full-size tire pump, and chatted with him for 20 minutes or so (Richie, Mom, and I rode up late in the conversation, so we met him too.) Tim was doing the ride solo and backwards, from Mexico north to Canada. He encountered lots of rain on his ride, and told us stories of the infamous mud in New Mexico. He had been on the ride for 43 days, and we encountered him right about at the halfway point. It would have been fun to hear more about his journey, but we both needed to put in some more miles. I figured we would meet more Divide riders, but in the end we saw only Tim. I'm sure we would have seen more if we had done the ride in July.

That same day Mom made it up a particularly steep and long hill, and a cigarette-smoking lady standing by a car smirked at her and smuggly said "That's the easy hill, you have 4 more coming up, and one is much worse than that." Hmmm, how shall I describe how Mom felt about this? Let's just say it is a good thing that this lady was not a grasshopper.

Dilly Miles. My odometer's battery ran out right before the ride, so I replaced it right before driving to CO. That sounds good, except it turns out that my settings were all lost, and I did not know how to reinput them. The most important setting is to tell the odometer how many full revolutions of the wheel it takes to travel a mile. When the odometer reset, it did two things:

1) It decided to show me kilometers instead of miles

2) It returned to the factory preset for revolutions per kilometer, which does not work on my bike, since I have 29" wheels, somewhat larger than standard 26" mountain bike wheels.

Result? My odometer dutifully tracked a measure of distance that was somewhat greater than a kilometer, but significantly less than a mile. I decided to call these Dilly Miles.

Mom's odometer was tracking closely to the official map mileage. After a few days I determined that when Mom's odometer read 10.0 miles, I showed 15.25 Dilly Miles. How do you keep an actuary occupied during a 300 mile bike ride? Make him convert everything to and from Dilly Miles!

Example...on the Ute Pass day we were at one intersection where the map read 96.3 miles, and we had a turn upcoming at 103.3 miles. So far so good, we need to turn in 7 miles.

OK, the Dilly Mile conversion is close to 3:2, so 7 miles /2 is 3.5, and 3.5*3 is 10.5 Dilly Miles per 7 real miles. Plus I have to add a quarter Dilly Mile per 10 real miles, so we will call this roughly 10.7 Dilly Miles. My odometer read 23.6 Dilly Miles at the time. I therefore was looking for the intersection somewhere around 34.3 Dilly Miles. This worked great, and I was always right within 0.2 Dilly Miles.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Epilogue II: Ode to BOB

Let me be the first to admit that

1) We only did a small section of the ride (300 miles is less than 1/8th of the full ride)
2) Thanks to SagMan's generosity, we had SAG support for our ride
3) We only planned to camp out 2 of the 8 nights, and ultimately due to rain we didn't even put up our tents one of those two nights

Still, I have a few things to say about the trailer I used. I'll interview myself:

Q: (Taken from an email from a friend): What is that contraption on the back of your bike?
A: It is a BOB trailer. I happen to think that it is a super-cool contraption. It hooks up easily to the bicycle by dropping on to the quick release axle that holds the back wheel on the bike. I can move the trailer from my bike to my wife's bike in less than one minute. BOB makes two types of trailers...I have the IBEX, which has a shock-absorber built in. The YAK is a similar trailer without the shock absorber.

Q: I have seen other cyclists with panniers...why not use those?
A: There is a bit of a debate amongst mountain bicycling tourists about what is the best way to haul your gear on a self-supported ride. Some people prefer panniers (bags carried on the bike, typically one bag on each side, and they can be put both front and rear.) I personally have never tried panniers, so I'm not going to add much to this debate. However, I can say that I really like the BOB trailer, and think that it is remarkable how little I notice it behind me when I am riding. People have successfully completed the full Divide ride with both panniers and BOB trailers, and typically are supporters of whichever they use.

Q: Yeah, but you didn't exactly have a full load for this ride.
A: Very true. The BOB trailer can handle a load of up to 70 lbs, and most people who self-support carry somewhere between 40 and 60 lbs of gear, food, and water. I was only carrying snacks and cold-weather gear for the three of us, adding up to only about 20 lbs. There is no question that a heavier load would have been more noticable on hills. However, I did do a 2-day training ride with Richie here in NH with a full load (camping gear for both of us) and it still was amazing how easy the bike rode with the full load.

BOB trailer at home loaded with 40+ lbs of camping gear

Q: Why did you bother with the BOB trailer, when you had SagMan carrying your gear?
A: (Squirming) was admitedly kinda silly to bring the BOB. It created logistic challenges, like how to get the BOB in the SAG vehicle with all of our other food and gear. Still, I'm glad I carried it. I have dreams of someday doing the whole divide ride self-supported, or perhaps doing other sections of it self-supported. I wanted to take the BOB on a 'test ride' this trip, to see what I thought of pulling it over a section of the actual Divide ride. It was certainly convenient for snacks and to have ready access to our cold-weather gear, but it was not strictly needed for this supported ride.

Q: So, how did the test ride go?
A: It went great...I now have confidence that I could pull the BOB on a self-supported trip. I noticed a slight drag on the uphills, but less than you would expect. It had absolutely no impact on my downhill riding...I went just as fast on the downhills, paved or dirt, as I would have without the trailer. The BOB took a fair amount of abuse on this trip, from being strapped atop the sag vehicle, to being left outside in the rain twice overnight, to bumping behind me on 335 miles along the dirt roads of the Great Divide route.

Q: Is there any other use for your trailer now that the ride is done?
A: Yes sir. Bike trailers are hot now as a type of 'green' travel. For instance, I can use it around home to go grocery shopping, saving a car trip. I think I will get a lot of use out of it.

Q: Where did you get the BOB?
A: I'm happy to give them a plug: I got it online at They helped me decide on some helpful accessories for my trailer (liner, kickstand, stretchy cargo net) and the shipping was fast. I think it is really cool that the guy who runs the site used a bike trailer to get my packaged box from his place to the shipping spot! I find the blog on this site to be interesting to read, with lots of imaginitive uses for bike trailers.