Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Great Divide Trail

Mountain Biking the Great Divide Trail

  Riding the Great Divide Trail    Colorado Wyoming Border  Evan  Mexican Border
Marshall Pass  ATV  Traffic Jam  Tom and Charlotte  Bike Flat  Steamboat
Great Divide Trail Map 

When I talked my husband into mountain biking the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail from Canada to Mexico, I knew the ride wouldn’t be easy.  It’s nearly 2500 miles and 200,000 feet of elevation gain according to Adventure Cycling, the association that mapped the route ( 

I have rheumatoid arthritis.  Before I decided to do this ride, there were mornings my hands hurt too much to use a toothbrush without great effort.  In spite of that, I was determined to do this ride. 

Why, you might ask.  Am I crazy?  Some of my friends questioned my sanity, too. Tia said, "Mary, do you hear yourself?  From one polar ice cap to another -- fleece to seersucker! Snap out of it!  Tell Jim you changed your mind!"

My inspiration was a documentary, Uphill All The Way, about five girls who were students at a “rehabilitative high school … for drug addicts, victims of sexual abuse, and juveniles that have had run-ins with the law.” They faced the challenge – and succeeded.   They weren’t experienced cyclists, and yet they did it “despite great emotional and physical barriers.” (For more information, go to

I figured if those girls could do it with all their emotional problems, I could do it with my 50-year-old body and arthritic hands. 

Most days were filled with glorious sunshine, breath-taking scenery, and interesting conversations with people we met along the way.  Some days were so windy I was ready to trade my Titus Racer-X mountain bike for a rusted out Ford Fairlane on blocks if it would get me out of the miserable wind.  Some days were rainy and muddy.  Once we got our support vehicle, a 24-foot motorhome, stuck so badly in the New Mexico mud it took a bulldozer to pull us out.  Only one day did I feel like this wretched biking experience could not end soon enough.  That was the last day when the temperature was 104 degrees near the Mexican border, and we got six flat tires in an hour and a half. 

Was it worth it?  Yes, indeed!

Follow our 59-day journey through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. 



 "Nothing is impossible to a willing heart."
John Heywood