The Longest Off-Pavement Bike Route in the World
By Austin Blandford
Among lovers of the great outdoors, New Mexico is renowned for its rugged and breathtaking terrain. This reputation is mainly due to the fact that the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains cuts through much of the state, creating an ideal environment for outdoor activities—mountain biking being one of the most popular.
This much is obvious. But did you know that our state is home to part of the largest off-pavement bike route in the world? Mac McCoy is a field editor at the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bicycle travel in the United States. The ACA has created such heavily traveled on-road bike routes as the TransAmerica Trail, which travels from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.
McCoy conceived The Great Divide Route in the mid ’90s. He visualized a bike route across four states using existing off-road bike paths. After three years of mapping, the path was completed in 1998. Starting near the Canadian border and going through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, the trail consists almost entirely of dirt roads and climbs countless gorgeous mountain passes.
The trail is the premiere off-road route from the ACA. You can order maps from the association and do it on your own, or opt for a guided tour. A wide variety of tours can be organized through the ACA's website, www.adventurecycling.org, or by calling their toll-free number, (800) 755-2453.
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