The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is widely known as the best bikepacking route in the United States, and possibly the world. It is considered one of the birthplaces of modern day bikepacking and spans the Continental Divide from north to south. Starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and finishing at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
Best known for the annual self-supported Tour Divide race, the route was first developed and mapped in 1997 by the Adventure Cycling Association, and is approximately 4,339km long with a mind-boggling 45,618 meters of ascent. The current fastest known time (FKT) stands at 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes set in 2016 by the late Mike Hall, who died in 2017 when struck from behind while racing in Australia.
EF Education-EasyPost rider and ultra-endurance rider Lachlan Morton is now attempting to break the Great Divide FKT in his latest riding challenge. However, Lachlan Morton is no stranger to these monster riding epics. In 2021, in his Alt Tour he rode the entire route of that year's Tour de France, which included all the transfers entirely unsupported, and he still beat the peloton to Paris by five days.
The Australian will ride from Canada to the Mexican border completely unsupported, buying and cooking his food, and fixing his mechanicals. He will also be followed by a camera crew who will document his mammoth journey. Speaking on the eve of his departure, Morton was aiming to prioritize more sleep, with a self-imposed 12 hours of sleep every 48 hours saying, "I want to do this on a pretty good amount of sleep every night for a few reasons. Mainly, I want to enjoy the riding, and it becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy what you are doing when you are running on minimal sleep, for me anyway, because you are not as present and aware. I don’t want to enter that space."
"Also just to be safe, I think that your decision-making and general awareness are pretty diminished if you are running on minimal sleep. I have never ridden this route before. It is a big undertaking, and to try and do all of that while pushing on minimal sleep, I think would be kind of reckless for me."
"The Great Divide Mountain Bike route is probably the most well-known off-road bikepacking route in the world, so once I started getting into bikepacking, it was straight on the bucket list of routes that I wanted to do. It’s not about whether a record will get broken. It’s about seeing how fast I can do it in a way that is mentally and physically sustainable."
“I have been trying to do it for the last few years and it has just never worked out, but there is a little window in the calendar this year that I can go and ride it. It is super long with lots of remote areas or stretches, and it's going to be just a huge challenge, but I think it will be a pretty enjoyable one.
“It is a little bit scary. Anytime you take on something like this, it is good to have a healthy respect or fear for it because there are a lot of things that could go wrong and probably will go wrong."
Riding a Cannondale Scalpel HT, Morton started on 29th August setting out from Banff, Alberta at 9am, and said before leaving, "I'm excited. It's pretty daunting and I'm pretty nervous, but I think if you weren't, it would be silly. I'm keen to get cracking." With over 4,000km ahead of him, on some of the wildest and remotest terrain North America has to offer you couldn't blame him for being nervous.
His Day One plan was to ride to Fernie, in British Columbia, around 250km into the Great Divide route, with a first rest stop planned there. Having encountered several road closures due to forest fires, he arrived in Fernie around 7:30pm, having rested and refueled he set off again at 2am. Lachlan is currently 344.45km into the route, which is just 8.3 percent of the entire Great Divide, but already ahead of the FKT.
You can follow his progress via live tracking at Efprocycling.com and is raising money for Adventure For All, an organization that empowers individuals with Down syndrome, autism and other intellectual and developmental exceptionalities through outdoor adventures.