Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AZT 2010 Photographs

It is now just over a month since we returned from the US. I have been trying to get around to producing a short write up of our experiences but have been distracted doing entertaining things like riding in the welsh rain. I will write something soon. In the meantime, here is a link to some of the photos Nerys took during the trip:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

August 2010 : Back to North America

Some 2 years after travelling to North America to do the GDR I am about to return to do some more biking. The trip is the brain child of Scott Felter who met/stalked us on the GDR in 2008. The plan is to tackle 2 long distance bike trails over a period of about 6 weeks.
The first is the Kokopelli trail that extends some 150 miles between Fruita in Colorado to the town of Moab in Utah:

Kokopelli trailmap

Kokopelli trail near Fruita CO

The second is the Arizona Trail (AZT) which extends some 800 miles south from Arizona's northern border with Utah to its southern border with Mexico:

AZT Trailmap

AZT biking

The riders on this occasion will be Scott, Nerys and myself. There is a possibility that we will be joined on the AZT in Flagstaff by Cass Gilbert from Bristol who has spent the last 12 months living it up on a bike between Alaska and Guatemala in South America. In addition, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Harriet (of GDR 2008 fame/notoriety) might also be making an appearance. Unfortunately, Hywel's involvement on this occasion will be limited to driving bikes and kit to Heathrow airport.

We are going to be travelling fast and light with very different setups to the GDR. There will not be a pannier or trailer in sight as we are all equipped with bike bags designed and produced in Scott's living room/sweatshop in Banff. The kit allows the bikes to better tackle rougher terrain, although there is something of a penalty to pay in terms of overall carrying capacity.

Scott's setup

I think this particular endeavour is going to be a little tougher than the GDR. The AZT in particular will involve rough singletrack terrain, long sections of 'hike a bike', limited water availability and the small task of crossing the Grand Canyon. As on the GDR, we will be equipped with a SPOT device which will allow our progress to be monitored online.

Nerys and I should be flying in to Grand Junction Colorado at the end of August. Scott will be flying to the same location from Canada. The riding starts on Tuesday 31st August.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well done the three of you!
Sheila and I are very proud of you and so glad that we could help. It seems like only yesterday we waved you off round that first bend at the trailhead in Banff (after you'd found the right one)! It's alright for you, Cennydd and Hywel; at least you can hang up your bikes and drive where you need to go. Poor Chris still has to saddle up if he wants to get anywhere!
Straight off the tops of your heads: if you wrote a book about the trip, what would you call it?
A lot of our workmates here followed the trip with great interest, envy and awe.
Well done again.
P.S. Where to next? Cairo to Capetown??

Last GDR post..

I have now been back in the UK for about 5 days. The wind and rain lashing against my window as I type this is a grim reminder that I am back in Wales, and am unlikely to see the sun until sometime next July. Oh joy.

2722 miles travelled (on route)
61 riding days
12 rest Days
Total riding time of 237 hours
Average speed of 11.5mph
Punctures: Cennydd 0, Hywel 1, Chris - quite a few!
Several gallons of chocolate milk
Photos/Video taken by Hywel - 1047. Selection available here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/crichards1976/GreatDivideRide200802#


There were a lot of people who helped make our GDR attempt an enjoyable and successful one. Particular thanks goes out to the following:
Sheila & Martin Flint
Mark Lynn
James Foulger
Pat and Nancy Galyan
Maria and Robert at South Fork Ranger Station
Mike, Bobbi and Emily - http://www.hwl.net/
David & his wife at Como - http://www.comodepot.net/
Johnny, Gigi, Paul & Barbara from Steamboat Springs
Kim Barz at Lugers Campground
Aaron at Salida Mountain Sports - http://www.salidamountainsports.com/
Scot Banks at Absolute Bikes, Salida - http://www.absolutebikes.com/
Geoff in Abiquiu
Bryan McDonald - Out N' Back Trails Unlimited, shuttle service based in Silver City (575) 590-7795


1. Schwalbe Marathon XR tyres. Hywel and I both used them with Stans latex solution and had just one puncture between us over a combined distance of about 6000 miles.
2. Rohloff internal gears. Both Hywel and I used them with no problems at all. The only drivechain maintenance we did on the whole trip was to change our chains once, and occasionally clean and oil them.
3. Panniers. At the risk of upsetting both Kate and Andy, having seen Bobs and Extrawheel trailers in action, I am convinced that panniers are the best kit carrying option for the GDR. Trailers proved themselves to be cumbersome on technical sections and prone to mechanicals.
4. Wool clothing. Useable across a wide temperature range, wools' main advantage is that it remains relatively odour free after many days of use. Garments by Icebreaker, Howies, Smartwool and Ground Effect featured heavily on the trip.
5. GPS unit with a trackback function. I used a Garmin eTrex Vista HCX with the TOPO US 2008 map package. Download the track points gathered by Paula & Scott on their 2004 trip at http://www.topofusion.com/divide/ (great site) and simply follow the yellow brick road all the way from one end of the USA to the other. Whilst the GPS is no substitute for the ACA maps, it does provide welcome reassurance that you are on route and heading in the right direction.
6. SPOT tracker device. Innovative product that allows those you leave at home to receive precise updates as to your whereabouts via text message and Google maps, and also allows you to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency no matter where you are. I think I paid about £150 for the unit in the UK. The unit has worldwide coverage. See http://www.findmespot.eu/en/ .
7. The warmest sleeping bag you can reasonably carry. I started the trip with a Marmot Atom which was woefully inadequate for the nighttime temperatures we were experiencing. Even with a thermarest, silk liner and my wearing thermals and a down jacket, I was being kept awake by the cold. As soon as I was able to I purchased a Marmot Hydrogen.
8. Small laptop. We didn't have a laptop with us but wished that we had. Internet cafes were few and far between. Libraries usually had internet access, but the opening times were erratic, the hardware often old, the connection speeds slow and the usage time limited. In contrast, almost every motel provided some form of Wi-fi facility for those guests with laptops. Something like the ASUS Eee would have been ideal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASUS_Eee_PC .
9. US mobile phone. I was a little surprised to discover that mobile coverage for UK networks in the US section of the trip proved to be almost non existent. As an Orange customer I did not receive any coverage at all after crossing the US/Canada border until I reached Colorado. Those with O2 products faired slightly better, but still the service was extremely poor. Anyone who intends to remain in touch by phone should consider purchasing a US mobile for the purpose on their arrival.
That's it from me. I would encourage anyone contemplating this trip to have a go. It is not particularly difficult, the scenary is spectacular, and the characters you will undoubtedly meet along the way will entertain you no end. If anything, returning home is proving to be the hardest part!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Various recent pics and video ....

Leaving Silver City for the border on 7th October

Final desert stealth camp at a disused ranching station

Strong crosswinds at our umpteenth and last continental divide crossing

Scott's desert taxis

The border. Chris was sheltering under a tree at this point.

General stupidity

Washboard simulator

Geoff's tow at Abiquiu

The three monkeys

Sneaking a ride

Red sky at night... get orf me land!

Silver City & mission accomplished

We crossed the border into Mexico this afternoon. After some celebratory cokes at the Antelope Wells border control offices we were collected by a pre-arranged shuttle and whisked back to Silver City. It was weird being sat in a vehicle after riding for so long. The riding is now over. I'm a little gutted about this. I have a tonne of things to write about and various pictures to post but will do so in a later entry.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

GRANTS, New Mexico

Just thought I would post this quickly to let you know that we are now in Grants, NM. I have been a little slack on the posting front and am feeling a little bad about it....sorry. We are now about 7 riding days and some 3-400 miles from our border crossing destination. The weather is fine and hot and we are in good spirits. New Mexico landscape and topography is very much like that depicted in road runner cartoons.
I will post something more substantial along with some photos when we reach El Paso.
Everything is still looking good. Your GPS thing is amazing! It's good to see where you are. Get in touch about parcels etc? Talk soon.