Mountain scenery

Dr. Chris Schmidt, an anesthesiologist with Mercyhealth—Walworth County, recently completed the 2,500-mile Great American Mountain Bike Route. Schmidt’s journey took him from Montana near the Canadian border to New Mexico.

WALWORTH COUNTY —Dr. Chris Schmidt, an anesthesiologist at Mercyhealth Hospital—Walworth, recently biked the Great American Mountain Bike Route, which spans 2,500 miles from the Canadian border in Montana to the Mexican border in New Mexico.

The route crosses the Continental Divide over 40 times, has 150,000 feet of elevation gain/climbing, and is 97% off-road. He completed the route in 21 days, which means he averaged 120 miles per day.

“I like doing hard things and this seemed impossible, so why not go for it? I love riding bikes and am an adrenaline junkie,” said Dr. Schmidt. “My friend and I did a couple of bike packing adventures last summer to see if we really wanted to make the jump to do something this big and we were hooked. Beyond the bike ride part of it, for me there’s much to see, think, reflect and appreciate.”

The route was created by the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) more than 20 years ago. Historically, there’s been a race down the route in June every year since its inception. It has grown in popularity over the years. The race is 100 percent self-supported. The route usually starts in Banff, Canada, and runs through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, and ends at the border in Antelope Wells.

Due to COVID-19 and border closures, the race ran from border to border this year and was named the “Great Divide Classic” version of the Tour Divide this year with respect to the original ACA route and border changes. Many people tour (not race) the route each year and it provides tourism support to the small towns along the way.

More information can be found at https://bikepacking.com/routes/great-divide-mountain-bike-route-gdmbr. The route, among others, uses a service/website that utilizes a GPS device that registers location points every 5-10 minutes. Friends and family can be “dot watchers” 24/7. This site can be accessed at http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide21.

An aspiring filmmaker contacted Schmidt about doing a project on his adventure. He captured photos and videos that will be used to create a documentary.