The ProjectNow a large group of people including those above are working together to link up these routes into what has been called the “Eastern Divide Project.” The premise behind this route is that the East needs a long-distance route of the same caliber as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. While it’s called the “Divide Project” this loose-knit band of route curators believe the route will evolve into something entirely different than the GDMBR. For one thing, it will be longer. The consensus is a route that runs from Newfoundland to Key West, roughly following the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Canada to Georgia and then on to the Florida Divide. For all intents and purposes it will certainly have more singletrack than the GDMBR. It will be longer, as estimates put it in the 4,000-mile range. It will probably have more climbing with our steep eastern mountains. And it’s also not as far off as it may seem. There is already a Florida Divide Route. North of that you have Trans North Georgia, the AML_X or the Virginia Mountain Bike Route, then on to the Adirondacks and the Cross-Vermont Mountain Bike Route. Thousands of miles are already mapped with just a few regions that need some adventurers to make the connection. The “Eastern Divide Project” Facebook group was started in May 2015 and has 236 members, of which many have offered their personal knowledge of local “holes” in the route corridor. In October of 2015, two of these people, Brett Davidson and James Kearns, set off to bridge one of the largest dark zones of the whole corridor. They rode their bikes 800 miles from Ellijay, Georgia to South Florida, finding remote dirt roads and glorious singletrack, all with the semi-third-world funkiness of the rural South. The excitement around bikepacking in the east is palpable and the momentum is growing for more routes and races. Back in North Georgia, when we finished our 250-mile adventure cut short, I timidly asked the guys what they thought of the route. While it was a small group, I had a Colorado Trail vet, the creator of the Black Hills Expedition, and a hard-ass Scot who has finished the Highland Trail 550 and Cairngorms Loop. I was prepared for “it was nice, but it’s no Durango, Dakota, or Torridon.” Instead, what I got was unanimous approval of the route as a perfect combination of natural beauty, flowy trails, efficient forward momentum, local color, and a solid challenge.
If you are looking to help or keep up with all of the latest news, head over to the Eastern Divide Project website or their Facebook Page.
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