Ashburn Magazine

Ashburn couple bikes from Mexican border to Canadian border

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route runs roughly 2,750 miles from the Mexico border to Banff, Alberta, in Canada. Along the way, bikers pass through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Riders climb a total of 150,000 feet of hills and mountains over the course of the trail. It would be daunting for a person of any age, but don’t tell that to Shauna and John Dickson of Ashburn’s Potomac Farms neighborhood.

A couple of fit-as-a-fiddle retirees, they rode 2,500 miles of the route from May to July 2021 in an epic journey that included 53 days of riding (plus eight days off), averaging 50 miles a day with 22 nights in a tent, 19 nights in a hotel and 10 nights in other places, like hostels, churches and once even a shipping container. They couldn’t go farther than the Canadian border due to pandemic restrictions.

“We had dozens of positive encounters with strangers on this trip – even offers of a bottle of water or words of encouragement – that convinced us that people are kind and good,” John Dickson said. “Sure, there are a few bad apples around, but 99% of the folks you meet are good people.”

Shauna, 67, a retired schoolteacher, and John, 66, a former construction engineer, have made bike riding a major part of their lives – on trips and around Ashburn. The duo shared some of their favorite memories from the cross-country trip with our partner publication, Ashburn Magazine. Click here to read all about their adventures — including coming across a mama bear with her cub.