GDMBR Day 18 | Squirrel Creek to Colter Bay | 52 miles, 3,235 ft elevation | I See You Wyoming!

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Just when you think things can’t get any better, they do. We realize not every day is going to be a good day but every one that is, is a gift!

Some places are like a vortex. You could stay there forever. Like the Llama Ranch, Jeff and Jill’s and then Squirrel Creek. We had so much fun visiting with LeAnn and her dad, Sheldon, and then we ran into them on the trail. Bikepacker Ben from California let us know what to expect on Union Pass. All good!

We had another stellar day of riding. We crossed the Wyoming state line without fanfare and a small sign for such a big state. And that brings us to map three which will take us to and through The Great Basin and the end of Wyoming.

A heavily forested gravel road took us through the area where the 1988 Yellowstone forest fires took place. New growth abounds with wildflowers and trees even though several areas are still scorched.

After stopping at Flagg Ranch for lunch we hit Rockefeller Memorial Highway and entered Grand Teton National Park. The traffic was nuts though!

Drivers were courteous and we safely arrived to the biker hiker camping area in Colter Bay. There’s lots of bike tourers here as Adventure Cycling routes the Great Divide and the Transamerica Trail through here. Alex from the Ukraine, a westbounder on the TA Trail rolled in late to the campground with some stories to share.

Again, our bikes are holding up well (and surprisingly these old bodies of ours 😉). Our Salsa Cutthroats (named for the state fish of each state we pass through) has a map on the frame of the Great Divide Route. Yesterday it was Flagg Ranch. Cool!

Wishing our dear Rosie the happiest of birthdays today. She’s 3️⃣! ❤️🌹❤️

Tomorrow we tackle Togwotee Pass and we will reach our highest elevation yet at 9,659 feet. Woohoo! ⛰🚴🏼‍♀️🚴🏼‍♂️

GDMBR Day 16 | Lakeview to Island Park | 48 miles, 1,496 ft elevation | Well Hello Idaho

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Today we drop into Idaho for just a couple quick days and then on to Wyoming. The Idaho state line is actually at the top of Red Rock Pass. How cool is that?

Had a little snafu today. I was getting on my bike and commenting that I think there are cows at the top of the pass (saw fresh cow stuff) when I lost my balance and fell over with my loaded bike on top of me. I make it all the way up and over Lava Mountain and Fleecer with nary a fall and I fell over while getting on my bike. How embarrassing. Gratefully I didn’t fall in the cow 💩.

We had nice easy riding with spectacular views in the morning.

And then we got to Big Spring and Island Park. The community of Big Spring is experiencing somewhat of a water emergency as their drinking water has been contaminated. Ya can’t drink the water! So instead of filling water bottles we bought water and ate ice cream. First it was grizzly bears, then the wildfires and now water issues. I’m not going to ask what’s next. 😂

At Island Park we could drink the water but dang… the ATVs are out of control. These aren’t farmers or ranchers using them for work. Its mostly youngsters and a lot of them. I think I know why businesses can’t find employees. It’s nuts! We got out of Dodge as fast as possible.

We’re camped at Buffalo campground just outside of Island Park and on the hunt for some fried chicken today. Thank you all for following! It means a lot. Sending hugs and good vibes your way today. 😘

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GDMBR Day 15 | Deadwood Gulch to Lakeview | 65 miles, 2,336 ft elevation | Until Next Time Montana

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Today began most ordinarily and ended with the most exceptional people. Here’s how it all went down.

We woke up camped in Deadwood Gulch to fierce wind knocking on our tent. Our first thoughts were, “Oh please God, let that be a tail wind.” We planned a 70 mile ride to Upper Red Rocks Campground just past Lakeview.

Having packed up, we started peddling in a TAILWIND toward Lima to get breakfast and resupply. Tom said maybe we should keep going because with this wind we could be in Colorado by noon.

Right out of Lima we ran into northbounder Mark who shared some stories, gave us some helpful ride intel and shared a few laughs. I could have listened to him all day. Cyclists find all sorts of booty on tour… everything from food, money, ride mascots, etc. but Mark topped them all. He found, and still carries a sheathed saber. I kid you not. Below he’s pictured with his riding mascot, a rubber Flamingo.

Alas the tail wind was short lived and shifted to a full blown head wind. The roads were rough and the sun was was out without a spot of shade all day. We outran another afternoon thunderstorm and spotted another forest fire we later learned was burning about 15 miles away.

I “mustache” you a question, Tom. When in the heck is this wind going to stop?

Thirsty, a bit tired and ready to call it a day we stopped at an outfitter where we thought we might be able to get a cold drink before riding on six miles to Upper Red Rocks. We’d been fantasizing about how cold the water might be. They were closed.

A little dejected, we rode ahead through the community of Lakeview, and noticed a woman and a man carrying an empty growler walking down the gravel road. As you know, Tom and I love our beer, cold beer especially and could only imagine what it might taste like after a windy, dry, dusty day of riding.

Tom jokingly said, “Don’t be twirling that around in front of a couple of thirsty, tired riders. He replied, “Pull over by that camper and we’ll fix you right up.”

I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced such a well timed bit of trail magic but I know this family sure threw out the red carpet for us. Jeff and Jill, both scientists, live here in Lakeview with their daughters. Jill’s brother Andrew and his wife Jen and their two kids travelled from Vermont, with camper and mountain bikes in tow. Jill and Andrew’s mom, Sandy was in from New York. We chatted all evening. They fed us, kept our red solo cups filled and let us throw up our tent in their back yard. Tom and I kept shaking our heads at the welcoming bunch and how grateful we were to have met them.

We didn’t take many pics today. It was a longish ride and with nothing extraordinary, except maybe Lima Dam. 😉 And we were certainly too rapped up in the convos to take pics. Unless one is snapping pics, without Internet or cell, ya just don’t pick up your phone.

To give you some perspective on riding verses racing the Great Divide, we just finished our 15th day of riding and finished Montana. Jay Petevary, winner of this year’s race, finished 2,500 miles and won the race in the same amount of time. I can’t imagine the athleticism, mind set and maybe a little bit of luck that involves. Hats off to JP.

Tomorrow we leave Montana and say hello to Idaho. Here‘s what I’ve come to learn and love about Montana: I’ve never seen more American flags flying, friendly doggos, tasted thirst quenching craft beers, encountered helpful folks, especially those riding ATVs. It’s a land of vast spaces, mountain vistas, and sweet mountain cabins tucked away. Montanans love their land. And by the way, did you know one can experience snow in any month of the year and that there’s likely more cows than people in Montana? That’s according to Mike at the Silver Saddle in Basin so don’t quote me.

Click on the image below to view the video.

We have crossed Montana latitudinally (in 2018) and longitudinally on bikes during the last two weeks. It’s a pretty magical place. So long Montana. It’s not “goodbye”, it’s until next time.

GDMBR Day 14 | Grant to Deadwood Gulch | 56 miles, 2,999 ft elevation | Holy Cow It’s Windy!

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Today was all about the cows. And the wind. I think that Montana is slowly introducing us to Wyoming, the state known for its strong enduring winds.

We also saw a badger and a nice sized herd of big horn sheep. They blend in so well with the landscape they are hardly noticeable. And oh yea I accidentally ran over a small snake. Didn’t mean to. Just happened.

Both of us are salivating in our tent right now for a LaCroix. We have been drinking lots of water but it’s just not quenching our thirst. It wasn’t super hot today but the route over Medicine Lodge Divide was all day sun and sun wind.

Click on the image below to view the video.

Looking forward to hitting Lima tomorrow in about 15 miles for some carb loading – like carbonation. We need some COLD bubbly water.

Had pepperonis and string cheese on tortillas for din din with assorted other snacks. Not missing the stove. Not one bit.

GDMBR Day 12 | Highland Trailhead to Wise River | 46 miles, 3,560 ft elevation | Unforgettable Fleecer Ridge

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From Tom:

The day started not with my phone alarm but the from the coyote’s yipping and the cows mooing around our tent. We packed up as usual and started our day with a few unexpected steep climbs but then a wonderful descent down the mountain we climbed last night.

We knew all about the huge challenge ahead of us with the 10 mile climb up Fleecer Ridge, and the bigger challenge of descending the other side. This part of our map offers an alternate route to bypass Fleecer, but that is not the way we roll.

The climb was not too bad for the first 9 miles. We also got to see Butch on his ATV twice during our climb. He is local to Butte and comes RV’ing with his family. He was out for a 17 mile drive this morning in the mountains. He warned us what was at the top of Fleecer, and said don’t even try to ride down the other side, it was at least a 30% grade down and totally washed out. So we made it to the top after a “hike-a-bike” up the chunky, too steep last .25 mile. Time for the fun (not). With both hands on the brakes, we started the descent. It reminded me of wrestling a steer down a mountainside. I was never so happy to get to the bottom. The rest of the decent in Wise River was much deserved.

As we rolled over the actual Wise River, we stopped to chat with a fly fisherman who told us about the forest fire six miles away. The town was on alert for possible evacuation. It was definitely a smoky day for us but extra smoky in Wise River.

We stopped at H & J Saloon for pizza (Butch’s recommendation and finally connected to WiFi to open up our forest fire app (thanks Dan). We were going 13 more miles south which seemed safe from the fires.

Prayers go out those up on the mountain fighting this fire to keep it out of town. Thirteen miles later we found our campground named 4th of July Campground. (Since we started our ride July 4). We found the perfect camp spot along Wise River, a perfect place to take a dip and get cleaned up from a very trying day 😁👍

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GDMBR Day 10 | Helena to Basin | 39 miles, 5,069 ft elevation | So That’s Lava Mountain

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Ya know how Dorothy says she’s not in Kansas anymore? Well today it became REALLY apparent that we’re no longer riding the flat Monon rail trail in Indy. What a great day of riding and at our highest elevation yet! We didn’t go long but we went high.

We were a little apprehensive about Lava Mountain based on other rider’s experiences. Even our grandson Archie who loves volcanos said, “I don’t think Lava Mountain is a good idea” when we checked in last night. But it’s on the route…so there’s that.

We rolled out of Helena and stopped at a gas station for our usual (food and bio break) and within just a couple miles we were already into our first climb, just an easy six.

And for the first time we got a little rain but it was nice as it cooled the temps off and settled the dusty roads a bit.

The 12 mile climb up Lava started easy enough but the last few miles were ratchet with cascades of boulders, deep erosion, downed trees and extremely steep inclines. There was quite a bit of hike-a-bike at the top.

The descent was the same at the top – lots of hike-a-bike but before we knew it, we were bombing down a road that ran adjacent to Cataract Creek – gorgeous.

The route took us right into Basin where Mike served us some dinner and bevvies at the Silver Saddle. #tacotuesday.

It seems like we are getting in our groove now as far as packing up, finding our way and resupplying when necessary. Hoping for a little more mileage tomorrow as there aren’t any ginormous climbs.

No animal sitings today – not even deer flies. 🤙🏻

Sleeping in the Basin Community Center tonight on the carpeted stage. It’s been here since 1908 and costs cyclists just $5 a piece to sleep here. There’s electricity, cell service, water and a bathroom. What we else would ya need? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Heading to and through Butte tomorrow. Camping destination unknown.

Click on the image below to view the video.

GDMBR Day 7 | Seeley Lake to Lincoln | 69 miles, 4,265 ft elevation | Surprises Around Every Corner

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Although there were a couple “longish”, straight, dusty, gravelly roads there were many twisty turns that presented some surprises today.

We woke up to a chilly 45 degrees at Seeley Lake. After quickly donning puffies, getting food out of the bear box and packing up we peddled down to the gas station for coffee and breakfast sammies. Delicious!

Many of you have seen news of the freak and tragic event that happened in Ovando last week where 65 year old retired nurse and cycling champion Leah Lokan was killed by a grizzly bear while camping. Our route took us right through Ovando today and we wanted to stop to support the community. It might seem like a odd thing to do but riders on the Great Divide and the communities that support us are like family so it seemed like the right thing to do.

After putting away a second breakfast of pancakes and bacon at the iconic Stray Bullet we were off to tackle Huckleberry Pass and a couple of unexpected surprises.

As mentioned before we cyclists are a bit like family. Before we ventured out on our ride I followed several riders already on the route. Most I never expected to meet but today, as we were climbing up the rocky road to the pass, here comes Marion and Fred! They are northbounders who started in Antelope Wells which means they are almost done. They are speedy riders and putting in some high miles most every day so I’m glad the route was rocky at that point otherwise they may have whizzed by on their decent. They are lovely people who post about every other day on Instagram. Their advice for us to was to slow down because the ride goes much too quickly. Not sure if I could go any slower than I already was riding up that pass. 😂

It’s hot, dry and most of the roads we cycle on are gravel so when cars and ATVs go by they throw up a lot of dust. Here’s our solution to getting dusted.

Once up and over the pass we headed to Lincoln, Montana where we planned on tenting in the city park. Turning the corner to head in to town we were surprised to find… wait for it…

The Lincoln Bike Rally! I mean there were hundreds of motorcycles everywhere! We were pretty hot, hungry and tired and anxious about finding quick food and bevvies and a place to bed down down for the night. Certainly all of the motels in the small town would be occupied and it seemed like many of the events were held at the city park. What to do?

We asked our waitress at the Steak House if she had any ideas besides the city park and she suggested The Wheel Inn down the road.

Sure enough the owner said we could throw our tent up with the others in bar/restaurant’s back yard. Owner Doug and wife Laurie have four grown children and eleven grandchildren and have made Lincoln their home for many years. Laurie has worked with local government to get Lincoln to support the many Great Divide cyclists who ride through as well as many Continental Divide hikers. I mean these are goooood people who like to give back.

Doug let us know that the event organizers, The Tenacious Dames, were headed back his way for the event’s wet tee shirt contest and we would get to see who won “Best Bike” at the 2021 Rally in the Valley. Doug actually got to be on the panel of voters! (For the motorcycles not the wet tee shirt contest.)

Soon we found ourselves in the midst of more leather, motorcycles and unique tattoos than we’ve ever seen and it was a blast to see. We didn’t take part in any contests mind you, but enjoyed spending the evening with folks we might otherwise never met.

Tomorrow we tackle our highest pass yet and then on to the Llama Ranch miles north of Helena. Thanks for following our ride!

Me trying to finish this post this morning. 😜

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GDMBR Day 6 | Holland Lake to Seeley Lake | 34 miles, 2,940 ft elevation | How Do You Eat an Elephant?

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Just take one bite at a time. This advice comes from one of my fave books about the Great Divide. Written by Grace Ragland, Divide by One provided not only inspiration but lots of laughs and some ride intel. I resonate with this particular quote because today I was anxious about the single track and its preceding climb. Thanks for the advice, Grace… I chewed both up, just one bite (mile) at a time. And I most enjoyed it with the love of my life.

There was little hiccup this morning when packing up. We were all ready to go and I was getting ready to load the course for the day and I couldn’t find my Garmin. Crap! Was it lost? Was it in the tent that was already packed up? 🤷🏼‍♀️ Tom remembered I slept in my puffy the night before. Sure enough… it was there in my coat pocket. #allgood

And then there was the other day when I thought I left my riding glasses at the last rest stop and I was wearing them. 🙄 Thank goodness for Tom’s patience and Grace’s sense of humor. For sure she’d say something to make light of it.

Early during the ride today an elk bounded across our path. Sorry no pic but believe me, she was grand.

Because the brush was so thick today, we’re in bear country and we were on a bit of single track in a fairly remote area we are practically hoarse from naming our states and capitals, playing rhyming games, reviewing multiplication tables, and seeing who could name the most Indiana breweries (so glad Dan and Christie aren’t playing ‘cause they would surely win) all ALOUD and loudly. Does anyone know any military jodies they would like to share? #lemmeknow #scarethebearsaway

Our Spokane amigos consisted of five friendly riders that happened to be parked at the RV camp a couple nights ago. They were riding the same route as us but are exiting via the Missoula Spur.

We were leapfrogging all day, applauding for each other when we hit a summit. Then came the navigation snafu. The Garmin said left and the paper map said straight. What to do?

Tom and I opted for the Garmin directions and went down into the abyss and unknown to us, so did dos amigos. It was trail ratchet most of the way. We had to get off bikes frequently to navigate the steep ditches and rocks. #notfun But the road spit us out after about five miles and soon we saw our buds again. We’ll miss them and wish them well. Nice peeps.

When we got to Big Larch campground it was bike maintenance, a swim and dinner. Is there such a thing as a routine when riding the Great Divide?

Tomorrow we head to Ovando for some pancakes and resupply. Then perhaps on to Lincoln. We’ll see how we feel. We sure appreciate all the follows, comments and prayers. We’re having a lot of fun!

GDMBR Day 5 | Swan Lake to Holland Lake | 55 miles, 3,780 ft elevation | Roly Poly

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It was a roly poly type of riding day with frequent ups and downs with all the riding on forest roads. Well there was that one part of grassy single track and all that makes for a slower day than on pavement. We only saw two cars all day.

But we did meet this sweet couple from Denver who is riding a small section of the Divide in western Montana. They are leaving the trail to close on their first house in Denver. Congrats to Andrew and Anna!

Although it was a roly poly type of day it ended up with us finding the sweetest campsite yet atop a hill overlooking beautiful Holland Lake.

Our friend Finn tipped us off about Holland Lake Lodge. We popped in and the best news of the day was was they had Chicago style popcorn. It was like a oasis in the middle of nowhere. Christian filled our water bottles and then we Adhirondacked it with a couple of bevvies overlooking the Mission Mountain range. Pictures do NOT do it justice. Well not our pics anyway.

Shorter day tomorrow due to shelter availability. Heading to Seeley Lake.

Click on the image below to view the video.

GDMBR Day 4 | Columbia Falls to Swan Lake| 57 miles, 2,989 ft elevation | Tom Gets Chicked

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Any. Other. Day. Tom rides ahead of me and patiently waits until I catch up. He never complains. Today I had the chance to wait on him! Not sure if it was the bag of Sour Patch Kids or that we had overcast skies during our climb, but I actually cycled up front today on our climb.

There were scattered showers today and our Montana farmers need rain badly. Today we cycled through beautiful bucolic fields before hitting the high ground.

We are camping at Swan Lake tonight and didn’t anticipate any services but found a wonderful RV Park with a local tavern less than. 200 feet away. It was taco Wednesday tonight so you know… we did that. And a pork chop sammie.

Heading to Holland Lake tomorrow. Fingers crossed. 🤞🏻

Click on the image below to view the video.

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