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

Riding Stats


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!

Riding Stats


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

Riding Stats


From Tom:

The day started not with my phone alarm but 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 to 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 to 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 😁👍

Click on the image below to view the video.

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

Riding Stats


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

Riding Stats


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. 😜

Click on the image below to view the video.

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

Riding Stats


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

Riding Stats


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

Riding Stats


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.

GDMBR Day 3 | Red Meadow Lake to Columbia Falls | 43 miles, 1,526 ft elevation | It’s All Berries and No Bearies

Riding Stats


This morning’s ride provided one of the most fun gravel riding experiences yet on the descent from Red Meadow Lake. Downhill, twisty turny roads with a few obstacles to avoid every now and then. Both of us were out of our seats all the way down keeping our feet at 9 and 3. (thanks to Sally and Liv). And again, the scenery did not disappoint.

The highlight of the day, however was meeting Deb and Marilyn who were scouting huckleberry patches. They picked and rinsed a healthy portion for us to eat a trail breakfast and even gave us quick huckleberry picking lesson. I could have stayed there all morning. Searching for the berries is addicting although more go in my mouth than in the bucket.

The riding was easy and short today. We stopped back in Whitefish for a pizza for lunch. It might be the first time I’ve eaten more than Tom. He does have one more piece stashed for tomorrow. Hummm I’m sure he’ll pull it out before noon. He’s known for stashing leftovers.

Many friends and family ask about the bears. Yep they live in the woods especially around these parts. Both of us carry bear spray right in the cockpit and we make a LOT of noise on the trail. I think you heard evidence of that yesterday with the mountain melody. Food is stored safely in bear boxes and we don’t cook at the campsite.

Tonight’s campsite is in an RV park…Not quite the view that last night’s had but we do have clean clothes and full bellies from town food. And that works nicely for us.

Aiming for Swan Lake tomorrow. We’ll see what we get!

Click on the image below to view the video.

#GDMBR Day 2 | Eureka to Red Meadow Lake | 61 miles, 5,899 ft elevation | Now We Know We’re Riding the Great Divide

Riding Stats


Today we finally feel like we are riding the Great Divide. The scenery, the elevation and of course, we are beginning to give our legs something to think about.😉

The day started a little helter skelter when we heard the sprinkler system going off early in the city park before they were scheduled to go off. We found out from Kai his sprinklers started at 3am. He immediately evacuated to a dry spot.

We were on our way quickly enough, however and chose Red Meadow Lake as our destination for the day.

There’s plenty of water to filter up here so we didn’t have to carry so much. Our Sawyer water filter is super easy to use, inexpensive, and lightweight. And oh did that cold water quench our thirst.

Chunky roads on Whitefish Divide made for a little tougher going, definitely on the inclines but also on the descent as there was so much shaking. Gotta tell you though, it was a lot of fun bombing down those hills when it wasn’t chunky rock.

And who doesn’t like to have a little fun in the middle of a climb. #eternalsoundofmusicfan #debonthemic

Then at the end of the day, the route challenged us with a 15 mile climb to Red Meadow Pass. Let’s put it this way, I’m not fast enough to out cycle the horseflies, mosquitoes and bees. It was pretty uncomfortable the last two miles where it was steepest but when we turned the corner, and saw spectacular Red Meadow Lake we knew the order of business would be to filter more water, jump in the lake to bathe, eat dinner and stow food in the bear box.

We pretty much dove into our tent as quickly as possible, murdered the mosquitoes that followed us in and called it a night. Stellar stargazing and crisp mountain air made for a lovely tent fly free evening.

Tomorrow we head back down toward Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

Happy birthday to our sweet Anne! 💐🥳❤️

Click on the image below to view the video.

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