Tom and I wrapped up our southbound border to border Great Divide ride just a little over a week ago and have some final thoughts we’d like to share, some numbers and finally one last video. Thanks so much to family, friends, neighbors and followers for the love and encouragement along the way. It means the world!
Tom and Deb
I am sitting here in my kitchen thinking about this past couple months of riding the Great Divide and reviewing my notes from our Northern Tier from three years ago. It all kind of seems like a dream, an experience of a lifetime and hard to put into words. Here’s a list of my thoughts:
- NT – It took about two weeks to peel away the layers of a lifetime of work and not think about work, emails, projects, etc.
- GD – No layers to peel this time around. I hit the ground riding with little sense of thinking about work.
- NT – Going to bed at night thinking about the upcoming weather, wind direction and knowing it is totally out of our control
- GD – Same sort of feelings with this ride. Added thoughts of grizzlies as we rode through grizzly habitation for the first few weeks. Making noise during the rides was essential to our daily riding as was singing jodies, making up songs, reviewing states capitals as we rode through huckleberry patches on single track
- NT – Looking at the maps and planning out our next weeks of riding with a goal of averaging 70 miles a day.
- GD – same at daily looking at the maps and planning our next days of riding. This time shorter mileage and checking out our climbs/mountain passes for each day’s ride
- NT – Looking at the next day’s ride and planning out our second breakfast about 20 miles down the road
- GD – Much the same here, but much less opportunities for second breakfast with the remoteness of our rides. More looking for water sources to filter for our day’s rides
- NT – Walking into the saloon in our spandex and every cowboy’s head turned at the same time to give us the eye as we walked through the front door
- GD – Total different bikepacking set up for bikes and attire. More relaxed attire when it comes to our bikepacking as we walked into breweries when we arrived to larger towns
- NT – Pulling out of our campground the third day and going the wrong way, about 8 miles the wrong direction down a big descent. Turning around and now going back up in the right direction. Learning to never start a ride without turning on my Garmin and finding the course first
- GD – No issues of getting lost this time around. We both had Garmins and much more experience using them 😊
- NT – Getting our morning camping routine down: 1)Tom pack up the sleeping bags, thermarests, tent, 2)Deb fire up the stove and cook up coffee, and oatmeal with craisins and walnuts, 3) 100 pushups and 4 minute plank, 4) Prayers of gratitude for yesterday’s ride and prayers for today’s ride.
- GD – Same routine, but no stove/pushups/planks this trip. Get packed, do our prayers and get on the road.
- NT – Eating Paydays and peanut M&Ms which are not on the post riding diet
- GD – This trip was more cliff bars, protein bars, but also Twizzlers, and Sour Patch Kids
- NT – My 15 mile chats with God, praying for so, so many things that were absolutely answered
- GD – Always wanted/needed my 15 mile chats with God which has continued daily since our NT three years ago. Can’t start my day without them.
- NT – Waking up each morning for the first few weeks with a little uneasiness of riding on the busy roads with little shoulder with semis/logging trucks. By the end of the ride, having no fear, and 100% faith that God is sheltering us from drivers, mechanical issues, and providing us with mental/physical strength to finish each day.
- GD – The good news with this ride was the lack of traffic. Some days we would ride with only seeing maybe one car. We would see more side by sides/ATVs than cars this trip
- NT – Applying layers and layers of sunscreen
- GD – Got to wear the sun sleeves
- NT – Getting the blog done at the end of each day (hoping we had phone connection)
- GD – Same with daily blogs, but more remote ride and less cell service. Deb did a great job getting them ready daily so she could upload once we had cell service
- NT – The comfort of getting into the tent while camping and being so comfortable and the wonderful satisfaction of a good day of riding.
- GD – The tent was our comfort quarters at the end of a successful day of riding.
- NT – Making the decision to get Deb a front rack and having her front bags shipped to us in West Glacier. Also getting her new touring tires: A no brainer after the fact.
- GD – Our bikes were perfectly setup from day one. Of course we have had over two years of practice rides to prepare.
- NT – Looking back at our daily videos and seeing our happy, happy faces totally enjoying our journey
- GD – Super happy faces/smiles 😊
- NT – Doing a Fred Flintstone down the final short hill to our finish line, brakes fully engaged, but having to stop myself with my shoes. Perfect timing for my brake pads to expire with over 5000 miles on brake pads and tires
- GD – only one Fred Flintstone moment getting ready for a large descent over Gore Pass. I am a much more knowledgeable bike mechanic this time around and know how to adjust my brakes
- NT – The greatest memory will be all the wonderful, kind people we met along the way!!!!
- GD – Don’t watch the media telling us how screwed up things are. Meeting the wonderful people and knowing how great things are in our country.
- NT – It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 12 miles an hour with my true love.
- GD – It was an experience of a lifetime seeing God’s creation at 8 miles an hour (with all the climbs/gravel roads) with my true love.
Transitioning home this time as opposed to when we returned from our coast-to-coast Northern Tier ride has been easier since I knew what to expect. 😊
Extended bike tours have a way of changing a person (if they are open to change) and some of the changes that came naturally during NT stayed with me so again, that transition home went more smoothly. For example, I learned to be more resourceful, waste less, live more simply, presume the best in people and not to sweat the small stuff. Time spent riding the Great Divide provided nothing new in these areas and instead confirmed what I’d learned riding NT. However, I’m still overwhelmed when I enter my closet and see more than five shirts from which to choose. It’s just too much to decide what to wear. #firstworldprobs
What I am most surprised about and learned about myself was that I could do hard things that I was super anxious about trying, which on this ride, was getting up and over all of the elevation. I mean, I’m an awful climber. But I did it! The fact that right out of the gate we averaged over 50 miles a day on ratchet roads and over 3,000 feet of climbing everyday was a huge surprise to me. And I never got sore. And there was never a day I wanted to quit and go home. And we only took two official rest days. And I’m 62 years old. That gives me so much confidence in other areas. What the heck? What else might I choose to do?
Couple other random thoughts:
- Wish I would I have cut my toothbrush in half like Tom did not to cut weight but because the darn thing is awkwardly shaped and it was hard to pack in my small ziplock bathroom bag and subsequently stow in my sweetroll or fork bag.
- The only things I lost were my buff (which I didn’t really need anyway as my bandana worked equally as well and was more versatile) and my Oofos sandal off the back of my seat bag. I lost it twice. The first time Tom recovered it and the second time it was lost for good.
- I shouldn’t have sent my headlamp home with Dan and Christie from Salida. Ya just always need one, even though they are rather bulky to pack.
- We live in an amazing country! It’s not without its warts, scrapes and scars. It’s not perfect but my hope is that it’s constantly improving. We have setbacks but I still love our country and proudly, yet humbly flew our flag on the back of my bike.
- What state did I like the best? It’s like trying to pick your favorite child. Each are unique and their qualities bring out the best in me, when I choose that approach. And again, it’s a choice right?
- What did I miss the most? Concretely loving all of our bigs, littles and making dinner for them. And I missed my buds. I also missed inside potties at night. Kinda missed those a lot.
- I wouldn’t change my packing list and I’m super happy we didn’t bring a stove, fuel and all that goes with it.
- As always, I’m so grateful for God’s remarkable creation… both the people he puts in our path and the trails he leads us down (and up on this ride😆). Having time on the bike to continue conversations with Him was the most important part of my day.
Tom and I always like to have adventures in the hopper, especially me. We keep a list, lol, and it’s frequently updated and added to. As far as solo travel, I could do it, but I sure wouldn’t want to. Planning, executing and reflecting on riding the Great Divide with Tom is something that we’ll savor together for the rest of our lives. We work, ride and worship exceptionally well together. I’m just so grateful we were able to share this lifetime “smilestone” (not milestone) with one another.
Click on the video below to view one last video from our border-to-border ride on Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.