Montana, almost done (some thoughts)!

I have landed in Butte, Montana! I feel great, even better than I felt at the start of my tour. I feel strong and lean, well nourished and well rested. (I have been sleeping soundly 8-10 hours a night in my [now dry] tent!)

Right around when I entered Montana I started to get a clear sense of my short-term and long-term “life plans”. I have not had the clearest sense of direction the last few years, so I was really excited to finally sketch out the path forward. I scribbled a lot in my journals. Touring is an amazing way to explore this great country, meet fascinating people and reflect on life. I am so grateful to be able to do this.

I finally met a few more north-bound riders (most cyclists ride south): Candice (a 70-year-old woman, whom I chased all day to Bannack State Park! I kid you not!) and a group of three young men (Dan, Tye and Greg) who just graduated from Harvard Business school and, having never bikepacked in their lives, bought bikes and decided to tackle half of the Great Divide. Needless to say, I am inspired!

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Coming into Lima:

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Mountain View Motel  (Lima)

, camping area (Thanks Mike & Connie!) I got to hang out with Continental Divide thru-hikers here!

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Bannack, mining ghost town (and state park). Thanks to the rangers for coffee and snacks!

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Wise River last night

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Coming into Butte, where I am right now:

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Idaho

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route spends about 80 miles in Idaho, 30+ miles of which are on the infamous “Warm River Trail”, a railroad bed covered in volcanic ash. Slow going!

Warm River Trail

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Flooding on the Warm River Trail. Shortly thereafter, I detoured into Island Park for dinner and camping!

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Red Rock Pass, Idaho-Montana state line

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Riding the Divide, Wyoming and the Great Basin

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Camping IN the Slater Museum at the Colorado-Wyoming state line.

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Camping in the Great Basin

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The Great Basin, Wyoming

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David and I enjoying the bluffs in the Great Basin

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No water. Lots of salt.

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Pushing our bikes up a steep climb in the Basin

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Wild horses running toward me! My heart skipped a beat.

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Atlantic City, at last! (Northern terminus of the Basin)

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Staying at Wild Bill’s in Atlantic City. Thanks Bill and Carmelina!

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The rocks I sought shelter in during a hail and lightening storm (just outside Boulder, WY)

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The storm quickly clears, thank goodness! (I got pelted hard.)

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Osprey nest

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The wildlife just outside Pinedale, WY (my current resting place). Antelope are everywhere!

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Northern Colorado

My Great Divide Tour is going wonderfully. I am tired (in a good way), with only about 800 miles to go (nearly 1,400 down!). The Great Basin was, well, really hard, but this time I remembered water. 🙂

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Camping at the boat dock on the reservoir outside of Kremmling, CO.

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Kremmling coffee shop, best coffee shop on the Divide! They have ice cream and homemade cinnamon rolls, in addition to breakfast burritos. Whose bike is that back there? 🙂

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Colorado River and train. My saddle fell off here. Luckily, I was able to screw it back on!

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Climbing up from the Colorado River in Radium (the hardest climb for me yet)!

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Elk Run Trail, coming into Steamboat Springs

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I arrived in Steamboat Springs on the 4th of July weekend, so I had to stealth camp off the public bicycle path, right on the Yama River. I could hear the river and the traffic.

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Yama River, Steamboat Springs

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Hanging out with David and Kirstin on the porch of Brush Mountain Lodge

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My new friend and riding companion, veteran David Sorrentino (Brush Mountain Lodge)

Colorado, cycling the Great Divide

Despite the fires, I LOVE being in Colorado! I welcome the cooler temperatures and the roller coaster ride up and down big mountains. It took a day or two to adjust to the higher elevations, between 9-12 thousand feet above sea level.

I am feeling good. I took a day off in Del Norte, Colorado, where I had a new drive train (cassette, jockey wheels, chain, chain ring) put on my bike. I also bought a new rear tire, bottom bracket bearings and rear hub bearings.

Both bicycle and body are running beautifully! I am only averaging about 80 miles a day, but I am taking in a lot more than when I raced and averaged 130 miles a day.

Platoro, Colorado

(Thanks Mike at Gold Pan RV park for a great meal! He has a cabin for Divide riders):

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My campsite on a cliff above the Rio Grande:

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Near Horca, CO:

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My new personal hero, Hal Russell, who is racing Tour Divide for his 5th year, after completing the American Trail Race in 66 days. He is twice my age and a Vietnam Vet! He is the happiest person I have encountered on the Divide. 🙂 His wife of 45 years is following him online.

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Near Salida:

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My friend new friend Jason and I at the coffee shop in Salida. Jason was kind enough to let me crash with him and his hound, Dixi:

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Larry and Roy are in great spirits and are charting their adventures on their blog.

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“Lanterne Rouge” Tour Divide Racers in Hartsel, CO. Sarah Grace (from Huntsville, AL) left Michael (from State College, PA) behind on Gold Dust trail. 🙂 He caught up with her at the mercantile in Hartsel, where I found them both.

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Fires just north of Hartsel: :-S Smoky smell. Fortunately, the wind was blowing the fire away from me.

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The pass I climbed this morning:

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Breckenridge, a favorite Colorado town of mine!

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Amazing Grace, where I just had lunch. It is my favorite restaurant in Colorado. I have yet to find a better vegan chocolate chip cookie. The restaurant is inside an old house.

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Okay, back to the Divide! I am sorry if these posts are a bit quick. I can only post when I find an open library.

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Northern New Mexico, riding the Great Divide

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! A family (very kindly) took me into their cabin last night (in Como, Colorado). I am hanging out in Breckenridge, CO, which has not been affected by the wildfires raging across New Mexico and Colorado. (Cell phone towers have burned down, so I have had limited connectivity.)

I was only rerouted once, between Cuba and Abiquiu, NM. I took highway 96 instead of venturing into the (closed) Santa Fe National Forest.

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I have only bought a motel room once (at the Cuban Lodge), where Flora Lopez (pictured below) gives cyclists a crazy discount. Thank you Flora!

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I have been camping at RV parks and US Forest Service campsites. I am quite comfortable camping. It only took me FOUR YEARS to learn to feel comfortable in the outdoors! I no longer take sleep, allergy or pain medication, which, in my book, is quite an accomplishment. This is my tent at the Abiquiu Reservoir (Riyana RV Park):

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While at the Georgia O’Keefe Visitor’s Center in Abiqui, a lovely couple (Bill and Annie) bought me a meal and sent me off with money for more meals! One of the reasons I do these rides is because it reminds me that people are basically good, and the world is basically beautiful. 🙂

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I can see why she fell in love with the landscape! After Abiquiu I met Silvia in Cannon Plaza. She opened up her tiny store for me. Thanks Silvia!

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After Cannon Plaza, the terrain started to look like Colorado. I biked up into the aspens, then camped at Hopewell Lake.

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Gear for Bikepacking the Great Divide

I have been bikepacking for four years, and in that time I have fine-tuned my gear selection. Trial and error is the best teacher. What works for me will not necessarily work for you.

I am not sponsored by any companies. So far, these companies have been great about providing warranty repairs and replacements. I only mention the brand when I am particularly impressed by a product.

I recommend buying good gear and making it last. That is what I have done. I ride all of my bikes (and gear) into the ground. If the frame is not (yet) broken, I keep riding the bike, replacing parts when they need to be replaced. The same goes for gear.

I have good reasons for selecting each of these items. Please feel free to ask me about any of my choices.

Bicycle: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29-er (Fox Float front shock with Lizard  Skins fork boot, no rear shock), Profile Design century aero bars, Ergon grips, Maxxis Ardent tires (tubeless), Shimano clipless pedals with platform, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, 2×10 gearing and a saddle you can spend all day in

Bags: Revelate saddle, frame & handlebar packs, top tube feed bag and Revelate Mountain Feedbag, REI dry sacks, extra straps (to keep bags in place)

  • Clothes go in the saddle bag. Tent and extra food go in the handlebar pack. Water, sleeping bag and air mattress go in (or on) the hydration backpack. Everything else (the heavy stuff!) goes in the frame pack.

Backpack: Osprey Synchro hydration pack with extra bladder

Clothes: Helmet and helmet cover, cycling cap, buff, 45Nrth balaclava, bib shorts and synthetic T-Shirt, sunglasses, cycling tights, base layer, rain pants, rain jacket, waterproof socks, compression socks, thick and thin socks, long-fingered cycling gloves, winter gloves, waterproof glove liners, booties, primaloft jacket, multi-sport clipless cycling shoes, sun sleeves/arm warmers

Electronics: AA and AAA lithium-ion batteries, USB charger (battery powered), rear blinking lights, NiteRider Maco handlebar and helmet lights (battery powered), Garmin 800 touring GPS (USB powered), Garmin eTrex 30 GPS (battery powered), mini MP3 player, camera, SPOT tracker

Personal: House key, passport, driver’s license, debit card, cash, health insurance card, sunscreen, lip balm, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Adventure Cycling maps, Aquamira water purification solution, travel soap, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, disposable razor, comb and hair bands, Sea to Summit DryLite antibacterial towel, ziplock baggies, field booklets (for journaling), a bear bell (fixed to the handlebar), knife, lighter, rope, baby wipes, a whistle

First Aid: Triple antibiotic ointment, Duoderm bandages, Eucerin and tea tree oil, bandages and bandaids, antiseptic towelettes, clothes pins, mole skin, tweezers, prescription z-pack (antibiotics), prescription allergy meds and allergy eye drops

Sleeping system: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent, Thermarest Fast & Light air mattress, primaloft 30 degree backpacking sleeping bag

Tools/Parts: Pump, patch kit, multi-tool (with chain breaker), quick link, tire levers, tire boot, CO2 inflator and cartridge, tube, spoke wrench, derailleur hanger, shoe cleat, duct tape, brake pads (two sets), chain lube, zip ties, cable, water nozzle, GPS mounts, Specialized crank tightening tool, wheel valve stem