GDMBR Day 58

Start: Beauty Creek Hostel, Jasper National Park

Finish: Jasper, Alberta, CA

Miles: 54.3 miles

Odometer: 2,932.4 miles

Ascent: 700 feet

Descent: 2,400 feet


Today was bittersweet! The bitter part: the most miserable weather to date. Cold, damp, blustery and windy, and pouring down rain. Even though my ride was shorter (40 miles) and downhill, it was pretty miserable. I was wearing all of my layers and still shivered continuously while I rode. The sweet part: arriving at my final destination, Jasper, Alberta.

I had a reservation at a hotel but they were not ready for me so I changed into my dry clothes in the bathroom. I went to the local pharmacy to get some more doxycycline for the rest of my trip home, and visited the bike shops to see if I could get my bike shipped home. Unfortunately, local bike shops do not provide that service so I will be taking my bicycle on the train with me.

Lunch and dinner were loaded with vegetables, including cauliflower and kale. It is time for me to get back on a proper nutrition plan. Oh how I miss psyllium. Proper nutrition and sleep are primary drivers for a good immune system, and that’s going to be my focus for the next week. My body has suffered a bit in the past week or so. I can tell that my legs are not bouncing back like they should. My skin is covered with scratches, abrasions, and cuts that I’ve gotten along the way. I feel like I’ve lost a little mental clarity.

The bicycle portion of the trip has ended at the right time. Today every pedal stroke was exhausting and my mood was more foul than the weather. Between shivering episodes, my mind drifted to my morning ritual back home, sitting on the end of the couch with a great cup of coffee looking out the window at the Cascade mountains waking up to the morning sunrise, listening to lovely Robin share some recent health science research, and cuddling our cat, T'Chat. For the first time on this last day of this cycling trip, I wanted to be somewhere else. In a way, it’s the perfect ending to a great trip.

GDMBR Day 57

Start: Lake Louise Hostel

Finish: Beauty Creek Hostel, Jasper National Park

Miles: 97.5 miles

Odometer: 2,878.1 miles

Ascent: 6,100 feet

Descent: 6,000 feet


I got up early because I had a 90 mile day with two huge climbs ahead. My first destination was the actual famous, picturesque Lake Louise. I mistakenly thought that the lake was on the Icefield Parkway and that I could check it out as I headed towards Jasper. I was wrong. To see Lake Louise I had to climb a pretty steep incline for a couple of miles just to get up to the lake. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Louise and it has been a primary focus while planning this trip. However, after climbing ¾ of the way up and realizing that my 90 mile ride today was in the other direction I nearly quit climbing and turned around. I knew I would regret that decision so I pushed all the way up to the lake, and it was spectacular. I was able to ride past all of the tourists in their cars waiting to park, and ride straight up to the lake side. The clouds were still sitting low on the mountains but the majesty of the mountains reflected in the lake was breathtaking. I took a few pictures and sat calmly to breathe in the magnificence, but alas the urgency of getting on the road for my 90 miles took me away. On another day I would’ve liked to spend an hour absorbing.

Today’s ride took me over two mountain passes and through some pretty nasty rainy and cold weather. The views were outstanding despite the bad weather. The aquamarine lakes reflected the menacing, giant snowcapped mountains. Stunning.

Along the Icefield Parkway in the Jasper National Park there are a limited number hotel or hostel accommodations, i.e., non-camping options. I had no reservation. I arrived exhausted at the Beauty Creek Hostel at around 6 PM hoping there was still a bed available. And there was. Relief. Otherwise, I would have another 20 miles to the next hostel.

Hostel host, Quinn, checked me in, gave me a tour, then awarded my effort with a beer. The hostel had no electricity, showers, or running water. That was fine with me; I was just happy to get out of the bad weather and have a warm bed for the night.

The hostel is very small with a limited number of beds. Tonight there were around 10 people staying there and all were gathered around the roaring fire only yards from the river with mountain peaks as the backdrop. It was a beautiful setting. The other travelers were an interesting international mix that included a couple from Australia, a couple from England, and a mix of Canadians. Everyone was drinking and the conversation was lively. I had packed some food and scarfed every bit while everyone watched. They shared their beers with me. The fire toasted my feet to the perfect temperature. The rain threatened but never came. A fine evening.

A word about the god of wind. Never curse and spit at the god of wind, for the curse and spit will most assuredly land in your face. Instead, thank the god of wind for the gentle headwind and offer sacrifice for a tailwind. I had a headwind most of the day until my second and hardest climb of the day over Sunwapta Pass, and then the god of wind bestowed on me a fierce tailwind to carry me up and over the Pass. The god of wind is a fair god.

I saw my third bear of the trip - a black bear. Multiple tourists (they are in season at the moment) stopped their vehicles to gawk at the creature, causing what is called locally as a “bear jam”. I weaved my bike in and around the bear jam and continued my journey without being harmed. They can be very dangerous. The gawking tourists, I mean.

GDMBR Day 56

Start: Mt. Engadine Lodge, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Finish: Lake Louise Hostel

Miles: 70.3 miles

Odometer: 2,780.6 miles

Ascent: 2,100 feet

Descent: 3,000 feet


This morning the route took me up a gravel road and dumped me onto the 12-mile single track Goat Creek Trail. It was pretty but very soggy and muddy from continued rain. The trail dropped into Banff and I emerge from the forest looking at this beautiful old hotel that looks like a castle. Shocking contrast. I toured around Banff and stopped at the bike shop to check my tire pressure. Within a few minutes I had four of the bike shop staff around me asking about the Great Divide route. My brain tends to downplay what I have accomplished, but it’s times like this where I realize that riding this route is actually quite an accomplishment.

I left Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway and cycled to the town of Lake Louise and checked into the local hostel where I shared a small room with three other cyclists.

Did I mention I saw my second moose of the trip? He was eating about 30 feet from the parkway. Yay!

GDMBR Day 55

Start: Fernie, BC

Finish: Mt. Engadine Lodge, Peter Lougheed Provencial Park

Miles: 112 miles

Odometer: 2,710.2 miles

Ascent: 5,800 feet

Descent: 3,000 feet


With no camping gear, my sleeping options are somewhat limited for the next section. I traveled paved road up to Elkhorn, British Columbia but then the route took a turn onto gravel into Height of the Rockies Provincial Park. My only option for accommodation, Mt. Engadine Lodge, was waiting for me at mile 112; however, I had to make dinner by 7 PM or risk riding over 100 miles with no dinner at the end. To be clear, the lodge is in the middle of the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and there were no towns or grocery stores around.

I pushed pretty hard and had a fair amount of climbing. I traveled in a valley with rugged mountains jutting up to my left and to my right. It was the most beautiful ride on the route to date. That’s saying something. These mountains, in my opinion, are even more beautiful than the Grand Tetons.

The rain came in the late afternoon and I arrived exhausted at the lodge at 6:30 PM, just in time to take a shower before the 7 PM dinner. While showering I discovered an embedded engorged tick in my right armpit. Removing the tick was a two person job so I asked the staff for help. The lodge chef came out and used my multi-tool but was unsuccessful in getting at the head. He had to get back to food preparation so I was left using my multitool one-handed and eventually digging the rest of the tick out of my pit. I started doxycycline prophylaxis. Normally if I have a suspicion of a tick or if it has been removed early in the process I will take a one time 200 mg dose, but in this case it where it’s been embedded for a day or two, I’ll take a longer regimen. Interestingly, I felt some pain and irritation in my right armpit all day but I thought it was just a chafing problem from being on the bike for so long. I hate to ticks!

The Mt. Engadine Lodge is the most expensive accommodation that I’ve stayed at on the route to date. All of the guests were seated promptly at 7 PM, given cocktails or wine or beer, and treated to a multicourse meal. Frankly, I was a little dazed from the long ride and mining that tick out of my pit that I sat back and listened to the conversation, a mixture of polite social status yardstick measuring. I savagely inhaled three baskets of homemade bread and butter before, during, and after the main meal, leaving no crumb behind.

GDMBR Day 54

Start: Clarence Creek Campground, Kootenai National Forest

Finish: Snow Valley Lodge, Fernie, British Columbia

Miles: 74.4 miles

Odometer: 2,598.2 miles

Ascent: 2,200 feet

Descent: 2,800 feet


Today I crossed the border into Canada!

After a fun and fast descent out of the mountains I made my approach to the Canadian border. Coincidentally, just as I was arriving at the border crossing the Rocky theme song started playing on my iPhone. That was pretty awesome!

Although my goal was always to ride up through the Banff and Jasper National Parks to Jasper, Alberta, I could not help feel emotional about making it to the Canadian border and completing the route from Mexico to Canada. I was surprised by the onset of emotion since I still had another 300+ miles to cycle.

I started hearing the grinding coming out of my bottom bracket, yet again. Recall that I replaced my bottom bracket down in Colorado. Today my destination was Fernie, British Columbia where I was able to stop at a local bike shop where they replaced my bottom bracket. As usual, the bike mechanics were fascinated by my travels and anxious to put me in the front of the line so that I could get on my way.

I wanted to mention how I am getting tired of all of my favorite music. I have 2000+ songs on my five star playlist and I have listen to this playlist for so long on this trip, the songs are starting to irritate me. My first order of business when I get home is to find some new music. That’s not as easy as it sounds since I don’t care for much of the music that is being produced right now. I know this is kind of an old person thing to say, but don’t you think it’s true? I use the “discover new music” features on both Apple Music and Spotify and so many of the new songs sound the same as each other. It is no wonder that all of the “old” music that I grew up with is still so popular.

Now that I have arrived in Canada I need to start planning my return trip home. I had always intended on taking the Rocky Mountaineer train ride from Jasper to Vancouver and then hopping on an Amtrak down to Portland. However, up until now I was not able to nail down tickets because my arrival date in Jasper was undetermined. After crossing the border and looking at the train schedule I realized that the train leaves Jasper twice a week. The next train is in two days and there’s no way I can make that one. I booked a ticket leaving in four days recognizing that I would have to travel more than 85 miles on average a day to arrive in Jasper in time. This is doable but I will have to forgo some of the dirt road sections of the route in order to make time on paved roads.

So that I could travel lighter and get more miles daily I shipped my camping gear home in Eureka, Montana just before crossing the border. This will make for easier riding but I will have to carefully plan my stops without the option of camping.

GDMBR Day 53

Start: Columbia Falls, MT

Finish: Clarence Creek Campground, Kootenai National Forest

Miles: 84.0 miles

Odometer: 2,523.7 miles

Ascent: 7,100 feet

Descent: 6,200 feet


It is not clear to me how I can physically eat so much food at one meal. I realize I need the calories. I must be burning nearly 10,000 cal every day. When I sit down for a proper meal I am so hungry that I just eat and eat and eat. Breakfast might include an omelette, hashbrowns, biscuit, oatmeal, and pancakes.

Today’s ride took me over two mountain passes and skirted Glacier National Park border. The weather held out for a while so that I was able to get really pretty views of the mountains in Glacier.

At the beginning of this trip, recall that I spent a couple of nights in the Toaster House Hostel in Pie Town, NM. I met a young northbound cyclist there named Thad. He was headed to Albuquerque to visit with his family before resuming his ride north to Canada. I always assumed that his young legs would catch me up and I would see him on the trail. Well as it turned out I saw him today but he decided to avoid the snow in Colorado for now and flew up to Banff to begin his southbound journey. What a coincidence to run into him again. We had a pretty good laugh about the coincidence.

While I do like a hot shower and a cozy hotel bed every once in a while, camping in my tent brings such solitude. I love it. Clarence Creek Campground was completely empty except for my tent. I went to sleep listening to the rushing water from Clarence Creek.

GDMBR Day 52

Start: Informal campsite in Flathead National Forest

Finish: Glacier Motel, Columbia Falls, MT

Miles: 81.4 miles

Odometer: 2,439.7 miles

Ascent: 5,400 feet

Descent: 5,900 feet


Today I saw a grizzly bear! I was on a slow, long climb in the Flathead National Forest when I came across a grizzly bear in the middle of the dirt road. He saw me approaching and stopped and just stared at me for about 2 to 3 minutes. I grabbed my bear spray and pulled off the safety mechanism. He moseyed off the road and I waited five minutes and rode on past. I guess I’m grateful we surprised each other on an incline and that I did not surprise him flying downhill. However, when I rode past his last known location I was going ever so slow because of the grade. In the granny gear, I was pedaling as fast as my legs would spin. Despite being in a little bit of a foul mood all day, seeing a grizzly made my day.

I have not had a nice sunshiny day in quite a while. Every day has been overcast and rainy, including today. The skies opened up as I was descending out of the mountain into civilization, the town of Ferndale, MT. The temperatures were also in the mid 50s which makes for a difficult cycling combination of rain and cold. Feeling pretty miserable, I rode over to the Ferndale Market to dry out and thaw out. Like many of the small town markets, they have a little bit of everything, including pizza. I ordered a medium pizza, drank some hot coffee, dried out my stuff, charged my electronics, and re-supplied with snacks. The staff let me sit at a little table in the corner where I was able to eat my pizza and watch people come and go, mostly picking out six packs of beer. There does not appear to be a consistent beer choice.

GDMBR Day 51

Start: Ovando, MT

Finish: Informal campsite in Flathead National Forest

Miles: 86.9 miles

Odometer: 2,358.2 miles

Ascent: 7,500 feet

Descent: 8,000 feet


My legs felt great today! It’s a wonder what yesterday’s easy riding day did for recovery. Today’s climb took me up to some treacherous singletrack that wound around the mountainside with a deadly steep drop off. One false move and I would’ve been a goner. That section was several miles long and beautiful. Even with the overcast clouds and fog hanging on the mountaintops, the scenery was spectacular and mystical and mysterious.

I met retired Marine Corp officer veteran, Doug Collins, racing the Tour Divide to raise awareness for veteran suicides that are occurring at a rate of 22 suicides a day. Soft spoken with a determined look in his eye, Doug left an impression. He’s blogging at and please consider supporting his mission.

I was descending from the mountain and took a wrong turn. These long descents can be quite fast and intense. The dirt and gravel roads are often rutted and rocky and require careful attention. I guess I was just paying attention to the road and not my GPS because the wrong turn took me in the wrong direction requiring me to ride an extra 10 miles to get back on track.

I was not happy. I rarely fly off the handle but when I realized what I had done I began screaming at the top of my lungs, “You stupid fuck!” When I say screaming at the top of my lungs, I mean as loud as possible. I have never done that before. Usually I just murmur it to myself. And I screamed multiple times. What was that about?

Ten extra miles at the end of the day, especially when they involve climbing, can be frustrating. However, I gathered my wits and rode later than usual into the evening. I found a roadside campsite and pitched my tent. At about midnight I began hearing bloodcurdling howling that I am positive came from a nearby wolf. In Oregon I have heard many coyotes howl during the night, but this was quite different. I just knew this wolf was going to come eat me in my tent. I put on my glasses, grabbed my headlamp and put it on my chest inside my sleeping bag, and placed my right hand on my bear spray. And that’s how I fell asleep.

P.S. It was probably a coyote.

GDMBR Day 50

Start: Ranch in Lincoln, MT

Finish: Ovando, MT

Miles: 35.4 miles

Odometer: 2,271.3 miles

Ascent: 3,100 feet

Descent: 3,700 feet


I woke up with dead legs. As I get closer to Canada I miss Robin and home more and more, and want to push more miles. I wonder if I’ve been pushing too much. Every day involves climbing over a mountain pass or two, plus big miles equals fatigue. It’s hard for me to take time off the bike. I imagine it takes several days of complete rest to recover from this type of physical grind.

I mentioned all this to say that I reached a popular cyclist-friendly town, Ovando, MT, after only 35 miles and stopped for the day. I’ve been hearing about Ovando for a week (from southbound riders). They say, “You’ve got to stop in Ovando. They love cyclists.” So with my dead legs needing a short day, I stopped and booked the “chuckwagon” accommodations for five dollars.

I lunched at the Stray Bullet Cafe, showered and laundered at the Blackfoot Inn, charged my electronics at the local museum, and dined at Trixie’s Saloon. Kathy at the Angler Shop came over to gather my information and take my picture for the GDMBR Facebook page.

Since this was Grand Central Station for cyclists, I had a chance to visit with a number of southbound riders.

At 7 PM I got into my chuckwagon, put in my earplugs, pulled my balaklava over my eyes, and fell fast asleep hoping the rest would rejuvenate my legs.

GDMBR Day 49

Start: Helena, MT

Finish: Ranch in Lincoln, MT

Miles: 66.2 miles

Odometer: 2,235.9 miles

Ascent: 7,200 feet

Descent: 6,600 feet


Today was all about the kindness of strangers. A woman named Barbara built a cabin behind her house and stocks it with beer, sandwiches, and coffee for cyclists riding the GDMBR. I have been hearing about her hospitality for a couple of weeks from southbound racers and casual tourists alike. I arrived at her place around 1 PM, a little too early to shut things down for the day. I did have a chance to visit with Barbara. She is a vibrant, kind soul who enjoys meeting new people and helping others out. I thanked her for her generosity but shared that I had accommodations waiting for me over near Lincoln.

I met Cliff up at Mount Bachelor skiing this winter. We became friends. His friends, Doug and Nicole, own a ranch in Lincoln, MT. Just yesterday, Cliff texted me to find out what I was up to, and when I told him where I was he connected me with Doug and Nicole and that’s where I landed this evening. Fortuitous, wouldn’t you say? Doug and Nicole welcomed me with a first class ribeye dinner and a side order of first class conversation. Doug is a four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He’s athlete royalty in my book. I could tell that his sense of adventure and dedication has spilled over into all aspects of his life. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay with them, and especially Doug’s homemade cinnamon rolls.

Today had a couple of notable climbs. The first climb was marked by another hailstorm. I love hailstorms! They make my day! The second and final climb of the day was over Stemple Pass which gets very steep at the top. As I was cresting the top I was in a foul mood. And then I met Stinky. Stinky was an exuberant, friendly large, long-haired dog whose owner is working up at the summit to rehab an old wildfire area. I asked the owner the dogs name and he said “Winston, but I call him Stinky.” I was so tired but Stinky’s enthusiasm felt like he was celebrating my successful climb.

As I am flying down the other side of the pass I see some of the tour divide racers walking their bikes up (that’s how steep Stemple Pass was).

GDMBR Day 48

Start: Butte, MT

Finish: Helena, MT

Miles: 76.7 miles

Odometer: 2,169.7 miles

Ascent: 8,000 feet

Descent: 9,500 feet


Apart from the beautiful scenery, today’s ride was marked by running into so many of the Tour Divide Race participants. I recognized they’re trying to go fast and far so I was surprised to see how many wanted to stop and talk. I asked each of the racers, “How are you holding up?” I was shocked to see so many with dazed looks on their faces. Nearly all of the cyclists opened up about their serious physical concerns. Here are a few examples. A female rider who was probably in a top five position explained how she is having difficulty breathing at night when she tries to catch a few hours of sleep. She has trouble breathing when lying flat. That’s called orthopnea and could portend a serious condition. I suggested she get some medical help in Butte. I would later see on Facebook that she posted to the Tour Divide group that she went to get checked out and was told she was in atrial fibrillation. Yikes!

A male racer showed me his swelling in his lower thighs that was noticeable and “squishy” just above the knee caps. I have never seen anything like it, and I have seen my fair share of edema. He had some milder edema in his ankles. I would later see his post on Facebook where he bought some compression hose and was seeking advice from the Facebook community.

Another male racer told me that he had such severe saddle sores that he was bailing at the next big town. In fact, saddle sores have been a common complaint among several of the riders. Another younger racer said he had saddle sores and severe knee pain and couldn’t ride on the seat or off the seat and so he was out too.

A racer who look to be about my age appeared so distraught about his abdominal pain, almost looking through me with this thousand yard stare. He has had the pain for 2 to 3 days and has lost his appetite but has no nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. That complaint is so non-specific it could be almost anything, but one thing is for sure, all of these racers have put their bodies (and their minds) through some pretty harsh conditions in the past several days with very little sleep and recovery.

It’s completely bizarre the way these riders opened up to me within seconds of meeting me. It may be because I asked an open ended question about there experience, but I also think it’s because they have been riding alone for days thinking about their problems and stopping to talk is just a cathartic opportunity.

Not all of the racers were suffering today. I was eating lunch in Basin, MT when an unconventional racer, Jeff from Oklahoma City, came in dressed in a plaid shirt and hiking shorts. He didn’t have any complaints. He was having a good time and relaxed. This is the third time he’s done the race. “It’s addictive.” As he was leaving he grabbed a small race momento out of his bicycle bag and gave it to me. It’s good for two free pieces of pie down in Pie Town, NM. Cool.

Two British racers stopped to chat. They told me that I had a pretty tough climb ahead and one turn to the other and asked, “How long before the old man gets up to the top?” I had to laugh because I’ve never been called an old man before but he was probably 25 years old.

I ran into racer, Jimmy, who I met (with girlfriend Janie) on May 18 down in New Mexico while they were on a training ride. It turns out Janie is a couple of miles ahead and I must’ve missed her in Butte. Jimmy and I visited for quite a while and we took each other’s picture because it was such a coincidence to see each other.

I am starting to run into casual southbound GDMBR cycle tourists who are non-racers. I met Becky from Cornwall, England and Barbara from South Africa. The casual riders are in much better spirits than the racers.

I finished my ride in Helena with its thriving old historic district and downtown promenade with many shops and restaurants, including an ice cream shop with a line out front. Naturally, I got in line. Part of the downtown was closed off for a weekly music concert celebration. This town might be worth a revisit on another occasion.

GDMBR Day 47

Start: Butte, MT

Finish: Butte, MT

Miles: 0 miles

Odometer: 2093 miles


Today I took a day off to a reassess my injuries. My elbow pain is much better. My rib pain is about the same. All of the wounds look superficial enough and should heal fine with twice daily wound care.

I could not find a lightweight down puffy jacket to replace my ripped one. I did find a fleece jacket on sale nearby and although it adds some weight to my gear, it is the best I can do at the moment.

My plan is to head north on the route tomorrow and to be more careful riding.

GDMBR Day 46

Start: Elkhorn Hot Springs Lodge

Finish: Butte, MT

Miles: 87.8 miles

Odometer: 2,093 miles

Ascent: 5,100 feet

Descent: 6,600 feet


After yesterday’s relaxing afternoon enjoying the hot springs and feeding my body, I left the lodge this morning in excellent spirits. I hopped on my bike and headed down the dirt road for a quarter-mile where there was a left-hand turn onto pavement to begin my climb up over my first of three passes. As my front tire met pea gravel on pavement my front wheel slipped out and I went to ground very hard and my body skidded down the road. In the end I had some pretty good chunks of flesh torn out of my left knee, left hip, and left elbow. The fall ripped through my three clothing layers, including my wind jacket, my down puffy jacket, and my riding shirt.

In addition to the skin cuts and abrasions I felt some sharp pains in my rib cage and inside of my left elbow (epicondyle). I pick my bike up and moved it over to the side of the road. I could instantly feel emotion well up inside and I physically tried to push that emotion out into some form of tears, but nothing came so I went about the business of cleaning and dressing my wounds. After stripping off my clothing I used the water bottle to clean out the wounds and then covered them with some bandages that I keep in a little medical kit inside one of my bags. I hopped on my bike and began my ride up the mountain knowing that my first stop was the small town of Wise River some 30 miles away where I could get some additional first aid supplies.

I arrived at the Wise River Mercantile where the grandmotherly proprietor, Connie, works the cash register. Out front I removed all of the old bandages washed the wounds with soap and water and started reapplying bandages. Connie came outside and brought me a free cup of coffee and said, “Let Maw help you with this.” So she applied some bandages and was very supportive and encouraging. She asked me if I needed any hydrogen peroxide or other supplies. Then she refilled my coffee cup.

I rode the rest of the way to Butte, Montana with a total miles of around 88 miles. Every bump in the dirt and gravel road sent a jolt of pain through my left elbow and my left rib cage. When I got to Butte I picked up a package at the post office, stopped at the pharmacy for more first aid supplies, including Betadine, bandages, tape, wrap, and triple antibiotic ointment. I checked into a local hotel and did a more thorough job of assessing and treating my wounds. They all appear to be superficial. The elbow wound is fairly deep but I don’t think there are any broken bones. I don’t think my ribs are broken, just bruised. I decided to take tomorrow off to see how my body is recovering and assess the need for medical care (arm X-ray).

On a positive note, when I was coming down from the final climb over a pass I saw a cyclist stopped on the side of the road. It turns out it was the Tour Divide Race leader, Sofiane Sehili, from France. He stopped to assess how much more climbing he had to do. I asked him if we could take a picture and he enthusiastically pulled his bike up next to mine and we took a selfie. It’s a thrill to meet a world-class athlete in the middle of his race.

Oh by the way, I sat through another thunderstorm/hailstorm today. I am on record pace for most hailstorms in one week.

GDMBR Day 45

Start: Bannack State Park

Finish: Elkhorn Hot Springs Lodge

Miles: 25.7 miles

Odometer: 2,005.1 miles

Ascent: 1,900 feet

Descent: 700 feet



I left the state park campground at 7 AM short on food and looking for a breakfast stop. Twenty-six (26) miles of climbing up the road I came to Elkhorn Hot Springs Lodge just in time to enjoy their breakfast buffet. I called my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and then called Robin to catch up. I shared with both that my legs were extremely tired and they both suggested that I take the rest of the day off and enjoy some hot springs. Who Am I to argue with my support team? Their suggestion also alleviated some of my guilt of stopping, instead of riding more miles.

I soaked in the hot springs, ate lunch, took a nap, and caught up on this blog. My legs will be thankful in the morning because I have a heck of a lot more climbing in order to get to Butte, Montana.

On another note, the Tour Divide Race started a couple of days ago in Banff, Canada. The racers are heading south and the leaders are expected to arrive in Mexico in 14 to 16 days. I am following their progress on this website:

I’m excited to see female rider Lael Wilcox near the head of the pack. She is awesome. She rides like a girl (and beats all the boys).

GDMBR Day 44

Start: Montana ranch house

Finish: Bannick State Park, Montana

Miles: 116.4 miles

Odometer: 1,979.5 miles

Ascent: 5,400 feet

Descent: 6,100 feet



Today I broke the 100 mile barrier! The terrain was rolling and nice and easy. I love accelerating down a small hill with the momentum carrying me halfway up the next hill, then sprinting over the crest, and then repeating this over and over again. I can usually make pretty good time doing this.

While I have met a few cyclists heading northbound like I am, and a few cyclist doing southbound sections, today is the first day I ran into southbound riders that started in Canada. I ran into eight of them all in one day traveling by onesies and twosies. They are pretty hard-core (compared to me) traveling light and moving fast and. A Dutch cyclist rode 135 miles yesterday. He is trying to cover the entire route in under 30 days. This evening another southbound rider from Kansas told me he’s attempting the 30 day trip as well stating, “My wife says I have 30 days and she’s picking me up wherever I am on day 30.” He is having a pretty miserable time of it, though, and describes hellacious climbs with his single speed bike, gastrointestinal problems, running out of food and water, and generally feeling a bit discouraged. He is 45 years old but looks a lot younger and is fairly fit. I threw out the idea that perhaps he wanted to cut back the miles and enjoy the trip a little more, and even if he doesn’t make it to Mexico he can still have a good time of it. I also gave him a tent stake since he lost one and he doesn’t have a freestanding tent. He took the stake but I’m not thinking he’ll take the advice.

Today was my second thunder/hailstorm in three days. I was climbing up a mountain pass when the storm clouds moved in. Well I know I should seek the lowest point, but I did not want to give up the elevation so I pulled over, dropped my bike, and crouched in a cow pasture ditch. With a little time on my hands while the hail pelted me, I began trying to sort out how far away from the titanium bike I should be. Does titanium serve as a lightning rod? And then I look over my shoulder and see all of the cows running down the hill to a much lower elevation, and when they get there they’re all lying down. I wondered if I should follow. What do they know that I don’t?

There was a small break in the thunder and lightning and I took the opportunity to jump on my bike and push as hard as I could over the crest of the pass. This took a bit of energy. I saw another storm system moving in my direction and I was not only worried about getting struck by lightning but based on past experiences of this trip, I did not want to ride on wet roads with the potential of getting stuck in peanut butter mud again. Interestingly, the other side of the pass was dry but it was a race against time, and black clouds, to avoid a sticky situation. And then a miracle occurred! I got I tailwind to help push me down the long descent. And not just any tailwind, but a very strong tailwind. So I descended for about 20 miles with a strong tailwind hoping to outrun another thunderstorm. Unfortunately as the wind was blowing me down the mountain it was also blowing the black clouds my way. But I rode hard. I was very focused and determined to ride as far as I could on dry road before being pummeled by rain and maybe even hail. And as it turns out I outran the clouds and rode a total of 116 miles all the way to a state park where I enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon in the hikers/biker area visiting with other cyclists.

While I was enjoying my tailwind I came across a southbound cyclist and we stopped on the side of the road to chat and swap intel about conditions ahead. The funny part is when we said our goodbyes, he gave me a parting, “May the wind be at your back.“ I replied, "Yours too.” And then we both realized at the same time how funny that was and started laughing. Not only was that impossible since we were headed in opposite directions, I think we both really wanted the tailwind for ourselves.

GDMBR Day 43

Start: Island Park, ID

Finish: Montana ranch house

Miles: 64.5 miles

Odometer: 1,863.1 miles

Ascent: 2,400 feet

Descent: 2,100 feet



I forgot to mention yesterday that I crossed over from Wyoming to Idaho. And today I made the move from Idaho to Montana. I am supposed to be heading north but it seems like the last week has taken me westbound through Wyoming, Idaho, and now Montana, my last US state until I reach Canada. The route continues to traverse beautiful green valleys surrounded by hills and snowcapped mountains. All of the valleys have creeks and rivers running through them. Today I skirted along a huge wildlife refuge surrounding two lakes.

I cannot say that I have had the good fortune of a strong tailwind for any sustained period of time, at least not since day 2 in New Mexico. I have been riding into the wind throughout pretty much this entire trip, including today. I am starting to be grateful for only mild to moderate headwinds. The old me would say, “A headwind, fuck!” The new me says, “A headwind. Well it could be worse.”

Late in the afternoon I was stopped on the side of the road, my bike on its side, and I was filtering water out of a creek for my evening camping a few miles away near a bridge. A couple pulled up in a van to see if I was in trouble. I must have had a troubled look on my face. I told them I was filtering water and planning to camp nearby. They said, “You’d be better off camping at our place. In fact we have an extra room so you can sleep inside.” I was happy to oblige and very appreciative of their hospitality. They directed me to the nearby ranch. It turns out my campsite was flooded from all of the snow melt engorging the rivers.

I very much enjoyed visiting with the couple, Bonnie and Davy, who serve as caretakers for a rather large ranch. They take multi-month caretaking jobs in various beautiful locations mixing adventure and work into a satisfying lifestyle. We drank beers and shared on a wide range of topics including land conservation, wildlife biology, fermentation, favorite books, and travel stories. I was so happy to meet these guys and I hope to stay in touch. They are the kind of folks that radiate good energy into the cosmos.

GDMBR Day 42

Start: Colter Bay Campground, Grand Tetons NP

Finish: Pond’s Lodge, Island Park, ID

Miles: 90.4 miles

Odometer: 1,798.6 miles

Ascent: 4,700 feet

Descent: 5,300 feet



I anticipated that today’s trip would be incredibly beautiful. The route took me down the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road along the southern border of Yellowstone National Park. My expectations turned out to be correct, it was beautiful. The road was closed because of snow which was nice because there was absolutely no one else out there for miles and miles. I finally began climbing to elevation and had periods where I had to get off my bike and push through snow drifts. As I climbed higher and higher I pushed more and more. At one point I was pushing over and through 3 to 4 feet of snow with some postholing when I saw some teenagers up ahead with shovels digging through the snow. My first thought was that these kids were out wheeling on a closed road and got themselves stuck in the snow. As I got closer I realized there were a couple of adults supervising and in fact these kids were from a Boy Scout troop camped nearby who decided to shovel out the road. How incredible is that. This was hard work. They did have a tractor helping out but for the most part the scouts were working with a singular focus. I was happy to see them because the road on the backside (or downhill) was completely clear of snow and that made my job a lot easier and fun. I thanked them profusely and told them how terrific they were. The scouts were very curious about my trip and how I started down at the Mexican border.

I was hoping to hit the hundred mile mark today. I was running out of juice on my external battery and iPhone (which I use for navigation) so I stopped at a national forest campground near a beautiful river. Over in the group camping area an extended family reserved the spot for a family reunion. They invited me to use the electrical outlets to charge my phone and battery and generally welcomed me into their space. After eating lunch, visiting, and charging everything up I jumped back on my bike. From the campground there was an old rails-to-trails path following for miles and miles along the river. The views was stunning. I rode easily and enjoyed the breathtaking views down into the canyons and the river’s rapids below. In the late afternoon scary, dark clouds descended and thunder and lightning and hail sent a fright through me. Amidst open fields and groves of aspens, there was really no place to seek cover. The hail was thick and heavy and battering my helmet and rain jacket. The road begin to fill with water and hail “marbles” and reminded me of being a kid out riding in south Louisiana rainstorms through puddles. I guess I was trying to make it fun because I fully expected to be struck dead by lightning. As fast as the dark clouds flew over, they drifted away and I was left with sunny skies and wet roads for the rest of the afternoon.

The rains left lots of puddles in the wet dirt road. Since I was completely soaked already I didn’t mind riding through these little lakes. However, I came to one puddle and as I was riding through I began to sink further and further until I felt like there was no bottom. I hopped off my bike into waist deep water. I had to drag and carry my bike to the other side. This wiped the smile off my face. At this point I was on about mile 80 and pretty tired. As soon as I hit civilization I was completely wasted and checked in to a cabin because I felt I deserved a shower after the rough afternoon. I would go to the local bar/restaurant later and eat an enormous meal, including local fresh trout, a beet salad, and chocolate molten lava cake with ice cream.

GDMBR Day 41

Start: Jackson, WY

Finish: Colter Bay Campground, Grand Teton National Park

Miles: 54.4 miles

Odometer: 1,708.2 miles

Ascent: 2,000 feet

Descent: 1,400 feet



Perfect weather. No wind. Perfect scenery. Riding through the Grand Teton National Park cannot be described in words. I hope the photographs capture a little bit of the beauty of the Tetons. There is something awe inspiring about the rugged, jagged peaks of these mountains. I tried to soak it all in with some focused attention to every glacier, ridge, and peak. Despite the number of tourists, the place feels like hallowed ground.

Leaving Jackson I rode a dedicated bicycle paths most of the way through the park. While riding through the forest and meadows I kept my head on a swivel anticipating sightings of the moose, grizzly bears, or wolves. I cycled to Jenny Lake for a short break and to check out the campground. Had it not been early in the day I would have camped there in the shadows of these beautiful mountains. And while the campground was full, the small area dedicated for hikers and bikers was completely empty. But alas it was time to move up the route towards Canada and ultimately I settled at Colter Bay Campground on the northern end of the park.

I checked into the hiker/biker section of the Colter Bay Campground where they were four other cyclists, all on the Adventure Cycling Association’s TransAmerican route. Two of the cyclists started on the East Coast and are headed west, and a young couple from Portland started there and are headed east. They tell an interesting story of quitting their jobs, selling their house and planning this ride across the country and eventually south to Florida where they will make their new home. Prior to this trip the couple had not ridden more than 30 miles in one stretch. Crazy kids!

When I walked over to visit with the cyclists, they immediately pulled out and offered me a beer. The camaraderie was instant based on kindred adventurous spirits. One of the west bound cyclists, Fedor, is from Russia and living in Boston with his Harvard researcher wife. Given the Russian angle I begin to think of this group as “The Trans Americans”, recruited and trained by the KGB as sleeper cyclists meant to travel across America collecting intel on American motorists and roadside trash. The quality and quantity of roadside trash says a lot about a people.

GDMBR Day 40

Start: Pinedale, WY

Finish: Jackson, WY

Miles: 78.5 miles

Odometer: 1,653.8 miles

Ascent: 2,000 feet

Descent: 3,000 feet



Today’s route was supposed to take me over Union Pass in the Wind River Mountain Range but I received word from my Canadian bikepacking friends who are a couple of days ahead that the pass was impassable. The outdoor gear shop said I would be crazy to attempt the ride. Instead, all suggested that I take US Highway 191 to 189 and north over to Jackson, WY. So that’s what I did. The highway route was very beautiful. There were snowcapped mountains all around me. The valley was filled with ranches and open spaces. The only downside was that I had a pretty strong headwind for the entire 80 miles north, including what felt like a wind tunnel through Hoback Canyon. Yikes!

I arrived in Jackson weary but I rewarded myself with a great meal at a restaurant called Thai Me Up - Melvin Brewing (recommended by the Fitzgerald’s bicycle shop mechanic). I had a beer tasting flight that was outstanding. Melvin Brewing has some of the best beer I’ve ever tasted. After dinner I walked over to the boutique chocolate shop and had three chocolate desserts and a cup of decaf cappuccino. Not a bad day.

Fitzgerald Bicycles did not have aerobars in stock. The helpful mechanic pulled up the specs on Jesse’s build (mentioned in yesterday’s post) and gave me a parts list so that I could call another bike shop up the route and get the parts delivered before my arrival.