Riding down the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route had been on my bucket list for a long time. In the summer of 2017 the stars aligned and I was able to get a month and a half off of work. I decided I was going to head out and see how far I got even if I was going to do this thing by myself, much to my mother’s chagrin (“But your a girl! It’s not safe!”). As a way to keep myself busy and process the day I started laying in my tent and typing on my phone a daily wrap up before bed. There is very little route or gear information but more of an honest telling of the highs and lows of a long hard bike tour with all the honest feels from the perspective of woman going out on her own.
Day 8: Red Meadow Lake to Whitefish.
Super sunny day. Really pretty along the lake. I take my time at breakfast to soak up the lake and give my tent time to dry out. I HATE packing up a wet tent and turns out a single walled tent next to a lake turns into a sauna. Who would have thought? The ride was a fun rocky fast descent. Didn’t take many photos as hands needed to be on bars at all times. I was also driven by the idea of good food and a bike shop. My drive train was feeling super grindy for the last two days. I also want to talk to them about the fact that my wrists are killing me. Man going over washboards and rocky stuff for hours on end cannot be underestimated. It just completely beats your bike and body up. Pretty sure each 5 miles ages me 1 year. I am going to be 83 by the time I get back home. I pull in and immediately go to the bike shop at about 3pm. Fuck it’s closed. Why the hell is it closed?
Day 15: Lost Llama Lodge to Helena
Cows are the new deer. I would rather have deer. What I really want to see is elk.
I took my time leaving as I had all day to get to Helena. I had two divide crossings today but less steep and the second one you didn’t really come down that far from the first before you started going up it. Shouldn’t be a problem. Welllll it was. It was 98 degrees that day and the route had hardly any tree cover. It was SLOW going. A lot of refilling water at streams and breaks in the shade. A couple of times I felt cold which I knew was a problem. I was staying at my friend Jimmy’s brother in-laws place (Eric and Johnanna’s) that night and luckily I had cell reception to keep texting them “actually one more hour”, “ok maybe one more”. The terrain was so different through out the day. I finally drop down that second peak and hit the highway.
Day 22 (8/5): Henry’s Lake to Squirrel Creek Elk Ranch.
I made it out of Montana. Was pretty sure I was going to die there but now officially in Idaho.
Well turns out today was Sunday and all the breakfast places we had counted on were closed. Montana and their whole life work balance is really inconvenient. We get to a grocery store and load up on breakfast and get food for a few days. This crew I found myself with tends to buy the food to share family style. I am not used to that with touring so I am kinda shy about it but they keep forcing me to eat berries (jerks).
Day 29 (8/12): Atlantic City to A&M Reservoir
Crap. Basin Day. My friend Kenny is still two days behind me and god knows I can’t dawdle here for two days. I need to suck it up and head out.
Day 36 (8/19): Silverthorne to Heaton Bay Campground. 3.3 epic miles.
Oh thank god! Rest day!!! We get a slow breakfast at the cafe, do laundry at the hotel, go to a few bike shops, hit the REI. It was a glorious casual day. Still every little hill my legs groaned. We decide to roll to the campsite just three miles out of town to save some money versus another hotel. Have a mellow evening at the lake. The insanely short distance allows us to go nutball on food and have a feast. We just need to attach it to the bike good enough to make it three miles. Salad, smoked salmon, baguette, hummus, veggies, pudding.
Day 42 (8/23): Del Norte to Platoro
After feeling like we were watching a scene from a cowboy movie we got up and started weaving down into a valley. The whole time storm clouds are right next to us. We start moving faster to outrun them but we fail miserably. We start to get drenched and I get shivering cold. We are in a hurry and start to get sloppy while descending. Ed has a baby crash but everything is fine. At that point I mention that in 12 miles we hit Platoro where there is lodging. It will be 10 miles short of our goal but I am freezing and wet. Thank god Ed agrees. It is the prettiest area we had been to in days but it’s hard to appreciate that when you can’t stop thinking about how cold you are.
I am, what I would call, an avid cyclist. I am also, what I would call, hella short. These two things often do not mix, especially with touring bikes. I don’t mean a road or CX bike with racks hobo-ed on, but A REAL touring bike fit for me that can take me on the gravel less traveled.
Continue reading “The hunt for Little Touring Monster”