Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lincoln to Helena

As mentioned, today was spent on road. Granted it was a rest day, it was still close to 60 miles. The weather was perfect and I slowly followed a thunderstorm in the near distance, all the way to Helena. I was fortunate to stop in Canyon Creek, with the only services being a small country store. In fact, the smallest store with the largest inventory that I have ever been in. It also included a small antiques annex as well. Merna, the owner, was extremely nice and offered a tasting of their huckleberry ice cream (actually made in Colorado). The riding was obviously easier, but at the same time not as interesting as the forest roads. Once outside of Helena, there was a 5 mile stretch to link up with Dad for the night. We were able to find a great (tumble weed) IPA from Lewis and Clarke brewery. There was also a block party with live music, the great atmosphere included a near apocalyptic sky as another storm crept in.

June 30th ...

Last night there was a very quick but powerful storm, starting first as a dust storm and transitioning to rain, hail and very strong winds. This brought down many ponderosa pines and cut the power for a short time. In lieu of last nights weather and also the current conditions and need of rest, i will be skirting the GDMBR trail (still hitting the CD) and heading to Helena (approx 55 miles) on road today...will also replace the batteries in the GPS!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Fatty Creek to Holland Lake Lodge



Due to the detour last night, I had to rejoin the GDMBR through Cold Creek Road and this shortened the day to a rolling 25 miles...without any bears. The route followed forest roads, all the way to HLL, which is barely off the actually Great Divide route. I arrived in Holland Lake with time to spare and set out on a hike to the Holland Lake Falls (pictured below) along with a spectacular view off the lake and back-dropped by the Rockies. Holland Lake Lodge had recently hosted 17 of the cyclists on the GDMBR. It was a forest service campsite and provided a decent nights sleep. A quick nip out for a bite to eat with Dad, provided rocky mountain oysters (with a side of ranch) and a "teddy bear" 8oz piece of protein.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 5 Big Fork to Fatty Creek


An "easy" day of 34 odd miles, with a 6 mile climb in the morning to 2800ft. What could go wrong? Initially I was 2 miles from the route, and the pavement inevitably turned to gravel FR. Another obnoxious climb was conquered by bike and foot. A quick photo lead to a half hour talk with a very hospitable retired cattle rancher, hailing from Missoula. The downhill passed through Swan Lake Wildlife refuge, and as one switchback lead to another, another lead to a bear. I have seen bears both in the wild and at the zoo, but having one 20 yards infront of you gets the adrenaline pumping, he or she was quick to retreat and I was quick to pass by. A few animal bones along the way also added to the paranoia. As I approached my intented Fatty Creek campsite, I was tired and ready for the day to end. Whilst being swamped by mosquito's I accidentaly sprayed myself in the eye, and then found that the previous tenant had left their trailmix everywhere. Time to relax, calm down and sit peacefully overlooking the thunderstorm in the near distance. O wait... another bear, seemingly okay with my presence, just foraging a few 10 yards from my perch on the bridge. The golden brown of his hide made him look very cuddly and of course would look great as the background for my computer, unfortunately a the picture came to mind second. I knew there was lodging down the road, although unsure of whether there was a vacancy, i was willing to risk the 15 miles, possibly 25 to the next town. The risk payed of even if it turned into a 50 mile day, and I was safe for the night...


Also recent news flash...RIP to Dave Blumenthal who had a fatal crash on the Tour Divide

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 4

Today's ride followed right angled graveled roads, and was a break from the wild deciduous forest roads (FR). The roads traversed the flats of the Flathead river and Swan Mountains. With the final destination being Bigfork which is located on Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. On route, a stop in Columbia Falls provided sustenance in the form of an avocado BLT, and even though most of the day was flat the 80 degree weather made it difficult to peddle. 2 miles out from Bigfork, with only a bike path to go, the heavens opened and the rain came down. They say if you don't like the weather in Montana, wait 5 minutes. By the time I met up with Dad the rain had stopped and there was a steep climb to the motel. Dinner consisted of a stop at the Flathead Lake Brewery (http://www.flatheadlakebrewing.com/home), with great live music and hospitality. Thank you! We tried Shaun's Elk sausages (amazing) and then headed over to The Raven for Yak meatloaf with candied bacon! This was the longest day, as far as mileage, but the muscles are getting used to the workout.

Miles: 42

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 3 Red Meadow to Whitefish


Another climb to start the morning, around 6 miles to the Whitefish divide and an elevation of 3905ft...and that means snow. Thankfully I was prepared, or at least forewarned. Moving from 80 degrees at low elevations to snow at Red Meadow campground certainly took its toll. It was slow moving through the snow, and with all the weight behind me I had to dismount and walk. Thankfully when there's a climb there is also a descent, although most of my elevation was lost in a couple of miles. Surface water was prevalent, allowing me to resupply on the run. At the moment I am running through 5 water bottles and a Camel Pack each day. The descent terminated at a paved road which ran parallel to Whitefish lake, a semi easy route back into Whitefish. Only disheartening when road bikers are going 10 to 15 mph faster. My spirits rose once I saw Big Mountain, and a quick pit stop was needed for hot food at a gas station, not sure what was in their "tornado" but protein is protein. Met Dad at the motel, washed up and headed out for some libation and food. Granted no amount of caffeine would have allowed my legs to work properly. Regardless of a warm bed, barely any sleep was gained from it..

Miles:39

video

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2 Headed to Red Meadow


One would think an "early" start would allow me to easily catch up the time that I had lost from the day before, a 2 mile climb to 4000ft would provide an argument otherwise. Such a climb resulted in amazing scenery, loss of breath and first real sign of snow! Most of the day was spent on gravel roads along the North Fork, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park. No sign of the Canadian lynx or woodland caribou, just a scattering of deer and small furry chipmunks or relative there of. After the tedious climb to the Whitefish divide there was a 5 mile descent, followed by a rolling 20ish mile gravel road. Once onto Red Meadow Road and 9 miles from my destination, I was forewarned that there would still be snow at that elevation, so I was offered a tootsie roll (by a very kind family) and the knowledge that there was a campsite a few hundred feet up the road. Again a very primitive campsite even in comparison to the previous night, but it allowed for some rest as I needed to make up the lost miles on the next day.

Miles: 38
Time peddling: 6.5 hours

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 1 (Eureka to Tuchuck Campground)


Many of these posts will be written from the future and thus contain a melting pot of thought and experiences, due to lethargy at the end of the day and not always having service. Ok, so... I needed to finish some laundry in town before I started, and thus was not able to start peddling until 10:15'ish, it was cool and constantly raining and extremely overcast for the majority of the day. I had 6 miles to the border before I could actually start the ride. I was soon aware that I had packed too much equipment, granted this excursion is full of up's and down's, I needed to plan on loosing some weight in the trailer. The majority of the day was spent on tarmac, with semi's rolling by...until around 2pm when I pulled off into Kootenai National Park. From there I had another 25 miles to my suggested campground. Unfortunately I misinterpreted the words "turn for" in my directions, interpreting them as a direction rather than a suggestion. This lead me to a dead end and with the lactic acid building up I decided to find a nearby campsite instead of a long climb to Tuchuck. As I realized from the next day, it would have taken me another 3 hours to get to Tuchuck. Luckily I was the only one at Graves Creek (pronounced "crick" out here) and a plentiful water source to filter and restock my supplies.

Time peddling: 5 hours
Miles: 33.4
Average: 7 mph

From the Kootenai News (piece of) Paper found at the Laundromat:

What starts with an e, ends with an e, and usually contains one letter?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First day (kinda) and the tan lines are phenomenal!!


So last night was spend in a Holiday Inn, the maid was not used to people answering the door in their boxer shorts..o well..needless to say I was off around 11am with thanks to Cindy and the manager Dennis who let me store my gear in their maintenance shed. I spent the day adjusting to the altitude, this turned into a 2000ft climb up (aptly named) Big Mountain. At the turn around point I was above the snow line and had an adrenaline filled descent, reaching 35mph at points. Lunch consisted of a turkey and meat candy (bacon) panini, garbanzo bean salad and a mayhem bar (coconut, chocolate, oatmeal, walnuts and mayhem). A restock of (on sale) energy bars was much needed, each packing 280 calories. A quick stop at the local supermarket turned into me buying a brick of sugar, I had intended to pre-mix this with the oatmeal but it turned out to be a source of entertainment rather than nourishment. Kathleen picked me up around 5 and we headed for Eureka. On the way we saw a Partridge with two chicks, very nice to see although they were in the middle of the road. Hope they ended up safe! We found my motel and took a quick look at the road to the border...all in all a 46.1 mile day for tomorrow. The local laundromat had closed so I stocked up for the next 3 days and am all set to leave tomorrow. Tomorrow's ride is through Tobacco Valley with my destination being Tuchuck Campground..

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Overnight to Whitefish MT

Another long day on the train, woke up with a pulled muscle in my lower back..but still feel rested. Perfect blue skies touched flat rolling land with intermittent rows of brown and green wheat fields. The reason being, that wheat needs two years of moisture, thus its planted in rows, each row harvested in successive years. The rows are planted north to south so that the east and west winds prevent soil erosion. The flat farm land quickly turned into the mountainous landscape of Glacier National Park, and a first glimpse of the inspiring rocky mountains. Snow capped peaks and rivers that Lewis and Clark once traveled. We were in Black Feet Indian territory for a portion of the day and finished in the small town of Whitefish. I hope to ride up Big Mountain tomorrow so that I can see the whole of Glacier Park. Once I arrived in Whitefish, Cathleen met me and it took us a moment to find a room for the night. We went out to Craggy Ridge for a well needed refuel of IPA and protein. Check out the pics below and also my location at http://www.trackleaders.com/divide , hopefully I will be able to embed this map before I start. Many thanks to Cathleen for her hospitality! Hope everyone is well back home..


Friday, June 18, 2010

Chi Town

Train was on time, we arrived close to 11am, stiff and cramped from the night before. Found myself in 50 different positions during the night, but still feel well rested. Thanks to Micheal, found Lou Malnati's pizzeria for their famous "butter crust" and deep dish pizza. And a quick pint of Goose Island's 312. The 90 degree weather quickly became tiresome and a quick resupply at CVS was needed before boarding the train to WTF.


Still working on the widget for my SPOT GPS but a (near) up-to-date location of my whereabouts can be found at http://www.trackleaders.com/divide. Thanks to Scott of trackleaders who helped me out late last night. His expertise may lead to this map being embedded on the blog, fingers crossed!!

Also check out the FlickR bar on the right hand side, photo's from my phone will be updated as often as possible.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Departure

After a years worth of planning and daily moments of anticipation, the train has finally left Springfield and we are expected in Chicago around 11.00 tomorrow morning. There were few problems this morning and many thanks to Mom, Micheal and Micheal for helping me to get ready. Also many thanks to those who have already generously donated, it is definitely appreciated and provides motivation!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Donations to Vets Helping Heroes


Donations

100% of all donations go towards Vets Helping Heroes

Donations may be made by check, money order, credit card or Paypal.

If you would like to mail a check or money order: (please check the above website)

Please make payable to: Vets Helping Heroes

Mail payment to:

Vets Helping Heroes, PO Box 540723, Greenacres, FL 33454

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)

The Great Divide Bike Route was the project of a Missoula, Montana based Adventure Cycling Association. The strategy was to connect a route which paralleled (within 50 miles) the Great Divide from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. Avoiding tough single tracks and adhering to public-right-of way roads, without the need to build new trails or obtain new rights-of-way. And thus alleviating, without contributing to the impact of cyclists and hikers in the area. The GDMBR has become to mountain bikers what the Appalachian Trail is to hikers. Its combines bicycle touring, mountain biking and backpacking into an activity aptly named 'bikepacking'.


State by state breakdown of mileage:
Montana: 695 miles
Idaho: 72 miles
Wyoming: 483 miles
Colorado: 544 miles
New Mexico: 696 miles


Thursday, June 10, 2010

About Vets Helping Heroes

Veterans Helping Today’s Returning Heroes Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization created to solicit and provide funds for America’s VetDogs so that they may provide guide or service dogs and training to veterans and active military personnel who have been wounded in the global war on terrorism and who require the use of an assistance dog to help them return to a life of self-reliance and dignity whether they are blind or visually impaired or have other special needs.




Mission Statement:

To provide a professionally trained assistance dog prepared by a qualified instructor to every disabled hero wounded in the global war on terrorism that will enable them to return to a life with dignity and self-reliance whether they are visually impaired or have other special needs that require an assistance dog. All of the services are provided at no cost to the veteran.