7/30/2011-8/10/2011 372 miles-Rooseville, MT(Canadian Border) to Helena, MT
After years of dreaming and months of planning I kicked off my Great Divide ride on July 30th, from Rooseville, MT. My friend Chris had dropped me off at the border and helped me pack up all my gear. We said our goodbyes and he drove off. My hands were visibly shaking as I went to pick up my fully loaded bike for the first time.
Packing up for the first time.
Day 1-Canadian Border
I was a bit wobbly getting on my fully loaded bike for the first time. I’d done some loaded rides in preparation for the trip, but this was the first time that I had everything that I’d need for the 2,500 mile trip packed into my trailer.
The first 20 miles were kind, perfect for getting some miles behind me. I was greeted with smooth hardtop and very forgiving hills. After Eureka the route turned off of highway 93 and I hit the dirt. Hitting the dirt for the first time I felt like a dog in the back of a truck. I was extremely excited to have the trip started.
My first night I camped at Tuchuck campground. My legs were tired from the first day of riding. In classic Montana style my only neighbors in the campground invited me over for a beer. The beer was followed by an Elk steak and homegrown veggies. I love MT hospitality. Thanks Michael, Kell, and Sage!
Mini celebration at the top of every hill.
The mountains in the distance are Glacier National Park.
So much for a solo ride.
Getting closer to Glacier.
Day 2-Red Meadows Lake
About 7 miles into the second day I came across my first bear. I was cruising down a hill when off to my right I heard a branch snap. All I saw was a medium/small bear tearing through the forest away from me as fast as possible. I like that response.
The views of Glacier National Park’s mountains were spectacular today.
The mosquitoes at Red Meadows Lake were relentless. As a knelt next to the lake to pump water they took full advantage of my vulnerable position. Their attack drove me into the tent early in the evening. In my journal post from that evening there is a smashed mosquito carcass on the page. Next to it I had drawn a little arrow and “YES!”.
Fields outside of Whitefish.
Day 5-Big Fork
After a resupply in Big Fork I hit the trail. Not far outside of Big Fork I ran into a couple on bikes. They were on their 11 month of a trip that began in S. America and were just days away from finishing their journey. It was an inspiration to hear them talking about their adventures. One of the things that really stuck with me was how they didn’t really want to finish. They’d had such an amazing trip they were reluctant to wrap it up. Their reluctance to finish after all those months made me think differently about my trip. No rush enjoy every mile, enjoy everyday, and get as much out of the journey as possible.
Not surprisingly roast beef spread in a can tastes like shit.
This was my final attempt to add canned protein to my diet!
Mission Mountains in the distance.
Finally got into some fun single track. It was a great change of pace after a week on forest service roads. On the 8th day of the ride a the trail was wild. The road gradually deteriorated into overgrown single track. Branches reached out and across the trail and grabbed at my arms as I rode by. Several times I had to duck to avoid a collision with the overhanging branches. I was forced to dismount over and over again to wrestle my bike and trailer over fallen logs.
The reward for struggling through the rough single track was a beautiful downhill ride into Seeley Lake. Ten miles of downhill, a $10 campsite, and a jump in the lake made me feel like a new man.
Where did the trees go?
After 12 days of riding I rode into Helena. The route into Helena made for some quick miles. The 15 miles of downhill on the highway flew by, and by early afternoon I was enjoying all the luxuries of the big city!