Monthly Archives: December 2014

Three Days in Two

Rain at Mountain View MotelThis post so soon after the last one is the result of rain. I’m currently in a motel room in Lima, MT, although, I should be on the road but woke up to rain and, a cold rain at that, and decided to stay put. Originally, I planned on taking three days to ride from the Elkhorn Hot Springs to Lima (as in Lima beans) but the two cyclists, Gary and Gail, informed me that they were going to ride 50 miles each day to make it in two days.

Two days seemed over the top. I stopped at Bannack State Park (see photos), which is a ghost town but Gary and Gail rode on. I wouldn’t recommend going to Bannack, but I would recommend Virginia City, Nevada and Brody, California.

After, Bannack it was a roller coaster ride on dirt (see photo, in addition we climbed 2240′ and descended 2670′). I just kept riding and riding throughout the day, and saw no reason to set up camp as long as there was plenty of sun and I felt reasonably strong.   Thunder and lightening started to make it’s presence known so I kept riding while looking for a place to set up camp.

After, riding 57+ miles I spotted Gary and Gail setting up their camp on a hillside covered with sagebrush. I dragged my bike and trailer about thirty feet up the hill to a flat area that was bare of sagebrush and steaming cow pies. As soon as I got my tent set up it started with a downpour. I climbed into my tent where it felt cozy as the rain slapped against it.

The rain was short lived, and I went out and set up my stove, and whipped up a bowl up Top Ramen. For dessert, I had fig newtons. The next morning, I flung the rain fly out of the way to check the weather. There were some awesome clouds and I reached over for my camera and took a photo of my trailer with the clouds in the background (see photo).

We started out around 8am for a long day to reach Lima. We got slammed with a nasty headwind as we rode in the open, but lucked out as we turned and rode parallel and close to these cliffs. The valley we were riding in was ranch land, and besides the Black Angus cattle, they grew hay for cattle feed in the Winter.

As we rode, actually, Gary and Gail were a ways ahead of me, a group of four wheelers rode pass me. The last member of the group was an older man who stopped to talk. He mentioned that there are five generations of his family that have been involved with the Hansen Ranch. His grandfather homesteaded the land. He pointed in the distance and said “see that mountain that looks like a tit well just to the right of it is where the road goes”. Thanks.

The road the rancher was talking about, is Medicine Lodge Sheep Creek Divide, and it was one steep road (see photo of Gary and Gail pushing their bikes). To add insult to injury, we were told that it’s all downhill on the other side.  Not so.

After, putting in some miles the road turned into one long meandering downhill snake, that traversed the valley floor and then through a canyon with massive rock monolifts. What was interesting was the number of caves in these granite rock mountains.

The road surface for most of the ride was gravel, which can get old after a while, even if it’s downhill. The cattle on the road (see photo) can be intimidating, especially, the ones without an utter.  So far, the intimidation proves to be in one’s imagination for they move away when you get close enough. Maybe they’re playing Mexican standoff.

After, 43 miles of gravel and dirt you turn on to the frontage road that parallels the I-15. Only seven miles to go and on asphalt, You’re home. Want to bet? As soon as you make the turn you get hit in the face with an unrelenting nasty headwind. I didn’t think that I was going to make it to Lima. I stopped so many times to rest and felt like giving up. When I got within a mile, I picked up steam and here I am in Lima, like in Lima beans.

Photo: On swing at Elkhorn Hot springs

Photo: Shoe tree at Mountain View Motel. Shoes of Continental Divide hikers.

Photo: Pork Chops at Elkhorn Hot Springs.

Photo: Mountain view Motel sign. Sorry, if you were thinking of dressing your deer in the bathtub.

 

Swing at Elkhorn (2)Pork Chops at ElkhornBig Sheep Creek Canyon (2)Horsing around on Highway 278 (2)Gail and Gary Med Lodge Divide (2)Continental Divide Hikers (2)Top of Med Lodge Divide (2)Bannack Ghost Town (2)Stop to filter water (2)Bannack Ghost Town 1 (2)Road out of Bannack,MT (2)Sign at Mt View Motel, Lima, MT (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elkhorn HOT SPRINGS, Montana

       This will be a short update. I’ve been at the Elkhorn Hot Springs for the past two days and it’s been the highlight of the trip so far. I came close to missing this experience when I first spotted the steep climb off the main road and had to think twice before deciding to push my bike up this long gravel road. When I got to the top I checked my phone and noticed that there was no cell phone or internet service, so I decided to take off. When I rode by the lodge on my way out someone yelled for me to stop.

I stopped and when I was informed, yes, they don’t have cell phone service but they do have internet service and the cost for a room is $35 which includes breakfast and the use of the pool facilities, I signed the dotted line.

The staff have been so gracious and helpful…is this a dream? The food was excellent and more than enough. I used the pool several times, which is surrounded by tall pines, well they look like pines. Overall, it has a rustic,Topanga Canyon, feel to it. I included photos.

Today, three other cyclists arrived and we shared our war stories.  Tomorrow, we’re off for more adventure.

Elkhorn Lodge 5Elkhorn Hot Springs Pool 2Elkhorn Hot Springs Carl(1)Elkhorn Hot Springs Pool(1)Elkhorn LodgeElkhorn Lodge 3Elkhorn Lodge 4Elkhorn Lodge 6

Pavement…How Sweet it is

In my last blog I said very little regarding Butte, that’s because I saw very little of Butte. When I got off I-90 I went directly to the first motel I saw which was next to the off ramp. I rented a room and took a hot bath to thaw out my bones. I went to the Safeway down the street to get supplies for the next day’s ride and then got a burger. I hadn’t used the $20 the fly fisherman gave me.

I returned to my room, which looked like a war zone, and started working on my blog. I ran into a bunch of problems to the point that I had to get a hold of Keith. He was able to work the blog on his end. Just minutes before midnight I was able to complete my blog. I forgot to mention that I blew away several paragraphs of text when I transferred some photos to the blog and had to redo the text. Enough of Butte.

The ride out of butte on 8-23-14 went smooth for several miles then there was this brute of a climb.  I had company for awhile when this woman, who is doing some of the Divide, pushed her bike along side me.  She proved to be too young, too strong, and had minimal gear so It wasn’t long before I was pushing alone.

Miles later, I reached a plateau where you actually cross over the Continental Divide. It was cold at the top and when I checked my thermometer it read 44 degrees.

The ride down from the Plateau went for miles through open range land with rolling hills and sage for the view. At times cattle stood in the road way, which was gravel, and I was concerned because it didn’t look they would move, or if they did, it would be at me. Well, at the last moment, they would gallop off.

As the gravel road headed downward, I forgot to mention that I had to pushed my bike up numerous hills, toward the I-15 there were two choices when you reached the frontage road, turn left and end up the next day tackling a real nasty ass kicking, although scenic (like who’s smelling the roses) section, or turn right and take the pavement for the next two days.

Forget the glory, I took the pavement, which turned out to be like riding on carpet, and the only concern I had was there were no campgrounds listed on the map that wasn’t another day’s ride away. My plan was to ride until I found some place off the side of the road where I could camp, but there was a problem, every square inch of land was fenced and festooned with No Trespassing signs.

As I turned off the frontage road, onto U.S. 43, I kept my eyes open for a place to bed down. If you forgot, my tent, tarp, and rain fly, are more than wet from the Merry Widow Campground soaking. Imagine, sleeping off the side of the road inside a dripping wet tent.

After riding a little over a mile, I saw it, but didn’t believe it, Campgrounds. As I turned off the road toward the entrance, I was giddy but still skeptical that there was an actual campground. There it was, and with several available sites. In addition to the find, the sun popped out and I was able to dry out my gear. In addition, the neighbor next to me, brought over some hot dogs for my Ramen.

I took the road less traveled and how sweet it was.

 

On 8-25-14, I resumed riding on U.S. 43 which follows the Wise River. It was only 10 miles to the Wise River Cafe where my plan was to have breakfast. I had a big breakfast and followed it up with peach pie and ice cream. I used the $20 from the fly fisherman to pay for the breakfast. It was just enough.

I started down U.S. 43 and after about 2 miles I decided to check my map and compass and I discovered that I needed to go south on U.S. 73. There’s a wasted 4 miles. This was another smooth as silk highway with minimal traffic. It’s referred to as one of America’s Scenic Byways.

As I was headed south this cyclist going north yells to me, ” are you riding the whole mountain?”. I was thinking what did he mean by that because the road only had a gradual incline. Well, I learned later that there are some tough climbs to get to tonight’s campsite with more and tougher ones to follow tomorrow.

I camped at Little Joe’s Campground, climbing 2100′. This has been basically, a roller coaster highway following the river where fishermen using drift boats with one person using oaks to hold the boat steady while the others fish.

I built a campfire for the first time since starting the Divide. I spent a lot of time fanning the fire to get it going. I found a log to sit on and wrote notes for my blog. I had to put my down jacket over my sleeping bag to keep warm. I found out the next morning with my digital thermometer that it got down to 26 degrees.

On 8-26-14, I started the day with one climb after another. I climbed close to 1500′ in 8 miles. There was this long steep descent that was exhilarating if not fun. I’m currently staying at the Elkhorn Hot Springs. This was a real find.

 

Get your feet wetFishing on Wise River(1)View from bike routeSign on U.S. 73U.S. 73 Senic BywayScene on U.S. 73Nasty windGrid lock on U.S. 73

 

Toughest Day on the Divide

The weather forecast for the next few days is rain and I’m not staying put in Helena so on 8-21-14 I rode out of Helena into a light rain looking for Grizzly Gulch rd. I found it, and for the first time spotted an official Divide Route sign. It was 24 miles to Park Lake with some steep climbs that required me to push the bike. The elevation is 6150′ and for the first time I had to wear my down jacket. I met some fly fishermen who were loading their truck. One of the fishermen, Dave, showed the most interest in my trip. He asked me if I’m stopping in Butte, and I said yes, and then wondered why he asked that question. He then pulls out a $20 bill and hands it to me, stating it’s for dinner in Butte. He was also very helpful in providing detailed directions for a tricky section of the route.  There was thunder and lightening and rain while I listened to classical music on my ipod.

Left campsite at Lake Park at 8am to a cold, foggy, and light rain morning, although the whole day was like this. In a few miles I reached the section of the route that will live in infamy, as far as I’m concerned. This is a two mile plus motocross course it was not intended for bicycles. It took me three hours to finish this section. One only gets a partial sense of the wanton nastiest this section provides through photos. Every so often the left pedal would hit the back of my right calf while I pushed the bike. My leg looked like someone used a meat tenderizing mallet on it.

I camped at Merry Widow Campground in Bain, which is 30 miles north of Butte. It’s a weird experience riding through the back woods all day, thinking that this is the world, and then entering a clearing and out pops the I-15. It rained all night and it was a bitch packing all my gear, especially, the tent, tarp, and rain fly and the wetness adds to the weight. Just what I need is more weight.

After a big breakfast in the town of Bain I headed south toward Butte. The ride wasn’t too bad except for the constant cold rain. When I checked into a motel I had a very difficult time unbuckling my helmet because my fingers wouldn’t cooperate. As I said it was cold.

 

#1 Baddest Divide Section 2#1 Baddest Divide Section 3

#1 Baddest Divide Section 4# 1 Baddest Divide SectionSign when leaving Helena#1 Baddest Divide Section 5Park Lake Storm

Lay Over in Helena, MT

On 8-18-14 the ride out of Lincoln began on a dusty gravel road that led 15 miles to Stemple Pass. The road,  Sleepy Hallow (sic) Ave./Stemple Pass Rd. leads pass Ted Kaczynski’s former residence. In fact, I stopped to talk to a rancher who was spraying weeds between his property and the road. He pointed to a knoll where Ted’s “cabin” was located.  He remembers Ted passing his ranch, as the Unabomber walked to and from Lincoln, always keeping to himself.

I was able to ride almost 14 miles before the road became too steep and I had to push the bike to the top. I included a photo at the top which has benches for cross country skiers. The top wasn’t the end of pushing the bike for there was more pushing on the road I turned left on. I rode for quite a while on a ridge with a view of the forest as far as the eye could see.

I missed a turn, need to follow the map much closer, and ended going on this, at least ten miles, hang on to the seat of you pants, downhill “run”. The road left the forest and exited into this wide valley. I had no idea where I was, but felt relieved when the road I was on, ended at a T and there was this sign that read Helena 28 miles. All I that to do was turn left and go South. It was around 3:30 and I thought I had a chance of making it to Helena before nighttime. This was a wide gravel road that cut through ranch land. There were these big tracker like combines that were gathering the cut hay into these huge rolls(1500 pounds each) to store for feeding their cattle during the winter.

I was cranking on the pedals, but at times had to slow down, because the wash board became so jarring that I was afraid of loosing control of the handlebars. Finally, I spotted a store, Canyon Creek, that was around 1/4 of a mile after where the gravel road turned to pavement. Was I in luck, the store also had an area for camping and camping on thick soft grass, not the hard gravel that I was used to. See photo of camp ground. The first thing the owner of the store asked “are you doing the Divide?”. She said she gets a few of them time to time. It was a tough day, for I climbed 2890′. I don’t think I would have made Helena.

On 8-19-14 I rode into Helena and rented a room. My plan was to have a lay over day, i.e., spend two nights here. I spent my time in Helena taking care of business, such as, buying supplies, cleaning my bike chain and lubing it, eating at Panda Express and MacDonald’s. It’s weird seeing all these familiar stores, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, etc. It’s like you haven’t left home.

My big concern is the weather. There’s a storm predicted, with T-storms on Thursday and “regular” rain for Friday. I don’t want to spend any more time in a motel room. Need to hit the road. By the way, I spotted quite a few of these roadside memorials, young people, how sad.

 

U.S. 279 MemorialButterfly on bike seatCatheral HelenaCanyon Creek, MT

 

 

El fin

I had a tough time sleeping in my Rock Springs motel room because my mind was preoccupied with the start of the next day’s ride. What happened is that I lost my sense of direction. East felt like west and west felt like east. Twice, I got up in the middle of the night and took a map and a compass out to see which of the two on ramps on I-80 I should use. One was closer to the direction I wanted to go, west, but it felt like it was going east. My mind said one direction while the map and compass said the opposite.

On Saturday, I started my ride just before 7am and headed the direction the map told me to go. As I got to the on ramp my sense of direction amazing returned. I rode 7 miles on I-80 and got off the ramp to U.S. 191. As soon as I got on U.S. 191, I started climbing, climbing, climbing. Even when I reached the plateau the climbs continued. Finally, when I reached the south end of the plateau the road descended, but only for a few miles. I couldn’t believe it, it started climbing. There’s a photo of one of the climbs which in the distance I couldn’t believe was an actual road until I saw a car coming down. With about 100 yards to the top of this hill I had to push the bike.

With a 1/4 of a mile to Dutch John, which took me 12 hours to complete 66 miles, there was of course, a hill. There was tent camping behind the general store, and I was informed that the ride to Vernal had more down hills. Not so. The ride started downhill toward the Flaming Gorge Dam but the road climbed the rest of the day from 6,500 feet at the dam to 8400 at the summit. There was one stretch which I believe set the record for the longest continuous ascent.

To add insult to injury, it started to rain, and this was cold downpour rain.  At one point, I was pushing my bike up this steep hill, getting soaked, while cars, semis, motor homes, etc. were gunning their engines as they passed along side me on their way to the top. Visibility would have been better looking through a gunnysack.

Now, the best part. The rain stopped, and there was finally, sun. A few miles after the summit there was this sign, which I wanted to take a photo of but too wet to get the camera out, that stated that there were 10 switchbacks ahead with 9% being the steepest descent. The switchbacks were incredibly long and it was basically, a thrill ride with the bike careening close to the edge of the road seemingly, forever. I’ll never forget this descent. Hopefully, they have a name for it. I made it to Vernal around 6pm.

I left Vernal, Utah just before 7am because I was scheduled to meet my brother, Tony, in Rangely, Colorado at 5pm…53 miles and I didn’t know what the terrain was like. Well, overall, it was one of the more forgiving rides: flat, downhills, no wind, and with reasonable ascents. I made it to Dinosaur, Colorado at 12:30 and this is 15 miles north of Rangely.

I called my brother and he said that he was near Rangely and would head my way and pick me up. Around six miles outside of Dinosaur, Tony spotted me, stopped, and we loaded his SUV with the bike and trailer.

Good thing I didn’t attempt to ride to Grand Junction because the highway from Rangely to GJ is, in a nut shell, not made for bicycles, very dangerous. After spending the night at Tony’s we drove to Primm, Nevada, spent the night there and headed for Altadena.

In Primm, I talked to Beverly about my need to see a doctor regarding my blistered lower lip which has been driving me insane with a constant burning sensation. She set up an appointment for 3:30 on the day we would arrive, Wednesday.

While at my doctor’s, I decided to mention that my legs, especially, the left one would get swollen during the day but at night return to normal. He didn’t waste anytime sending me to the lab to draw blood. The lab results showed that I needed an ultra sound. The ultra sound confirmed that I have Deep Vein Thrombosis DVT and require treatment, now.

After instructions from the nurse, I injected Lovenox into my right love handle and will have to do this twice a day for seven days, along with taking Warfarin (anticoagulant) probably for the rest of my life because I had the same problem five years ago. The doctor’s appointment was for 3:30 and we:Tony, Beverly, and yours truly, didn’t get home until 11:30.

I often wonder how things would have turned out if I would have continued the ride and not bailed early or by not having a blistered lip that got me in the doctor’s office or by not mentioning the swollen legs.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed the ride.

As Always, Carl

 

Addendum:  My doctor also, made a referral for me to see a hematologist (blood doctor). One day short of finishing giving myself injections I saw a hematologist. His conclusion was that I didn’t have another blood clot but that the swelling is the result of the vein in my left leg narrowing. He recommended compression socks (see photo) and told me to discontinue the injections and the Warfarin….Hooray!

Steepest Climb(1)Bike Packed to go Home 9-17-14Colorado signCompreeion SockFlaming Gorge Dam distanceOn to Dutch John, UtahRumble Strips Utah

 

Utah signDam Senior Parking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pushing the bike

It’s been a while since I last  got on the computer mainly because they don’t have wifi in tents. On 8-12-14 I rode 41+ miles mostly on farm roads, which was a treat, from all the riding through dense forest. I camped at a state campground a mile from the quaint town of Big Fork with views of Flathead Lake, which by the way is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.

To give my dupa a rest, I decided to walk to town for dinner. I found a pizza place and besides pizza, I had two beers and two jello shooters. With all the riding and the booze, I was feeling a little light headed and looked like  someone who is failing a sobriety test as I was making my way back to camp. Twice, I had take a break by sitting on the stoops of a store. Half way up this long steep  hill to reach the campground I stuck out my thumb and got a ride.

I was dreading the next day’s ride because of a 6 mile steep climb that is mentioned in the book and on the map. I knew that I would have to push my bike and my ever so heavy trailer for 6 miles and of course that’s what I did, and in 90 degree weather. It took more than a few hours to reach the top. I averaged around 1 1/2 miles an hour.

The top was so sweet with the added attraction of an 8 mile, hang by the seat of your pants, downhill. You had to really grip the handlebars because much of the road surface was crushed rock that was laid a little too thick in places. I think you get the picture.

When I was close to the end of the downhill I happened to look at my handlebar bag and noticed that my bike map was missing. It fits under a sheet of plastic. I went into a panic, because without this very detailed map the ride is impossible. I unhitched the trailer and started riding back up to look for the map, and after about less than a mile, I turned around and hitched the trailer back up.

After riding for a few minutes, I spot a forest service truck, from Arizona no less, coming up the hill. I stop them and let them know my situation. They gave me their blessings and continued on.  My mind was flooded with possible, actually, impossible ways that I could get a new map. Around two hours later I hear this truck behind me, it’s the forest service truck and this guy is waving the map. I did not make this up.

The next day, 8-14-12, I fixed myself, freeze dried Pasta Primavera for breakfast. I was in no shape to fix dinner the night before. There was a light rain that stopped after a couple of hours of riding. I decided to avoid the forest, beating me up too much, and took highway 83 to the next stopping point which was Holland Lake. The highway had it’s own disadvantages, narrow shoulders with speeding cars, trucks, cars pulling trailers, and even a truck pulling a trailer and the trailer pulling a boat.

Holland Lake is a very popular camping and boating spot. It’s a beautiful place surround by majestic mountains. That night, I was in for a treat from mother nature; violent thunder and lightening. Of course it rained, and to my surprise my rain fly failed me. Of all places the water dripped, it had to be on my face. I threw my jacket over my face but then I felt that I was suffocating.  Finally, I got out of the tent; and getting a good soaking as I arranged my ground cloth over the top of my tent. It worked.

Took highway 83 to Seeley Lake on 8-15-14, where believe it or not, nothing event full happened.  I’ll be back in the forest when I leave Seeley Lake.

On 8-16-14 I left Seeley Lake at 8am and didn’t get to Big Nelson Campground until 6pm. I rode through the forest most of the way. I rode 47 miles and gained 2580 feet with a lose of 2060. This campground leaves much to be desired. There’s only 10 camping sites, and two of them, mind being one of them, are situated below the roadway. I had to unpack most of my things on the shoulder of the road and carry them down on these homemade steps cut into the embankment.

Sometime later, the neighbor campers came over with a 32 inch chain saw and an axe. Good thing I wasn’t camping in Texas. They cut up firewood for me and even got the fire going. Also, they brought me a bottle of Kona beer. The next day they came over to carry my bike and trailer up to the roadway. Their names are Paul and Josh. I gave them a free copy of my blog.

It’s 8-17-14 and I’ve been cooped up in a motel room working on the blog. This am I left Big Nelson and rode and also, pushed my bike to get to Lincoln. I had 5 miles of pushing. I met a couple from Spain who are doing the Divide. Now I have left to do is to upload some photos.

Sunset on Flathead LakeHolland Lake MTBig Fork, MTCoffee on Holland LakeMontana MailboxAlmost Home SignJosh Cutting fire WordMontana FarmKilroyPaul Spliting FirewoodResting on Climb

Previous tours

Following are some photos of previous tours:

1. 1984 Simi Valley, CA to New Amsterdam, New York. Twenty eight days of riding. Two lay over days. No bike computer so I don’t know the mileage. Over 3,000 is a good estimate.

2. 1990 Seattle, WA to San Diego, CA.

3. 1994 Northridge, CA to Boston, MA. When I arrived in Boston and checked into a fancy hotel the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV was a white Bronco being     followed by a phalanx of black and whites.

4. 2001 Round trip from Altadena, CA to Fairbanks, AK. A total of 7,000+ miles and almost 5 months.

5. 2009 Yorktown, VA to Florence, Oregon. 4,300 miles and 3 months.

All my tours were solo except for 2009. See group photo below. There are several selfies, although not technically selfies, they were taken of me by me: Drinking from a mug; Eating on a Victoria, BC hotel balcony; Hiding from the rain in a storm drain; On the road to Haines, Alaska; and Crossing the Ohio river on a ferry is technically a genuine selfie.

 

Click on any image to enlarge it. Some of the text is difficult to read but pops right out when enlarged.

 

 

 

 

.    La Veta, CO 1984  textWells, Nevada 1994 textVictoria, Canada 1990 textTo Currant, Nevada 1994 textTacoma, Wash 1990 textPine Pass BC 2001 textNevada Desert Highway 1994 textLiard Hot Springs BC 2001 textHoosier Pass, CO 2009 textFlat on Highway to Currant, Nevada 1994 textEly Nevada 1994 textChemult Oregon 2001 textCarl, Bob and Grant 2001 textCarl on to Haines, Alaska 2001 textCarl cross the Ohio River 2001 textCarl & Cable Car 1990 TextCamping Coaldale Nevada  2001 textBurgrress Junction WY 9430 ft 1994 textAdventure Cyclist Missoula, Montana 2009

The anxiety is building.

I get periodic rushes of anxiety thinking about the ride and all the things that I need to take care of.  One thing I feel good about is that I’m doing the miles on the bike, not long miles, but miles in the San Gabriel mountains which face my front door. First thing after this post is to make a to do list.

A question that people ask: why?  Well, I remember the excitement and feeling of adventure listening to this runner, at one of the numerous races I ran, relating to me how he and his brother cycled across the United States: the sights they saw, the places they stayed, like, city parks, churches, even a jail cell, and the people they met. Sometime later, maybe more than a few months, I developed intense pain in my left achilles that wouldn’t go away, and this affected my emotional state, because I was running since I was 34 and I was now 44. Long distance running was in my bones. Sometime in September, 1983, the story about cycling across the U.S. surfaced in my mind and it didn’t take but more than a moment to decide that I was going to make that ride.

Once, that decision was made, I was pumped. I bought a bike from a guy I worked with and started training on the bike with the same kind of schedule that I used in training for running races. I started by riding a few miles at low intensity and on flat roads. I slowly increased the miles and intensity with higher gears and with hills thrown in. I alternated with a hard day and then with easy days for recovery. My goal was to leave Simi Valley on June, 1 and arrive in New Amsterdam, New York June, 30, where a staff member I used to worked with move. I also, dumped old Betsy and bought a brand new touring bike, and what a difference that made. Part of my training was to eventually, ride a 100 miles in one day each week, in addition to the miles I was putting in on the other days. I reached that goal but don’t remember when. I had eight months to train, and each month’s total mileage steadily increased to 300, 400, 500, and up to where I rode 1,000 miles for the month of May.

A big question is, how does one choose a route to bike across the U.S.?  I picked up numerous state maps and I knew to avoid the Interstates and large cities, and then basically, designing a route based on the places that I wanted to visit: first, was the Grand Canyon, next, was my aunt’s home in La Veta, Colorado, then my uncle’s farm in Ashley, Illinois  After leaving his farm, I checked out more state maps and chose what I thought was the most direct route to New Amsterdam. At times, I would ask some local which would be the best road and what roads to avoid. I camped at camp grounds, and when there weren’t any and I was far from civilization, I would pull far off the highway and camp in a field. Besides staying at my relatives, I stayed with a few kind strangers who invited me for dinner, a shower,  use of their washing machine, sleeping in a bed, and having breakfast before hitting the road. I also, stayed at a few motels, the cheapest being $15. I never stayed in a jail cell, but I did camp in a cemetery in Chalmars, Indiana, where in the middle of the night, thunder boomed and lightening flashed, illuminating the head stones.

I reached my goal, flying (riding) by the seat of my pants. There were some good days and there were some bad days, but overall, it was truly an adventure.

 

 

                                                           

Chiloquin Oregon camping 2001

Five Star Camping 2001

Cemetery 1984

Cemetery Camping  1984  

Camping off Highway WI 1994

Off Road Camping 1994

The final days before launch…

Bike Route 8-04-14I’ve been very busy with planning and training for the Great Divide Ride or as it is officially known: the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Much of the following description of the route was taken from Michael McCoy’s book: Cycling the Great Divide. Michael spent two years driving a jeep and mapping out the route. McCoy’s book is considered the bible for anyone taking on the challenge.

Originally, the route began at the U.S./ Canadian port of Roosville, Montana and ended at Antelope Wells, New Mexico a distance of 2,470 miles. Although, it has been extended northward to Banff, Canada, I plan on starting at the original start point. Call me a wimp.

The goal, which was achieved, when establishing the route, was to keep it within 50 miles of the Continental Divide. It would have been impossible to have the route on the actual Continental Divide which is essentially on the ridge line of the Rocky Mountains. There is the Continental Divide Hiking Trail, but In no way could you have a bike route on that trail, although, I’m sure someone will try riding it.

The Americas Continental Divide, which by the way runs from the southern tip of South America to Alaska, is defined as a drainage divide, where water from one side of the divide flows east and for the other side it flows west.

What it the route like?  Well 85% is dirt and gravel roads, 10% paved roads, and 5% single track trails. The route travels 695 miles through Montana, 72 miles through Idaho, 481 miles through Wyoming, 544 miles through Colorado, and 678 miles through New Mexico. The lowest elevation is 2,577′ near the Canadian border and the highest, 11,910′ at Indiana Pass in Colorado near the border of New Mexico. I’ll be crossing from one side of the divide to the other 27 times. The scenery, mostly in the back country, is made up of forests, farm and ranch land, the open range, small towns, cities, for example, Butte and Helena, Montana, the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, and the deserts of New Mexico. I’ll also get a chance to view the spectacular Grand Tetons.

Adventure Cycling has published well defined and descriptive maps of the Divide Route. In addition to the maps, I will take, Cycling the Great Divide with me. Besides spending mucho tiempo riding the route with my imagination, I have also watched several utube videos that riders have uploaded. Through the videos and “flying over” more than a few miles with Google Earth, I have a pretty good idea what I’ll be subjected to. Through the several long distance tours I’ve ridden, I’ve learned that there are good days and there are bad days. Also, the decision to ride is mine alone.

Loading...
X