Toughest Day on the Divide
December 24th, 2014
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.