Posted by carlpyt On December 17th, 2014
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.
Posted by carlpyt On December 16th, 2014
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.
Posted by carlpyt On December 13th, 2014
I’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.
Posted by carlpyt On December 13th, 2014
After leaving Whiskey Grove Campground there’s only a little over two miles of gravel before the road turns to pavement and pavement all the way to Pinedale, which is only 35 miles. I heard from many sources that the road is either flat or downhill, not so, there are numerous inclines and they weren’t ant hills. Oh well!
Arriving at Pinedale was a shocker when I looked for a room to rent. Nothing under $90. The RV park was right in the middle of town, but it made the Bates Motel look like the Hilton. I was concerned that someone would make off with my things, so I got a $90 room.
Pinedale, according to the author of Cycling the Great Divide, is the last supply point before heading across the 3 to 4 day wasteland known as the Great Divide Basin. So my main concern was making sure I was going to make it across the basin by having enough food and water. This trek has been on my mind since the start of the tour and at times even before.
I bought a couple of extra water bottles, peanut butter, six Top Ramen “meals”, cookies, instant oatmeal, fig nutens, and candy.
The next morning, when I went to check out the motel’s breakfast, I discovered that the coffee machine was broken and so was the waffle maker. I rushed into the reception area and had a hizzie fit. The receptionist was very apologetic and reduced my bill to $64…nice. But the sad part was when she related, tearfully, how the hotel changed hands the day before and everyone was getting canned.
On 9-09-14, I packed my things and rode the 14 miles to Boulder to stay in a RV park at $15 a day. Boulder is basically, a gas station, connivance store, and cafe. It’s also,14 miles closer to the Great Divide Basin.
By chance, the maintenance staff informed me about the National Weather Service and that all I needed to do was click on the area that I was concerned with and I would receive the latest 5 day forecast.
That’s exactly what I, did and what a shocker the forecast was for the Great Divide Basin. Rain, snow, wind gusts up to 27mph. Everything but hot lava. The storm would start on Wednesday night and clear out on Friday. So my plan was to stay at the RV campground until Friday am and then take off for the Great Divide Basin.
On Wednesday evening, I read over all the caveats regarding the Great Divide Basin and thought I don’t want to really to do it. Moments later I was checking my voice mail, which by the way I never check, and saw a message from my brother. Beverly informed me that Tony is planning on going to Ojai next week and will pass right by our house on his way. I called Tony and I mentioned that Boulder is almost directly north of Grand Junction where he lives. Basically, highway 191. By going with my brother I won’t have to ship my bike home and will avoid the hassle of flying.
So, here’s the latest plan. Yesterday (9-11-14) I took off from Boulder with the crazy idea that I could ride the 88 miles to Rock Springs. Well, even with the best of days I don’t thing I can do 88 miles, and it wasn’t the best of days. The highway was a roller coaster with some real challenging climbs and then the wind started. Check the photo with the American flag taken in Farson, Wyoming. Now if the wind was at my back I would have made Rock Springs and points further south. By the way, I spent the night at the Bates Motel in Farson,
The next morning, I knew I was in for it, when I saw all the full size pick up’s and stake bed trucks parked in front of the cafe across from the motel. Sure enough, when I walked in with my Little Lord Fauntleroy bike shorts with leg warmers, heads turned from the bunch of farmers having their coffee. One farmer even directed a comment toward me about riding a bicycle out on the highway, but I didn’t get the particulars and I wasn’t going to ask for a repeat.
I made it to Rock Springs at around 1pm today. It was only 42 miles but I couldn’t make it to the next town, which is Dutch John, Utah because it would have been over 100 miles. Tomorrow I’m headed to Dutch John, which is not a town, but a resort on the Green River, that also has tent camping. Eventually, I’ll make it to Grand Junction and then Tony and I will head to Southern California with bike and trailer.
By the way, the photo with the ruts in the dirt was made by the cover wagons of the pioneers in the 1850s.
Posted by carlpyt On December 12th, 2014
On 8-8-14, I left Eureka for the first leg of the Divide, Tuchuck Campground. I didn’t make it. The map gets 1/2 credit for me taking the wrong road. I was wasted and demoralized and decided to forget about the first three legs and take the highway back to Whitefish and start from there. The third leg finishes in Whitefish anyhow.
I rode back to North Dickey Lake and camped with the Canadian family. Besides riding on their Seadoo they fed me chili dogs with cold beers. We sat around discussing health care systems. They just loved my company. When I got into my sleeping bag, I had an epiphany, don’t ride back to Whitefish, ride to where the wrong turn was made and go the right way.
On 8-9-14, I finished the day’s ride at the Divide’s first destination, Tuchuck Campground. The two mile section before reaching Whitefish Divide was Nasty. I had to push my bike and trailer the whole way. The “road” was steep and paved with loose gravel and rocks that varied in size between potatoes and misshaped cantaloupes. I kid you not. There isn’t a number for the number of times I had to stop to catch my breath. I got a real treat when I reached the top. There was snow lodged in the roots of a fallen tree (results from an avalanche), so I made myself a snow cone with my Powerade. From there it was downhill to the campground. My back didn’t appreciate pushing the bike.
The next day’s ride was from Tuchuck to Red Meadow Lake. It was quite a down hill ride, but it was pay back time with the last two miles, which I had to walk. Actually, the elevation gain was 2190′ and the loss was 1560′.
While at the lake, this guy walks up and asks if I met a man driving an old blue pickup. I said yes, that I met him while I was pushing my bike up Nasty Hill. He then tells me that the man is his father and that his father told him about a guy a year younger than him, who’s riding the Divide. This is incredible, since Nasty Hill lies more than 36 miles and over a mountain from the lake. The son gave me two ice cold sodas and a couple of hot dogs that I would add to my Top Ramen. The cold sodas were heaven sent because I was over heated from pushing the bike.
I’m writing this blog from a bike hostel, Montana Bike Hostel, which is around six miles Southeast of Whitefish in Columbia Falls. I have my own cabin out from the main house which sits on an acre. The place is surrounded by horse farms, the kind one would see in Hidden Valley. I finally got to take a shower. It was 37 degrees this morning when I left Red Meadow Lake. It was an incredible long down hill ride into Whitefish. This should be the last time you see the word Whitefish.
Posted by carlpyt On December 9th, 2014
On 9-04-14, after finishing my blog, I got a pizza and Gatorade for lunch and took off for a campground that was only 25 miles away. I thought about going over Togwotee Pass 9,658′ when told by two different people that it was only 11 miles to the top, but decided to set up camp, even though it was only 3:30. Can you believe, that I actually bought firewood. Now that’s a first.
The next day, I started fresh in attacking Togwotee (take the w out to pronounce it) Pass. When I got to 9 miles I thought it’s going to have to get really steep to gain another 1,000 feet. Well,11 miles went by and no pass, which was a relief. Finally, at 18 miles I reached the summit. It was a good decision to be lazy the day before.
It was quite a ride coming down the other side. There was a sign that showed that for the next nine miles there was a 2 to 6% descent. The only problem, was the cold air, that was blasting you in the face.
I stopped at the Lava Mountain Resort to warm up and get some goodies. What was interesting was that it was $15 to pitch your tent and $25 to rent a cabin. It was early, and I really planned on going further, but I asked to see the cabins and bingo. The rest is history.
Besides, the comfort in not sleeping on dirt, I was able to get the funk out of my clothes with the Laundromat. I had diner at the resort’s restaurant which included two beers.
9-06-14, was a tough day. It started with a nice, mostly downhill 15 mile ride on a highway, but after leaving the highway the road turned to uphill gravel for almost five miles. I was able to ride the whole way with frequent stops to catch my breath. It was the next climb, Union Pass 9,210 that got me off the bike and into the pushing mode for over four miles.
I rode as far as South Fork Fish Creek because there is plenty of water and the next reliable water source was too far away. Where I camped was not an “official” campground, but just a fire ring out on a knoll that had a fantastic panoramic view. There was one disconcerting thing that could interrupt your sleep, and that was the sign about 50 yards away informing you about Grizzly Bears.
There were no grizzly bears, at least, I didn’t see any or hear any, but it did get cold. By the time I got my camera out the digital thermometer went from 22 to 24 degrees. That frost not frosting on my bike seat. Because I knew that today’s ride would only be 25 miles I took my time packing in addition I wanted the sun to defrost my gear.
I left camp at 10am and rode to Whiskey Campground. There was a lot of downhill riding but it was pretty technical. You had to keep your reflexes in overload to keep from spilling. As soon as I got off my bike at the campground it started to rain with lightening and thunder. I set up tent and tossed my gear inside. My campsite was about 40 feet from the roaring Green River. I put my food in a bag with a note that I was a bike camper, in the outhouse, for bear protection.
Posted by carlpyt On December 8th, 2014
Much has happened since the last post, negative and positive. I set 8-04-14 as my start date because the flight was $119 while the other dates were between $169 and $179. A week before the start date, I shipped by bike, trailer, camping gear, clothes, etc. to Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. I told them to assemble the bike. Just one less thing to worry about. A couple of days before the start date, Glacier Cyclery calls and informs me that while assembling my bike they find that the frame is cracked and can’t be fixed…I need a new bike. They said that they had a bike that I might like. It has 27 1/2 inch wheels and my bike has 26 inch wheels. I did buy new tires (not steel beaded) and tubes for my bike and they couldn’t be switched out.
Talk about uncontrollable anxiety and having, basically, sleepless nights. I thought of all kinds of back up plans, such as, calling another bike store in Kalispell, Mt. This guy was big on 29 inch wheel bikes. That put me into a real spin. On Monday, the day of my flight, I called Keith and he basically, calmed me down by telling me that 27 1/2 inch wheel bikes were what people were buying. 26 inch wheel bikes were old school. He also, informed me that 99% of new bikes did not come with steal beaded tires, which can be can be a nightmare changing…think crow bar, smashed fingers, and lots of cussing.
The flight to Seattle went without a hitch and I got a bonus when Mt. Rainier poked it’s head out through the clouds. Needless to say, I took more than a few photos. I transferred to a crop duster for the flight to Kalispell. I won’t go into any detail, or anything in general, regarding that leg of the trip. I got to my room at Cheap Sleep ($127) at 1am and of course had a fitful night’s sleep thinking about what this bike looked like that they set aside for me. I just hoped it would work out because the thought of renting a car and going to Kalispell to check out their inventory only added to my anxiety.
Glacier Cyclery is about 1 1/2 miles from Cheap Sleep, so picture me walking down the street dragging this old beat up suitcase with a green stripe spray painted across it, so it would be easy to identify. When they brought out the bike, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I took it for a spin and told them “wrap it up”. Actually, they spent most of the day modifying the bike, such as adding the bike computers from my old bike, the seat, and what took a really long time was adapting the rear housing, which was radically different than the housing on my old bike, so it would accept the trailer axle. You know technology, they’re always changing things.
Well, to make along story short, I got out of the bike shop at 2 and was hell bent on riding to Eureka, Mt, 50 miles. It was in the 90’s and pulling this trailer, which was more than fully loaded, was proving more difficult than I thought it would. At around 30 miles I knew I had to find a place to camp, no way could I make it to Eureka, unless it was in an ambulance. I spotted this house with what seemed like an acre of lawn and checked with the owner, who came out of the house looking and acting like Yosomite Sam, about camping on his lawn. His way of saying no was to inform me that there was a campground two miles up the road. Wow! two miles away, no problem, even though it turned out to be five miles.
I was more than happy to see the sign, North Dickey Lake Campground, even though the small sign under it read, “Campground Full”. My plan was to inform the camp host that I had a chronic condition that required immediate attention, which was rest. I didn’t have to say anything because when she saw what I look like, basically, beat to hell she said she has a site for me. Then she brought out from her motor home, fruit, candy, crackers, and lots of cold water, even a cold wet towel for my head. In no time I felt 100%, well actually, 60% better.
The site she had for me was on the side of a hill, so I didn’t know how I would get my bike and trailer up there. Just then, the direct neighbor of the host said he had a tent site that he wasn’t using because he had his trailer. He and his family are from Canada and they were very gracious. Before leaving to visit their friends in another camp site they left me several slices of pizza and two can of beer.
To fully recover from the beating I took today, I decided to stay another day at Dickey Lake. The next day I did go for a short bike ride minus the trailer to have a late breakfast at this cafe I was told about. After breakfast I hung around the lake and eventually, went swimming to cool down. It’s still in the 90’s.
Today, which is 8-07-14, I rode to the U.S./Canadian border, the official start of the Great Divide Route. I rode ten miles on the route, which is a paved road, that went through ranch land and had a couple of nasty hills. The route took me back through Eureka. It was around noon and it was hot and I was next to this motel so I decided to treat myself to a room as opposed to camping in a city park. Next to the room, was a Subway with wifi and I spent more than a few hours working on this blog, downloading and editing photos and having to redo part of the blog because I hit the wrong button and things disappeared. You know computers. Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to the backwoods, so the blog will be on hold for a while.
Posted by carlpyt On December 4th, 2014
On Sunday, 8-31-14 the skies looked much better, but there were still some dark clouds hanging around. As I was following Gary and Gail away from the motel, I made a decision not to go the way they were headed and instead decided to take the I-15 to Monida and catch the bike route from there. I was concerned about the 10 miles of mud the sacrosanct bike route took one through.
The I-15 had a wide shoulder, there was little or no traffic, and I cut 10 miles off the route. I learned a lot from Lance Armstrong. Some time after I arrived at Red Rock Lake campground, in strolls Gary and Gail, mud and all.
The camp had its resident kook. He had a nice truck but talked about sleeping in the campground’s restroom because of the rain the night before. I told him that there wouldn’t be any rain for the next seven days. He decided to sleep in a horse trailer that was parked next to sage brush instead of the out house. That night we had thunder, lightening, and rain. The next day this Kook starts yelling at me “you said there wasn’t going to be any rain”. Oh well.
On 9-1-14, after enduring route 455, which was a poor excuse for a single track, I met up with G&G at a Subway next to U.S. 20. Gary said that they were going another 30 miles and I said that I was pooped and couldn’t go any further. We said our goodbyes and wished each other best wishes and that maybe we might see each other down the road.
They took off and I rode down U.S. 20 looking for a camp site. I finally found one, and sat down at a picnic table and looked over the bike map. It was around 3:30 and I thought it was too early to camp. I saw that I could take U.S. 20 to U.S. 47 and end up at the place G&G were headed to without riding on mushy gravel.
I took off on the bike and rode on U.S. 20, which wasn’t the nicest road to bike on, but finally got to U.S. 47 which was a cyclist’s dream; a smooth flat, with occasional hills that went down, road with a wide shoulder, beautiful scenery, and no traffic. My plan was to sleep off the side of the road, but when I got to Mesa Falls, my destination, there was the Grandview Campgrounds. Wow! and it was starting to get dark. So, I ended up, like G&G, riding 60 miles.
On 9-2-14, I rode about two miles and who do I see drying out their tent, G&G. Today’s ride was from Mesa falls to Flagg Ranch, 47 miles, and as Mr. McCoy, the author for cycling the Divide, writes, there’s some rough road but flat. Rough Road, that’s like saying Hiroshima was a fire cracker. It was the deal breaker, the prima dona, the widow maker, of all the “roads” I rode since starting the Divide. Flat? We gained over 4,000′. I think I pushed my bike more than I rode it. A four wheeler would have a though time on this “road”. G&G left a note on the road which showed that they were an hour ahead of me.
I arrived at Flagg Ranch just after dark and couldn’t find G&G so I set up my tent and went to the lodge, very nice, and had a cheese burger and a Corona.
On 9-03-14, after looking around the camp grounds for G&G for not, I gave up and rode toward the Grand Tetons. When I got to the turn off for Colter Bay, I decided to ride there, because I knew that they had a good size store.
Stepping back a moment, the night before, after giving it some thought, I decided to give up the idea of riding to Mexico. I started too late, I have too much gear, I’m not enjoying the ride, it’s becoming a beat the clock endeavor. I require more recovery time(age) and I’m not getting it. There’s also altitude that I didn’t give much thought to. I’m riding between 6,000 and 7,000 feet and that takes its toll. I’m doing a blog which takes time and one’s forever looking for wifi. I had less pressure when I worked full time. Off road mountain biking with camping gear is nothing like touring on the road. I could feel myself relaxing when I decided that I would ride to Breckenridge, Colorado and check to see if Kenny would pick me up in a truck.
Listen to this, I decided to camp at Colter Bay, now that I don’t have to hurry off to Mexico. and some time after setting up camp, G&G pull up and have the camp site next to mine. We started laughing. What’s the chance? They spent last night at the lodge and not in the campground. They’re staying the night, but are planning on riding 55 miles the next day. Forget that.
This morning, 9-04-14, We said our goodbyes, again, as G&G were packing their things and I was getting ready to head to the laundromat to work on my blog. Now for the photos.
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Posted by carlpyt On January 12th, 2014
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