Before, during, and hopefully after account of a Great Divide Route journey in the summer of 2010.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 46: Steamboat Lake to Steamboat Springs

Ride time: 1:59
Average:  14.8 mph
Distance: 29.56 mi

We deviated from the route this morning because just as we were about to leave, I rolled my bike out and discovered that once again, my back tire had gone flat.  Flat tire count:  Robyn 5, Nate 0.  We had to get to Steamboat Springs before 12 PM because that's when the post office closes, and our bounce box and an alleged care package from my sister were waiting there.  We booked it into Steamboat Springs along the highway and stopped at a bagel place to fill our bellies with something other than Clif Bars.  We ran into a couple of other riders that we hadn't seen since Lincoln, so that was good to see them.
This was the only picture we took today, and I have no idea what Nate's doing..

At the post office, the bounce box was there, so we resupplied and sent the box back to Milwaukee because we'll be ending our trip in the next few days in Estes Park, Colorado.  However, there was NO box from my sister, so I asked them to forward it to Estes.  I'm sure the brownies will be hard as rocks, but it doesn't matter.

The bikes need new chains, so we went to the Orange Peel bike shop to get that done.  The staff there was super friendly, and we're pretty convinced that Steamboat is the nicest tourist town that we've been to.  We stopped at their farmer's market and somehow scored a free baguette, so we made some tasty veggie sandwiches for lunch.  Oh yeah, we checked into a motel since the campground was outside of the town.  We stayed at the Western Lodge, which has gotten mixed reviews online (someone wrote that it smelled liked someone had died in their room the previous night...).  Our room was decent, and the guy who runs it is pretty ridiculous.  The prices are the most reasonable in town.

We then had a nice dinner at the Mahogany Brewery to end our busy day.  We asked where the best burgers are and this is where we were told to go.  Good food!

Future GDR Riders: The Orange Peel is a great bike shop and they really take care of their customers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 45: Medicine Bow NF to Steamboat Lake

Ride time: 6:19
Average:  9.1 mph
Distance: 57.77 mi

Dew was everywhere this morning--our stuff was soaked.  We packed up quickly, though, because we have a big day today.  We're doing the Columbine Alternate instead of the regular route.  We filtered water out of some creek that had a gigantic herd of sheep waltzing through.  I now know what sheep poop looks like...
Nate riding through Aspen Alley

Our ride was incredibly beautiful with aspen trees quaking as the wind blew, green shrubs everywhere and tall mountains all around us.  It's such a nice change of scenery.  We rode through Aspen Alley after filtering, and then rode along a creek for awhile as the sun heated up the air.  We wanted so badly to jump in the water, but the ranch fences went right up to the bridges, so it was impossible to get access to the water.

Heading into Colorado
Today ended up being very tough terrain--lots of rollers in some pretty intense heat.  We opted to do the Columbine Alternate instead of sticking to the main route.  It turned out to be up and then down, up and then down, repeat.  We were incredibly parched and ran out of water along today's ride. Brain yelled out, "Water?!!?" to an oncoming car, and they stopped and gave us a couple of water bottles. Nice peeps. Near the end, it was all up, up, up to Columbine where we bought ice cream and Brain treated us to Mountain Dews.  After that, it was a quick 5 miles to Steamboat Lake.  We ended up camping with two of the Bobs, so we split the campsite three ways.
View from Steamboat Lake Campground

I need to start researching how to clean a down sleeping bag--Nate's sleeping bag currently smells like a wet dog that rolled in a pile of Nacho Cheese Doritos.  Mine, of course, smells like roses and vanilla frosting.  Speaking of, bummer to hear about that grizzly bear attack outside of Yellowstone that happened this past week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 44: Rawlins to Medicine Bow National Forest

Ride time: 5:10
Average:  8.8 mph
Distance: 45.58 mi

It was quite awesome to check into a hotel room at 7 AM yesterday and not have to leave until 11 AM this morning.  We slept like champions.  But, that didn't work out well as far as getting an early start goes...

We nabbed a couple of foot longs from the Subway next door to eat for dinner later on tonight and stocked up on food for about 2 days.  Brian, Nate and I set off on pavement with a storm brewing to the north, behind us.  It built up fairly quickly, and after about 25 miles of riding, we had to pitch the rain fly in a cow field because the lightning strikes were getting too close.  We played cards for a bit until the storm passed.  I won, which is a good thing because I'm a horrible loser and I would have been completely unbearable for the rest of the day...

The rain finally stopped, and we set out again.  Unfortunately, the roads were SUPER muddy and our pace slowed to a crawl.  We couldn't go fast enough on the downhills (because it would have been unsafe) to get any momentum to go up the hills. 
Brian and I heading into Medicine Bow NF at sunset

Brian and Nate working on a fire
As soon as we crossed into Medicine Bow National Forest, we picked a spot to camp and pitch the tents, gobbled up our sandwiches, and went to sleep.  We were short about 7 miles of our intended campsite, but that's the way it goes out here.  It will just make tomorrow a bit longer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 43: A&M Reservoir to Rawlins

Ride time: 4:50
Average:  11.5 mph
Distance: 55.94 mi

We did it--we rode into Rawlins, WY at 5:30 this morning!

After getting about 3 hours of sleep before we got out of the tent at 11 PM, we packed up and were on the road just after midnight.  I was definitely hesitant about this plan, but went with it anyway.  We had about 13 miles of dirt road to ride before we hit pavement, and the first couple of miles were pretty freaky.  My senses were super heightened, and I was very, very awake.  Our Ay-Up lights lit the way quite nicely and the road was very smooth.  There was lightning due south of us, but we couldn't even hear the thunder, so we were safe.  Jackrabbits were bounding in front of our bikes; they must be nocturnal.  One ran down the road with us for a good minute, trying to find a good spot to duck out into the sage brush.

Night riders
It was super weird not knowing what was around us.  I'm sure there were cows and pronghorn that were watching us, but we certainly couldn't see them.  The moon was a waning gibbous, but we lost its light about halfway through the ride when the clouds covered it up.  It was a comfortable 65 degrees the entire ride, and we had a slight tailwind the whole time.  We crossed the divide (#18) as we took the highway into Rawlins.  The sun was just coming up with its pink and orange sky as pulled into Penny's Diner just before 6 AM, making our 24 hour total about 125 miles.

After a very quiet breakfast (the three of us were shoveling food into our mouths), we were on our way to America's Best Value Inn to check into a hotel room, when we spotted Jerry's Donuts.  We stopped in and instead of getting one donut a piece, we ended up walking out with 12 day-old donuts for $3.  Actually, we walked out with nine because we obviously ate one a piece in the store.  FYI-the box was empty when we went to sleep that night.  I love eating, and this trip has allowed me to eat at least 5 burgers a week with fries, plus dessert after every meal.  I'm going to have to seriously retrain myself to eat right when we get home.
Jerry's Donuts at 7AM!

Future GDR Riders: The night ride was awesome, and the fact that there was hardly any traffic on this ride along with the great roads and easy terrain, made this one a good one.  Besides, we beat the heat!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 42: Sweetwater to A&M Reservoir

Ride time: 6:12
Average:  10.8 mph
Distance: 67.37 mi

We woke up at 5:45 AM to once again beat the heat on our crazy ride through the Divide Basin.  There is limited water through this section of the ride, so any chance we have to fill up, we did.  Surprisingly, I had cell phone reception at our site last night (Sweetwater Creek) and I called base camp (i.e. Mom) to have her check on the situation at Diagnus Well, a water source here in the Basin.  She ended up putting my brother, Paul, on the phone, and he checked on the Internet to see what he could find about the well.  He couldn't find anything specifically other than other people's blog entries about being able to get water at the well, so that was enough information for me to decide that we didn't need to filter the water from Sweetwater Creek; we could just wait 10 miles and get it from Diagnus Well.

Filling up at Diagnus Well (note cow skull next to my bike)
We arrived to the well, which was pretty obvious because there was green all around it, instead of brown and yellow that is pretty much everywhere in this high desert.  Here, we met Brain, a biker who has been on the road for nearly 8 months of his 18 month journey.
From left to right: Nate, sign, and Brian break up the horizon

Fortunately, we had good weather on our ride because if it had been raining, the roads would have been extremely difficult to ride on.  We saw a herd of wild horses, two lizards, and tons of pronghorn (commonly mistaken as antelope).

After a long, hot day and another divide crossing (#17), we made it to the reservoir and jumped right in.  Well, I kind of whined a bit because it was a bit nasty, but the cool water was refreshing.

While on the ride, Brian and Nate hatched  plan to ride the rest of the way to Rawlins tonight--a night ride through the desert...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 41: Little Sandy Creek to Sweetwater River

Ride time: 4:27
Average:  10.7 mph
Distance: 47.63 mi

Chilly morning!  We awoke to frost covering everything, but as soon as the sun poked its head over the mountains, we were warmed up and good to go.

Early morning frost
We got out of camp early, in order to beat as much of the heat as we could.  The sun continues to be blazing hot, and as you can see, there aren't many clouds.  The air is really dry, too, so I don't ever feel myself sweating, but my skin always has that nice crusty salt feel to it.  The creeks are a pleasure to jump in at the end of the day's ride to wash all that off.

We crossed the divide three times today (#14, 15, and 16), but it wasn't that noticeable as far as exertion goes.  We even got to ride atop the divide for a mile and a half, and that was super sweet because the Great Divide Basin was on our right and another basin was on the left.

Into the Basin we go
We stopped in Atlantic City, Wyoming after South Pass City to have lunch at the Atlantic City Mercantile Exchange, and had really good food, but whacked out service.  I'm not sure what the deal was, but I will tell you that I've seen copious advertisements for crystal meth abuse prevention.

South Pass City
There were only ten miles left after lunch, but the first part was uphill, and I almost barfed up my Cowboy Burger (double patties).  There's something about exercising after one eats...  We finally got to our site, and there was an absolutely wonderful section of the Sweetwater Creek (sweet because of all the cow manure in it?) running through it, so we set up the tent fast and jumped in.  It wasn't that cold, so we stayed in for awhile.  The Bobs showed up right after us, and we hung out in the creek until it got cool enough to get in the tent.  Tomorrow is going to be a BIG day--nearly 70 miles through the Basin.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 40: Pinedale to Little Sandy Creek

Ride time: 4:09
Average:  11.8 mph
Distance: 49.06 mi

Today might have been a new record in getting out of camp--we made it out before noon with just 10 minutes to spare...  The Fargonauts that we met yesterday stopped by to check out our gear, and we chatted for a bit, so that's one excuse, but other than that, we were just plain slow.

Our ride was toasty.  This area of the country gets a tremendous amount of sunshine, and yet no one has solar panels, but they're destroying the land south of the city in search of natural gas and oil fields...  Anyway, it was pretty hot and the trees aren't that tall, so we didn't have much shade.
Multi-tasking while packing up camp

Instead of mosquitoes, the black flies have hatched--the biting kind that hurt really, really bad.  We passed some cows near a creek, and all of a sudden, dozens of flies starting swarming us, and we took off as fast as we could.  I was pedaling about 20 mph, and they were still hounding us!  Those jerks can move fast.  After a few more patches of this, Nate said, "At least they're not landing on us."  Not five seconds after he said that, one had taken a chunk of flesh from my right calf, and I smacked it as a drop of blood appeared in place of the skin that had once been there.  The good thing is that the bites don't itch afterward.

The scenery was dry, dry, dry, but we can still smell the sage.  The Wind River Mountains were to the north and many peaks still have snow pack.  It would have been nice to roll around in some snow on our ride.  The creeks seemed like small miracles every time we rode over one.

No shade
We saw several markers for the Oregon Trail on the ride today.  There were supposed to be gravestones, too, but we didn't stop to look for them.

We took a break in the shade of some aspen trees that we encountered for a brief period near the end of our ride, and a beautiful orange hummingbird buzzed around us, probably attracted to the smell of our raspberry electrolyte drinks.

Our campsite tonight is right next to the Little Sandy Creek, so we jumped in and swam after we set up our tent.  There are four other guys here, all with B.O.B. trailers, so Nate named them the Bobs.  It will be nice to have some other people to ride through the Divide Basin with.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 39: Pinedale (Rest Day)

We hit up the car wash and cleaned our bikes before bringing them to the A to Z Hardware to get the chains cleaned.  Nate and I have a good system for getting both bikes done in the short 4 minutes they give you at the do-it-yourself car wash.  Then, while they were being worked on at the hardware store, we hit up The Wrangler for breakfast.  Good choice.

Afterward, we went to the outdoor shop and then to the library.  I was fortunate enough to sit next to a local guy who had his girlfriend working on his resume for him.  His email address was something along the lines of or something like that.  Good luck getting a job...

Nate's on a constant search for magazines, so he inquired at the library about their discarded magazines.  They directed us to the recycling center, and Nate jumped right in, looking for something to read.
Nate dumpster diving in search of magazines

Then we bumped into some other GDR riders, two of whom were riding Fargos, so we had to get their picture.

Other Fargonauts we met in Pinedale

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 38: Whiskey Grove to Pinedale

Ride time: 2:45
Average: 12.8 mph
Distance: 35.66 mi

Our ride was pretty easy today--almost all pavement to Pinedale.  We had a crappy lunch at the Patio Grill in town, but their milkshakes were pretty tasty.  After that, we went to the only campground around (Pinedale Campground) and met Ray, a youthful Oklahoman who will be doing a 7 day backpacking trip in the Wind River Mountains.  We shared a campsite and lots of stories.

Nate and I went into town to pick up our bounce box AND a care package from Alyce!  Thanks, Mother!  Clif Bars, Fruit Leather and gum were abound.  We stopped at the library, and then went out to dinner with Ray.  Tomorrow is another rest day and we've got to clean the bikes--they're cranky!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 37: Lava Mt. Lodge to Whiskey Grove

Ride time: 6:09
Average: 9 mph
Distance: 55.49 mi

I'm not sure why we do high mileage days with tons of climbing like this, but we did one today and I'm a wreck.

We had a leisurely morning, packing up our nearly dried out things.  I washed up some dishes and left them out to dry in the sun.  Well, a little something or other ate through Nate's bowl and took a chunk out of mine!

We set out on the highway and made great time, until we had to start climbing on a dirt road.  Oh the skeeters...  They're like the weather--either celebrate them or ignore them.  We've been using the Off Towelettes and they seem to work pretty well.

Anyway, we finally scaled Union Pass (#13 and 9,200 feet), and we ended up in this beautiful alpine area with stunning views all around.  This is ATV land, so we had plenty of company whizzing by throughout much of our ride.  We stopped and made a new lunch combo--potatoes, canned turkey(!), and Velveeta cheese.

We had some down hills at the end of the day that I thought were going to shake the fillings right out my mouth.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 36: Colter Bay to Lava Mountain Lodge (west of Dubois)

Ride time: 4:21
Average: 9.9 mph
Distance: 43.35 mi

After nearly four weeks of pretty wonderful weather following our initial four-day downpour, we had a near repeat of the beginning of our trip.  It rained a very cold rain all day long.  We awoke early at camp and headed into the village to stock up on food and grab breakfast.  The general store has the best cinnamon rolls!!

We ran into Mark, a Transcontinental roadie, who's spinning to end finning.  I think he was enjoying a cinnamon roll, too.  It was drizzling a little bit as we left, but near Moran Junction, it began to rain steady, so we pulled off at a Griswold gathering--everyone was checking out a young moose--and put on our dusty rain gear.  Then it got more intense, and the lightning and thunder forced us to stop at Teton RV park and wait out the storm, but we seemed pretty socked in.  It was too bad because we missed some stunning views of the Tetons.

Mark then walked in and joined us for lunch and pretty soon, the three of us set off again, making our way up Togwotee Pass (crossing #12).  The climb was nearly 2,000 feet of elevation over 9 miles, so we were struggling.  Finally we crossed over the pass, and then jumped into the back of a pickup truck so that we could get ferried through the construction that was being done.

A free ride through the construction
We ended up at Lava Mountain Lodge, a hip place that charges a bit too much for camping ($15), but had pay showers and a nice staff.

Future GDR Riders: Colter Bay is a nice rest day spot, and has a very well-stocked grocery store.  Get a cinnamon roll (or 2 or 3).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 35: Colter Bay (Rest Day)

Nothing better than Tide and some fresh air!
We enjoyed hanging out in Colter Bay Village today.  We bought food at the store to make sandwiches on our hike near Jackson Lake.  We even took a dip, but it was a bit too cold to stay in there for very long.

Jackson Lake

Note the RIDICULOUS tan lines--white feet and thighs. 
More laundry, showers, and another delicious Nate dinner.  He made grilled mushroom and onion cheeseburgers. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 34: Lizard Creek to Colter Bay Village

Ride time: 50 minutes
Average: 12.1 mph
Distance: 10.21 mi

No bears that we saw at Lizard Creek...  I suppose that's a good thing.  We rode a short way to Colter Bay, still in the National Park.  The Griswolds were bad again, but thankfully, we arrived safely to a decent hiker/biker site ($7/ person).

We set up camp and made lunch, then went into the "village" to explore to figure out what we're going to do tomorrow on our rest day.  I did some laundry, and Nate cooked a sweet dinner--grilled chicken sandwiches.  Then we went back into town to get ice cream.
A classic Nate dinner

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 33: Grant to Lizard Creek

Ride time: 2:47
Average: 11.4 mph
Distance: 31.87 mi

The odometer hit 1,000 miles today!

We awoke ridiculously late after a failed attempt to get up at 4:15 and ride as the sun came up.  Wishful thinking.  The campground was practically deserted by the time we left.

We rode out of Yellowstone Park and into Grand Teton National Park after paying too much for a crappy lunch.  Why is it okay to charge $9 for a grilled chicken breast, a handful of fries, and a bun??  The Griswolds were horrible on the road that had, at times, absolutely NO shoulder.

Look!  A moose!
  I understand now why the  Adventure Cycling Association doesn't take you through Yellowstone--there just isn't room for bikes.  We crossed the divide once today (#11) and then rode south, high above a canyon.  The terrain here is still devastated from the 1988 wildfires, but the trees are certainly growing back.

We stopped at Flagg Ranch after entering Grand Teton Nat'l Park, and these yahoos wanted $37.10 for a campsite, so we rode on to Lizard Creek, which has $5 hiker/biker sites.  We took a jump in Jackson Lake--cold, but not that bad.  I napped for bit and Nate made 10 hot dogs on the fire pit grill.  We ate them all.

Afterward, the camp host swung on by to check in, and proceeded to tell us that the nice walk-in sites that we're at are right in front of "Bear Hill."  Apparently, bears frequent the hill right behind where our tent is pitched.  In fact, there was a grizzly that was out there this morning, so we'll see what happens tomorrow when we wake up...
To the right is Bear Hill

Future GDR Riders: Skip Flagg Ranch and ride on to Lizard Creek! 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 32: Madison to Grant Campground

Ride time: 4:06
Average:  9 mph
Distance:  36.89 mi

Tasty Clif Bars and bananas for breakfast!!  We left camp and headed toward Old Faithful.  We took some bike paths that were decent, but on soft volcanic soil.  We saw two buffalo on our ride and several marmots on our ride:
Marmots that we did NOT poke at with ski poles, Mary!!

We got to Old Faithful and had crappy over-priced food at the cafeteria.  Then, it erupted, and it sounded like people watching fireworks on the 4th of July. 

Oooo!   Aaaaah!
We took showers at the lodge, and then did another 17 miles over to Grant, making that our 9th and 10th divide crossings.

Grand Prismatic Springs

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 31: Upper Lake to Madison @ Yellowstone (WYOMING!!)

Ride time: 5:04
Average:  11.1 mph
Distance:  56.32 mi

I'm glad that mosquitoes cannot bite through Gore-Tex.  This morning, they were horrendous while we were packing up camp.  It took everything I had to not lose it.  It was like black clouds of skeeters swarming around my head.  The torment was worth it for the delicious spring water that was available at our campground.

We crossed the divide (#7) relatively quickly, after my minor breakdown.
It interesting to me how my mind can talk me out of this trip.  It says that this trip is way too hard, or that we've got to be completely ridiculous to be doing this, or that my bed and access to a shower everyday is something that I cannot live without.  I had my meltdown, Nate slapped me around a bit, I laughed, and then we kept going.

The Idaho side is strikingly more beautiful than the Montana side.  We decided that we wanted to go through Yellowstone National Park instead of following the route maps.  We detoured north of Henry's Lake after we had a delicious lunch of stuffing, gravy, and cranberries.  We just needed a turkey.

The cows love us!  And I love them!

It was a good 18 miles or so with another divide crossing (#8) into the crappy tourist town of West Yellowstone.  What a stark contrast from the Montana Nice that we've experienced throughout the trip.  It seems as though everyone there is out to make fast cash from tourists.  Some guy wanted $36 from us to just pitch our tent in the driveway of the campground.  So, we booked it another 14 miles into the park after getting Subway sandwiches to eat and slamming 2 Mountain Dews (nope, no throwback).

It was $12 each for us to enter the park, and then another $6 each to camp.  The park has fantastic hiker/biker sites reserved for us non-motorized folk, meaning that you can just show up at a site without a reservation and they'll let you camp.  Pretty sweet.

Our ride into the park was along the Madison River:

It's best to try and look cute when I'm really not feeling that way...
Geographic mess: We started in Montana, rode east into Idaho, but onto the west side of the divide, then crossed back into Montana, and then entered Wyoming.

Right before we went to bed, there was a storm and a beautiful rainbow

Future GDR Riders: Even though the traffic can be overwhelming, the detour into Yellowstone was worth it.  You're right next to the park--go for it.  And ride right through West Yellowstone (but stop for groceries first).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 30: Lima to Upper Lake (Red Rocks Lake NWR)

Ride time: 5:15 Average:  10.5mph
Distance:  55.6 mi

Ouch.  A big mileage day all on crappy gravel roads.  I'm so glad to be off the bike!!  After breakfast (oatmeal and peaches), we packed up our room at the Mountain View Motel, and I went back to the post office with the bounce box.  The postal lady was actually very kind this morning (and so was I--I'm not allowed to carry resentments, right?), so that was nice.  And bonus--my sister, Mary, sent us a care package that included three bags of outstanding homemade chocolate chip cookies, a motivational note (in complete Mary style), and a Mother Jones magazine.  Oh, and she decorated the outside of the box in a series of bizarre pictures, which led me to explain to everyone in the post office that my sister is just 18 months younger than I am and is also a professional; she's not a young child, which everyone assumed.

We then set out on what I consider a rather unattractive ride.  It was a high altitude plain, nestled in between treeless sage-carpeted hills.  At one end were wetlands, and the other end was all ranch land for cattle.
Shade?  Let's eat lunch.

Speaking of cattle, they're really funny.  They're super interested in us bikers.  In fact, they'll get up from their naps to get a good look at us.  They could care less about cars, but they seem apprehensive about 2-wheeled folk.

Here stands a pronghorn, staring us down:
The campsite is at the bottom of an avalanche chute... Hmmm....
We finally rolled into the wildlife refuge and were consumed by mosquitoes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 29: Dell to Lima

Ride time: 59 minutes
Average:  9.9 mph
Distance:  9.8 mi

It was a nice, quick ride today, at a pace that I was calling "Nate's Leisurely Grandfather" pace.  We had to come to Lima to pick up our bounce box, and once we got here to the Mountain View RV Resort and Motel, we decided to get a room and call it a day instead of pressing on further.  The woman running the place was super nice, and considering that there aren't any other options for lodging in the town of Lima (pronounced LIE-ma, as in the bean, not the capital of Peru), we thought it was a good pick.

I went to the post office to pick up our bounce box, and I asked the postal lady if she would let me use the Priority Mail tape to tape the bottom of the new box that I would be sending.  All of the other post offices have let me do this, but this one was a no.  "We don't have that in our budget, but you can buy a roll of tape if you'd like."  Bummer.  Fortunately, back at Mountain View RV Park, there is a hiker/biker box with all sorts of discards in it, and there was a roll of packing tape!

It was a hot day, and I was a little irritated about the tape situation, so I stopped at the Exxon Station and there, shining from the cooler, was a Mountain Dew Throwback!!  I was so excited to find this that I called the 800 number on back and told them that I love their product and hope that it isn't just for a limited time only.  This is exactly what my can looked like:

Peace out, high fructose corn syrup!

Future GDR Riders: RV Park is a good bounce box site, great laundry prices ($1 a load to wash), and free Internet use.  Just check the hiker/biker box for tape!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 28: Grasshopper Inn to Dell

Ride time: 4:34
Average speed: 14 mph
Distance: 64.1 mi

I love flexibility.  The Cross Ranch no longer does "meals with the cowboys," which was what we were going to do today, so we pressed on like animals to Dell, Montana.  After eating so well at Grasshopper Inn, we were totally able to do this ridiculous 64 mile day.

We also had a super sweet tail wind on pavement that had us doing about 19 mph for the first 20 miles of the day.  We then headed south toward Bannack State Park, but decided to forgo the experience.... That might have been a bad idea, but oh well.  Nate had fun with the camera instead:

We then entered into what felt like wide-open country, and I had this feeling of being really exposed.  But there are telephone wires out here, so someone is nearby...

It was a beautiful ride, but we had to cruise along I-15 again.  And, of course, in complete Robyn fashion, about 3 miles north of Dell, I got my 3rd flat tire from a rock (??).  We changed it fairly quickly and pulled into Yesterday's Calf-A just in enough time for me to get the last roast beef dinner.  We then got a piece (well, the server was nice and gave us a piece and a half) of 4 berry pie a-la-mode.  YUM.

Next to the cafe is a saloon and there we met Joe and Randall, two locals with too much time on their hands.  Joe let us camp in the yard behind the saloon in exchange for some conversation. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 27: Wise River to Grasshopper Inn

Ride time: 4:04
Average:  8.7 mph
Distance:  35.46 mi

We're back to sleeping in...  I swear, I could sleep all day if Nate let me.  We had oatmeal and a ham and cheese omelet at the Wise River Club.  By the way, in Montana, if you order an omelet, you have to ask for cheese, which is weird coming from the Midwest, where every opportunity to put cheese on something is a done deal.  Anyway, they put the cheese on top of the omelet, so if you want it inside, you have to ask for that, too.  Just some cross-cultural understanding...

Our ride today sucked.  Not for beauty, but for oppressive headwinds and a steady uphill climb.

Taking a break from the head wind

There was construction on the Scenic Highway that we rode, and as we were stopped by the flagger, some guy on a motorcycle in front of us was talking to the flagger about the Grasshopper Inn and their $6 buffet that they have every night.  Nate was tuned into this conversation, and that turned out to be our destination for the night.  They have delicious food, and we happened to be there on Mexican night.  An all-you-can-eat buffet for GDR riders is heaven.  The owner, Tom, had just put up his GDR sticker in the window about an hour before we stopped by.  He's incredibly generous, friendly, and very welcoming to bicyclists.  We asked about camping, and he told us to just pitch our tent anywhere on the property.  Very cool.

Future GDR riders: Definitely stop at the Grasshopper Inn and hit up the dinner buffet.  Then camp there and enjoy another delicious meal in the morning.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 26: Butte to Wise River

Ride time: 5:32
Average:  9.5 mph
Distance:  52.64 mi

National Folk Festival + sleeping in city parks= not a good night's sleep.  There were copious amounts of drunkos being super loud and talking about peeing on our bikes at 3 AM, so we didn't sleep that well.

Heading south out of Butte, we biked along pavement and then turned on to a dirt road and crossed under an old ginormous railroad trestle.  Can you spot me next to it?

We then climbed over our 6th Continental Divide crossing which then opened up into a huge sage brush meadow.  There's something delicious about the smell of sage.  The scenery was beautiful and we took tons of pictures.  Isn't Nate a hottie?

We then dove down to I-15, and instead of doing Fleecer Ridge, we opted for the Divide Alternate.  What a gorgeous ride!  We stopped at Blue Moon Saloon and had nachos supreme.  Then we entered a canyon that had a wicked headwind, but the scenery was breathtaking, making the ride a bit easier to endure.

Black Hole River from Nathan Currier-Groh on Vimeo.

We wound along the Big Hole River, a popular spot for fishermen (and women--fisherpeople?).  We rolled into the Wise River Club, an RV Park, restaurant, saloon, and make-shift campground.  It was only $5 to camp, and that included a hot shower in probably one of the most bizarre places I've ever showered: a brick building that's a sauna in the wintertime with a broken window, so it was kind of like showering outside.

Future GDR Riders: The owner of the Wise River Club is super cool, and I would highly recommend staying there.  I can't say what Fleecer Ridge is like, other than I know I would have been walking my bike down the other side.  What we missed in climbing, was certainly made up in beauty as we did the Divide Alternate.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 25: Rest Day in Butte

Rest days are such a misnomer...  We haven't really rested on our rest days because there's always so much to do.  We checked out of the Days Inn after having bought a bunch of stuff at the Outdoorsman, and had to ride our bikes all around Butte because there was no way that we were going to leave them at one of the city parks while we hung out at the National Folk Festival, which Butte was hosting for its third and final year. 

We hung out at the public library for a couple of hours and updated our lives via the Internet.  Then we walked/biked around, listening to music and answering dozens of questions about where we were going...  I swear, if it weren't for Kathy S. and all the good morals she's taught me, I'd be making up all sorts of stories about what Nate and I were doing.  "Oh, we're on work release, and we stole these bikes" or "I just met Nate in Vegas last week, got married, and now we're on our honeymoon" or "We just got off the train from Hawaii and we're looking for the bridge to Japan."

Here's a picture of the mining derrick in Butte that Nate took from the park we camped in:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 24: Basin to Butte

Ride time: 3:08
Average: 9.8 mph
Distance: 30.54 mi

I love bounce box days...  We had a package waiting for us at the post office here in Butte, and even though this is the 3rd time we've picked up a bounce box, I still get nervous standing in line hoping they they didn't return the box to Milwaukee.

Let's see, we awoke super early again (I'm loving getting up early), and our ride started out chilly!  We rode along Interstate-15 for most of the day, but followed "Unmaintained Cattle Access Trails" most of the way.  It's actually an old railroad bed, which made for a nice steady grade uphill.  The coolest part of the ride was going through Tunnel #9, a tunnel built in 1911.  It was super spooky:

Great Divide Route - Basin to Butte - Scary Tunnel #9 from Nathan Currier-Groh on Vimeo.

We got a room at the Days Inn in Butte, a bit of advice from some other GDR riders that we passed the other day headed south to north.  The Outdoorsman is a bike shop located next to the Days Inn, which all belong to the family members of Levi Leipheimer, currently on the Tour de France.  Anyway, Rob, the owner of the Outdoorsman, gives GDR riders a free drive train cleaning.  He's incredibly hospitable and generous.  Plus, you get a goodie bag when you stop in and visit (I won't spoil the surprise and reveal the contents...)

Happy 7th Birthday, Adrienne!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 23: Park Lake to Basin

Ride time: 2:56
Average: 6.9 mph
Distance: 20.40 mi

Finally, we both woke up early enough to be out of camp before 9AM.  We rolled into our destination at Basin at lunchtime, which is a first for us.

The ride today was tons of fun with quite a bit of climbing and a super fun downhill stretch that followed a roaring creek downhill at the end.  There were lots of rock and root gardens at Lava Mountain, and I had to dismount and walk my bike frequently.  Nate was a champ and rode most of it, but considering how often I fall, I thought I'd play it safe.  However, when we get back to Milwaukee and ride at the Kettles, I'll be able to do all the trails with no problem...

We had a ridiculously huge lunch at the Silver Saddle here in Basin, and their bread pudding is out of this world.  Their sign said, "Best Bread Pudding in Montana," so I had to give it a go.  YUM.  Afterward, we got a campsite at the Merry Widow Campground and RV Park just outside of town.  Turns out, it's a low-dose radon mine that they call a "Health Mine."  ???  Anyway, everyone here is crazy from the mine, so we picked the furthest campsite from the entrance of the mine.  I did laundry for $1.50 a load (the cheapest yet!) and hung it outside to dry.  Tide detergent + outside drying = delicious smelling clothes

Future GDR Riders: Definitely stop in at the Silver Saddle, and even consider breaking up Park Lake to Butte into 2 days.  Even though the Merry Widow is bizarre, it might be worth checking out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 22: Helena to Park Lake

Ride time: 4:15
Average: 6.7 mph
Distance: 28.7 mi

Kris had breakfast going for us when we finally dragged our butts out of bed at 10AM!  It was a late night last night, for sure.  We didn't get on the road until about 1 PM, and then stopped at The Base Camp to get some new dry sacks to go in the Super Twinkies (the bag that hangs off the saddle).  Then we began climbing...and climbing...and climbing...  Helena sits at just above 4,000 feet and the camp we're at is at 6,300 feet.  It was a long day, and I was sweating profusely.  We bought some Nuuns tablets at The Base Camp to use as an electrolyte sort of drink, and they actually work really well.
Almost to camp...

We're now in Helena National Forest, and we're camped at a place that's been closed due to pine beetle infestation and clean up.  It looks like a freaky war zone with all the downed trees and lack of human presence.  It's quite sad to see what the pine beetle has done to the forests around here, and frightening to think of what might happen in years to come.