So, I was heading back to the trail Via Amtrak when i bumped into an old friend Lucky Larry; and was inspired. Instead of hiking the whole divide, Why not cycle the great divide and climb the interesting parts? With the increased daily mileage so fewer days= less food, a bicycle would pay for itself by Mexico (Is what i have told myself)
This idea was in the back of my mind as i hitched from East Glacier to Browning towards where i left off. At Browning after a couple hours waiting, with not many cars passing, a young guy pulled over called Skyler. He agreed to driver me and after a small diversion I decided to stop the night in Lincoln. On route Sky said he wanted to hike up a pass we were going over. We pulled in at the top of the pass, he goes to the boot and pulls out some trainers.
‘I found these at the hostel, can you believe someone would chuck them away’.
I was surprises to be staring at the trainers i chucked away in East Glacier which caused my feet so much grief through the snow and subsequently a week off trail. This was a entertaining twist. After the climb it was pretty much settled I might as well go back to Missoula to buy a bicycle. Sky gave me a lift in and breakfast in his awesome self built trailer house. At 9am I started searching the town for a bike, and towards the end of the day was getting desperate to find the spec i wanted at an affordable price, everywhere I went had just sold out, or had the wrong frame size. Sarah and Josh put me up again for the night and the next morning I met a guy from a bike shop to buy a used bike that was perfect. My steel framed machine of speed, mechanical discs, 40mm tyres(with space for a little more), wide drop bars. I set off around lunchtime and cycled around 50mile to Ovander, stopped briefly by a flat tyre from a piece of hard wire. In Ovander they welcome cyclists with open arms and contribution based accommodation($5), I opted to spent the night in a trailer with a comfortable mattress and grab a burger in the bar.
Saturday morning i cycled into Lincoln to join the great divide mountain bike trail, as I arrived in the town the street were lined with people, I presumed they were all there to greet me and send me on my way, but to my disappointment found they were actually getting ready for the 4th July parade in a few minuted time. So i took my place among the ranks and waited. The parade started and within a minute was handed free beer and beef jerky. Sweets were chucked to the children and the streets lined with red white and blue, cowboy hats and solid boots. I talked with the locals for a while then tried to set off. Across the road a family stopped me and ensured i had at least a cup of fresh lemonade. The children were using the money made to buy candy.
I set off at 1pm hoping to go a few miles, but the route drew me in and I was soon slaughtering myself, mile by mile up and up. The first descent was described as steep, and yes it was, half way down i pinched my second tube. The trail is easy but this was worrying in the first 15 mile off road as I had one more tube in reserve having spent 2 already. There was a camp area in the next valley, but I was flying on adrenaline. So climbed the second pass , this descend was smooth but with large washed out sections running and weaving down the trail, making me nervous on my 40mm gravel tyres. Lower where it was slightly rockier i started chucking the bike about; But the steel machine kept going, the wheels staying unbuckled to my relief. By half 7 I thought there is no point in stopping this close to the pass, so pushed and camped then night just off the road down to Helena. I planned on spending a day gettin to Lincoln and two days getting to Helena but had made it all on one day. Yusss!!!!!. The night was spent with what i presume was a pack of coyotes howling a couple hundred yards away. I was downwind and glad to be receiving no attention, with only an inner tent between me and them.
Sunday morning I have rolled downhill into town and am now sat back drinking a beer waiting for my luxury 2* motel room to be made ready. Ahhh hot shower, clothes washing and A/C (I hope).
In summary, the plan has changed, by covering the boring sections of trail 2-3 times faster, the bike will pay for itself and i will cover ground quicker. I shall climb peaks on the way down to Mexico as I choose, hopefully a good few 14ers (no fixed plan but maybe one per day) and a bit of time in the wind river range prior.
I need a name for my bike, any suggestions???? The name i like will be painted or at least marker penned onto the frame forever more.