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  1. #51
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    Wow, great adventure.

    Speaking of tandems on the Great Divide, I just want to mention that the Katie and Sam tandem team finished the Tour Divide this year in third place overall, in a sizzling 19 days. She was the captain and he the stoker.

  2. #52
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    That is awesome!

  3. #53
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    Alpgajag: I have a weird thing going on with pics. We sort of made a decision to not pursue photography on this outing. I've put a lot of effort into casual shooting in past trips. We didn't bring a dedicated camera. Posting from smartphone isn't very user friendly. I'll try to paint visuals with prose, and kindly accept my apology if the posts are less than vivid!

  4. #54
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    Anne, we have been thinking about the tandem team in the race the entire time we've been riding. Huge congrats to Katie and Sam!! Most impressive ride!!

    Thank you for posting that exciting and awe-inspiring news

  5. #55
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    We hit Crooked Creek Guest Ranch last night, a very bike-friendly stop just off the route. The map makes little mention of this stop, so I must elaborate...Super friendly people, nice saloon/eatery, lots of elec outlets at tables, free camping anywhere on the grounds. Nice local beer selection. Kinda easy to miss...we thought we had passed it when we ran into another rider going SoNo. Asked if it was up ahead, and he sez No services til Pinedale (70 miles away). A few hundred yards later we saw the sign, replete with "Great divide riders welcome," but the sign only read going NoSo! Poor lad passed it

  6. #56
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    Bless people and their (at times misguided) concern for safety of the wayward...

    Nasty, deep gravel shoulders going uphill. Two way traffic approaching, do we dismount or struggle? We start gutting it out, wobbly, struggling; the car going our way slows to our speed, blocking us us from getting back on the good part of the road. "Did you do okay with that terrible weather?" Came the question from the passenger window. Still struggling to maintain forward momentum, I fire back "weather's okay, but these loose shoulders are a b____! Thankfully the driver clued in immediately and hit the gas, surrendering the ten-inch wide strip of packed gravel road.

  7. #57
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    I opened my eyes this AM and looked into the sky through the bug net. A bald eagle flew by, reminding me to relay this:

    Climbing up above buffalo Fork river, some great overviews of the River appear. We saw a huge bald cruising downriver and stopped to watch from above. He pulled up and laded on a sandbar, right next to another bald. A third one swooped down and joined them. A fourth circled nearby. A county worker walked by with a weed sprayer and asked what we was gawking at. Ambling along, continuing his duty, he mutters back Well, that's something you don't see everyday.

  8. #58
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    Like an old man with nothing better to do...I could thumb out stories all day of the wonders, minuscule and larger, that mosaic together to form our ride as we know it. But we gotta push over Union Pass and relish the dozens of miles of mild DH to Pinedale. Blessed cloud cover ushers the way today. It's 10am and the tent is still up...lazy morning at last.

    We hope everyone is having a great summer, and that bike riding is a big part of it. Mind that fun meter, and stay safe!

    Mike and Moria

  9. #59
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    Thanks for continuing to share the stoke. Its inspiring!

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by She&I View Post
    Alpgajag: I have a weird thing going on with pics. We sort of made a decision to not pursue photography on this outing. I've put a lot of effort into casual shooting in past trips. We didn't bring a dedicated camera. Posting from smartphone isn't very user friendly. I'll try to paint visuals with prose, and kindly accept my apology if the posts are less than vivid!
    I can understand the wanting to be concentrating more on the ride and a lot less on the pics.

    Your prose works just as well.

  11. #61
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    Nice to be in Pinedale, Wyoming!

    It always seems a shame to heft stuff around the countryside and never use it. With that in mind (?) we met a bit of nasty weather at the subalpine plateau some miles before the Union Pass. We ditched it under a handy info kiosk to make a plan. Hunkering down near 10k' in the storm sounded like a dank and indefinite sentence. Some guys in a pickup pulled over to relay some option details. We decided to run the 10-mile plateau to get to better weather. I did feel more than a little guilty, railing down and over open meadows and thru forest patches, hooting at the wind blasts, a crazy grimace on my rain-pelted face, comfortable and having fun beyond all reason. I was the rain fairing for my ardent stoker...who admitted later to looking up only a few times during the slopfest. I smile widely thinking what we must have looked like to the antelope bounding out of out way in the rain. LOL

    The bike shop (aka A-Z Hardware) was a productive stop for a minor issue. Dale had lots of good advice and good humor. Wind River Brewing...good stuff! Local brew pub with product in local stores in cans only, thanks!

    Five days riding to Rawlins in AM, so check ya in a few days, peeps! Be well and when in doubt, go for it. CHEERS!
    Last edited by She&I; 07-12-2014 at 07:00 AM.

  12. #62
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    Well, well...an island of bike-friendly civilization in the Big Nothing. Atlantic City WY is happening Tues-Sun, and we we just rolled into the AC Mercantile Bar and Restaurant for the usual burgers and beer. The place is a museum of artifacts...and sells Grand Terin Brewing products

    So this chill Brit walking down the street says Hey I think you guys can get the teepee tonight, I just moved over to the cabin. He is riding the divide from So CO to somewhere north I can't remember. So we go the the other bar next door, Miners Grubstake Bar, Cafe and Store, just before closing. Do you ever belly up to a bar and ask for...a teepee? No, you smile and breathe in the tobacco and be glad these people are here. And then you order enough beer to get you buzzed every night from here to Rawlins. Then you ask how you pay for a night in the teepee. Then they say it's free for customers, they close the bar and walk out, leaving you with the beer and the teepee in front of the bar. Simple.

    Today we rode along the Continental Divide, looking over on one massive watershed on each side, one draining to the Atlantic , the other the Pacific. The Wyoming countryside is open and often desert-like. The afternoon and evening storms might be subsiding, but in any case we'll be good in the teepee.

  13. #63
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    No picture and only prose make me want to see and experience it even more for myself. Thanks for the posts. Love checking in on your progress.

    Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

  14. #64
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    Thanks for the reciprocal stoke, blue!

    The last three days from Pinedale to Rawlins has been a sensory overload through the heart of The Big Nothing. The two bars in Atlatic City were a fun diversion. Beyond that, no trees for 200 miles, just the sublime nothingness of non development. We got cocky dodging weather and got pounded by sideways hail and rain. Muddy roads are the worst rain danger IMO; it can shut you down right now. Thankfully the rains mostly just kept the dust and sand in check, and made for a heavenly damp desert scent.

    Too many pronghorns to count. One group had 14. Wild mustangs playing with us, running along the road, stopping, bolting, repeat. Never seen a badger before yesterday...but their den holes are ubiquitous along the BLM and County roads.

    The people have been a hoot. We've met a few divide riders, but none more impressive than Joe and his kids. He rides a Fandango tandem with his youngest son (11?), the 15 yr old rides a bikepacked-out MTB, the 17 yr old pulls a trailer on his bike. They are crushing it, and rode like 80+ miles yesterday. Go, boys!!

    First flat in 1200 miles, a simple thorn/patch job. Streak broken...

    We gotta pick up out mail cache, so gotta roll. First I gotta figure out WTH the weasel is doing in the dollar store...

    Colorado state line tomorrow or so. Cheers!!

  15. #65
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    Another thanks for your posts! A fantastic read.

    Re: bless people and their concern, etc...ha,ha...get on a bike, add some panniers & other assorted bags, pedal out to the boonies and people are so " they are slightly crazy " nice to you! :-)

  16. #66
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    We made it out of the barren, otherworldly Wyoming backcountry, and to Steamboat Lake SP, Colorado--if barely. So nice to see my old friend...it's been a couple of years since I rode the CO Trail and I'll be great to ride in some of the same areas in a few days.

    Thirty days of riding, combined with cavalier attention to calorie input caught up to me. I was spiraling down for a couple of long days, eventually having difficulty eating. And we all know where this leads. Not riding! With a few miles of steep grade to push over to the lake, we actually (gasp!) flagged a ride from some very nice people in a car and truck who were more than happy to deposit us near the lake. It was pretty awesome to have a wilderness first responder and RN hop outa their cars and assess my situation. Thank you Travis and Angel Nurse! Cool buncha folks, bless you!

    So, today is our first, much overdue, rest day. Not that the weasel needed it...

    I reckon we are halfway through the ride. Last I checked we had nearly 1200 miles, which was days ago. A little more patience will see us through. Wishing everyone a great summer, with copious amounts of fat tire fun. Cheerz!

    ...now a couple days later, Steamboat Springs...and finally a motel! Are we breaking down or what?! Overdue chain replacement (all three) apparently smoked a sprocket or ring, so the guys at Orange Peel (a killer shop) so I'll be back there this AM wrapping up that issue. Had some oil leakage from the Rohloff, so changed the oil. We made it out of the barren, otherworldly Wyoming backcountry, and to Steamboat Lake SP, Colorado--if barely. So nice to see my old friend...it's been a couple of years since I rode the CO Trail and I'll be great to ride in some of the same areas in a few days.

    Thirty days of riding, combined with cavalier attention to calorie input caught up to me. I was spiraling down for a couple of long days, eventually having difficulty eating. And we all know where this leads. Not riding! With a few miles of steep grade to push over to the lake, we actually (gasp!) flagged a ride from some very nice people in a car and truck who were more than happy to deposit us near the lake. It was pretty awesome to have a wilderness first responder and RN hop outa their cars and assess my situation. Thank you Travis and Angel Nurse! Cool buncha folks, bless you!

    So, today is our first, much overdue, rest day. Not that the weasel needed it...

    I reckon we are halfway through the ride. Last I checked we had nearly 1200 miles, which was days ago. A little more patience will see us through. Wishing everyone a great summer, with copious amounts of fat tire fun. Cheerz!

    ...now a couple days later, Steamboat Springs...and finally a motel! Are we breaking down or what?! Overdue chain replacement (all three) apparently smoked a sprocket or ring, so the guys at Orange Peel (a killer shop) will help me wrap up that issue this AM. Had some oil leakage from the Rohloff, so changed the oil. Will drop in some new brake pads today during wheel removal.

    This is a MTB town to be sure; Erikson and Moots in the house, and a few shops. It's a common Divider repair/refresh stop. I wish we had a few days to sample the local trail network, as it looks extensive and reputes to be ultra buff. Alas...Will drop in some new brake pads today during wheel removal.

    This is a MTB town to be sure; Erikson and Moots in the house, and a few shops. It's a common Divider repair/refresh stop. I wish we had a few days to sample the local trail network, as it looks extensive and reputes to be ultra buff. Alas...

  17. #67
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    It's like a little family out here on the ride. We've met numerous cool riders going either direction, creating their own adventures.

    A special shout out to:

    Jamie from London, who took a bad digger and is recovering and getting bike fixed in Jackson. Stay strong, brother! Banff isn't far off at your riding pace!

    Michelle from NY. Maybe the toughest lass I've ever met! She had to drop out of the race, and we are gleeful to see her in Steamboat, now touring the route. Nice tenacity, Vegetable Girl!

    Many other cool riders, going both directions and elsewhere. Tony, Gary, Dennis, Joe/crew...We ran into a singe biker (name eluding) whose rig outweighed ours by a good margin. Who'da thought!?

    The moto riders on the route are a great buncha folks. Several have stopped to chat or confirm we were okay. Several random people have offered up a place to stay...very kind gestures from people we don't even know who treat us like long lost family members.

    All these fine folk have been a sweet icing on this big ass cake. Power to you all!

    Mike and Moria

  18. #68
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    Apology for the half baked post. It disappears when I'm logged in, so unable to edit. Thanks for bearing with...

  19. #69
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    Holly typing skills Mike, I can actually hear you when reading your posts.Fascinating, good luck and keep enjoying your long adventurous journey

  20. #70
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    Vino: lol, thanks for the good thoughts, pal. Looking fwd to single bikes...a lot!

    Hartsel CO is about as small as a full-services town can be. But the spirit and hospitality here is huge. The Highlighter Saloon and Cafe was an apparition when we rolled in last night at dusk in a steady, blowing rain. Laura assured us that hanging out without buying anything is no problemo, just relax and dry out. Then she offered up the lot over yonder for us to tent in. Very many thanks to all here in Hartsel!

    We took a rest day at Dillon Reservoir and had some sweet friends drive over from Conifer and dine with us. Great to see you guys!!!

    More typical PM rain scheduled today, so we best move along if we are to make Salida without scuba gear. Psyched to get back to that cool town.

    So many nice people everywhere. Country living is where our hearts are. Cheers from out back...mind your fun meter and go like hell.

    Mike

  21. #71
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    I check everyday for a new episode! Love the updates.

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  22. #72
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    Ah, the weather...

    We have been dodging storms the last few days with dwindling success. I'm way up for a sloppy romp, but now we are looking at a week of storms a beyond the usual periodic tree-duck.

    The main issue is road condition. One never knows how much Dreaded Muck will need to be negotiated. This lovely substance can stop your bike cold in two tire rotations--pushing, not riding. Forget riding, you can barely walk through it.

    We left Hartsel at our usual crack-o-noon pace and met the day's storm at 8500' or so. We decided to wait it out, which turned into a 5-hour sit while we awaited the next 27 miles to Salida. The Muck was lurking. Soon enough the D-horse was overwhelmed, despite it's internally geared hub. Not enough water for a decent bivy, or a decent bike wash. Amazingly, only about 25 yards of the worst, but the sticking cycle was recurring enough to send us walking for some miles uphill. At the crest I was able to clear the drive enough to get function.

    We rolled into Salida like 2am, flopped next to the river, and vowed to revise our strategy during the upcoming storm days. Sadly we will be missing some prime CO riding as we detour some of the forest roads on paved roads, but such it is. We have had some great days on pavement on this ride, and are looking at more with no complaints.

    Cheers from the Arkansas River drainage, Heart of the Rockies RV Park and Campground. Happy riding!

  23. #73
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    Thanks for the enthusiasm, blueMTB!


    Idunno about y'all, but my stoke for pretty much everything is punctuated by music. It plays all day in my head, and sometimes from my phone. Some of the nuggets that have brightened my trails have been:

    Robin Hitchcock/Ride
    ACDC/Ride On
    CCR/Ramble Tamble
    Son Volt/May the Wind Take Your Troubles Away
    Dirty Heads/I Got No Time (some filthy lyrics)
    Black Label Society/Blessed Hellride
    Bob Mould/Black Sheets of Rain
    Beat Farmers/Big Ugly Wheels (RIP Country Dick Montana)
    Ozark Mtn Daredevils/Colorado Song
    Bill Nelson/When the Weather Changes Everything Changes with the Weather

    So many others... sorry for no YouTube embeds!

  24. #74
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    Howdy from El Rito NM!

    We just finished a sizable section of tough riding into NM. High, hilly and poor roads and surfaces. Also, virtually no people : )

    New Mexico is a diverse and beautiful state. I did some Divide riding here a couple of years ago, but missed out on the higher mountains as there are in the north of the state. I have to state: Once we crossed into NM, the accumulations of trash along the roadways, both dirt and paved, is absolutely shameful. It's apparent there is an acceptance of this condition; people toss trash, people do. Nothing to clean it up. Business owners along the road just let it accumulate. Like nothing I've seen in 2k miles of US riding on this trip. I'll be embarrassed for everyone here, since nobody seems to give a **** about living in filth.

    Major thumbs up to Joe and Sylvia at the Cańon Plaza snack stand!

    Cheers til Cuba...

  25. #75
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    Three scampering baby bobcats (bobkittens?) is about the cutest thing in the universe. I guess we just missed Mom crossing the road ahead of us, but the little ones knew what to do.

    The run across Povadera Ridge to Cuba was a tough one, (with crazy jeep road forcing moto to portage), but we have been doing well with nutrition so have been hanging in there. We covered 150 miles of mostly road riding (on the Chaco alternate) in the last two days, making it to Grants. We must've been feeling good, because we flat forgot most of our water after a roadside break 50 miles from done. Oopsie.

    Planning a rest day tomorrow, making our day-off total 3.5. We should be able to finish up with a good surge. The idea of finishing is a bit surreal presently, as living on the bike simply seems like our existence at this point. It is...

    Genuine thanks to the uncountable numbers of courteous drivers everywhere. Maybe my memory is wavering, but it seems like awareness and courtesy is in good health overall. Thumbs up, drivers!

    Happy trails!

  26. #76
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    Hiyya from Arenas Valley, after an admittedly arduous couple hundred miles of forest and county road slogging.

    I remember too well now why I chose to shake down the ride with the section between Grants and Silver City...shaky resupply options and little water for 160 or so miles. We did it in a day less than I did solo, which you could chock up to being able to ride all day with no issue. Much of the road surface was rough dried mud, too much/too coarse gravel, brake bumps, killer grades, and soft areas from daily precip. Fully rigid bike with 40+ in the tires...bring your fortitude.

    So, sadly (?!), it's goodbye NatFo as we drop into the desert to the finish a few days from here. Assuming that, we will have done it in 60 days including 4 days off. But who's counting? It's been the bike odyssey of a dream, and I really can't even understand what we just did. Like some of my early rock climbs where I got so high that I never came down all the way. Total recalibration.

    Gila NF offered one crowning moment for the weary bikers. Down we plunged through failing light, 12-hours tired and needing a key water source. The narrow canyon opened slightly up to fenced ranch land. Suddenly we realized we were a part of a stampede, of what we could not discern. Huge hoofed mammals were now bounding the fence we ran along, crossing the road both before and behind us. The last, a young and slower one lagged behind, hesitant to jump the fence. That's when we could see for sure they were elk. There must have been 20 or more. It certainly is an indelible moment, one of many I'm grateful to experience.

    We hope you all have been having a great summer...ride on!

  27. #77
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    Wow!!!

    Very inspirational journey.

  28. #78
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    Wow, you have me hooked!

    I was so busy reading really meaningless words on wheel size that I missed your initial post entirely. This is what passion is all about and I look forward to following your progress.

    Divorce Horse for sure. Turbo and I never let a tandem come between us over all our years of riding because we were smart enough to know our cycling limits but I do remember a relationship that went sour in college because of a "Divorce Horse."

  29. #79
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    She&I

    This sounds like quite an adventure! I'm so jealous!!! I wish we would have known you were rolling through Colorado, we could have joined up for some miles.

    I have dreamed of doing this route, and may some day, but the wife is not up for all the camping, so probably a no-go on the tandem.

    Can't wait to see the photos!

    Dan (aka ds2199)

  30. #80
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    Hey, Dan, thanks for the good words!

    It would have been a gas to ride with you guys, but we wouldn't have wanted to slow y'all down : 0 You guys have the terrain to be jealous of, so enough there! Maybe just do a nice chunk where you can work in hotel stays? A supported hut or hotel ride? If you guys wanna do it, it'll gel somehow. Mind the fun meter as always, all will be fine.

    We'll give you a holler if we see tandem action brewing. Our friends Jesse (Mendo Bike Sprite) and Sojo invited tandem'ers up to the Redwood Coast, which we would be nuts to miss. They are solid and fun riders. Anyway, possibilities abound...creativity is the only limitation. Maybe lost wages, too, but who's counting?

    Hoping your two-seater (and single bike) dreams materialize! Keep hammering

    Mike and Moria

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    Two rest days, what the hey? Yea, never ones to shy from leisure, we took the weekend off at the KOA outside Silver City. It's not like a rest day makes a lot of difference at this point. A rest week would probably begin to help.

    But we were 130 miles from the finish, and that magnetism overruled the cheap brecky and numbness of inactivity at the CG. Feeling a little aprehensive about societal reentry, and generally sentimental about a good time ending; all shades of mood I've experienced before on both borizontal and vertical surfaces.

    Who's counting? I like to say. Sometimes I am. We secretly wanted to tick a century on one of our days, so we lit out of Silver City toward the finish with that carrot dangling. A last chance to blow the routefinding burned eight miles and left us spent before reaching Hachita, still 45 miles to go from there. So we settled for 93 on the day and gladly rode into Jeff's ranch for the bivy.

    Next day we relished the few paved miles left, stood on the shoulder and gawked at the last views of the Divide. And before our ride found its end, it's entirety flashed before me like a passing life. All the dreaming, wishing, planning, tinkering, ridingridingriding, was over. At the Antelope Wells port of entry we embraced and met our shuttle driver. It really was over.

    Logistics ace Jeff got us and our bike on a Lordsburg Greyhound at 10:30pm--no small task with the big bike. Several hours later, here I am thumbing out the story in the civility of my mom's house, as if it had been but a dream.

    I will add some postscript info to this thread in between sleep and recovery beers. In the spirit of mtbR, I will blather about gear and bike. Probably additional ramblings. Right now I need to wallow in the doneness of it. Thanks to MTBR and its kooky and spokewise denizens; you all made this outing fun in a new way for me. Thanks for all the kind words and thoughts, and for the space in Passion to tell a story.

    Power on...to whatever's next! Cheers!!

    Mike

  32. #82
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    "apprehensive about societal reentry"

    Welcome back!

    That line brought a chuckle. When ever our NG armor unit returned from two to three weeks of annual training in the field, we always had to caution each other NOT to say "pass the f...ing salt!" when we returned to society.

    Seriously, what an adventure you had!

  33. #83
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    LOL, thanks for that nugget, Rev. You know...

  34. #84
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    I feel like I lived it...a little. Thanks so much for sharing the adventure. A little envious. I suspect there is a long distance trek somewhere in my future. Maybe not 60+ days long, but who knows? ;-)

  35. #85
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    A hat tip to you, huffster. I hope any aspirations materialize. You know, there's really not much difference between a couple nights out and a couple dozen. Once you're bike is packed up and you are pedaling, the hard part is done. And who's counting?

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    That was an amazing read, and I'm sure an even more amazing experience. I tip my hat to the both of you.

  37. #87
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    Thank you, musikron. I somewhat regret not being able to convey more narrative and photos. I've spent a good deal of effort documenting and putting reports together, but I'm trying to put more into the activity part these days. Getting on in years, I think, makes one more selective about time.

    Suffice to say that I hope everyone who has the smallest inkling to do some adventure-style MTB will take that leap. I hope that reading about a successful outing by an average rider will bolster others to suffer some lost wages and get out there.

    Cheers!

  38. #88
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    For what it’s worth, some retrospective musings...


    The Good

    My stoker - Moria was the perfect partner for this. Always measured, practical and patient, she more than makes up for what I lack. I’d often be laid out at day’s end and she would happily handle the domestic duties. She never complained (never does), and she put up with me the entire time. And get this: she pedaled!

    Adventure Cycling Association - The route wouldn’t exist without them. Their maps and guide book are indispensable tools that are well designed and as accurate as one could hope, which is key for a route with zero specific signage. Their web site is an additional and fantastic resource; map addendums are uploaded yearly, GPS tracks are available for free. And more…check it out: Great Divide Mountain Bike Route | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association

    The bike - The quintessential piece of gear, our MTB Tandems Fandango Tourista, was rock solid and trouble free the entire time. In 2500 miles, we replaced chains and rear chain cogs once, adjusted chain tension up front a few times, changed Rohloff oil, replaced rear brake pads, and repaired two flats. We ran regular lightweight tubes, one of which I patched and re-used, the other I replaced with a sealant tube heading into NM. Bontrager XR3 Comp tires were a great choice (thanks, MikeC, for that recommendation). They performed well in every situation, and were durable enough to last. We got a sidewall slice that didn’t penetrate, but was bulging. I superglued a rubber patch on the outside of the tire and went with it to the end.

    Shuttle services - At the start and finish, we had fantastic support from two resources: In MT: Whitefish Bike Retreat. In NM: Southwest Trailhead Hand. Many thanks to Cricket B. at WBR, and Jeff S. at STH. These are a special breed of people, and their penchant for helping cyclists (and hikers) is a logistical godsend. Thank you, Cricket and Jeff!

    Orange Peel Bike Service in Steamboat Springs CO - A great shop for service and more, and probably the only one on the Divide that can service a Rohloff Speedhub. Other very helpful shops were Great Northern Cycles in Whitefish MT, and A-Z Hardware (includes a bike shop) in Pinedale WY. A deserved shout-out to my LBS, The Path in Orange County CA. They did some fine work on my bike pre-ride and are always there to back me up.

    Truckers - I don’t recall being on a bike and being treated, universally, with such respect by truckers. These guys take Share The Road seriously—in every state. Newfound respect for these pros.

    Steripen Adventurer - Keep those pump and squeeze water filters away from me. I’ll never again use them. The Steripen provided pathogen-free drinking water the entire ride, on a single set of lithium batteries. The optional pre-filter works pretty well, but you could probably use a piece of cloth over a bottle mouth instead. My only caution with the “pen” is to not pack it with other objects, as (I believe), the activation button can be inadvertently depressed, wasting battery life. The soft case it comes with makes it very easy to lash the unit somewhere on your bike or bags.

    Ortleib Waterproof - How many products that claim waterproofness actually back that up in performance? Count Ortleib in. When we knew rain was eminent, and we wanted something to stay dry, it either went in the tent or in the Ortleib panniers. They aren’t the lightest; I did a bunch of mods to mine to cut the weight in half. But the material, welded seams and generous, formed top flaps made the bags our only absolutely waterproof storage on the ride.

    Old Man Mountain Racks - Bomber gear. Thanks to Channing and company for saving me some scratch on (and for speedy delivery of) the mounting hardware I needed.

    REI - House gear at the venerable retailer just gets better. We threw a big hail-Mary by getting a new tent and sleeping bags without being able to test them before the ride. The Dash 2 tent kept us comfy in a lot of inclement weather. It’s easy to set up, amazingly full featured, and packs at about 3 lbs. Two side doors + two vestibules, interior pockets, and fly rigging options…they did their homework on this tent, as its ease of use, light weight and storm worthiness attest. All I did was seal the floor seams with SeamGrip. The REI Igneo down sleeping bags are borderline too warm at +15° rating, but are also so lightweight that we couldn’t resist. The hydrophobic down and treated outer lining were impervious to condensation moisture, and they compress to a very small size considering their rating and loft.

    Porcelain Rocket - Thanks, Scott, for taking on the custom bag job when it wasn't convenient. Per Tony, I'll bet you thought the bags wouldn't see the light of day. Eh, what's a few years?!



    The Not-So-Good

    Zippers - We can go to Mars, split atoms, and cure diseases…but we are still stuck with this ridiculous “hookless fastener” from the days of yore. Yes, they’ve improved. But no matter what the design, they aren’t storm worthy. They break. They catch on storm flaps. They are flat-out hard to use and often require two hands. And when they fail, it’s a big deal.

    Cascade Designs Platypus bottles - I’ve championed this product for 20 years, and it’s all we use for hydration bladders. But when half of your bottles bust a leak in the same location, it’s time to pull back. I will continue to use them, but with discretion in a horizontal orientation (they work best vertically). And, it’s obvious that, as the bottles age, the structural integrity diminishes. The good news is that MSR/Cascade will replace them without question–but that won’t help you in the field or at a retailer.

    Headlamp buttons - It seems there used to be numerous headlamp designs with a somewhat protected power button that would be unlikely to activate while packed. (I have at least two older Black Diamond models like that.) I dislike having to open the battery compartment every night and flip one of the batteries. Headlamps have improved so much over the years, that it’s difficult to fathom that the power button issue still exists in popular brand lines. But it does.

    Da Brim - The hat brim that attaches to a helmet. Great in concept, lacking execution. After running a couple of my own home-made versions successfully, I decided to give the mass produced version a try. We could not get these things to stay on our helmets in a low enough position to be useful. They want to ride high. The brim sides want to curl upward like a cowboy hat rather than a more useful Panama Jack shape. A ladderlock-style buckle tensioning on a hard object = fail. Ladderlocks need tension against them to work, and the elastic sewn into the brim doesn’t provide that tension; the helmet shell obviously won’t either. It seems like the product’s intended ability to fit various helmet sizes and designs renders it a poor fit for any one helmet. I wore a Giro, the wife a Bell. Hers fell off and was lost. I jettisoned mine to the mail. If I decide to run something like that again, I’ll be making my own again. Until then, my Outdoor Research Sun Runner hat under my helmet will be my weapon of choice against hotheadedness.

  39. #89
    KgB
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    That was an excellent, inspired read. Thanks for sharing it. That's Passion for sure!
    I've been inside too long.

  40. #90
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    Very awesome! Having done some big adventure type trips (and more to come)

    "total recalibration"

    really nails one's mental state when they step out of the humdrum of every day society for a big chunk of play time. The clarity....can't wait to feel that way again.

    Awesome trip, awesome report!

  41. #91
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    KgB: You are very welcome, and thank you!

    WHALE: Thanks, bruddah. I wonder what, techically, happens in our brains when we do this stuff. I know it's not a small thing. I guess every experience makes us what we are, but dang, the big hits just take you somewhere that is impossible to return from completely. Good or bad! I hope to read about your exploits...good to share that contact buzz for our jonesing brethren. Cheers!

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    Postpostcript...

    A few random, average snaps from the ride...


    Getting the Divorce Horse to The Canadian border took some special equipment that served double duty. Valley of Fire campground:




    Whitefish Bike Retreat is an hour drive from the Canadian border. If you lodge there, you can get a ride. The place has a discernible gravity…who would want to leave?






    At the start of the ride I felt like the hard part was over. All that was left to do was ride and camp.




    As Californians, we were envious of all the water we saw in Montana.




    Hehe...






    We didn’t avoid all the snow. Avalanche debris over Whitefish Pass, the warmup.




    About ten spots were impassable by any means but foot. This one took some work and was hundreds of yards wide. You could only guess where the road would reappear.




    Obligatory shot with Glacier NP backdrop.




    Top contender for Mosquito Hell on Earth: The otherwise idyllic Holland Lake MT.




    No phone, no pool, no pets.




    All day and only this to do.






    I know how to make Boreas Pass more fun.




    Da bear…where? Didn’t see a single one. Just moose, elk, antelope, badger, fisher cat, mountain lion, turtle, bald eagle, golden eagle, hawks, trout, bobcat, fox, coyote, wolf, deer, horned toad, snakes, mustang, marmot...




    Basin, Montana was a welcome stop. Pizza joint, quick bivy, cafe…in that order.




    With a gorgeous view of the highway.




    These two guys were each going their own way. We all wondered how the guy on the right got his rig to weigh 150 pounds.




    Nice, shady rest spot.





    Rainfall/snowpack had been above average, leading to green everywhere. The bull moose wasn’t too happy about our presence, so we were happy to move on.




    The Big Nothing, Montana style. Near Medicine Lodge NF.





    The Big Nothing, Wyoming style. Great Divide Basin. No trees for over a hundred miles.




    Lots of great riding through Colorado, on par with the good Montana sections, but higher elevation. Laid over in Steamboat Springs for some bike maintenance and a day off. Met some friends for dinner in Frisco. Rode around a couple passes due to nasty weather. Spent hours working through muddy road above Salida, arrived at 2am.




    We started to get summit fever sometime in NM. Probably at the northern border! We jettisoned some items in Cuba NM, and hit the remaining backcountry sections with fervor. Next thing we knew, our trailhead hand, Jeff, was snapping our pic at the border station.


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    You saw a mountain lion? Wow.

  44. #94
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    toA, you must've missed this from a post on page 2:

    "Rolling into one of a million dips on a forested dirt road past Cottonwood Lakes heading to Ovando, we spooked an adult mountain lion off the road as we rolled into the dip. My bear bell was not ringing loudly due to the soft road surface, so we got pretty close to him coasting at 10-15mph. The tail and muscular hindquarters were obvious as he quicky slinked into the growth roadside. I took a second look and saw his entire side, a big healthy cat. Then I saw in the growth next to him was another lion lying motionless with eyes on us. I got direct eye contact from that lion as we passed within 20 feet, it lowered its head and ears. There was nothing to do except keep pedaling. Wifers took another look back and saw the crouched lion pop it's head up watching as we rode off. It was a spectacular and scary moment, one I'll never forget. I think the cats were in more a defensive mode as we passed, thinking wtf izzat? but the sheer presence of carnivorous power left us stunned."


    A good animal sighting is such an incredible payback for your trail toil. I've seen a lion thrice here in SoCal; twice biking and once driving. The Montana encounter was nothing like the previous; it really was too close for comfort. That had to be the wildest moment of all 61 days.

    People can spend a life in the outdoors and never catch a glimpse of the elusive big cat, so I feel lucky. If I never saw another, that would be okay with me. But I hope to!

    Cheers,

    Mike

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    That's so cool.

  46. #96
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    Bringing up an old thread here, but I think I met you guys in Steamboat at Orange Peel. Hard to mistake a tandem decked out in BP'ing bags. I was there getting a some spare parts and stuff, then continuing north on the CDT.

    Glad to see you guys made it.

    Cheers!
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

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    Hey, Krein! I'm trying to place your mug and admittedly am failing...glad you lived through your trek, how many miles and days? Bravo on the effort!

  48. #98
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    True, there were a number of bikepackers both gearing up and pit-stopping at Orange Peel that day. We were the ones trying to ride the 'hiking' version of the divide. I remember a father with two sons just unpacking their brand new revelate gear and heading out, southbound, I think, too.

    Our trip is here:

    The longest singletrack trip ever?
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

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