Waouw, time flies, already a month that I crossed the 49th parallel and so many unforgettable experiences have filled my heart and soul with joy!
After exploring Glacier National Park’s trails network, I jumped on the famous Great Divide Mountain Bike Route - a mainly dirt roads itinerary running along the divide from Jasper to Mexico - with the intention to follow it until the snow blocks me, most likely on Colorado high plateau. To put things into perspective, I am a road cyclist with NO-NADA-AUCUNE mountain biking experience or skills and my first gravel ride was the Dempster Highway a few weeks back, at the beginning of my trip. But, you know, when your first bike tour is 30.000km long and across the Americas, why not starting your off-road career on the GDMBR, with a gravel bike ?
Well, fortune favors the brave and so far I have had such an amazingly enjoyable, challenging and rewarding three-ish weeks in Montana. The first half of the route was mostly in the forest and the second one was, unexpectedly, in high-desert landscape. Regardless, the riding through either scenery was breathtaking and very diverse. Tons of fun were had with some gravel grinding, pavement flying, steep climb sweating (and swearing), downhill bombing and technical singletrack hike-a-biking. Did I regret it? Not for the tiniest second. Did I wish I had another set-up ? Not at all but the contrary! My new best friend allows me to have a non-stop blast, either with high-speed on the hard-packed dirt roads or with rougher rides on the bumpier sections, or with hard-core pushes on the ascents. I guess we all have fun in different ways, and I found mine.
Other than the limitless enjoyment, two aspects will be remembered from this part of the trip.
First, the funny weather. The short Autumn season brought some interesting torrential rainfalls turning the gravel roads into mudholes and the riding into something pretty miserable, let's admit it. But it has not just been wet, it has also been cold. Before you knew it, winter was trying to make its way with nights below freezing and snow accumulating at higher altitudes. I had to adapt and tried to plan my riding accordingly, pushing into the sunny days and sheltering on the stormy ones. My body was actually (and still is) happy that something forced me to give it a rest… Ain’t no rest for the wicked ya know.
Second and last but not least, people’s endless kindness. Looking back at it, I still cannot believe how lucky I have been to meet such friendly and generous beings. I will forever be grateful to : Hunter and Felicia who took care of my bike while I was hiking in Glacier and fed me with the best beignets I had in a long time ; to the Isaak family who hosted me very last minute and cooked a plethora of fresh veggies to give me a break from dehydrated mashed potatoes and peanut butter on tortillas ; to the small Ovando’s community who offered me gallons of warm coffee and an eccentric roof (a XIXth century jail) on a rainy day ; to Barbara and John who provide free cabins stashed with food to cyclists ; to Tim who welcomed me in his artist’s studio ; to John who proffered me a home, fresh sushi, home-roasted coffee, a trip to natural hot-springs and an introduction to curling while I was unexpectedly stuck in his town awaiting for a new back-wheel after cracking mine on a probably too intense descent ; to Travis who rescued me from a snowstorm, hosted me in his “man cave”, supplied me with the tastiest pancakes and a memorable expedition to show how much snow there is at higher altitude getting his truck stuck into the snowy ditch. All those people, plus all the others I chatted with along the way , are the true heroes that make this journey possible, singular and magnificent. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to cross their paths and hear their stories.
It looks like the weather is pushing me off the Divide a little sooner than expected so I will try to get some hiking done in the gorgeous Wind River Range’s wilderness before heading to drier climate in Utah.
Tramping, cycling, running, skiing, travelling, I keep exploring this amazing planet we live on. The following texts give an insight of my various wanderings. From poetry to trip reports or thoughts on particular subjects, this pages try to reflect how I travel through this modern world.