Trip Overview

This blog will follow two totally inexperienced bikepackers, Geoff and Cam, and their journey from Banff to Mexico via the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The route follows the Continental Divide, exposing riders to high altitude, diverse wildlife, and solitude. To learn more about the route, check this out. Randy will be the official bookie so get in touch with him if you'd like to place a wager on how far we will actually make it.

In the mean time, you can track our progress here thanks to our SPOT device.

This will be a site where we will try our best to post some pictures and stories along the way. Happy reading!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Day 31 - Steamboat Springs to Stagecoach Lake

For those of you following us on Spot, you may have noticed he haven't covered much ground in the past few days. This is because there have been incessant thunderstorms and showers and there have been flash flood warnings every day. 

As we were about to leave Steamboat, the rain and lightning came. We decided to just hang out in the library and see if we could wait out the rain. We played checkers, cards, and g built an awesome house of cards. We finally took off after dinner and made it to stagecoach lake. We camped there for the evening next to a fellow British rider. 


Geoffs brake was rubbing. Geoff logic says take the brake right off!


Day 30 - Ladder Ranch to Steamboat Springs.

After gorging down breakfast, we were eager to get to Steamboat Springs. We climbed up to Columbus where we ate lunch and met a very interesting character. This middle aged man introduced himself to us and began to ask us why we were doing this trip. We learned he didn't want to scratch the surface, but instead wanted metaphysical answers in response. He chatted for about an hour and a half about how he is a lightbringer and that all living people can be subdivided into humans and reptillians (and lightbringers like himself). We, thankfully, were humans (although he wasn't sold on Geoff) because we were nice and smiled and etc... Reptillians are disguised as humans but feed off fear and are mean and are from the fourth dimension, he thinks. Wait, he doesn't think, he just "knows". Long story short, this man claimed he was sent from a higher dimension and was put here to share light amongst us humans. Here are some claims he made:
He could create money.
He never got rained on.
He could run into the middle of a freeway and not get run over ("but there aren't enough cars here to prove it" - him)
There are no humans in the states of New Jersey and Texas.
He could tell the difference between reptillians and humans.
He drinks light.
He's from the tenth dimension. 

Anyways... We said our goodbyes, he ripped off his shirt, jumped into his Subaru (how did he afford that? He created the money), did a donut, and peeled out. 

If any of you are interested in what he has to say and his lifestyle, check out Ascention Earth, that's what he called it.

After yet another break at steamboat lake, we finally made it into steamboat springs. This is an amazing outdoorsy town where companies like SmartWool, Big Agnes, Moots and Honey Stinger were founded. Everyone seemed to be doing something active - I wish I could say it was contagious because we were anything but active in steamboat. 

We spent the night here and took our bikes into a shop early the next day for tune ups. There we met an awesome staff member, Robert. He offered us his spot for the night so we decided to spend the day and night there. Robert was a super cool dude. He attended NOLS for mountaineering and is an avid hiker and biker. We hung out all evening taking advantage of the local happy hours. He looked over the maps with us and gave us great detours to take advantage of as he was familiar with the area. The next morning we all exchanged info and we all hope to keep in touch with him. 

I think it's safe to say we all hope to revisit steamboat at some point in our lives.

Places like these actually exist 

Everything is bigger in America.

Rest days...

Geoffs new sponsor

I guess we forgot to take any pics of steamboat... That's what Google is for!

Day 28 - Road Side to Rawlins

We woke up to learn that our blind tent setup worked out just fine.  We weren’t on the road or on top of any rattle snakes.  Not having much water and still an appreciable distance to the reservoir, we forewent breakfast and tried to beat the heat to get to the water.  On the way, we were fortunate enough to see our first group of wild horses.  That was pretty neat.

We were very excited to get to the reservoir to fill up, eat brunch, and have a swim.  Unfortunately the wind prevented us from doing all but 1 of those tasks.  Too cold and windy to swim, and definitely to windy to cook. We filled up our water, took a look at the map, and planned an alternate.   There was a restaurant 15 miles off course or so where the dirt road met the highway.  Starving and reluctant to pedal directly into the headwind, we opted for this route.  We made it in record time with the tailwind only to find out this ‘restaurant’ had been shut down for years.  This caused a bit of a panic.  No water, no way of cooking, and a very windy 30 miles to the next town.  We managed to mooch some water off a nearby (the only) house.  With spirits pretty low, we went for Rawlins.  Of course, Rawlins was located in the exact direction of the high winds. 

A long time later, we arrived in Rawlins – certainly not a vacation destination for any of you reading this. This town boasted relentless winds, no trees, and lots of oil.  There was, however, a bright light in Rawlins.  The first golden arches in 100’s of miles.  After pitching the tents, we pedaled to McDic’s and treated ourselves to the dollar menu.

Geoff also got to pick up his new rack and all was good (besides the fact we were in Rawlins, Wyoming). Instead of hanging out at the picnic table that evening, we were forced to powwow in Cam’s tent so it wouldn’t blow away.

 Successful midnight tent setup.

Lost cow.
Wild Horsees


Cams gear for the evening.

New rack vs. Old Rack

Neapolitan Tan

Tent Party

Late night game of 200. Fader vs skywalker.

Day 29 - Rawlins to Ladder Ranch

After an unexpected rest day in  Rawlins, we began pedaling with the goal of getting the hell out of Wyoming and into Colorado (but better yet, trees!). We were about 35 miles until trees and 70 miles to the Colorado border.  The ride included 27 miles of road construction (yuck) and a few steep climbs.  We managed through the road conditions and we welcomed into a forest.  The trees brought much desired shade and wind cover - something we've been missing for 4 days or so.  We ascended through the aspen forest until we reached the peak.  Waiting for us was an awesome 15 mile descent on pavement into Colorado.  This leg boasted some of the most beautiful views we've seen thus far.  Cruising down this stretch during sunset was something we won't soon forget.

We camped at Ladder Ranch.  This was a family owned ranch and provided a great lawn for us and an even better breakfast in the morning.  At the 'all you can eat' breakfast, the hostess remarked how we left no room for lunch.  This was true.

What we had in store.

Made it!

Colorado in the distance.

Awesome riding.
Group shot for the day.
The trifecta.

Ladder ranch. Our home for the night.
This road acts as the Wyoming - Colorado border.
Kids dream. 
Kid in dream.
Chopped er down with our leathermen for some fire wood
G in all his glory

Day 27 – Atlantic City to Middle of Nowhere Basin

We awoke to an email from the Salsa rep. This was awesome news.  G and the reps (Aaron + Zach) exchanged a few emails regarding the logistics and we were all set… A new rack will await us in Rawlins (the next town we hit).  We were all set to hit this basin – the origin of most Wyoming complaints.  This is a 150 mile ride with:
-0 trees
-0 humans
-winds never less than 60km/h
-schizophrenic winds always managing to be a headwind.
-washboard. Miles of washboard. About 150 miles of washboard to be exact.
-Lots of turnoffs to get lost on.
-COUNTLESS antelope.
-A number of wild horses.
-Lightning storms.  Lots of lightning storms.
-oh yah…. Only 2 water sources – a well and a reservoir.

So… after the mammoth climb out of Atlantic City, we were officially beginning this monster.  The first 10 miles were pretty awesome.  It really felt like we were in the desert.  Alone in the wilderness.  This sensation of new territory overcame the anguish caused by the deadly W’s (wind & washboard). 
We filled our water up at the well site, and headed for the reservoir. The reservoir was 55 miles past the well, making for a 75 mile day or so in the basin.   This may have been a little unrealistic as we only started moving at 2pm or so after the rack situation was dealt with (note the foreshadowing…).

We pedaled and pedaled through the sandy road noting antelope after antelope and gust after gust. We hit a fork in the road and decided to go left (long story…).  We continued pedaling for 10 km or so until we realized we had made a mistake.  After witnessing a gust blow Geoff off his bike (not kidding), we decided our only option was to backtrack.  All in all this costed us about 20 km of pedaling and maybe 2 hours (headwind, uphill…).  We got back to the junction, peed on the sign that pointed us in the wrong direction, then marched on into the sunset.  We were about 30 miles short of the reservoir and short on water at sundown.  We sat down to capture the sunset to relieve some of the stress and decide on a plan.  Conclusion: strap on the headlamps and begin our first real night ride. 

Guided by Geoff’s really strong headlamp, Cam’s moderately powered lamp, and Jacob’s negligible lamp, we headed for the reservoir.  An hour or so of this passed and then boooooooooooooooooooosh. Down goes Cam.  C fell off his bike pretty good and scraped up his arm and hand.  No big deal thanks to the sandy road.  As we rode on at a slightly slower pace, thunderstorms approached us from both left and right.  This was actually super awesome.  Imagine biking in the pitch black surrounded by lightning and echoing thunder.   As the storms got closer and closer, we decided it was best to pitch tents at the road side and just bunker down for the night.  We were about 15 miles short of the reservoir and pretty low on water.  We pitched our tents in complete darkness, snacked on some dry food and passed on out.

Beginning of the Basin.

The well.


Day 26 - Little Snake River to Atlantic City

After being woken up by the cowboy, we continued our biking through the rolling hilled landscape. We rode about 30 miles until South Pass where we stopped for lunch.  As we were eating, we spotted the most American scene yet – a shotgun shell and a tin of Skoal.

We continued riding to South Pass City.  It’s funny – on these maps it marks out the towns we hit along the way with the relevant services.  After riding in what seems like the middle of nowhere for a few days, you expect these towns to be a fair size, being home to a number of amenities.  Today was a perfect example – goal: to hit South Pass City for a nice lunch and maybe a rocket pop or two…  As the mileage markers for SPC winded down, there was still no sign of this “City”. Sure enough, nested in a little ravine (or gulch), sat SPC – the current home of 3 full time residents. 

We had an extended stay in South Pass because Geoffrey’s rack decided to snap shortly before.  Second rack down on the trip… With absolutely no services there, we managed to super glue it then duct tape it.  This held okay but was no permanent fix.  Luckily we were in desert country so it wasn't too harsh on the rack (if you could manage to avoid the omnipresent washboard). 

We then trekked onward to Atlantic City (10 miles or so down the road) where we had a little powwow at the local watering hole.  This was ideal because we had internet access allowing us to get in touch with the Salsa Rep (manufacturer of G’s rack).  Atlantic City also marks the beginning (or end) of the Great Basin so we got a lot of intel from the bar owner, Laurel.  We had planned to continue for another 25 miles to the well to camp for the night but decided it would be wise to stay the evening in Atlantic City to accommodate communication between G and Salsa. We simply couldn't have begun the basin adventure sans rack information.

Morning Riding

A snapshot of rural America

South Pass City!! An old gold mining town.  Not much gold left.

Gold Mine

Atlantic City... Same story as South Pass.

Day 25 - Pinedale to Little Snake River

After taking care of some business in Pinedale we rode off into what we soon found out was desolate, but beautiful, country.  Trees and other signs of vegetation soon became scarce and were replaced with giant rolling hills.  We rode with the foothills of the divide to the east and the barren hills to the west.  This made for a pretty awesome ride.

Soon after we read a "Stop the War on Coal - Fire Obama", Geoff pointed out a sheepdog in the distance.  We approached the two sheepdogs herding 50 sheep or so with a couple donkeys following (???).  Other than the sheepdog instance, there weren't many signs of life to be found.  This could be attributed to the fact that every crick that we passed seemed to be dried up.  We kept on pedaling and luckily one of the creeks finally had some water flowing through.  It ended up being an awesome back country camping spot.  Not many signs of human life, but many signs of cattle were present... Once again forcing us to camp amongst patties.

The next morning the three of us were awakened by a loud herd of cattle marching right for us as we separated the cattle from the watering hole.  We all jumped out of our tents (this was the only thing to ever get G out of bed early) to see cattle storming over the ridge for us.  Not ten seconds later, over the ridge rides a cowboy yelling cowboy things.  Crisis averted.  Cowboy diverts the cows and saves the day. No Jumanji stampede.

The beginning leg of the ride...

Getting into the desolate region of Wyoming.

Three asses.

Four asses.
Six asses

Ridin' with some nice skies.
Probably lost


View from our campsite.

Geoff's tent on fire.

Real life cowboy