Well, we finished the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route yesterday, Monday, July 29, 2019. 2,770 miles, 69 days, over 200,000 feet of climbing. Two broken derailleurs, one broken seatpost, several new friends, more muscle and less fat, countless bowls of oatmeal and granola, and memories filled with the freedom, beauty, challenge, and peacefulness of our GDMBR tour.
Our ride from Eureka to Banff was fairly uneventful other than it was filled with riding in beautiful Canadian provincial parks. Peaks here aren’t as high as the US Rocky Mountains but they are more rocky and jagged. And what looked like a flat trail in the profile turned out to be more of a roller coaster with steep ascents and descents. My mind was already at the finish line so I wasn’t particularly happy about having to push my bike. But honestly, I’m already missing the riding. Good thing we’re heading out tomorrow to tour Yellowstone for ten days!
We stopped off in a few towns along the way. It only takes us about an hour (the amount of time to drink some good coffe) before we tire of the tourism. I believe the more a town relies on tourist money, the more unpleasant the town. I really am not a fan of Fernie or Banff. Banff doesn’t even seem to be a real town, more like a giant strip mall for people with money. Thankfully these towns also have great public libraries—our refuge. You can always find the true heart of a town at their public library.
My thoughts on completing the ride... I never would have attempted or completed the ride without John. It was his dream and I came along, somewhat hesitant. I feared that it would be too monotonous and that I would not be able to face the physical and mental challenge. But seeing him enjoy himself so much, appreciating the ever-changing landscapes, one mile at a time, staying in the moment, allowed my mind to decide that I was enjoying myself. Not that I didn’t grumble. But grumbling is okay. I found a kindred spirit in Jill Homer. Her book, Be Brave, Be Strong, recounts her sometime attitude of the GDMBR, “... the rutted gravel road dipped into a narrow canyon and wound playfully back to the highway that I had spent all morning bypassing on the primitive, and therefore preferable, forest road. That’s the big one catch of the Great divide Mountain Bike Route—it never takes the easy way. It takes the most scenic, most challenging, most remote way... especially as the days wore on, it often seemed ridiculous to climb many thousand of feet over and down three difficult passes on flooded, rock-strewn roads, just to get around the perfectly good pavement of a smooth, flat highway.” And because it is the most scenic, most challenging, and most remote—that is why finishing this is so very special to me.
But my next tour just may be in France, with boulangeries, chateaus, and good paved, smooth, and flat highways. Just saying.
Next up—Yellowstone tour, visit with Emma in Chelan, trips to Lawrence to visit our family and (hopefully) start creating a homestead, hanging out with Ian and Jessica in Raleigh, granddaughter arriving in December, and NYC next January-May. A profound sense of gratitude about my life and excited about the future! Xxoo