Afterthoughts · The Great Divide

Trail angels: Greg McKee

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

John F. Kennedy


In order not to dwell on my last encounter with a grumpy hunter I have decided to honor some fellows that helped me and others along the Divide. Their kindness and action have made this trip exceptional. We call these folks trail angels. Usually you don’t notice them, but in moments of need they magically appear.

I met Greg on my first day of riding. I was still a greenhorn then. Out of logistic reasons I had decided to park my van in Canmore, incidentally at a car dealership, but that’s another story.

If you have ever been to Canmore you may be familiar with the steep, dusty gravel road that goes up to Spray Lake. It’s a beast.

Well, the day I started my adventure we also had massive smoke and ash falling from the sky, which did not lend itself to a healthy riding experience.  The road was so steep that I had to push the bike. Remember, this is day one. My legs are out of shape, the bike is fully loaded and I have no clue how to ride gravel roads on a recumbent with skinny tires. I have a handkerchief in front of my nose, cars are zooming by, dust and smoke make for an eerie atmosphere.

Out of the gray plume comes a red pickup truck. The truck is going downhill while I am struggling uphill. At the next pullout the truck comes to a stop. A few moments later I hear a voice:

“You need a lift?”

I stop and begin to think. Slowly. This is day one.  I want to ride 2700 miles and I catch a ride at mile 3? Then again, I rode this part already yesterday on my mountain bike. There is no need for misguided pride here. And the conditions are really awful.

I accept. On the short ride up I learn that Greg is visiting the area and owns a bike ship in Saskatoon. Aha. He can relate to fellow bikers. Nevertheless it takes a special kind of consideration to stop what you are doing and reach out to a complete stranger. That’s what trail angels do.

Thank you!

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The Great Divide

Preparing for Reentry

Frog Falls, BC

The closer we came to the end of our journey the more we talked about the time afterwards. We joked about having to adjust our eating habits. After not using a belt for 2 months I had to put 2 additional holes in my belt after the trip. Apparently it pays to work out 8 hours a day. 

That was the easy part. 

Now it is 2 weeks later and I am still grappling with reentry into the “real” world. It feels like I have landed on a different planet.

Today’s encounter certainly didn’t help. 

I am currently driving a camper van across Washington State, spending the nights in the National Forest, or at a Walmart parking lot (which is another story altogether, as several Walmart locations do not allow overnight camping anymore). So, today I am heading up a forest road finding a dispersed, unimproved camp site that is occupied by about 10 large fifth wheels. No one around, except one gentleman, who eyes me with a incredulous face. There is plenty of space for my tiny camper. Nice guy I am, I get out and ask the man: “Howdy? You guys hunting?” 

“Yes.” 

“Is there space for me for one night?” 

“Well, we have been coming here for 27 years and there are 10 more guys coming on Friday.” 

Today is Monday! 

“I see. So for one night that would be ok?”

“I can’t say. This is not my campground, but we pay for the 2 port-a-potties. They don’t just bring them around. Why don’t you try across the highway. There is a big public campground.”

At this point it is clear to me that the guy does not want me around. Ok. I am not welcome. I get it. Although, what he says does not compute. 

“Thanks.” I don’t say what I think and leave. 

This experience is in stark contrast to the hospitality we experienced during the Divide ride, which must be in a parallel universe. I liked that one much better. I guess it is up to me to choose and live in the environment that makes me feel good. 

Afterthoughts · The Great Divide

Why?

You might ask, what makes you want to ride 2700 miles and climb Everest 6 times along the way? What’s the motivation and what’s the payoff? Those are good questions and I have been wondering myself about that before and after the ride.

Before the ride, I looked at this as a challenge. It’s there. Not sure it has been done before on a recumbent. And even if so, it was a challenge for me. Could I do it? I had an inkling about the daily routine: bike, eat, sleep. That simplicity had an appeal.

After the ride, I can say, yes, it can be done on a recumbent and I could do it. There is some pride in that. However, that’s minor. I found a quote by Gary Fisher, one of the inventors of the mountain bike, who found the words to describe best the attraction of adventure cycling or cycling in general:

The body, stronger. The mind, sharper.

The air, cleaner (Ed. Maybe not in a Montana wildfire). The grass, greener.

The pretzels, crisper. The beer, colder.

The weekday, shorter. The weekend, longer.

The sun, brighter. The sky, bluer.

Life is better, when you ride a bike!

Gary Fisher


I believe, this sentiment is true for anything that requires effort, endurance, patience, and maybe sacrifice. The feeling of accomplishment is so much sweeter. There will be memories and appreciation for moments that cannot be repeated. Call it happiness.

IMG_4607

Cheers, Gary

The Great Divide

Hachita

Scenes from our last stop. We rode only 27 miles today. There is no water, no shade, and probably no good place to camp between Hachita and the border. We picked up a few groceries for pasta tonight. One more night and the bike, eat, sleep life style will come to an end, for a while. When you travel with fellow nomads a lot of ideas are being tossed around. So many places, so little time. 

Happy Sunday. 

The Great Divide

Inching towards the finish line

“It was a very ordinary day, the day I realised that my becoming is my life and my home and that I don’t have to do anything but trust the process, trust my story and enjoy the journey. It doesn’t really matter who I’ve become by the finish line, the important things are the changes from this morning to when I fall asleep again, and how they happened, and who they happened with. 

Charlotte Eriksson

50 miles into the wind, one water hole at the Thorne Ranch and here we are at Separ, a trading post on I 10. The trucks are zipping by, hauling goods from one place to another. On our road we met just one truck, a lone cowboy making fun of my bike. Well, it brought me all the way down here from the Canadian Rockies. Nothing funny about that. 


We could attempt a run for the border tomorrow, or take it easy and have two easy days. We shall see. 

It is a bit unreal that we are so close to the finish line. But we are. One revolution at a time. 

Shine on. 

The Great Divide

The Palace

We are all travelers.  From birth until death we travel between the eternities.  May your stay be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet and joyful to those who know and love you best. 

Inscription at the Palace. 


Before the final stretch into the Chihuahuas Desert we rest in Silver City staying at the Palace, a fine hotel from another era. 

Billy the Kid lived around here and staged his first prison escape (through the chimney). Geronimo was borne in the hills above town.

Groceries, bank, and a hairdresser today?

Shine on. 

The Great Divide

Toaster House

9 bikers and one hiker crowded the Toaster House, a must in Pie Town. Home-cooked spaghetti charged us up for the next 4 days to Silver City. 


Through-hikers have walked almost 3000 miles to this point and have another week or so from here. Apparently shoes give out any time during the trip. Some ended up on the wall of the Toaster House. 

After 3 days of hard riding we ended up at another oasis; The Spirit Canyon Lodge. Petroglyphs in the nearby canyon, a brook with frogs and an amazing host make this a truly spirited place. On the ride we got water from windmills, springs and friendly bow hunters. The food supply will be nil, when we roll into Silver City tomorrow. The weather has been stellar, no earthquakes either. We have been blessed. 

From Silver City it’s 2 or 3 days to the border. Until then, shine on.