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Old 07-21-2010, 05:42 PM   #1
jprhode OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 79
Jason and Cal's Excellent Adventure (aka Divide Ride 2010)

Hey all,

After a couple years of discussing this, my riding buddy/stepdad Cal and I will be heading out from SLC on Friday to begin our Continental Divide Ride, going from North to South. I've gathered a ton of useful information from advrider, so I figured it was only fair to do a ride report as we go, in hopes of providing something useful for the next guys. We've also got a bunch of family and friends who are interested in what we're doing, and also verifying that we are not dead yet. I'll try to keep this interesting for everyone.

For the uninitiated, the Divide Ride is an approximately 2500 mile collection of dirt roads that run from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. It looks like this:

We're planning to complete the ride and get back to SLC within 14 days - will see how that goes. We've rented a box van to drive up to Montana. The bikes will NOT be in the van, since the rental company has rules against that. We've just always wanted to drive a box van. Hopefully the bikes will just magically appear near the Canadian border right when we get there. I've always been lucky like that.

In order to make sure that our shi*t is wired tight, we recently did a shakedown ride around the Ashley Nat'l Forest in Utah. This went well, and we uncovered a few missing links in our camping gear. I even practiced removing my rear tire from the rim with hand tools, just in case. Incidentally, this technique works like a champ:

My bike is a BMW GS1200 Adventure, which is a beast of a motorcycle. It is a little bit like riding a 100 hp recliner through the forest. Somewhat ridiculous, but it is by far the best bike I've had. Here's a pic from the shakedown ride:

Cal has opted for the F650GS, since he is no longer as tall as he was prior to the parachute accident a number of years ago.

I will not bore you with a total rundown of our gear, but in summary we've got GPS out the wazoo, cell phones, laptops, SPOT tracking device, satellite phone, topo maps, Adventure Cycling maps, and if all that is insufficient an iPad that will end this discussion. We've also got bear spray, a spork, and er, "other hardware" so don't get any bright ideas...

The intent is to camp and hit motels about 50/50. Will be interesting to see how well we stick to that. Motorcycle camping is awesome, but two weeks is a long time and I like showers.

That is all for now, I just wanted to get this established so I could send the link out to folks. I will try to be diligent about posting updates as we go.

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Old 07-21-2010, 06:09 PM   #2
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Looks like a great ride's planned.. thanks for the intro.. looking forward to more along the way
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:54 PM   #3
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I am looking forward to following you two. It might be a good idea not to include any pictures of the box van, or if you do at least have it be empty.

Good luck and ride safe.
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
jprhode OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 79
Ok, leg one of the trip: Fly to Salt Lake.

The nice people of American Airlines wished me a safe and on-time flight, however they were vastly outnumbered by the grumpy, inept, mean ones so it looks like I'll get there three hours late. Such is life in the air these days.
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Old 07-25-2010, 10:39 PM   #5
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I'm looking forward to following your trip.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:16 AM   #6
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Up Right

Keep it up right, looking forward to tracking your adventure.
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:10 PM   #7
jprhode OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Austin, TX
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Ok, got a bit behind, here's the scoop:

We're posted up at the Three Bears Motel in Lincoln, MT. Nice folks, free wifi. Walked to dinner at the Montana-something or other, and there was even a laundromat next door open until 9pm, which was nice as I wore the same pants for 4 days.

How did we get here? Queue the Wayne's World flashback music:

With American's help, I got to Salt Lake way late. Naturally, Cal was so excited to see me that he celebrated way late into the night. We set a target for hitting the road by 10am, which was somewhat unrealistic given that Cal got up at the crack of noon. Actually worked out fine since I had stuff to do to get my bike ready for primetime. Here's the obligatory "just before the ride" assfest picture:

Unfortunately, just as we feared, our bikes disappeared just as we were ready to board the box van. Not to be deterred, we jumped in the van and gave chase.

It's about 700 miles to Kalispell from Salt Lake, and despite the fact that the van had both AM -and- FM, the thrill of driving it soon wore off. Due to the late start we only made it to Butte, unfortunately just missing the main event at Evil Knievel days. Still, we had a seriously superb meal at the Uptown Cafe - highly recommend if you are in the area.

We got an earlier start on Sunday and made it to Kalispell around noon. As we suspected, whoever heisted the bikes was clearly headed for the Divide Ride, and we miraculously reconnected with them as we dumped off the van.

We headed for the border at Roosville asap.

Here are a couple of thoughts: There's nothing in Roosville. And, it is pavement on the way up, and pavement on the way back to Eureka. Very pretty pavement, but pavement nontheless. If I were doing this again, I'd skip it and instead go take a picture of whatever is at the Canadian Border just barely west of Glacier, about 8 miles north of FR-114.

Anyway, we loaded up some groceries in Eureka and headed for the hills. FR-114 is superb. Lots of forest, and I saw a bear about the size of a rotweiler.

Then remnants of forest fires.

Then more forest.

Red Meadow Lake would be an awesome place to camp, but unfortunately it was full of kids so we pressed on.

Fortunately we found an awesome campsite at Upper Whitefish Lake. As soon as the bikes were off we could hear loons, elk, and all manner of other stuff, and someone even us a pile of firewood. Saw a couple bald eagles too.

We're strongly cautioned that this is bear country, so we're supposed to take precautions, carry bear spray etc. Little do they know that Cal snores so loud that the bear refuse to come within a mile of where we're sleeping. I finally read the directions on the bear spray - I had mistakenly thought that you were supposed to spray it on the bear. Actually it turns out that if a bear is coming at you, the better approach is to spray your friend, thus incapacitating him and making him an easier target for the bear to eat, thus allowing you to escape.

We've got freeze dried food with us, but that evening we had steak and corn on the cob. Funny you don't see pine smoked beef on more menus. It was actually really good, and not just because I'd have eaten the ass end of a skunk at that point.

I should mention at this point Cal and I like wine. In fact, I'd like to give a shout out to our sponsors, Bota Box and ibuprofen. Suffice to say that a good time was had by all and we slept like Olympic sleeping champions.

By the way, Starbuck's Via coffee is perfect for camping. On the other hand, Mountain House freeze dried eggs are like eating little egg flavored sponges, assuming you carried the sponges in your riding boots. We'll stick with instant oatmeal from now on.

I'll post my routes at some point, but in summary we had no major mapping issues. If you're doing this, you should order the mountain bike maps for sure. There is a bunch of this route that you DON'T want to ride. If I'm going to be on pavement I'd just as soon blast down the highway to the next dirt road. Quite a bit of pavement on this part of the ride.

The section of the ride between Swan Lake and Flathead is outstanding. This is a shot of Swan Lake through the trees. Cal was reminded of his favorite ballet, and he did a little dance in its honor. Unfortunately my camera was not ready. Here's a shot of the lake through the trees:

The ride from Seeley Lake to Ovando was great.

We took a tip from Byways and rode over Huckleberry Pass to Lincoln, and it was one of the highlights of the day.

Cal also saw a bear just West of 83, but neither of us have been fast enough to get pics. Instead, here's a pic of a deer.

Holy crap, we have a really long way to go. The enormity of this ride kind of kicked in today. Ah what the hell - as a good friend of mine is fond of joking: There's only one way to eat an bite at a time!

More to come.

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Old 07-26-2010, 11:22 PM   #8
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Funny !
ok Im in.
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:43 AM   #9
chain gang
Joined: Jul 2010
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great pictures and very funny stories. Also about the bears just remember all you have to do is be able to out run your partner as well so wear light shoes.

Sounds like you guys are have a great time already. Keep it coming so we at the office can have something to look forward to from your adventures.

Be safe.

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Old 07-27-2010, 07:56 AM   #10
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Subscribed....ride on!

2000 Suzuki DRZ400S, 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere
My Great Divide Ride 2009
Great Divide Part 2
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:53 AM   #11
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The George Carlin of Ride Reporters

I'm subscribed. Your writing style is great. And I now know the PROPER use of bear spray.
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Old 07-28-2010, 05:00 PM   #12
jprhode OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 79
Mother Nature! Bloody hell, interesting couple of days with plenty of ups and downs. We bid a fond farewell to Lincoln at the crack of 11am after an edible breakfast. I think the rest of the states may need to have a little intervention with Montana. I've never seen so many Meth signs before. And by signs, I mean both little things that make you think, hmm, I wonder if that person is on meth, and also big giant billboards saying, "Meth is bad" in some form or another. Gee, duh. Really Montana, you're a beautiful state, don't throw it all away.

Anyway, we headed up to Stemple Pass with signs of rain everywhere.

One little navigational detail if you are doing the ride N-S: On Lost Horse Creek Rd, you'll hit a fork and can take either Empire Creek Rd or Stay on Lost Horse. Take Empire. Here's a pic of where we stopped to turn around. It's steeper than it looks.

If it was dry and I didn't have cases and 100 lbs of crap on my bike I could probably get up this, but under the circumstances we went back to Empire Creek Rd. Much better.

Here's what it looked like on top.

Actually, I have no idea if it was the top. Kinda spooky riding along in the fog. It was so dense that we could hear some heavy equipment operating nearby, but couldn't see it - signs said some kind of "Reclamation Project" was going on. Here's a picture of me just before I got seriously pissed off because there is now a locked gate across Blossberg Rd (no signs), thus totally bogarting up our route.

Note that this gate is directly across Big Dog's tracks. Had it not been so wet I might have busted out the Mac for some reconnoitering, but instead we blasted over to Marysville, down to West Helena, and then West to Rimini Rd and picked up the route again. Missed a pass or two in the process, but we were burning daylight. Not very bright daylight, but still.

I anticipated that we might enjoy a little fukarwe on Rimini Rd since there is a gap in the Garmin road data right in the middle of the route between Hwy 12 and Basin. Often, but not always, this means there is no road, there's a gate, there's an interstate, etc. As Cal pointed out, maybe there's a reason we call this little hobby Adventure Riding. Surprisingly this time it meant that we could blast right over the muddy wet road dodging seriously huge construction equipment. One of the guys working there said that Rimini Rd is frequently closed right now due to some major project, but we were free to continue dodging his trucks.

We finally broke out of the rain and had a nice run of sunshine. Here's a pic of a reservoir and a road that does not exist.

Immediately after that we reconnected with the road and all was good for at least 100 yards, at which point we found a big gate (open) with a sign that said Mine Reclamation Project underway (or something like that), and a detour arrow to the left on another road that Garmin does not acknowledge. At least there was a sign with an arrow saying "Basin Access." Another mile or so down we hit a T in the road, another arrow for Basin to the right, and then another BIG sign saying the road to the right was closed...%$#@! In short, we tried a couple things that did not work before passing a guy in a huge 6 wheeled piece of equipment who was kind enough to tell us to ignore the Road Closed signs. In summary for those of you who may care, ignore the signs and ride Big Dog's tracks exactly. That said, there is a bunch of work going on in this area, so on various days the roads might really be closed. I would plan an alternate around the whole thing just in case.

Our plan was to ride the cattle access road south along I15 to Butte, but when we crossed to the west side of 15, we found a sign that said "Non-Mechanized Cattle Access". Now, technically we did not have any mechanized cattle with us so we felt we were legit, but we decided instead to take FR442 to the Lowland Campground, which turned out to be super nice.

Here's me calling Angela on the satellite phone. Kinda cool that this is possible.

Here's the kitchen - no steaks this time, but we do give freeze dried Shepard's Pie two thumbs up. That little stove rocks, BTW.

This morning we had a nice run from Butte to I15, made good time.

We also made real good time on the way to Polaris since that whole bit is freshly paved (mind the gravel). Unfortunately we hit a wall of red on the radar map at that point, so once again we let discretion be the better part of valor (what are the other parts of valor, by the way?) and hightailed it for a motel in Dillon to get out of the rain.

A homeless dude with a shopping cart could beat us at this pace, but what the hell, we're having fun. In honor of the fact that it is Wednesday, we are going to have dinner at the finest restaurant in Dillon. Think good thoughts for us, and there will be NO RAIN tomorrow.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:23 AM   #13
chain gang
Joined: Jul 2010
Oddometer: 7

Been watching your spot progress with this satellite imgine on. Beautiful country you are driving through. Again Great pictures, keepin coming.

Cal looked a little muddy on the left side of his body in one of the pic's, like maybe he may have laid it down in some mud.

I look forward to more of your images and stories keep it coming.

Chain Gang aka Lm
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:51 PM   #14
Joined: Jul 2010
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looks like fun

hope you guys are having as much fun as it looks, cant wait to here all about the trip at bear lake keep the rubber down, seya mike
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:23 PM   #15
jprhode OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 79
Hey all,

Thanks for the good thoughts - we caught two days of absolutely perfect weather. Camped last night just east of Moran Junction, and tonight just outside Atlantic City, WY. No pics yet cause all I've got is one bar on the iPad...

Hoping for Steamboat tomorrow night, will update if so. Really hoping actually - haven't been a shower or any other cleaning apparatus in two days.

Just FYI, if you live between us and Steamboat, there will be NO RAIN tomorrow!

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