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Old 09-15-2009, 10:31 AM   #1
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High & Dry on The Great Divide...and then some.

The country through which we passed today was diversified high dry and uneven open stoney plains and low bottoms very boggy with high mountains on the tops and North sides of which there was snow, great quantities of the species of hysoop (sagebrush) and shrubs common to the Missouri plains are scattered in those valleys and hillsides.”
W. Clark July 08, 1806

This is a weaving of pictures and words from a 30 day adventure down the spine of America. From Canada to Mexico, then back up to Colorado over to Oregon. The Great Divide Trail taken from North to South and then the Transamerica Trail from Animas Fork Colorado to the border of Oregon and California. 30 Days. 10 States. 10,755.99km’s. No mechanicals, no heartbreak, no accidents…just adventure riding at its best through one of the most geologically diverse countries on the planet!
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:34 AM   #2
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The Genesis:
Last December I was a passenger in the backseat of a friend’s truck on the way to Roger’s Pass for a day of ski touring. It was an epic snow day which usually translates into an epic drive as well. In the backseat pocket of the truck was a magazine I’d never seen before; Overland Journal. If you haven’t seen OJ before, definitely try to pick up a copy – I’ve never read another magazine like it. I had lots of time after skiing that day while we sat in traffic to flip through it. In this issue was an article of a person that had just completed the Great Divide Trail on his dual-sport…and then turned around to do it in the other direction. I couldn’t get that trip off of my mind. Adventure Rider, BigDog and Python became great resources and the book put out by the Adventure Cycling Association on Cycling the Great Divide Trail quickly came into my possession!
My original intention was to complete the GDT in 12 days or so, put the iPod on, my head down and return home via pavement in another 3 days or so. My wife, always thinking of my well-being, suggested that I take my time coming back. So I did. This translated into doing as much of the TAT as possible in my timeframe as well.

The Players:

Gary (Grock): Riding motorcycles since before most of us were born. Welder, machinist, mechanic, artist…the perfect person to have as a ‘wingman’. Snores like banshee.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:39 AM   #3
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Rich (Revelstoker): That would be me, the author of this story. Married to a very supportive, understanding wife who thought a 30 day trip just might add another ten years to our marriage (she said that). I really do live for riding; whether it has a motor or not. I also live probably in one of the best spots in the world to own a dual sport bike.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:41 AM   #4
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The Support Crew:


Robin (rsuomi): Joining for the first three days. Robin actually bought his 950 so that they would match his shoes. Robin has had more motorcycles than everyone mentioned in this Ride Report combined…in just over the last two years!
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:41 AM   #5
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Scott (Ronyx): Carries more weight in camera equipment than I carried in total for the whole trip! The ‘adventure humidor’ was highly appreciated. Scott rides the 1200GSA like an old pro – never any drama. Scott joined until we hit Idaho.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:42 AM   #6
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Mark (MarkieMark): Mark was only with us for the first day. We don’t really know the full story, but the closer we rode to the US border, the more quiet Mark became. About an hour away, he turned West…but that really was the plan anyway. I talked Mark into his first motorcycle…and he’s still speaking to me.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:45 AM   #7
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Those we left behind:
These two receive honourable mention as they are my riding buddies who because of great reasons couldn’t make it:


Bart (Bartron): Nobody throws around a BMW better than Bartron – he makes it look like a BMX bike. Bartron is a new Dad and in Med School. He loves to ride. He kept me lucid when I was lying in a ditch broken up earlier this year…and that is why I thought of him out there each and every day. Here’s a shot of Bartron doing his best impression of Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
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Marcello (Marchie): Marchie knew more about the ride than me…but one month before departure he got the plum position, caught the gravy train so to speak. There was no way…not this year anyway. Like Bartron, not a day went by that I didn’t say to myself ‘Marchie doesn’t know wtf he’s missing”!
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:47 AM   #9
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Last but not least…my family. Without a great family, a month away from home and the responsibilities of being there, it wouldn’t be possible. I can’t wait until Holly is old enough to do trips like this with me.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:48 AM   #10
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The Soundtrack: Riding through the old West, it seemed appropriate to listen to country or some form thereof. I actually didn’t listen to my iPod as much as I thought I would, but definitely appreciated it when I did. Here’s what I loaded it up with; Merle Haggard, Waylon, Willie, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, The Hacienda Brothers, Dale Watson, The Flying Burrito Brothers, David Allan Coe, Marshall Tucker Band, Justin Townes Earle, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash, New Rider’s of the Purple Sage and a little Gordon Lightfoot thrown in for good measure. I think I’ll throw a verse or two in throughout this Report.
Here’s what I took…but didn’t necessarily need:
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Old 09-15-2009, 12:05 PM   #11
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Prolugue - Revelstoke, BC to Kimberely, BC

“Come on wheels take this boy away
We're not afraid to ride
We're not afraid to die come on wheels take me home today
So come on wheels take this boy away”

Emmylou Harris


Knowing that it was going to be most likely 30 days until another really good espresso, we all took advantage of the Saeco before hitting the pavement.




I seem to remember drinking a lot of water and popping a few Tylenol to counter the G&T’s, the 5 bottles of red, the case of Mt. Begbie Kolsch and the fantastic Cuban’s from Ronyx’s humidor the night prior as well.





640 ready to roll.

The GPS’s trip computer was set to zero, I took a quick shot of the odometer on the 640 and we were off...
to Gary’s house to pick him up and take a few more departing shots before the 50km trip to Galena Bay to catch the ferry over Upper Arrow Lake.






Clean bikes in front of Gary's shop.

This is a quick ride…just enough time for Gary to figure that his bike isn’t feeling normal. He’s right. Gary had put on his Scott’s the night before, but hadn’t gotten out for a shake-down. Things were a little sloppy up front – nothing Ronyx’s uber tool-kit, a couple of missed ferries and some good conversations with people wondering what the hell we were doing and where we were going.








KTM's waiting for the next ferry.
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Old 09-15-2009, 01:56 PM   #12
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After departing the ferry, it’s another 30km to Trout Lake, the first gravel of the trip. The first day’s weather was really a harbinger of what was to come – 29 more days of sunshine with only a sprinkle or two along the way.



Gary doing a little pressure check.


Myself, Gary, and Mark at end of Trout Lake.


The road from Kaslo down past Ainsworth Hotsprings is the kind of pavement that all motorcyclists appreciate – it leads us to the next ferry as well, this time crossing Kooteney Lake. About now, the temperature was getting close to 40 Celsius – very toasty waiting for the next ferry to arrive. Robin and me in the line-up for the second ferry of the day over to Crawford Bay.


Deck of the Ferry.

Robin and Scott.


The reverse dirty mirror shot.


After the ferry to Crawford Bay, it’s Gray Creek Pass over to Kimberley. This is a quick way East through The Kooteneys, over The Purcells, which makes for some funny sightings – I think a lot of folks look at the map and think that if they take Gray Creek Pass it’s going to save them a lot of time getting over to the ferry rather than going South to come back North again. The day we rode over, we saw a Chrysler 300 and a new BMW M5! Now Grey Creek isn’t very extreme, but I certainly wouldn’t take an M5 on it. There are definitely a few spots that would be tricky – it would be a rough ride in a car.



The summit of Gray Creek Pass.


Gary giving it up.


Our original plan was to make it to Jaffrey Creek and then have a quick 75km blast to the border at Roosville the next morning, but with Gary’s steering stabilizer issue earlier in the day, we called it a night in Kimberley a few kilometers short. We hit the grocery store for some takeout dinner, the beer store for some takeout refreshments, and found a great spot just outside of town to set up our tents. There were few houses close by, so we were trying our best to be stealth…but Ronyx has a tank bag that hits the horn every time he turns the bars to lock!





Low fat turkey pepperoni - dinner of champions.


“Behind the blue Rockies the blue sun is declining. The stars they come stealing at the close of the day. Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping beyond the ocean in a place far away”
Gordon Lightfoot
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:55 PM   #13
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Day Two – Kimberley, BC to Seeley Lake, Montana

" the open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself."
William Least Heat Moon


We were up pretty early – although none of us realized that we had already crossed into the Mountain Time Zone until later in the day, so we were actually up late. 350km down the first day – not bad considering the later start, the missed ferries and the hot weather.






Robin emerging from his lair.



Time to take the memory card with Canada Topo out and put the US Topo in. Pretty basic to make it to Roosville from Kimberley.




Breakfast was great. Being a coffee connoisseur , I was relieved to have a very well done Americano, sit in the sun and bid adieu to Mark. Mark had commitments and was heading back to Kelowna. Commitments and something about the border…



Normally, I’d try and route it so that pavement would be a far away thought, but I was pretty keen to get to Roosville and the highway straight South worked well.



The line-up at the border was about a half hour with the outside temperature definitely starting to crank up. The Customs and Border Patrol Officer asked what the FYYFF sticker meant on my sleeve – I thought it was most appropriate to say that I had no idea and that it must have something to do with the type of armor I was wearing.




We stopped just on the other side of the border to celebrate the fact that we had all made it in to the US without problems by taking a few pictures. Being the naďve Canadians that we are, we were promptly shut down by one of the CBP Officers who told us that it was a $10,000USD fine to take pictures of a US Facility as such. He also took the opportunity to fill us in on a few other points as well – we all nodded and thought that Eureka might be a good place to start heading. I’d love to show a picture of this guy, but didn’t really want to risk being punted back into Canada so early on the journey. Interestingly enough, our next US Border experience was quite different…but that is still two weeks away.



Heading down The Tobacco Valley, we rode into Eureka, Montana. Eureka has the distinction of being the Northernmost city on the GDR as well as the lowest in elevation. We hit the gas station for Gary’s first of many Monster energy drinks and bags of chips of the trip…myself preferring Red Bull and Corn Nuts. There weren’t too many days that we didn’t each have our favorite beverage somewhere along the way.




Leaving Eureka, there are 20 miles more or so of pavement, but soon enough it changes into gravel and the fun begins…after a quick drop in tire pressure.



Continuing up FR114 brought us to the Whitefish Divide which is really the first time, at least to me, that you have the feeling that something special is starting – the trip has officially begun. The road up is pretty smooth making for some quick riding.






In 1988, the same year as the Yellowstone fire, was the Red Bench Fire. Apparently nearly 40,000 acres burned so hot that trees which had been standing for well over 300 years were killed. It really is a wasteland – in some places it seemed that the soil had been scorched of all nutrients and that even 20 years later very little was growing.




Turning onto FR115 took us up to Red Meadow Lake – being a skier, I’m constantly looking around at mountains picking out lines. This area looks like a backcountry skier’s paradise come December.




Robin thought that the FMF was sounding a little rude and thought he’d fashion me a new silencer – he just couldn’t seem to make it work.




We continued on down through to Whitefish and after a rather uneventful late afternoon pulled into Seeley Lake for burgers on the lake at Lindey’s Burger Shack. Burgers were really greasy which made them really good.







Came across this Ford with camo fender flares – I bet Cabela’s sells these.



Robin was quite surprised at how far we had come having looked at the paper map.



We headed back North out of town to the State Campsite which was beyond full which made the decision to head East up the closest gravel road an easy decision. Getting to a quality camp spot finally as darkness settled in and the mosquitoes came out seeking Canadian blood, we all put up our tents in record time and limited our social time to a curt ‘see ya tomorrow’.
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:32 PM   #14
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Great so far.

Revelstoke is a great area to be from. I haven't ridden my bike there but I've spent some time there on a snowmobile.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:42 PM   #15
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Day Three - Seeley Lake, Montana to Butte, Montana

Let's take a ride to the easy plateau
Where the cold don't come and the wind don't blow
Moonlight flickers on the water below
The orange grove blossoms
In the orange grove
Bad nights lead to better days
It doesn't matter but I think about it anyway
Ryan Adams


Beginning of the day GPS shot.



When we awoke, we were able to see that we actually had chosen a pretty good spot to camp…but the mosquitoes were still out for fresh blood so we took down our tents at about the same rate of speed that we had put them up.



Scott still looking a little sleepy. I seem to remember him having a bit of a nightmare that night.



Gary did a quick check before we headed back into Seeley Lake for gas and breakfast he saw a little oil seepage and wanted to make sure that all was well. It was and we were on the way.



These shots are just after Reservoir Lake. The roads are great - made for high speed cruising!



Scott waving to the crowd.



The road down to Lincoln is really the first time you start to experience being in the high plains with sage brush on either side of the road and the expansive vistas that Montana is known for. There is a reason they call it Big Sky Country. The dust was definitely an issue and we were riding well spaced out until we came across a nice spot for a team photo



The fine patina of Montana dust on the flightdeck of the GSA.



The view South while waiting for the dust to calm down



I thought it would be interesting to take a shot of the GPS every 1000km to see the average speed, hours spent moving and roughly where I was at the time.



Here's where we were at 1004.11km.



Robin railing along the main road of Stemple Pass.






Day three and we are just going to pass over the Continental Divide for the first time… but before we do, we take a hard left and head up to an old fire lookout station which gives a great view of Granite Butte. This excursion is highly recommended as the view is spectacular. Just before we get there, I make one wrong turn - shot of me getting back on track.




The wind up top was crazy - we hung out for about a half hour taking the obligatory shots.



Lots of orange.



Getting ready to take off.




Last bike standing at the top.



Gary coming down from The Lookout.




Back on the main route, we had a couple of miles to go before we hit the CD. Hanging out were these three cyclists. Bruce the one in the middle lives in Montana, but the other two were German. They asked me if I had stopped and spoken with the couple on the horses - it seems that while we were at the lookout a couple on horses rode by so we missed them unfortunately They had left Argentina two years ago on horseback and were doing the CDT. Bruce and his friends were the first of many cyclists that we ran across - 75% of them were in great moods …the other 25% not so much. I generally took pictures of the happy ones and was afraid to get my camera out for the others!



Robin descending down from The Divide.




Today was extremely hot as we eventually pulled into Helena - just over 40 degrees Celsius. We grabbed a quick lunch at Taco del Mar, took on some gas, a couple of Red Bulls and hit the road headed for Butte. It's actually a pretty uneventful ride into Butte, the last 30 miles or so are on a road that parallels and then just shot us onto Interstate 15. Because of the heat, we were all pretty happy to get a little wind happening to cool things down a little.
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