Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Great Divide Vacation memories.

So it is now winter.  My last post was on August 1st.  Since I have not been posting anything, but rather riding; I now have a lot to write about, and so will cover it on a few posts.  Hopefully the memory of summer riding will keep me motivated through the blah days of winter and trainer rides.

First up Josh and I took another vacation and did several days on the Great Divide Route in Late September.  Very fun, pretty hard and beautiful scenery.

Into the Great Wide Open

My parents were along to drop us off and pick us up and wanted to see the Holland Lake area.   We started with a luxury vacation at Holland Lake Lodge with the folks.

My mom and I looking down on Holland Lake

After Holland lake we got going on our bike trip.  

The first day from Holland Lake to Ovando was pretty easy.  We had been over the route before and so knew what was coming up.  We had good weather and a guaranteed stopping point.

Josh's Bike at the top of Richmond Peak Trail

We rode in the car to Butte from Ovando.   We had done the Ovando to Helena section in June and so decided for various reasons to go to Butte and head out from there.   We were dropped off at the Butte KOA.  It was great!!! We had a KOA cabin so did not have to use the tent.  There is an onsite laundry, showers and fried chicken restaurant..  They also sell beer!

Inside KOA cabin in Butte, Mt

We considered staying all week, but we were there to ride and so headed out early in the am and rode to Polaris.  This day was challenging with lots of climbing.  We went over from Butte on dirt roads with many a cow and popped out onto the freeway.  The route then heads back into the hills and the famous Fleecer Ridge.

Headed up Fleecer cows in background

I am all for using the Adventure Cycling Association maps and cue sheets but Fleecer was one place we would have taken a big wrong turn if not for the GPS.  Well, the GPS and the fact that I was working pretty hard up the hill.  Josh was in front, head up, spinning jauntily along.  I on the other hand was head down, nose inches from the handlebar, grinding away with all my might.  Since my nose was so close to the GPS  I noticed that we needed to take a right hand turn across a meadow.  Josh kept on up the hill and would have continued for miles had I not yelled at him.

Take a right..

The turn is an easy wrong turn to make.  We met another group of riders who were coming down after going about 2 miles extra UPHILL, they were lost and we had to give them directions.  
Down Fleecer is pretty darn steep.  I ended up walking my bike toward the bottom.

Bottom of Fleecer Ridge

From there it was an easy cruise to Wise River.

From Wise River we had a smooth paved ride up and over to Polaris.  They were working on the road and had it closed to cars, but we were able to coast without worries of traffic.

Cruising along the Wise River.

The Grasshopper Inn was a relief.  Delicious food and a warm room.  Apparently not all Divide tourers are considerate as they have a new policy of no bikes in the rooms.  Too much mud and grease.
23 degrees in the am.

From there it was on to Lima (bean).  We started out easily enough, the infamous Bannack road was dry and smooth.  We climbed up the Sheep Creek Divide, and down again without seeing any cars, but we had to do some cow herding.
No mud in September

Top of Sheep Creek Divide

Cycling with the Cows.

Once down to the freeway we thought we had an easy seven miles in to Lima.  Not so.  WIND.  Crazy headwind made those 7 miles take about an hour.  In Lima we stopped and stayed at Jan's Cabins.   Warm, cozy and clean.  We ate dinner at the Peat Bar, of divide movie fame.  We saw the same two guys from the movie in the bar!  The rancher now claims that it is his beef that is served in the bar.  You have to cook your own, but it is good beef!

World Famous Peat Bar..  Home of "cook your own steak"

Next day we headed out across to Mack's Inn.  More WIND!  I am sure I got most of my peck of dirt (and blowing cow poo) in on this day's ride.  But the scenery is gorgeous and we finally made it to Idaho, my home state.

Lima Reservoir

Battling the Headwind

Plenty of Straight... with amazing scenery.

Turned the corner and the wind was at our backs, for about a mile

We stopped at Mack's inn, and I must confess, we stayed over a day.  I had started getting a big nasty saddle sore..  I will not add photos, but it was gross!  Also this was vacation, so we decided to rest.  Of note, there is NO BEER at Mack's Inn or the gas station down by the river.  So after riding all the way from Lima,  Josh had to make a 5 mile beer run up to the highway junction.   After resting my rear end for a day and eating lots of pizza and huge breakfasts we headed out again.
Resting my bum and eating ice cream at Mack's Inn

The next morning we bumped down the ATV ruts on the rails to trails had a short day to Ashton.  We lucked out on the trail, it was raining lightly and the trail was firm and well packed.

Sandy Rails to Trails

Trail becomes better toward the end.

Finish of Rail to Trail, along Warm River near Ashton, Id

After Ashton we stopped riding and went into vacation mode.  On to Yellowstone.  I had not planned to fish, but could not resist the temptation to flyfish on the Firehole river.  So I tested the water proof finish of my biking gear.  With the addition of some trash bags over my socks my Chacos were acceptable wading shoes.  And I caught trout!

Cycling rain gear makes a great flyfishing getup

Firehole River Fishing

We stayed in luxury again at the Old Faithful Inn for a night while in Yellowstone.  Was nice to be inside out of the snow and away from bears.

Early winter snowstorm at Old Faithful

Vintage bear warning sign... Where are the cow warning signs?

All in all it was a great training ride.  Gorgeous country.. I got to test myself with a fully packed bike. I did wimp out and did not camp (it is vacation after all).  Most nights were below freezing and as it was late September it got dark pretty early.

Yellowstone Lake


  1. Although your pictures are beautiful, I still don't want to join you on your rides. Cows and bears. Yikes!

  2. Found the link to your blog on Enjoyed your stories! Am going to send a link to my wife

    Good luck on your 2014 TDR, you seem to be preparing very well, much better than many, keep climbing those hills…..

  3. Cousin Alice from ShawJune 17, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    HI Val and Josh...this is your cousin Alice. What an amazing blog! I just discovered it because of Josh's brother...he had posted about it on Facebook. (My sister Linda first saw the tracker for the Tour Divide on his FB page). Great stuff!! So fun to follow your journey and see the incredible (and wacky) photos! Have fun...ride well!


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