Great Divide: Getting to the Start

I had asked Jack and Megan to help out with getting my stuff packed because I had to give the final to my class and would not be home till 9pm or so and needed to leave for the airport around 4am. Unfortunately, even after years of knowing me, they were unprepared for the lengths I was going to go to save the $75 excess baggage fee. Most of the night was spent with Budge getting drunk, Megan enjoying the alpha-male contest for her attention from two boys and myself cutting and taping three boxes (always under 62 inches, length plus width plus height!) that would fit a complete bicycle, a bob trailer and all of my gear for the entire trip. With some ingenuity, it worked and southwest was none the wiser.

Roll into Portland with no sleep, but Lisa, Vmaas and myself head over to Laurelthyrst for a great breakfast of pancakes, potatoes and other vegan goodness. We need to leave the next day for Montana and I still have a ton of shopping and other things to take care of. We hit Food Fight!, Whole Foods and the Veloshop (a vegan bike shop run by Molly Cameron) to stock up on food and bike parts and of course to check out the stuff I love here in Portland. Lisa, owner of Sweet Pea Baking, a vegan bakery, donated some treats for our trip and some sugar and oatmeal for our camp breakfasts. A good friend from the East Coast happens to be in Portland to do a BMX photo shoot and we all meet up for dinner. Rob Dolecki and I have managed to meet up all over the country since we are both traveling and it is usually over some excellent food.

At night when I am putting my bike together I can’t find my pedals. I remember that Jack took them off…and he put them down on a table and they never made it into the box. Also find an extra item that Budge slipped into my bivy sac when I wasn’t looking. Very funny.

Off to Montana with Vmaas! It wasn’t that long ago that him and I left Pennsylvania on a snowy day in January of 2001. He was moving to Texas and went with and flew to Central America from there to spend two months in Belize. Was that really almost six years ago? The drive to Montana was uneventful, we mostly ate cookies and muffins and listened to the old-school rap station on satellite radio. We roll into Whitefish and it looks if west-LA was transferred to a rural mountain town. Fancy people with fancy cars and dress playing cowboy in Montana. Cell phone-less Steevo was chillin on a bench talking to some dudes when we found him. Fuck yeah! We find a place to camp and call it a night.

The next day we went into Glacier National Park, did some hiking, sorted out getting to the start of the ride, and just chilled. I went for a swim at dusk in Lake Mcdonald after, with Steevo and Dave’s help, I got my bike running properly. For this trip I got a complete Surly Long Haul Trucker that I’ve only ridden once. It is a touring bike that can fit the 700×42 tires we are running. Most cyclocross bikes can’t run tires that wide. After a camp dinner of canned Indian food, we all get to sleep just after dark.
In the morning we load all of our stuff into the car as Vmaas is kindly driving us up to the Canadian border on mostly unpaved roads. In Lisa’s car. Steevo and I are silent. The roads suck. Is Vmaas pissed? He doesn’t seem to mind and we thank him profusely when we get there. Since our time is limited we are starting at a point not on the route; it is slightly east of the rec’d starting point, but it is still on the border and it is actually closer to the actual Continental Divide. This border crossing is closed, but there is a landing strip and we are not there long before a border agent appears. He’s friendly and he knew about what we were doing. Vmaas hops back into the car and just like that it is only Steevo and I and our bikes. Before he left we did get this photo of Vmaas holding a sign we actually found on the Canadian side of the border.

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