Day 2: Basin – Helena

Woke up to another perfect Montana blue sky.


The forecast was for a 50% chance of showers. Hmmmm…

The climb out of Basin on Cataract Creek Rd was beautiful but very tough.


Caution: “loose road shoulder!”



Damn right I walked it!

Despite the climb, things were going pretty well until the Lava Mountain Trail.  It was brutal! I had to push the bike up the first 1/10th of a mile or so and I was barely moving.


Now THIS is what I came for!

After the initial  climb it became much better:

Then began a sustained downhill over lots of tree roots, big ruts, and some muddy or flooded sections. I had one minor fall as I attempted to stay far right to clear a rut and accidentally caught one of my fork mounted bags on a  branch of a downed tree. No biggie, I just sort of sat down on my left butt cheek but I must have whacked my shin on the pedal on the way down because I noticed a nice big bruise there a while later.. Plus I discovered that my “bio-pesticide” insect repellant didn’t really work. (First place I stopped in Helena was a sporting goods store to buy some real chemical repellant.)

Just when I was getting real tired of the trail I met a guy going the other way. He started in Banff and he was going all the way! I felt sorry for him about to have to ride up what I had just come down! He told me I had some pretty nice reward coming for my efforts and wow he was right! Once I hit park lake it was smooth dirt road the rest of the way. Mostly downhill too!


There was one more climb before the last downhill into Helena and I did get rained on a bit.

When I got to town the first hotel I passed was the holiday Inn downtown. Too expensive, I thought.  Well, after many phone calls I ended up there anyway.  Expensive but worth it :


A bed for me and a bed for my bike. 🙂

Tomorrow is a long tough ride to Lincoln. Today was 40 miles and 3k feet of climbing and it about killed me; tomorrow is 60 miles and 5k feet! But tomorrow should be a lot smoother so we’ll see.

Day 1 update

Today was ridiculously easy.  There was about a 4 mile climb out of butte up to the continental divide (at elevation 6400 –  that’s lower than my house!), then a few miles no a paved frontage road, which turned to gravel, which eventually turned to an “nonmaintained cattle access trail”.  Now we’re talking!


It was a gradual downhill for about the next 20miles to basin. The cattle trail was cool, because it was very close to the interstate yet it seemed worlds away.



I got to Basin at 3:15 (didn’t leave until noon!) but it was too late to continue on to Helena. I’m camped at the “Merry Widow Health Mine and Campground.”


I met two southbound riders today from Tennessee,  of all places!

My inReach wasn’t sending tracking points today because I didn’t realize that every time you power it up you have to re enable tracking. So the only tracking point is my campsite next to the river.

Tomorrow I’ll make sure tracking is on since I will be on the most technical section of the trip – the lava mountain trail between basin and Helena.

Day 1: Butte-Basin, MT


The bike all dressed up and ready to go. The fork bags have tent, sleeping pad, and jacket. The handlebar roll has sleeping bag and sleeping base layer. The seat bag has clothes. The rack bag is for food only. The frame bag is everything heavy — tools, parts, water filter, water bladder, stove, pot, fuel, etc. And it all rides on top of the Knards!

It’s a gorgeous day here in Butte, with the kind of blue sky you only see in Montana! The desk manager at the Super 8 was super nice, she is allowing me to leave my car in their lot until I get back 13 days from now! For free! I was going to park at the airport but I was afraid they would go all homeland-security on me and dismantle my car while I was away because I didn’t have a plane ticket. I’m only half-joking.

Last night I was scrambling to find an android app that would work with the .gpx files provided by adventure cycling. Couldn’t find one. Finally, I downloaded the .gpx file for the entire route from and I was able to import it into both Rmaps and Maverick. Maverick is cool because it auto-caches maps — you just pan through the area you’re planning to visit and it saves the maps to the sd card. Rmaps requires some advance preparation with a java app called Map Atlas Creator that I won’t be able to do while I’m on the road.

My other piece of tracking technology is a DeLorme inReach satellite communicator. You can see my breadcrumb trail here: . The DeLorme pairs with android via Bluetooth and allows you to cache maps on the phone, and it shows your position real-time, but it can’t display .gpx files. This is probably intentional since otherwise you’d have no incentive to pair it with one of their gps units.

Today the plan is for an easy day to Basin, where I’ll camp at the Merry Widow Health Mine. This resort is for people who apparently have not heard that radon is a carcinogen! If I want radon exposure, I can go home to Boulder and stick a straw in a crack in my foundation and suck on it. 🙂

Then tomorrow, onward to Helena via Lava Mountain Trail, the only “real” mountain biking on this section of the route I think. I probably won’t have wifi again until Helena.

P.S. I love you Logan! I love you Zoe!

Leaving for GDMBR Montana today!

Just a quick note, I’ve been so busy with preparations I have not had time to blog! I’m leaving Colorado today, driving to Butte, MT, and from there I’m riding the GDMBR to Polebridge! I expect this to take about 9-10 days of riding at my pace. Then I’ll be renting a car at the Glacier airport and driving it back to Butte to pick up my own car. Stay tuned!