Riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route: Part 4 – Montana and Canada

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If you haven’t read Part 1- Arizona and New Mexico, Part 2 – Colorado, or Part 3 – Wyoming and Idaho, you should go back and check them out.

When Jeff and I started out on the Great Divide, Montana seemed so far away, an almost impossible distance to ride. But after about a month of pedaling there we were, roiling through Big Sky Country. Montana has a true western feel with huge vistas, lots of cowboy boots, small country stores (I recommend the one just off route in Ferndale), and big pickups with Montana mudflaps. Jeff needed to get back to Vermont by end of August for work and time was quickly winding down. While we could have pushed a bit harder and taken less rest days, we chose to ride without a time crunch. Unfortunately this meant Jeff and I were parting ways at the Canadian border so he could keep his job. He rode back to Whitefish and spent a few days at the Whitefish Bike Retreat before flying out, while I contracted some stomach ailment and continued on to Banff.

Some notes from Montana and Canada:

      • Montana has some great craft brews with Cold Smoke Scotch Ale being a favorite for us
      • Unfortunately much of Montana also has some pretty lousy tasting water
      • The wide open camping in southern Montana was some of my favorite, but that’s also because we had perfect weather
      • It seems much of the state closes on Sunday, not good when a bike shop is needed
      • There’s great covered camping in the closed winter parking lot on the way down the hill to Seeley Lake
      • The town of Seeley Lake, while a little off route, has most of what you need to resupply
      • Jeff and I were fortunate to stay with Tom and Pat Arnone, who host cyclists along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route south of Columbia Falls. Tom is a bicycle frame builder, restores Italian motorcycles, and is a general master craftsman. He’s a fascinating person to spend time with.
      • The the Whitefish Bike Retreat has a great singletrack trail that leads back to town
      • Watch out for the early morning lawn sprinklers if you camp in the Eureka Town Park
      • Heading north from the Canadian border the GDMBR follows pavement for a few miles before turning right into the mountains and up an almost 4,000 foot dirt climb. I was already feeling pretty ill and climbing this in triple digit temperature stomped me hard
      • Elkford BC has a new grocery store called the Kootenay Market that’s really well stocked
      • There’s great camping on the GDMBR about 4 miles south of Banff

Enjoy the Photos.

Enjoying the sunset and moonrise by a cow corral
Sunrise in Montana
Followed by the sunrise and warm coffee
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And some more photos
Cabin along the Great Divide
A random cabin along the GDMBR
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Overviewing our route for the day on the Adventure Cycling map
Blue Moon Rise
One of my favorite shots of the trip, the July blue moon rising while the sun was setting
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Jeff enjoying his morning coffee while listening to an RV running it’s generator
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Riding some pavement on the way to Butte Montana
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There’s a few of these old advertisements around Butte
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Another round of bikepushing
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We didn’t stay here, but it was a welcoming sign
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The Swan Divide Trail, possibly Jeff’s and my favorite section of the whole GDMBR. Unfortunately the summer 2015 forest fires burned a pretty large chunk of this route.
Riding in the Flathead National Forest
Singletrack through the Flathead National Forest
Riding the Swan Lake Trail
Some awesome singletrack on the Swan Divide Trail
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More singletrack. While rare, the few singletrack sections on the GDMBR are awesome
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The garage of Tom Arnone
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One of the many Arnone handmade bicycle frames hanging in Tom Arnone’s shop
Lunch at a Cabin
A public, but reservation only cabin. We just used the porch for an hour or so
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Some of the last, or first depending on your direction of travel, dirt on the US side of the GDMBR
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Oh yeah, the dorky finish shot from the US border
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There’s a few schwacky section along the British Columbia stretch of the GDMBR
BC Mountains
And some well graded dirt roads as well
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This cannot be missed; the worlds larges truck in Sparwood BC. For reference, my bicycle is leaning against the rear tire
Tobermory Creek Rainbow
After a cold, soaking, muddy day I was greeted by this rainbow and a free cabin at the Tobermory Creek BC Recreation site
Tobermory Creek Cabin
The free cabin with a million dollar view
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The final dorky finish shot, this time from Banff Springs Hotel and the northern terminus of the GDMBR

While this is the last post for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, there’s still more to come. After finishing in Banff, I pedaled and hitched back to the US border, where I was greeted by the forest fires and smoke that had engulfed the northwest.  Finding lots of road closures and detours, I decided to ride to Missoula Montana and regroup.

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After visiting the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association and plotting a rough route across the northern U.S., I started pedaling and spent a little over a month riding back to Vermont. Thanks for visiting and stay tuned.

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