Day 27-28: Pedaling and honoring our bodies with Rest

Thank for reading this blog y’all. Interested in helping with this colon cancer awareness journey? Please share this link 2500miles with your friends and family and spread this important message. You could save a life!

August 13-14th, 2020. Start: Big Springs Campground End: Warm River Campground 33 miles.

The morning ritual commenced: coffee and journaling while sitting on the bank of Big Spring

We had a second wind today as we relished in the fact that we had ridden through the entire state of Montana by the power of our legs and minds. To say this was a small feat would be a complete understatement.

2 happy ladies learning that our bodies can take us anywhere
Video of how far we have come
Entering the Yellowstone ecosystem and looking back at the far distance we pedaled today.

We made it to Warm River campground just in time to snag the last tent spot available, located in the backyard of the campground host. Without their generosity we would’ve been pedaling into the late hours of the night.

View from inside of my tent at Warm River Campground.

We loved our site and the spot so much we decided to rest our weary legs and bodies for an extra day. Till next time…

Our 6th rest day
Soaking my tired legs and body
The name of the campground Warm River was not true to its name. This water was freezing!
Has anyone seen this before?

Day 26 – So many fountains of youth

August 12th, 2020. Start: Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge Montana End: Big Springs Campground, Idaho l. 35 miles

Wow, this Wildlife Refuge was absolutely gorgeous. Corinne and I were excited to see the Trumpeter Swans 🦢, one of the main reasons the refuge was established.

Long beaked Curlew

I woke up early to watch the sunrise over the wetland, a short walk from our tents, and was graced with the presence of a Long Beak Curlew catching its morning meal.

Long beak Curlue at sunrise

The campground also was graced with a fresh spring, supplying ice cold drinking water straight out of the ground.

The fountain of youth
The spring video

Prior to leaving camp, Eric and Michael offered us a plethora of healthy treats in the AM to take along on our journey. To Eric and Michael: THANK YOU so much for your kindness. We just finished off the Dried Shiitake chips. They were so delicious!

The sky was gorgeously overcast part of the day

The ride was a long one today and my body wasn’t having it. Every little hill felt like a mountain and my heart rate was raised all day, not typical for sustained long endurance.

Getting out of the sagebrush and into pine country video

Corinne spotted a wildfire off in the distance as we made our way to Big Springs, Idaho.

Wildfire in the far background

We kept on pedaling and started getting so excited to cross into Idaho that we agreed to choreograph a dance when we crossed. We giggled like little girls.

Corinne crossing the border into Idaho
We made it to Idahome! 714 miles, 21 days of pedaling and 5 days rest. Bye bye Montana, hello Idaho.

After we ate a plethora of chips at the summit, we descended and meandered the gravel hills until we made it to Island Park, Idaho, the only grocery store in a 60 mile radius. We grabbed some avocados and chocolate bars and set off to our camp spot for the night at Big Springs campground.

We crossed into Idaho!
Not in our every day diets, chips have been critical in refueling our bodies after hard rides with salt and carbohydrates.

Big Springs is Home to a beautiful bubbling spring that creates a crystal clear river, known to be perfect habitat for native fish spawning. Sadly we didn’t take many photos to share.

A Sanskrit mantra shared with me from Corinne and her friend Cathy

Are you enjoying this blog and curious as to why I’m riding 2500 miles across the country? This bike rides purpose is to educate and raise awareness on the rising cases of colon cancer in young adults. If you ever have these Symptoms, please seek medical advice. If they don’t take your symptoms seriously, please get a second and/or third opinion.

This mission is near and dear to my heart as my brother Zach was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 38. That is way too young for such a serious diagnosis. Please click 2500miles to learn more about this personal story and how you can help spread the word. Thanks for reading y’all!

Days 24-25 Rest Day and Wildlife Refuge

August 10-11 Start: Lima, Montana End: Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge. 57 miles

August 10: Learning from our mistakes, we took a Day off in Lima, MT and scored a motel room with a kitchen.

It was everything a dirty bikepacker could ask for at a price of $65/night. Shower, bed, kitchen and fridge. Living in luxury!
The local gas station and super small grocers

After shopping at the local gas station/market for dinner fixings, I cooked up some pan fried chicken, mashed potatoes, prepped a salad with fresh greens offered by Cathy, a sweet lady who worked at the gas station. She ran home and grabbed a huge chunk of romaine from her greenhouse for us!!

Corinne caught me on camera unpacking the gas station grocery finds
Thawed frozen strawberries, caramelized onions and mashed potatoes with green chili’s. Salad with carrots, olives and orange juice. Pan fried chicken. All food was purchased at a local gas station. Getting creative!
We did lots of this. Laying around and drinking coffee.

The day ended with a beautiful golden sky and thunderstorm which graced us with a magical rainbow. Rest days are critical and we feel like we won this day.

View from outside our motel room in Lima, MT

Tuesday morning we packed up and hit the road for our biggest day yet. We planned to complete 57 miles to reach our camping destination and Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.

Endless sagebrush and rolling mountains

We spotted another wildfire, this one being much larger than the last.

Corinne sighted another Wildfire burning in the distance

I would be lying to say that todays ride was easy for me. Most of the day we rode into a 15 mph headwind which required more strength than originally thought. Little did I know that riding a bike all day would also be a challenge mentally.

As I pedal through the sagebrush filled lands, I am inside my own thoughts for hours on end with no distraction besides soreness and the beautiful landscapes. Today it seemed to take a turn for the worse and I allowed it to bring me down until Dinner time.

Thankfully we reached our campsite by 6 and was immediately offered fresh caught brook trout for dinner by these two kind fellows. These are the people who make cycle touring fun. I absolutely adore meeting such fun, free spirited humans while riding bikes.

Meet Eric and Michael, two kind and generous trail ferries who cooked us up some Brook Trout and gave us a huge bag of dried Shiitake Mushroom chips. Thank you both for being so helpful and making us smile.

I’m now in bed and ready for anything. Eric and Michael informed us that a Grizzly was in camp last night. So I’ve got my spray handy but in reality won’t even hear it coming through the camp because I’m deadbeat exhausted. Phew. Time to sleep.

Thanks for reading y’all. Please consider helping out our cause by visiting 2500miles and sharing my brothers story with other young adults. You could help save a life!

Days 22-23 – Ghost towns and no traffic for days

August 8-9th. Start: Bannack State Park End: Lima, MT. 2 days, 83 miles, 3200’ climb and 2700’ descent total.

The morning view from our tents at Vigilante Campground in Bannack State Park.

It was a great start to the morning as Chase drove us into nearby Dillon for breakfast and last minute freshies pick up from Safeway.

We splurged and went against our food sensitivities to have cream in our coffee. It was SO good but the ramifications came shortly after
One of the many buildings in this awesome Ghost Town at Bannack State Park.
A look back in time
Chase, dog Donia and Corinne
Walking down the Main Street of the first territorial capital of Montana
The stories these doors could tell

And then we were off, riding a gravel road due south surrounded by rolling hillsides filled to capacity with Big Mountain Sagebrush and its fragrance wafting through the breeze.

The Sagebrush smell was deliciously fragrant
That sky though!

We made it to Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway and set up camp on the side of the deserted road.

This was our first time not using a bear storage bin and we did our very best to keep rodents away from our food. We cooked 200 feet away and stored our food just as far away, hanging food bags from a barbed wire fence hoping to deter rodents and their hungry little mouths.

Bear storage for our food. Our first night without trees, bridges, or bear canisters. Yes, we realize this wouldn’t save a thing against a Grizzly but at least we tried!

Thankfully the morning sun revealed zero carnage and we had a delightful breakfast before setting off for destination Lima, MT where we planned our next Rest day. Till next time!

Sunrise at our BLM roadside campsite
Corinne cooking up breakfast after camp breakdown. It typically takes us 3 hours from waking to eat, pack up and hit the road.
Descent into the town of Lima, MT. Stoked to pick up our resupply boxes. General Delivery is so awesome!!

Days 20 – 21 Time to get REAL

August 6-7th Start: Beaver Dam Campground End: Bannack State Park (ghost town). 75 miles, 3900’ climb over 2 days

I’m going to get real here. Traveling as a female in remote places can be scary at times and last night was no exception. A car came in late at night and the person driving seemed to be shining his headlamp into our camp and coming closer towards our tents.

Corinne and I were both startled awake as the car was super loud and the shining light seemed oppressive. We both had our bear spray locked and loaded as we communicated between our tents on our nervousness of the situation.

Beautiful Thistle

It was a completely empty campground and he chose to camp right beside us. Of course this is totally OK! But it reminded us of how unsafe we truly feel when it comes down to it, feeling quite vulnerable in these situations and thankful to have one another to depend on for safety and security.

Corinne dialing in her bike for the ride up FLEECERS ridge in the AM
Morning hair at Beaver Dam Campground

Corinne and I had started placing our tents side by side for safety purposes after a sketchy situation that happened at a past campground in Lincoln, MT. It’s a long story but it came down to the guy being blissfully unaware that his drunkenness and choice of a camp spot can come off as scary to female travelers, especially since we had met at a restaurant beforehand yet never mentioned our camping location.

Sadly I think this happens far too often, men being unaware that their actions may be inappropriate at a given time in regards to respecting female space and security.

I want to be REAL and speak TRUTH in writing this blog. So far I’ve only chronicled the happy go-lucky side and feel the pull to bring in the bigger picture. The UPS and the DOWNS.

One of the many river crossings for the day

So far this ride has been equally as physically and mentally challenging as it has been fun (stand by for another blog post on the physical aspect). It’s also scary at times, fearful of bears or moose in your camp at night, skeptical on humans and their intentions, finding water sources to keep us hydrated while riding, and a terrible time finding nutritious meals to keep us healthy along the way.

Corinne enjoying a snack about to ascend FLEECERS ridge

Phew, ok. Now to the ride. We made our way to FLEECERS Ridge, our favorite spot so far with 360 degree views of soft sloped mountains and bright green grass with magnificent clouds framing every glimpse the eye can handle.

Lunch on top of FLEECERS ridge. Avocado, pickles, salt n vinegar chips and Gluten Free bread. Stoked to find some fresh veggies to keep us healthy and pedaling
Best lunch spot so far

After a lunch stop, we descended the treacherous 2 track gravel road (hike a bike) and made it to a primitive campsite south of Little Joe campground. Alyssa and her friend Elle joined us and we ate Bratwurst, had a fire and enjoyed each other’s company until the moon lit bright into the nights sky. 🌙

Alyssa grilling up some Bratwursts and telling all the funny stories
Ice friends for life

The next morning we were up and out by 9am and hit Polaris, MT a huge milestone for us. Reaching Polaris signifies 531 miles complete and the beginning of Map 2 of 5 for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

531 miles complete and the 3rd smallest Post Office in the United States.

As we checked our email from the free WiFi at the post office, we found out that Chase, a best friend of Corinne’s, was meeting us at Bannack State Park for the evening. Wooohooo to nice humans, soda waters and all the fresh veggies two biking ladies could ask for.

Soda water for mermaids

Will post photos of the ghost town in the next blog post. Thanks for reading y’all.

Friends!

Day 19 – The Big Restart

August 5th, 2020. Start: Butte, MT End: Beaver Creek Campground. 36 miles

We felt a million times better biking today than 3 days ago with a few days rest under our belts. We have learned a valuable lesson. Absolutely no more than 7 days of riding without a break. Period.

A morning stop at the local Gluten Free bakery in uptown Butte, MT for tasty treats.
Riding south from Butte and passing beautiful bridge/train tracks
Goodbye Butte, Hello open road!

As Corinne and I enjoyed lunch at a beautiful overlook we both noticed the smell of smoke.

View from our scenic lunch spot.

As former wildland firefighters, the smoke smell was nostalgic and also peaked our curiosity enough to investigate. Well, we found it.

Followed the scent of our noses
Calling forest service dispatch.

We continued on, crossing the Continental divide for the 5th time.

Our 5th Continental Divide Crossing (Maybe more)?

The ride meandered up small winding hills on isolated gravel roads for the remainder of the ride.

Wildflowers for days
Corinne enjoying the scenic downhill surrounded by fields of wildflowers

We settled into our campsite at Beaver Creek Dam and anticipated the day ahead..FLEECERS Ridge!! Till next time.

Day 15-18: Time to take a load off but not in time to avoid I-15

August 2nd-5th, 2020. Start: Boulder, MT (Biker Barn) End: Butte, MT for a few rest days

Thank for reading this blog y’all. Interested in helping with this colon cancer awareness journey? Please share this link 2500miles with your friends and family and spread this important message. You could save a life!

Sunrise at the Bike Barn, a hostel like barn for cycle tourists located in Boulder, MT.

We high tailed it from Boulder with French Fries and heat avoidance on the mind. What we didn’t expect was the map we were following to lead us onto the Interstate, again! What the heck American Cycling Association?

Corinne approaching Tunnel #9
Tunnel No.9
Trying to film inside a dark tunnel didn’t work out so well
The saga to ride I-15 begins
About to enter I-15
Corinne riding almost as fast as the cars on the interstate, fueled by fear
Not a bad view

Finally we arrived into Butte and reality smacked us both in the face. Want to know what overtraining is? The last 14 days of riding a bike with only 1 day break. Our bodies were screaming at us to sleep and give them time to rest so we chose Butte, MT as our R&R.

One of the many interesting sites to see around the mining town of Butte, MT

We visited Alyssa, a very close friend I met while working in Antarctica. Our original 2 days of rest turned into 3 as Alyssa kept making mouth watering meals to die for.

My dear friend and former roommate from Antarctica, Alyssa.

To sum it up, we ate ALL the food, took many naps, rolled out our muscles, drank tea and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Oh, and shaved half of my head.

Another friend from the ice was also visiting and helped Alyssa with the finishing touches. It’s just too dang hot for all that hair!
Alyssa and Joeys haircut creation. I LOVE it!
Alyssa getting a few bites at a local fishing hole outside of Butte, MT

Thanks for reading friends. As the ride progresses, the Nassif Community Cancer center will be posting more interviews and podcasts that focus on prevention of colon cancer in young adults. If you know anyone who may shows signs/symptoms such as:

Lack of appetite, abdominal pain, blood in their stools, constipation (to name a few) PLEASE share this resource with them. 2500Miles. Thanks again everyone!

Day 14: Why is paved so much harder?

July 31st. Start: Helena MT End: Boulder, MT Estimated 51 miles and 3000+ elevation gain. 25 miles highway riding

We had to visit the bike shop 3 times! Corinne’s bike was super mad at us today. We started at 9, pedaled up Grizzly Gulch and the bike broke again.
Beginning our ascent up Grizzly Gulch for the second time. Crossing fingers Corinne’s bike holds up.
One in a series of stories describing our day.
Story 2
Story 3 – Chronicles of an overly heated human
Story 4; Chronicles of an Overly heated human who is starting to to go a little bonkers
Best friend entertaining the overly heated human
Overly heated human starts losing it
Lost it completely

Made it to Boulder and found a place called the Bikers Barn. Showers, green grass and a sweet lightning storm rolling through.

Thanks to everyone who continues to read this blog and for supporting us along this colon cancer awareness journey. Please check out my very first appearance on a Podcast with Dr.Dustin Arnold, Chief Medical Officer of St.Lukes Hospital and the director of The Nassif Community Cancer Center Kimberly Ivester. Want to know more on WHY we are doing what we do and how you can help? Please click Here

Day 12-13: Our first rest Day!

July 29-30th. Start: Barbara Nyes house End: Air bnb in Helena, MT. 35 Miles

Our hosts John Denver and Barbara Nye. John told us a lovely story of how he is the longest staying biker of 4 years ❤️ I couldn’t help but love this couple, their positive energy and their outlook on life.
You couldn’t miss this along the route even if you tried.
The first thing you see once arriving at Barbara’s Bikepacker heaven.
One of the cabins at Barbara’s house. She leaves Polaroid cameras inside so all guests can take pictures of their stay.
Corinne making some delicious coffee. Thanks BlackCoffee for the amazing instant options.
Corinne and the llama Lucas

Day 12 – rode to Helena and enjoyed our second Continental Divide Crossing., greeted by total chaos at the bottom.

Second continental divide crossing at Priest Pass. May be 3rd?
Total madness
Passed a few abandoned mines on our way to Helena.
Downtown Helena. So much LOVE here.
The last push to Helena required literal pushing as Corinnes bike was very sad and unhappy. Stoked to have the GreatDivideCyclery help us dial in our bikes last minute.
Enjoying a delicious brunch at the NoSweatCafe and our first rest day in 12 days!!!

We are on our way to Butte now! Till next time.