August 2019 saw the completion of the ride from the top of Canada following the Rockies to Colorado. From November I will be continuing southwards from Denver to the Mexican border and then across the south to Miami.
From November 2019 the red-line will extend from Silverthorne in Colorado through Arizona and then across the south of the USA. Am very much looking forward to hitting the long road again. Will be blogging the trip to meet the seemingly insatiable demand out there for more missives from the road.
Many people send cards and letters asking about the best equipment for bicycle touring. Well, I will tell you. None of the below is sponsored but if any company wants to give me stuff then feel free. Hilite: Handmade in Switzerland. 26” wheels; Pinion 18-speed gear box; and Gates belt drive. The ultimate touring machine. … Read more Cycling Kit
I’ve been scanning a bunch of old slide photographs and found some from bicycle trips in 1993 (China, Tibet, Nepal and India) and 1997 (Netherlands to India). Here are a few that I quite like:
In Lhasa, Tibet in 1993. Spent a couple of weeks there getting used to the altitude before the ride across the plateau (4,000m over four 5,000m+ passes)
Barren road across the Tibetan passes 1993.
Inside a Tibetan monastery.
This is the first bike I toured on. A Japanese ‘Cannondale’ knock-off, got me across four 5,000+ passes from Lhasa to Varanasi.
The mountain bike in Tibet 1993. Ride across the Tibetan plateau and down into Nepal and India. The derailleur snapped so did a good bit of it in one gear (then chased down a Canadian chap who had a spare one in his pannier)
In Azerbaijan in 1997. Bike was a Bianchi road bike (with foam suspension on front). I had spray painted black and brown because the Turks convinced me that it would be stolen when I went into Georgia. It didn’t get stolen in Georgia.
I snapped this off the back of the bike in Nepal in 1993; an explosion of green framing this little girl’s face.
Road-scape in western China 1997.
Road-testing the horses at Kashgar market in far -western China. One of the great markets of the world for mine. These guys were just charging up and down to kick the tyres on a new horse.
It has been 6,000km and three months since I dipped the wheels in the frozen Arctic Ocean in far northern Canada. Three months of following the magnificent Rockies day after day. And this day I pack up the bike and head to the airport in Denver finishing this leg of the trip. Sad to be joining the throngs of sheep standing in lines to get processed onto a flight. But this is the sad reality of finishing a bike trip – the surrender in returning to drab wretched reality.
The Colorado leg was a quick blast through some lovely mountain scenery over one or two big passes culminating in the final day’s ride up and over the Vail pass and a plunge down to Silverthorne, the last town on this trip. Stayed at the Ladder Ranch as I crossed into Colorado from Wyoming then down to the Colorado River two days before and blew a front tyre out coming down a track at a rate of knots, the first real bike issue of the whole trip. Had the opportunity to stop over in Steamboat Springs earlier and stay at the charming throw-back motel, The Rabbit Ears Motel.
So it is finished for the next month or so while I attend to some business in Australia etc. I’m a good bit skinnier than when I started out. I’m feeling fit from the 8-10 hour rides each day, eating three times my usual food and drinking litres of water each day. It is always an adjustment going back to a relatively sedentary life.
Hmmm, but I do have this return air-ticket to Denver…….
Wyoming gets all philosophical like along the road just south of Rawlins.
Landscape starts to ramp up a bit out of the Wyoming arid basin into the Rockies again.
The Rabbit Ears Motel had the advantage of a hot-spring just across the road.
The Rabbit sign at night. Hauntingly beautiful.
From the top of the Vail pass, a big rise on the last day of riding came to 135km with 2,000m of climbing. Happily there was a bike track for the ride over this pass.
Not sure why the brilliant SPAM in a packet has not caught on. Gone are the twisty-open cans to access the magic gunk.
The trail now dips southeast into Wyoming. Away from the forests and the tourist fleecing activity of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks I ride into the badlands of the arid Wyoming basin. The locals say that the rivers and streams that go into the basin don’t come out and water supply becomes a bit of an issue at times as some of the reported watering holes turn out to be dry. Yet the arid landscape is very beautiful if you are into barren voids. There is a photo below of one of the majestic storms that careen across the basin each afternoon. As one of these storms bore down on me one evening I actually had to hang onto the tent (again) against the wind and capture the water off the tent to filter and drink (which I’m glad no one caught on camera).
Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone has some lovely scenery.
In Grand Teton National Park
The best coffee in a long time is in the lovely trekking, coffee and brewery town of Pinedale in Wyoming.
Washboard shakes things up a bit.
Not a lot out here apart from a few ‘tax cows’.
Saw this lovely Co-Motion tandem heading into the basin at Boulder.
Missoula is a funky little craft beer lovin’ city with loads of cycling credibility so I perch myself at the bar of a brewery in the centre of town to enjoy some cool and refreshing IPAs. Montana is proving to be a good place to find a nice beer and lashings of lovely huckleberry smoothies. At last out of the column of trees that was Canada I stretch out and surge out across the prairie. Wisdom further south marks a cultural change to something more akin to ‘the West’; well, my image of it anyway. I avoid the gun show that is in town for two days (a sad affair in the community hall charging $5 to get in) and ride on for Jackson (Rosa’s Cafe), then over a small pass and and a roll of 20km down into Dillon, a brewery town boasting a university.
South of Dillon I decide to cut across the north of the Blacktail Mountains on a quiet dirt road towards Yellowstone National Park and after an afternoon’s riding without a lot of water, find a bridge with a pretty rank river that can at least provide some water for boiling. Curtis who is riding towards Denver at a rate of knots arrives with just enough time to set camp before a storm that has been threatening to arrive for most of the afternoon hits with full force. These things are building up during hot summer days and this one soon turns into an electrical storm the likes of which this boy has not seen for some time. The pre-storm winds take on biblical proportions and I’m soon hunkered down in the tent hanging on for grim death, watching the lightning flashes through the flimsy sheeting as they all too gradually flash across the sky. Having Curtis there at least increased the chances of the lightning barbecuing someone who was not your worthy correspondent – thanks Curtis.
Then it is across the border into Idaho momentarily and a lovely little lodge/bar/cabin property called Squirrel Creek along the Ashton road just west of the Teton National Park. Am hoping back onto the ‘great-divide biking route again now so on sighting the bike-friendly sign (refer photo) your correspondent cruises in for an afternoon of gas-bagging and imbibing with the owners and some guy who just seemed to be there to drink beer. Then off into Wyoming and the Yellowstone and Teton National Parks.
Lovely garden decoration with a water feature emanating from the front grill.
Rosa’s Cafe in Jackson, Montana.
Biker heaven, this way?
Squirrel Creek is a great place to sit on the porch with the owners and locals and chew the fat while re-hydrating on a large amount of beer.
Oh what a lovely feeling to cross a border having cycled across a country! Canada has given up under the awesome fury of my relentless pedaling. When you finish a bicycle journey from ocean through a country of this size then it is a joyous feeling to cross the border.
A few years ago in Bolivia I spent a couple of weeks slogging through some of the most challenging tracks that I’ve encountered on a touring bicycle. Riding Bolivia south-west of the world famous salt-plains was both ridiculously difficult and exhilarating at the same time. Each day you plow through sand and gravel on ill-defined tracks across a sublimely beautiful landscape, all perfectly clear at 3,500 metres in elevation. When camping up against the wall of a remote hotel I met a couple who were cycling the same way towards the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert. We drank coffee together and the girl related that her father always said, “You have to earn a destination in order to really appreciate it”. That evening we both could feel the essential truth of that statement to the very core of our aching legs and fatigued souls.
To arrive having earned that arrival is something completely different to having been passively deposited somewhere. From the top of Canada I invested heart and soul into every one or those climbs, bought-in completely and committed to every kilometre and lived every bison-dodge, suffered every camp meal and felt every drop of rain.
The last part of the Canada ride takes me onto parts of the ‘continental divide‘ mountain bike ride, past a very large truck, more than a few places with ‘elk‘ in their names and the USA border at Roosville (where I’m charged $6 to process the USA visa waiver – really?). Now I roll on into Montana and spend an introductory evening in the back yard of the charming HA Brewing Co. for a cool and refreshing pint of IPA. Lovely.
The Icefield Parkway running North-south from Jasper to Banff in Alberta is a magnificent road that takes me through a few hundred kilometres of World Heritage listed national parks. This stretch would have been a photographer’s delight had it not been raining or overcast every day pretty well all of the way down the road. Therefore, not a great number of photographs in this posting but to compensate for this lack I have provided some video (set to a marvelous Spanish song) for your listening and viewing pleasure.
*I included the video of the Giant Beaver from Beaverlodge which is in-fact up the road a bit on Route 40, mostly on the justification that it is a giant beaver.
The camper drivers achieve new levels of ineptitude and stupidity, stopping in the middle of the wild at the slightest sniff of an opportunity to photograph a bear or squirrel.
So I join the throng of Helly Hansen designer-gear clad smurfs strolling around trying to find the most convenient place to have their wallets fleeced. On the positive side there is coffee. There is beer, pizza and a shop to get the bike some love and attention.
Banff also has a lovely Arts Centre and it is there that your correspondent paid a visit to see what was going on and talk to the friendly folk who run theatre programmes there.
*If you are easily offended, stop reading now. You have been warned!
Just been riding through seemingly endless rain for the last couple of weeks. Every day rain but we forge on southwards beyond the Alcan and into the western part of Alberta.
What a sight! A hotdog van with a shelter out in the middle of nowhere between Grande Prairie and Grande Cache was a very welcome site during yet another rain storm. Lovely.
Happy that the steam hid the crime of this particular meal in the photo. Reconstituted potato, fish stuff and devon sausage bits. Utter merde!
LNG and pipelines are touchy subjects up here. However, you just have to admire the sheer exuberance (and rendering) of the ‘bird’.
Should have dropped in for some bargains. Silver-linings?
Here at Buff3ysbicycling blog we are great lovers of road signs. That is, unless they are like the huge stupid sign outside Grande Cache in Alberta that states it is 1km to town, when it is actually 5.6km of 7%-10% gradient rise! Just how does anyone put one of those things up?! Love Canadians and Canadia of course, but the kilometre signage here is just all over the place.
I particularly liked the Trudeau bird sign (above). We are sure that Mr Trudeau is a very nice man but really don’t care. The joyous expression of abuse is to be applauded.
Such sentiments are increasingly rare in Australia, which is a matter of some regret. An Australian considering such a sign would pause and fall into a fit of hand-wringing (or out-source their political bravado to ‘egg-boy’). Not sure how it happened but over the last twenty or thirty years the laid back approach that prompted us to just do things, regardless of how stupid and futile, and by which we seemed to define ourselves, is now just not what it was. It has been replaced by endless by-laws, fear of consequence and collection of parking, speeding fines and council notices to remove what-ever-the-hell weed. It is more than mere modernisation making things this way. When you have visiting Europeans bemoaning the fact that Australia has too many rules, you know there is a problem. It’s almost like in response to some subliminal message embedded in a New Price is Right TV telecast, the population of Australia fronted up to local post offices where an officer reached into the chest cavities and extracted the ‘screw-it’ genes and mojo glands from each unsuspecting fop with a staple remover. All then settled into an era of disconcerting and debilitating dread of what might happen; in place of the previous ‘screw-it’ ethos an insidious reticence.
Stan, a crusty old drunk propping up the bar at a lodge way back up the road in Yukon, on learning that I was from Australia, had no hesitation in making his assessment, “Australians are pussies!”. Really? “We should be brothers – Australians and Canadians – but when I went there and they were all pussies”. Confronting assessment, I’ll grant you. Taken aback, the only retort I could muster was, “All the hardcore Aussies are here in Canada right now”, which did the trick. But he is right. Australia used to be the land of ‘No Worries’ but has now somehow morphed into the land of, ‘I’m sufficiently concerned as to the possible adverse consequences of your proposal that I will now don my safety high-vis vest and consult the risk reduction manualprior to making an assessment as to whether any worry is justified’.
Buff3ysbicyclingblog will start the fight back right here! In celebration of and homage to the effort of the artist who created such a lovely ‘bird’ for Mr. Trudeau, we echo the sentiment and lustily proclaim for no readily apparent reason: Fuck you Trudeau!! Up yours you bastard!!
Just to be even-handed, we also send a hearty ‘Fuck you!’ to his political opponents (whoever the hell they are).
To the drivers of the massive RVs who don’t cross to the other side of the road when passing hard-core adventure cyclists: SCREW YOU!! (I actually meant that one)
To the people who don’t like Buff3ysbicyclingblog: BITE ME!!
To the people who made the road sign ‘Grande Cache 1km‘ and put it 5.6km from Grande Cache: YOU ARE DICKHEADS!!
Feel better for that. We now waft down into the national parks of Jasper and Banff and join the mobs of well-heeled designer trekkers who are heading out on North-face sponsored walks along with their hotel associates holding their carefully calibrated trail-mix combo bars. On-on!