Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Update #7

Nordegg, Alberta


Actually, scratch that.


Y'all did nothing. In fact, with the exception of the 7 wonderful folks who posted comments to my last blog update (and my dear sister who, bless her soul, tried desperately to post and finally emailed me her top 5 song list a la High Fidelity), you suck. Do you realize that the Canadian version of my blog fetched 287 comments plus an additional 17 video responses to the cemetary jokes and song requests? Bryan Adams himself posted a video (Rush was on tour but their road manager sent regards). Stephen Harper even commented with a cemetary joke. Stephen know who he is, right? Yes?

No! You haven't the foggiest idea who this man is, do you? Hello? Prime Minister of Canada. Big country just a bit North of the home of the brave. Go to Maine, look up and you'll see it. Jesus. I'm pretty sure you don't know who he is because there are only 7 people in the entire U S of A who have ever heard of the guy and five of them are Canadian ex-pats living in Buffalo. The other 2 are Condoleezza Rice and my old friend Larry Finkelhor from Perth Amboy, NJ. Larry knows everything.

Anyway, I'm over it. Also, I'm finally done riding! And the crowd goes wild. First, for all you number-cruncher-data-weirdo-types out there, the stats:

Total Distance: 2934.4 miles
Total Days: 48.5
Avg Distance/Day:60.5 miles
Total Riding Days: 41.5
Avg Distance/Riding Day: 70.7 miles
Longest Distance In One Day: 103.5 miles
Avg. Speed:10.9 miles/hr
Highest Speed: 42 miles/hr
Total Time Spinning: 276.8 hours
Total Elevation Gain: ~200,000 vertical feet
Average Elevation Gain/Riding Day: ~4810 ft

OK, now that that's over with, get ready for some excellent anecdotes filled with hijinx and wacky mayhem. By the way, I've always despised the word anecdote. Sounds too much like antidote or antelope to be taken seriously.

Greetings from Nordegg, Alberta! Now, I know what you're're thinking here's where that little SOB says something like Nordegg: French for "ovaries of the North", or Nordegg: Named for Crispin and Meredith Nordegg, who opened the first dental clinic in what was eventually to become Saskatchewan and The Northwest Territories. But no, some things are too small and precious to be taken advantage of.

Actually, the hell with it. Nordegg, named after Martin Cohen, a Jewish-German industrialist who felt his name was not Canadian enough so changed it to Martin Nordegg before settling in the SW Alberta region in the early 1900's and founding one of the largest coal mines in all of pre-WWII Canada. The comedy of all this is that it's actually true. I couldn't make that up if I tried. Seriously. Look it up.

Let's see....ah yes, my bike ride. Hmmm, rolling North from Lincoln, I devoured the mountains of Montana like a goat on wheels. Not even the mosquitoes could slow me down. Skirting Glacier National Park and the moist mountains to its West, coniferous forests and startled cows blurred past. Speaking of cows, the number of our future hamburgers that inhabit this nations public lands and denude the landscape of anything nutritious within 4 vertical feet of their fat ankles is nothing less than pathetic. In the 40+ days I rode through public lands, there was only 1 that I did not pass herds of cows (my second to last day in the states).

Most herds of cattle in the Rockies are comprised of adult cows and juvenile males and females. This is not necessarily the case in Montana, where often there seems to be one lucky bull amongst the beauties. When passing a herd of cattle on bike, for personal safety it is imperative to identify the bulls and avoid them. Suffice it to say that I now consider myself an expert on bovine anatomy and can spot a bull from a healthy distance. They tend to be large and lumpy and appear slightly brain damaged (it's a guy thing). Their swinging testicles sometimes can be seen from great distance (holy moley!), an obvious identity giveaway. Once in a while though, even when one is watchful, a bull can step out from behind a rock or large shrub and give a cyclist a good scare.

This precise event happened to me on one of my last days in sagebrush country in Montana. I was heading up a steep hill on an open slope when an enormous lummox of a bull stepped out from behind a wooden sign just as I was getting ready to pass. After soiling myself, I rolled backward a few feet to give myself a little escape route downhill. I just stood there facing him from a (hopefully) safe distance while he snorted and scraped his foot a bit (a guy thing again). He must have gotten bored with me after a few minutes because he strolled up to a fine-looking young cow, presumably for some tender moments. Much like my former lovers in Portland, I noticed her rolling her eyes as I took the opportunity to continue on my way. I know how it feels mr. bull.

The entertaining thing about this anecdote (god I hate that word) is that only a few miles up the road, I came upon a cyclist heading the other way on the route. This guy was loaded with overstuffed front and back panniers, a large handle bar bag, and an enormous duffel bag strapped to the top of his rear rack. All in bright red. I swear he looked like a frickin 2 wheeled matador. As he passed, I just kept on thinking "ole', he's a dead man".

Anyway, from cow country I passed into grizzly country in Northwest Montana. I saw no grizzlies, but did see lots of mosquitoes. They must have seen me too, the bastards. Finally, on day 45 of my travels, I rode across the international border and into Beautiful British Columbia.

And then it rained. Just like it does every time I go to Canada. During the 2.5 days I was in BC, it must have rained about 16 cm (we're in Canada now, folks. Think Metric). This included an epic deluge of rain and hail on July 27th that brought down about 5 cm in 20 minutes. Miraculously I was stopped in the town of Sparwood, and took shelter in a grocery store during the onslaught. Local folks wandered to the plate glass windows thinking "that's a whole lotta water, eh?" Indeed it is. And I don't need to remind you that where there is rain, there is mud.

Yes my friends, as a cruel gesture to remind me both of my days of mud-past as well as my inherent weakness, Beautiful British Columbia provide me with a total muck-bath. My awesome stamina and hard-won experience were no match for the dirt road from Dante's Inferno. Eventually I was able to push through it and, after several attempts over numerous hours, clean my bike up enough to where the wheels would turn and the gears shift. Whew.

The next day I rode the final 50 miles, the last 12 down glorious singletrack in Banff National Park, to the town of Banff, which is the official northern terminus of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The trail ends directly across from the Banff Springs Hotel, which may be the single most obnoxious building ever erected, a fine counter point to the rustic environs of my last 2 months.

But wait, there's more. Yes Charles, homey kept riding North. "What? This is madness! Say it isn't so, man!" To be sure, madness indeed. From Banff, I hit pavement and rolled North 58 km to Lake Louise and then another 80 km up the famed Icefields Parkway toward Jasper National Park. Canadian tourist literature claims the Icefields Parkway to be "The most beautiful road in the world". I hate to admit this (and I'm leaving this paragraph off the otherwise fabulous Canadian version of this blog), but I think they've got something there. I'm not a huge fan of pavement, but as far as roads go, it truly is spectacular, particularly by bike. Check out the pic, bro.

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

At the Saskatchewan River Crossing, I picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey, and peddled the final 90 km East to my final destination of the hamlet of Nordegg, where my old hiking buddy Simon lives. As a slap to my ass on my final day, the last 70 km were against a vicious headwind, and naturally it started pouring about 1km from his house. But did I care? Not in the least. Well, maybe a little. The mud was behind me forever and the only things separating me from 2 twelve packs of Labatts were their screw tops.

And while we're on the subject, Canada is a fabulous place. You see, by the end of those twelve packs, when Simon finds me face up in his downstairs bathroom gurgling in my own vomit, he can just pour me into the back seat of his Hyundai and drive me to the local hospital (which happens to be 110 km away, but that's besides the point). They'll pump my stomach and fix me up real good at no cost to me. It's called socialized medicine folks. Duh!

After a 16 hour alcohol-induced rest, I joined Simon on a 3+ day hike through the alpine wild lands of Alberta. What the hell is wrong with me? I ride a goddamn mountain bike 5000 km and celebrate my achievement by walking up and down mountains. Weird.

In Summary, after spending seven weeks pedalling the dirt roads and trails through the states and provinces of the Rocky Mountains, I've decided to take it upon myself to change their state and provincial slogans. The old ones were boring anyway. Here goes:

1) New Mexico: Never rains here in June. Nope
2) Colorado: Gosh, I wish I could be Oregon
3) Wyoming: If the wind doesn't kill you, our culture might
4) Idaho: Obese children on ATVs. Sweet!
5) Montana: It's Mantana!
6) British Columbia: Goddamn rainforest, eh?
7) Alberta: (See Wyoming)

Thanks to everyone for the support and enthusiasm. I couldn't have done it without you. Actually, I did. Whatever. Oh, and one last self-congratulatory-epic-glory-shot:

Peace and love to each of you.



  1. Hey you sweet bastard, congratulations!

  2. Congratulations!! ...and may I add, completed with style and grace. Well, maybe grace is a bit of a gift considering the mud - but hey, there was an overabundance of style!! Well done!

  3. Wahoooo!!!! You must have caught that awesome thunder and lightening storm we had whip through the island a bit ago. Shit. Wish we could rendezvous this side of the border, eh? I hope your return to the states is graced with incredible weather in pdx and maybe some play time to enjoy yourself around home.

    See you at the end of August?!?

  4. You're awesome! I'm proud to know you!

  5. 成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人 ....................................................

  6. 找一個懂妳的人也期許自己做一個人懂別人的人......................................................

  7. 偉大的致富萬能之鑰,正是幫你充分掌握自己心志所必須的自律自制..................................................

  8. 人生中最重要的是要自尊、自愛、自立、自強、自信。 ....................................................

  9. 能猜得出女人真實年齡的男人也許耳聰目明,但肯定毫無大腦。哈哈!............................................................

  10. 如果成為一支火柴,也要點亮一個短暫的宇宙;如果是一隻烏鴉,也要叫疼閉塞的耳膜。.................................................................

  11. 永遠不要躊躇伸出你的手。也永遠不要躊躇接受別人伸出的手。.................................................................

  12. 聰明人之所以不會成功,是因為他們缺乏了堅忍的毅力。.................................................

  13. 愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。............................................................