This blog will recount my travels this summer along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, beginning in Banff (in Canada) and ending at Antelope Wells, NM, along the US-Mexico border. I may have absolutely no idea what I’m getting myself in to, so we can all learn together as the trip unfolds. Watch here for updates as I illuminate the surprises along the way. Some surprises to keep an eye out for: unbridled happiness, soreness, tiredness, lots of climbing, bike repairs, animal encounters, and explicit descriptions of convenience store food. Who can say what will happen, really; maybe one of the above will earn some exposition. Stay tuned for news.

I have my bike ready, mostly: blue, perky, agile Lolita. I have my gear strewn around the house in random piles, but they are semi-organized piles that allow me to strut through them as we work out who is in charge (so far I seem to be winning, but the distinction is, at times, fuzzy). I have fresh batteries and clean underwear. I even went on a five day, pre-trip, gear-test ride: Dan Finkel and I rode from Seattle to and through some of the San Juan Islands. I had seen Orcas the previous year, but this year we went to Lopez Island first, with intentions of visiting San Juan Island as well. However, Lopez was so fantastic we stayed longer, enjoying it’s excellent roads, people, baked goods, and beaches.

An edge of Lopez Island

After Lopez we headed straight to Orcas Island, where I was able to go on my very first single-track mountain bike ride in Mount Constitution State Park. Very first, you ask? Yes, I am an incipient mountain biker. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride: precipitous, dangerous, gnarly trail strewn with loose, fist-sized rocks wherever it wasn’t pulverized to dust by horse tread; steep, unrideable climbs through some of the most vibrantly green stinging nettle I’ve seen; tight, plummeting switchbacks as the trail shot downhill. As I understand it, not too much of my ride will be quite so extreme, but nonetheless, I was glad for the experience. Lolita, with her higher handlebars, was not great at climbing the steeper trail sections, but in every other regard she performed admirably. Given that such rugged steepness is uncharacteristic of all but few sections of the Great Divide Trail, I’m not worried. Will I be surprised later? Maybe.

I’m in a gathering before the storm, a period of goodbyes and great love between friends. I’ve been seeing friends before I leave, rather than slinking away under cover of darkness as has sometimes been my tendency. And it turns out, seeing people is the way to go because sometimes they love you and let you soak in it for a bit before leaving. I’ve been sent off with beautiful words, cards, gifts, and support. I feel great about going, and I know I will feel great about coming home again to all these wonderful people.

So in just a couple days from now, Dan will drive me up to Banff from Spokane, and I’ll be able to begin. Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions (I’m curious how this could be interpreted), or to send me emails. As often as I come in contact with an open public library, I plan to update the blog and check emails, so check back periodically for new posts.