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The Dude Lives

The Dude's set-up this time, a CX bike and a BOB trailer (Beast of Burden).

So, the dude finally felt the urge to unpack his camping gear from the attic, pack it into a bike-bag along with his cyclocross bike and jump on a flight back to North America. I had five weeks to play with in the Americas before flying to the south of France for a surprise family birthday party. It was quite the holiday-bender and a pretty balanced trip as I took in the metropolis of Toronto, the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies and then the beach of Cannes. My original hope to take in 'Burning Man' in the Nevada desert disappointingly failed to materialise and so my trip morphed. I now had the opportunity to reconnect with the great friends and friendly mountains that I met on my big trip round the world. I'm very much obliged to them and the mountain Gods for looking after me and my bike during my stay. We both enjoyed it immensely.

The nub of the trip was really to graze in the company of my good friends and then to plug myself into nature to clear my head. I wanted to reconnect with the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that runs from Banff in Alberta down to the Mexican border. The trail criss-crosses the Great Divde multiple times making for lots of climbing but the section I did turned out to be pretty straight-forward. It would be a seven day tour from Evergreen near Denver to Durango in the southwest of the state. It would take me three highway days and four dirt days on the Great Divide Route. It is hard to explain the satisfaction I get from riding my bike all day over dirt roads and then pitching my tent at the top of a pass with only the man in the moon (and perhaps some bears) for company. I love it, it's just nice to listen to the clarity of the breeze and be refreshed by amazing views. The Rockies are quite the mountain playground.

A million thanks to Scott who lent me his BOB trailer, without which I would not have been able to cart my camping gear over the mountains and complete a tour. Thanks also to Tom who rescued me from a particularly dangerous stretch of highway on my first day where I could been killed or could have caused a bad crash and killed someone else. It's the first time I have ever had to ask for a lift and thankfully Tom pulled over. I am also grateful to Martin Paulus, another bike-tourer, who passed me while I was fixing my only puncture on the side of the road early one morning. He was completing a TransAm and we stopped to chew the cud over some breakfast. He very kindly offered me the second bed in his motel room at the end of his ride. This was a blessing as we arrived into town sopping wet after a bad weather day over Wolf Creek Pass. The roof over my head and shower after 6 days of riding and 5 nights under the stars were very welcome. Naturally, a big thank you to Melissa and Ben who picked me up off the trail in Durango in their Jeep. This allowed me to head south and not have to ride a loop in the short-time I had since I could throw all my stuff in the back of the jeep and drive back to Evergreen. The trip was about 725k in total, nothing too crazy, it was nice to have the extra day-light this time.  This gave me the time to enjoy the ride as I didn't have the pressure of having to set up camp too early due to fading light.

I will post a gallery of scenic photos shortly, but for now, the below photos are a reminder of what it's like being back on the trail with a bike and a tent.

Vive le velo

Mark Mountain


Camped at the top of Cameron Mountain under the power-lines.This type of view and dirt-road is typical of the trail. My camp at the top of Marshall's PassHanging food from the bears, thankfully somebody made it easy for me by placing the log across. Aspen and spindly fir with their long slender, brachless trunks make for difficult trees to hang food from.Anti-Bear Device. I park my bike at the head of my tent and tie the tent guy-lines to it. If a bear were to have me for dinner he would likely go to the head of the tent and try to break my neck while I'm sleeping. This set-up gives my head a little space and me a little advance warning as he'd disturb me first.Dining al frescoGruel is fuelCyclists tend to look for sugars after a ride. However, the nature of a tour makes it difficult to have something nice on hand; cookies or cake will crumble over the bumpy trail, chocolate or mallows will melt in the 36c of heat ... a jar of nutella solves the problem tastily, quite the treat!Tent Ents ... watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on my iPod. When it's lights out for the sun at 8pm, there's not a whole lot of fun to be had at the top of a mountain on your own. Amazing how an iPod can provide an escape from the escape ... I totally forget I'm in the woods.One of four Continental Divide crossings I had to make. A welcome car ... despite the dust I must eat it's good to see someone else. On the trail I might pass one car an hour, on the highway it would be one every 30secs ... quite the contrast and the reason why off-road touring is the way to go for me.Riding through Badlands GapMountain weather hits as I climb Wolf Creek Pass and Divide crossing number four. One wet/cloudy day in a week is about right for Colorado, the other 6 days are normally very very sunny.Camaraderie of the road. Another bike-tourer from San Diego gives me the spare bed in his hotel room for the night ... a welcome shower and roof after 6 days of riding and 5 nights under the stars. Much obliged Martin.

The camp-fire in Durango.

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Reader Comments (1)

I have just been searching for this type of information for a while and finally found here so far. Thanks!

December 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCamping
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