Doggin' the Divide Ride Trail

The Divide Ride Dogs do Stage I

Montana, 1997

Eight Adventure Cycling Members and two Cycle Touring Club (England) members begin a 4 year cycling odyssey. . . to ride the 3,200 miles (or so) from the Canada border to the Mexico border along the off-road ("on-dirt") Continental Divide mt. bike route mapped by Adventure Cycling Association (Great Divide Mt. Bike Route or GDMBR). A route that crosses the Continental Divide many many times. (5 in Montana alone.)


Party Dog (Virginia)


Traveling Dog (Southbound), and Daffy (Connecticut)


Underdog, and Frog (England)


Old Dog, and Corky (for a while) (Pennsylvania)


Big Dog, and George (California)


Top Dog, and Rufus (California)


Good Dawg, and Buck (Texas)


Doc Dog (Pennsylvania)


Stray Dawg, and Duck (and Big Duck and Lawn Duck...a herd of ducks!) (England)


Mad Dog (Pennsylvania) ("Mad" because he would try to ride ANY road or trail)


Friday, July 11 (Pre--trip day)


Menlo Park -> Whitefish, MT


Best Western Motel




14.1 (Glacier International Airport -> Whitefish, and around town)

This trip, as planned, nearly didn't happen for me. Three weeks prior to leaving, I had a serious cycling injury with numerous bone bruises, road rashes, and a badly gashed calf requiring in excess of 20 stitches. While I maintained all along that I would ride this route if at all possible, the niggling thought in the back of my mind, and eventually at the forefront was that I might have to be the unintended sag wagon. Up until three days prior to leaving home, three physicians and my vet rolled their eyes at the very idea of riding hundreds of miles with my wounds. Participate I would! But I preferred to do so with my bike, not my station wagon. Fortunately, in talking with a plastic surgeon whom I admonished with, "Bill, I AM going to ride this ride - what's the worst I can expect?" With his advice ("Have fun. Keep it clean. Don't swim in 'interesting' water. If you hurt it, we can fix it."), I packed up and flew off with my bike.

The Delta Airlines woman was amazingly friendly as she checked me in at 6am! We chatted about biking (she has a friend in Iowa who occasionally hosts RAGBRAI riders) and at the end of my check-in, she waived the $50 bike fee saying, "You only are checking this one piece and besides, we will often waive the fee for bicycle groups going through." I was profusely thankful. And interested to learn that sometimes bikes do fly free.

At the Salt Lake City airport, I met up with Jim (Big Dog), the group gear/food planner for the trip. We flew to Kalispell together and pedaled off to begin our adventure.

Ran into Melissa (Good Dawg) along the road - she was going from town back to her motel, as Jim and I headed into town for dinner. Running a bit late for dinner, we had been hassling around trying to find a place to stay (some regional softball tourney was in town, and motels were pretty full). She recognized Jim as he pedaled past her.

Dinner at Tupelo Grill for Cajun food (owners are from Louisiana and this restaurant is on the Whitefish "must eat at" list). Imagine, crawfish etoufee or artichoke bread (yummy!) or traditional gumbo. My dinner was quite good. Jim says his was too rich. (How can ANY food be too rich?)


Saturday, July 12


Whitefish to Eureka


Ksanka Motel, Eureka


Mostly cloudy: 65-70 deg. F; no rain



Early this morning, Jim and I ran into Al (Traveling Dog Southbound), who was also checked into this motel. He arrived late at night because of an aircraft maintenance problem in Hartford. We shared some catch-up conversation (we hadn't seen each other since the "Northern Lights" Alaska trip in 1995) over a free pre-breakfast (with fruit and bread stuffs selected for morning snacking) before splitting up for our separate errands and breakfast.

[As I write, at 10 p.m., the sky is getting somewhat dark. Sunset was about 15 minutes ago, and the mountains of the Whitefish Range - out my window to the east - are silhouetted against the clumpy gray clouds. Cars and pickups - each with its resident dog - parade through the motel parking lot.]

If ever I were to learn about fitting (or not fitting) into the local scenery as a cyclist, it was this morning at the Buffalo Cafe. I, in my Adventure Cycling jersey and black lycra tights, looked ridiculously out of place with men in their wide red braces, Wrangler jeans, buffalo plaid shirts, western hat, and cow-patty kicking boots. A slam-in-the-face reminder to cycle tour in inconspicuous clothing. We received more than our share of side-wise glances from diners fork deep in huckleberry pancakes. At least no one was so rude as to guffaw and say, "My Gawd you look stupid in all that garb! What are ya ridin', a lame mule?" (No, sir, I'm riding a mountain bike out there...I call him Donkey Xote.) Save the colorful jerseys for club rides.

Today was a great day, weatherwise, for riding. Mostly cloudy, temps in the 60's. Melissa, Jim and I pedaled generally together for the morning after our sojourn to Buffalo Cafe for huevos rancheros and then to Glacier Cyclery for browsing and bear (pepper) spray for use against any encounters with grizzly bears. I bought the grizzly-sized spray can ($36 or so - varied from store to store).

Along the route, Melissa spotted a bald eagle surveying the world from a high tree branch in a field across the road. Our first wildlife sighting.

The scenery was beautiful and green. It looked like Montana. And the headwinds were familiar from past trips. Oh, the head winds! Maybe I'm also the wind goddess.

After lunch, Jim pedaled up to Melissa and me from his sweep position with another rider in tow. It was Carl (Old Dog), who had been told by other riders and travelers along the road, "they are only about 45 minutes ahead of you;" and then "30 minutes" and then there we were. The four of us rode together to Eureka, alternating pairs of riders so we each had a chance to get to know the others.

Just into Eureka, Jim and I stopped for a rootbeer float. It hit the spot!

Alan (Party Dog) was patiently waiting for us to arrive at the Ksanka Motel, even so far as scouting out the Adventure Cycling group (Waterton Lakes trip) at the Creekside "Motel" (camping) "to see if that were you." He said that he literally ran out of his motel room last night when he saw a Volvo drive in, thinking it might be me. Wrong license plates. He left Washington DC on the 4th of July and was somewhat out of touch had the trip been canceled at the last minute. He had been very concerned, since we didn't arrive until 6 p.m. or so.

Dinner was at the local pizza place - a bonding and "get to know you" experience for all of us who were there: Al, Jim, Alan, Carl, Melissa. I think Tom (Mad Dog) was there also, but I don't remember. Maybe not.


Sunday, July 13


Eureka - BC, Canada (Roosville) - Eureka


Ksanka Motel


Sunny and then cloudy with some rain about 1 p.m.



Tobacco Valley

Late in the morning, a group of us pedaled from Eureka to the Canada border. Our goal for the four year trip is from the Canada border to the Mexico border. Today was the day to get to Canada. Airport Road, which parallels the main highway rolled along the hills for the 8 miles to Roosville and the British Columbia port of entry. Eureka is part of what is known as the Tobacco Valley, a crop tried (and discarded) many years ago. Now it's claim to fame is Christmas tree production.

On the way, someone in the group pointed out to us the clear-cut straight line headed east through the trees across the valley and over the mountains - the U.S./Canada border. It was a dramatic visual division between the countries.

I didn't realize, while going across the border, that bear pepper spray was usually confiscated by Canadian customs. British Col. sign Perhaps because the customs agent with whom I spent some time talking and laughing about Rufus not being a "registered bear" knew that we were just going a few hundred feet to the various "Welcome to Canada" and "Welcome to British Columbia" signs and returning. At any rate, she didn't say anything, and I didn't know enough to declare it.

Ann (Underdog) and Paul (Stray Dawg) arrived - they've come from Bristol, England to join this group, friends that I got to know through the internet.

Snoozed from 4-6 p.m. What luxury. Little cloudbursts between 1-3 p.m. Maybe I'm not the rain goddess...maybe Alan is the rain god. As soon as he got on his bike, it began to rain. And, he said that it rained all week on his pedaling trip from Great Falls to Waterton Lakes Park to Eureka.

At our group meeting tonight, Alan led the pre-trip group discussion about bears and bear safety. While at Glacier Cyclery, we each purchased bear spray inasmuch as Days 1-4 or so were the most dangerous for potential grizzly encounters. We were to be cycling in the densest grizzly area in the (contiguous?) U.S., and also the area in which "problem bears" (those which have had human encounters and are removed to prevent another occurrence) were brought. Alan was as "concerned" (I would define my apprehension as closer to "terror" than "concern") as I - he highly recommended that we read his copy of the locally-available book Bear Aware. We did. I, for one, think that if a bear were close enough that I needed the bear spray (do you realize how BIG a grizzly is?!),

1) I probably wouldn't have the presence of mind to use it and would collapse in comatose fright and ensuing cardiac arrest;

2) with my luck, if I did get my wits about me enough to be competent, I'd end up downwind of the pepper spray.

In hopes that my autonomic self-preservation were to kick in during danger, I stored the can in the outside pocket of my handlebar bag, instantly available with my right hand.

Jim talked about food - that we would be doing lunches on our own, and group cooking gear was offered up for people to grab what they felt they could carry. It all disappeared into panniers rather quickly. There was considerably less to carry than on a typical Adventure Cycling trip of comparable size. [I don't know why that was...we didn't lack for anything. Jim did an excellent job in planning all of this!]

Asking, no, yelling, at lone loaded touring cyclists going by, "Norm! Norm! Is that you?" as we anticipated the late arrival of Norm (Doc Dog).

As people arrived and got settled, it seemed as if each were taking time to talk with everyone else, to get aquatinted. We each came on this trip not knowing many of the rest of us (in Carl and Norm's cases, they didn't know anyone else). This put us all in a similar boat. I hoped that as we began to form our own group and our own trip, we would be hearing less and less about Alaska trips (the common denominator for all but Ann/Paul). I thought we'd gathered a terrific group.

I've done most of what I needed to do as far as getting this trip off the ground. It was pretty exciting!! I had a lot of fun planning it and getting it this far; Jim did all of the group food and group gear stuff; people will do what they need to do to have their own good time. From now on, with everyone pitching in, which we discussed at the group meeting, this trip was happening! Four of five of us had our new "Divide Ride" t-shirts on...was this a form of canine bonding?

Return to Trip Table of Contents
Forward to Journal Interlude: Our Mascots
Forward Eureka-Tuchuck-Red Meadow Lake-Whitefish

Copyright Judith J. Colwell, 1997. All rights reserved.
Last Updated: June 12 1998

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