Amanda Delcore
Great Divide
Seeley, MT August 8- Montana

At this point, I'm more than halfway through Montana in mileage. I only have about 100 miles left. As such, I feel ready to give a recap of the state and the ACA route through it. First of all, the sky is big. No doubt about it. The mountains and valleys are spaced such that you often have a clear view for many miles. I find this to be extremely satisfying, especially when I can see a rainstorm 6 miles away and get ready for it. The people! I really have never met nicer people. This was especially exemplified in Helena.
Even before Helena, I met a woman in the town of Ovanado, who asked what we were doing and gave me her business card telling us "if we needed anything, place to stay, a shower, etc.", to call her. She was from Helena. Before we went to sleep in town, we got three, un­solicited offers to stay with someone in town. (This is actually really convenient because the nearest campgrounds are outside of town by a few miles.). We ended up staying with the owner of the Great Divide Cyclery, Dan and his lady, Lani. They were truly awesome. Also, if you eat lunch at Taco Del Sol, it's on the house if you are doing the divide. Who knew!?

The terrain and the elevation.

I've only ridden about 750 miles in the trip yet, but the passes have been numerous in Montana. Doing 60­70 miles a day, there is at least one, maybe three passes in a day. So this means between 1,500' and 2,000' of climbing over a distance of three to seven miles at any one time. One day we crossed the path of the Continental Divide three times for a whopping total of 6,000' of elevation gain that day.  For the people who race the Tour Divide, I don't envy the fact that you probably do twice this.  

Cattle country.
 
It seems that the northern sections of Montana were a little more pristine in terms of forest; although there was a fair amount of logging. After Lincoln, more and more of the landscape is shaped by cattle grazing, meaning that much of what you see is grazed­over land, stumps, and cattle fence. Compared to the national forests of Canada, the National forest land in Montana is pretty dismal. The mountains and valleys. To balance out the statement above, I just rode through the biggest, most surreal place I've ever been. My pictures don't do it justice. The wilderness area between the Tendoy and Beaverhead Mountains near Big Sheep Creek was like being in a level of inception where there is only mountains, sky, and valley. All covered in low sage brush, sparse grasses, and the occasional tree. Toward the town of Dell, the creek and road winds through folds of mountains, crumbling cliffs with pockets of swallow nests, and sage brush the size of small trees.

Get out there, it's beautiful.

As I prepare to leave Montana and enter Idaho, I think that I have enjoyed the towns we've passed through... Some touristy, some small­town, but all a welcoming sight. The mountain passes have been difficult but gorgeous, and fun on the descent. If I came back, I'd do it with an unloaded bike and spend some time exploring the singletrack around Whitefish and Helena.

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Amanda Delcore

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Amanda Delcore
  • Genesis moment for the trip I was visiting the Radavist website and I saw the Blackburn #outthere banner ad. Congratulations… the marketing worked. I was probably at work, day-dreaming, like most outdoor enthusiasts. I had always wanted to hike the Continental Divide in Colorado… Prior to learning about the Blackburn Ranger program, I even blocked out a month in my work calendar to hike the CDT in a sort of act of defiance. Seeing the Blackburn Ranger program got me thinking… why not bike it? I did some research, I admittedly didn’t contemplate the consequences, and started scheming furiously about how to make a killer application video.
  • Have I traveled by bike in the past? Yes I bike toured parts of Maine and New Hampshire solo. I biked from Portland, Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire; I camped, did day-trip summits in the morning and rode to the next spot in the afternoon. I also bike toured the Blue Ridge Parkway in early spring.
  • Goal for the route? I’m not one much for goals. I shy away from formally setting goals, because I find that reward is fleeting and there’s not much else to do but set a new goal. And in units of time, the route to achieving a goal is almost the entirety of the experience. For me, the real reward is the process of following an interest or a curiosity. I am interested in inspiring other females to bikepack; to this end I’m running a Women’s Bikepacking Series in my hometown of Philadelphia. I am curious to see if I can replicate this series in some way during the tour. I am also keen to ride with friends and make new connections in the cycling community; as a start, there are at least three different people riding with me during different parts of the trip.
  • Hope to get out of the journey? A deeper understanding of myself and my capabilities. I hope to learn how to endure the extremes of nature and everything in between. I think much of our lives are setup to spend most of the day indoors, and we miss out on how pleasant and how ugly nature can be. On this trip there will be mornings that are cool, clear, and sunny, but there will also be afternoons of thunderstorms or intense heat. I hope to gain an appreciation for the full spectrum of nature and the patience to roll with it.
  • What’s in my bag? I’m not there yet in my packing…. : / I think they are going to be my lumbar pack, a thumb piano or another tiny musical instrument, a bandana, and ??? I’ll try to figure this part out in the next week and a half.

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