Iohan Gueorguiev
Great Divide
Eureka, MT - Helena, MT 402 miles It was a great change to ride along the open fields, farms and hazy mountains in the distance. After an unnecessary large breakfast at Eureka I continued up the first pass. On the way up I met the last of the Tour Divide racers - a young man from Texas. I told myself that if I am back here again - it will be racing it.

The climb wasn't that bad, in no time I was over on the other side and looking at the rugged mountains of Glacier National Park and stopped for a chat with two Dutch cyclists on the dusty road. It was 5pm and I still had over 50 miles to go, with one mountain pass. For the first time, with those long summer day I got a chance to see the sun set on the road, I need to do that more often.

I stayed a few days in Kalispell with Thom and Betty - warmshowers.org hosts whom I first met in 2014 when I cycled the GDMBR in winter. This time me and Thom went mountain biking at Whitefish Mountain. I've had no previous MTB experience before starting the trip, aside from doing several singletrack runs. I am starting to get the hang of it! Two lift rides up, one flat and one water bottle full of huckleberries later it was all done.

Not big with naming bikes but the Niner will be "The Endurance", after Shackleton's south pole expedition boat, which ended up getting crushed by ice... Anyway, she got a set of new, bigger WTB tires for the trail ahead, a new chain, brake pads and a wash! I decided to push the start of the Continental Divide Trail to Helena in order to meet with one of my friends. Fred, 79 was about to head out to a tour of the Idaho Hot Springs in three days. That meant I had two and a half days to do the 260miles from Kalispell to Helena.

After 120 miles I was at the singletrack portion of yet another pass, it was 9pm. While wondering whether or not to camp here or try to make a run for the next town, some 40 miles away a man came out of his RV. "Do you want beer? Food? Come in!"
Eric used to own one of the bike shops in Helena but decided to retire so he can have more time to travel, explore and of course - feed random cyclists in the mountains. He also knew my friend Fred, it's a small world out there! We exchanged stories as the sun hid behind the Mission Mountains and it was time to set up camp.

Its moments like these that make all the difference. It wasn't about the food, or the beer, or the cheesecake (yes! there was cheesecake!). It's about that enthusiasm and attitude that can make the toughest situations fun and memorable. Finding that in other people and sharing it, now that's something.

What followed next morning was one of the most fun singletrack sections of the Divide bike route, a chilly descent and a detour to avoid a road closure. It was the first time that I was not let through on a bicycle. After a large meal at Ovando it turned out that Huckleberry Pass was closed too. I decided not to take my chances with riding up to see and detoured via the highway.

The skies turned red as I was riding and pushing my bike up Stemple Pass, in the distance, on the top was a lookout. Somebody last year told me that you can stay over there, so that was the goal for tonight. As I gained altitude it got colder, windier and the horizon lit up on fire. Sadly it was locked. I looked around to see a large outhouse, complete with an air freshener and clean! Well, that's a first!

"I've been out since 5, just stopped to check my distance and turn around," good timing, I just ran into Mike from Helena who was doing a training ride... for 6 hours, over 2 mountain passes. Having company made the climb effortless, he had just ridden a section of the divide a month ago and will race it in 2017. I reached Helena at noon to find out that Fred had gone up Priest Pass to meet me, we must have missed eachother on the way.

Helena, pop 40k and the capital of Montana. It has 3 bike shops (all closed on Sunday), cool downtown district and a busy highway strip. I couldn't find a good excuse not to ride some of the local trails.

This is it with the GDMBR, from now it's all about the CDT. I didn't have much time to prepare... it was all one thing after another. All I've got is a GPX track, thanks to the two people who pioneered (by bike) the route in 2014. A set of hiking trail maps - which I sure don't know how to read and a good dose of stubbornness, naivety and a need - for challenge, the unknown and the endless trail along the rocky mountains...


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Iohan Gueorguiev

Gear List

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Iohan Gueorguiev
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for the upcoming adventure? After starting the GDMBR in mid-October and having to hop out in December at Colorado, I always wondered if I would ever get a second chance. Later I learned of the first bike ride of the Continental Divide Trail and also wondered, how cool that would be. During a rather cold January in Utah I heard about the Blackburn Ranger program, connected the bits and pieces and there was only one logical choice: apply to be on the team and bikepack the CDT.
  • Have your traveled by bike in the past? In 2013 I crashed down a hill on my road bike which left me with a broken collar bone, two broken hands and a 3 month recovery period. To make it through I thought of biking from Vancouver to Ontario. So I did it, then Toronto to Halifax in winter. I was hooked, in 2014 I took time off school and set off to bike from the Arctic Ocean to British Columbia. And then, Alaska to Argentina. I've made it as far as Mexico and am looking forward to riding the CDT and continuing down south as part of the Blackburn team.
  • What is your goal for the route? I have few ideas, most importantly: have fun, stop and smell the flowers (oh yeah - it won't be winter so there actually will be flowers), find out more about the CDT trail hiking community, do as much as CDT as possible, find time to ride the Colorado trail and spend some time in Moab, Utah. I'll also be filming on the way (nothing fancy) and continuing the "SEE THE WORLD" series on which follow my bike trip south. Video is such a great way to try and share the wild and unpredictable story of the open road!
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? One always has some expectations with trips like these but the moment you set a wheel on the dirt it all changes. I want to see how bikepacking compares to fully loaded touring and see if it's something I can adopt and continue doing for the rest of my around-the-world bike trip. Aside from that - create memories, make new friends and meet old ones, explore and get lost in the Rockies.
  • What's in my bag? Buff, Gopro, Alaska License plate,Turtle (which I had on my first bike trip, and ever since)

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