Katie & Laura
Great Divide
Banff, Canada to Eureka, MT Katie

Well we finished our first week from Banff to the US border and below are some of the highlights:

-Biking everyday
-Bathing/ swimming in many lakes and rivers, Laura is so good at just getting in no matter how cold it is
-Seeing the beautiful Canadian mountains and landscapes
-Crossing the US border
-Seeing Butt's cabin
-Meeting new people
-Visits from both of our families

Though the week has been great there some definite low points as well:

-Heavy rain/ mud which caused rocks to get caught in my chain and make it come off
-3 mountain passes in 2 days
-Condensation on our tent every morning
-Unknown road washouts and having to find an alternate route
-My right knee starting to hurt
-Laura temporarily losing her phone right before the border

One week ago I was nervous and unsure of what to expect as we left from Banff. The scenery has absolutely blown me away, however the biking has definitely been harder than I expected. There are plenty of areas where you can't even bike and have to push your bike up trails that can be hard just hiking. I'm still getting used to the varying terrains that mountain biking brings, but am learning a lot about biking and myself along the way. I know there will continue to be unknown challenges along the way, but have made it this far and am feeling more confident about what to expect.

One of the best parts about riding is meeting wonderful people along the way. Thus far we've met Ralph from Germany who has helped us to get up and over mountains as he's ridden along with us for a few days. Alfred from Eureka was kind enough to show us to a nice campsite in town so we'd have a place to stay for the weekend. And so many others we have talked with in passing have shared their biking adventures, tips and tricks including Sarah and Tom from Petaluma, Roger and Lauren, and a couple from London.

Lastly Laura’s Dad rode with us for the first two days and we hope to ride with him again at some point. He really helped us start off the trip well. Laura's family met-up with us in Lower Lakes and brought us some warm dinner before we took off on our own. After crossing the border my parents met-up with us in Eureka and got us some delicious BBQ which definitely lifted out spirits. Sharing this adventure with others really makes it worthwhile.

250 miles down and just a few to go:).

Laura

Wow! It's Sunday and we're sitting here in a laundry mat in Eureka and I still can't believe this is real life! This past week has been SO MUCH FUN and SO BEAUTIFUL!!!! At the beginning of the week all I could say as we road was "WOAH" cause the mountains in Canada are NO JOKE and shoot out of the ground all around you. As we would ride I loved looking at them and trying to figure out the ways they have changed over the years. Katie's knee began acting up early on in the week but she has been good about icing it (thanks to really really cold rivers/lakes) and taking breaks when needed. It seems to be getting better so fingers crossed that all continues to go well as we move forward.

My dad was able to ride with us for the first couple days which was AWESOME! He is a road biker and hadn't ridden on dirt before but handled it no problem. It was super fun to have him with us for many reasons, one being he was our photographer and selfie pro :) We met up with my mom and sister at Lower Kananaskis Lake where they brought us dinner at our campsite before picking up my dad and heading home for California. I'm grateful they were able to make it out to see us and hopefully we'll cross paths again before we hit Antelope Wells!!

Another highlight of the week came on Day 3 when we met Ralf just after descending Elk Pass. Ralf is from Germany and began his ride in Anchorage Alaska... aka he is no joke. He has been biking/backpacking all over for the past few months and when he stumbled upon us he liked us so much that he hasn't left us since! It has been fun learning about his many adventures and style of bike packing -- he believes in comfort over weight and LOVES fresh food on the trail. He cooks like a fancy chef every night and I swear I've never seen someone eat as much oatmeal as he does every morning.

Some other highlights include:
- Meeting Lauren and Roger on our first night of the ride and their last night (they rode it south to north!)
- Meeting Terry, Jeryl, Mark and Dave on Day 2 on a bridge in the middle of nowhere Canada. They had been backpacking for a handful of days and were just the nicest
- All of Canada's free Recreation Campgrounds!
- Bathing/doing laundry in lakes/rivers/streams each night
- Seeing a Grizzly bear cross the road in front of a truck 50 yards ahead of us and then having that car back up to where we were to tell us that the bear decided to sit down right next to the road. We proceeded with caution on the other side of the road and caught a glimpse of the grizzly eating berries and loving life as we passed
- Riding through THICK MUD and being surprised at how well our SRAM XX1 1x11 setup held up
- Meeting Andy outside of Sparwood, hearing his stories and trying some of his fresh deer steaks
- Realizing I love Brookes Saddles because I don't need to ride with a chamois and my bottom IS NOT SORE AT ALL. #miralces
- Biking past lots of mines --- call me sheltered but I had never seen mines like we saw on Days 3 and 4.
- Meeting Sarah and Tom Sparrow at a gnarly washout and sitting and talking bikes and such for a solid hour :)
- Riding in my Kitsbow Ride Tee almost every single day because it is pure comfort and legit DOES NOT SMELL. I can't endorse this shirt enough.
- Climbing beautiful passes and feeling SO GRATEFUL for my 28T front chainring
- LOVING the descent into the states
- LOSING my phone on a tiny mellow part of the road and spending 2.5 hours looking for it
- FINDING my phone
- Almost crashing a wedding party
- Hanging out with Katie's parents in Eureka. They took us to a delicious dinner and bought us some tasty snacks which was SO NICE OF THEM!
- Meeting Alfred and learning of Eureka's free camping as well as other random facts about the area/birds
- Meeting Ryan and Sherry from South Africa (and now London since they moved), who are biking the divide and going south as well!! They are COMEDY and just all around awesome sports. I'm super excited to continue to see them as we ride the divide.
- Attending church in Eureka and trying to avoid everyone because we can smell ourselves in our dirty clothes :)
- Doing laundry at the local laundry mat and chatting it up with people there

Seriously AWESOME first week! I am so grateful for the people we have been able to meet and the places we have been able to stay. Canada has some of the most picturesque views I have ever seen so it'll be hard to top but I know that Montana will bring with it some gorgeous skies and epic miles. Here we go!

- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Katie & Laura

Gear List

- My Ride -

- My Favorite Blackburn Gear -

- Complete Gear and Bike spec lists coming soon! -

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Katie & Laura
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? When Laura called me on the phone and said, "Hey I found this Ranger program while I was on the train today and I thought that you'd be a good PIC (partner in crime)."
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? Yes -- a couple of smaller bike packing trips
  • What is your goal for the route? Our goal is to morph all of our random outdoor skills into a successful ride of the Great Divide!
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I see this as a soul-searching adventure for 2 months. I want to be able to get away from my normal 6am-3pm job and be on an adventure that separates me from life's distractions. I want to share my experiences with various biking communities along the route and hope to learn from them as well.

- Great Divide Milestones -