You’ll have to wait for Whitefish

Between flat cell phones and a lack of libraries, I am a bit behind on the blog front. Rest assured we are still making progress north and have not been held up by beers bears tho the beers we had with a late lunch when we got to Seelly Lakes yesterday almost flattened us! We get to Whitefish in a couple of days so will get things updated there.  

Bears, bison and a break in Boseman

We embraced our time off in Bozeman and had a good break from biking enjoying dog walking, great eating, shopping for fat bikes for E & D to replace stolen bikes, catching up with Elissa and Grum and resting. As well we had a mini journey from Bozeman up to Paradise Valley where Ellen and Drew have a cabin and from there we visited Yellowstone NP for a day with Drew. In the height of the summer season you have to go up to the park early. Our first animal sighting was … Continued

Steep hills and good food in southern Montana

It is not all about food but we quite often plan our days to camp 15-20 miles out of a town then ride in for a big cooked breakfast at a small diner. At the rate we are travelling this happens every second of third day. From our lovely campsite near the historic town Banack we started biking at 6 and enjoyed a great b’fast near Polaris. Then it was up and over a pass and a beautiful forested downhill to the small town of Wise River. Within an hour we had … Continued

Brief interlude in Idaho

We enjoyed our ‘zero’ days in Jackson Hole. I am not sure I even left the house on our first day, but I clocked a few kms mountain biking with Pam on the second day, and we both enjoyed a raft down the class 3 Snake river with Mick in the afternoon. The days are warming up so it was a perfect activity. Next morning Mick kindly dropped us off back where we left the GDMBR and it felt a little like going back to work. The first 20 miles were on … Continued

Riding into our first National Park – the Grand Tetons

There is a perfectly good paved road from Pinedale to Jackson Hole – of course the GDMBR doesn’t take it – much nicer to take the circuitous route over Union and Togwatee Passes. Jackson Hole is a diversion from the route which we took in order to visit friends, and have the treat of 2 days in a row off. It is also a stunning ride from Moran Junction along the eastern side of the Grand Teton mountains. After doing chores in Pinedale, we had a short day with a tail wind … Continued

The racers and the sloths

It is fun to be heading thru the riders on the Tour Divide – the north to south race that follows the GDMBR. It puts us to shame as these super athletes at the front of the pack are riding 200 miles a day (sleeping 4) tho’ I know I’d rather be a sloth! We met Mike Hall, out in front by a country mile, at the Grubstake in Atlantic City. He got in just before the kitchen closed at 7, and then was heading out for another 90 miles to Warmsutter. Next day we … Continued

Wyomings Great Divide Basin

We have written off Taco Johns fast food, but were pleasantly surprised by the McDonalds breakfast – from our 5 am sampling! Sadly there was already wind out of the west when we struck our way SW then W into the Great Divide Basin. Heads down and grinding into it. After an early lunch we turned onto gravel and a NW road direction change saw us cruising till the road swung W again, then NW, then SW…We were surprised to cut out 65 miles by the time we camped that evening, tired … Continued

Blown into Wyoming

Steamboat was our last Coloradoan town. We were surprised to hit a lot of snow on the next pass we crossed given that it was not very high and the days were getting a lot warmer. We tried being smart by camping high but there was not a good enough freeze so we did a bit of pushing. In Steamboat we had reshoed our steeds with some fresh rubber and we were pleased we had done so in time for this pass. We also purchased a bear bell which dings cheerfully on … Continued

Diving in and out of the Colorado river

We left the hecticness of the Breckenridge/Frisco area on the lovely paved cycle trail that we had followed all the way between Breckenridge and Silverthorne. A cyclist caught us up and on chatting found he was married to a kiwi and had spent 3 winters working at Cardrona ski area (small world). We enjoyed a big breakfast at a Silverthorne diner before some highway down the valley and a turn off to a short steep climb over Ute Pass. On the other side we came across the ugly mining site of a … Continued

Breakfast in Breckonridge

The beauty of this ride is the ever changing terrain and circumstances. One morning we are eating breakfast in the comfort of our tent vestibule with not a soul for miles and 24 hours later we are enjoying eggs benedict and coffee at a cafe on the main street of the very upmarket town of Breckenridge.. It was hard to leave Salida and our great stay with Caitlyn and her dog Easton. I was looking smart (according to Alan) in my new outfit purchased at two of the many recycled clothing shops. Biking … Continued

Sliding into Salida

Refreshed after our stay with Enrique and Taco we left town early on a sunny morning, 3 days of food on board for the stretch to Salida. We planned a scenic day, visiting a natural rock arch then camping at Penitente Canyon, a reknowned rock climbing area. We loved the sandy, low key track that took us north to the Arch, before detouring into the Penitente area. We had most of the afternoon so we had time to explore the canyon and watch the climbers (that was us a lifetime ago). We had a good … Continued

Rocky Mountain high, Colorado

We made it to Horca (the town with no food for sale) just in time to miss a wee snow blizzard. There are more shops and restaurants closing down in the small towns we pass thru than are setting up. Luckily we had a nights more food so we could stay at the Ponderosa CG on the banks of the popular trout fishing river, the Conejos (or Rabbit river). We opted to camp as there was a warm guest lounge where Jack the owner said we could hang out. With no fuel … Continued

New Mexico makes it hard for us to leave

We left Cuba with full tums from the popular (and very good ) Mexican restaurant Bruno’s. Alan, Rob and I climbed out of town, initially on black top, then up lovely dirt roads, and for the first time, with running streams crossing our path. Rob was able to educate us on the local flora and fauna. We were biking through the upper elevation forests of the grand Ponderosa pine and the white barked Aspen groves. We camped early (it was meant to be a rest day after all) and after dinner enjoyed … Continued

Buttes, mesas, plugs and arroyos

We arrived in Grants just as the storm hit with rain and wind and hail further south, but soaking in the Travel Lodge hot pool we were oblivious to it! Grants is a former mining town – it was the centre of the uranium mining industry for a while and the famous Route 66 goes thru the main street. Now it is a service centre for the traffic off the huge interstate I40. We left the next afternoon, as the weather was clearing, with a big climb up and around Mt Taylor. … Continued

Packin’, pies and politics.. a day in Pie Town

In the 1920’s a man starts a general store on Route 60 – one of the first coast to coast US routes. His doughnuts were no good so he started making and selling pie. Business took off. When they tried to open a Post Office in town they applied for the name ‘Pie Town’, initially refused but then accepted. There are now 4 pie cafes in town – we were initially disappointed as we were hanging our for savoury pies but it didn’t take long to embrace the choices of pie: pecan, chocolate, … Continued

The Bike House (Silver City) to the Toaster House (Pie Town)

We enjoyed paved roads out of Silver City for the climb into the mountains. The Gila hot springs and Cliff Dwellings National Monument were far enough off route that we decided to hitch in. The RV driven by an Alaskan remote pilot and his wife let us take our bikes, which meant we could stay overnight at the hot springs. The historical Cliff dwellings were great to see and the hot springs campground by the river, under the cliffs were superb. There was a price to pay – a big climb back … Continued

First days on the road in New Mexico

The on-ramp of Interstate 10 has a bunch of signs, one of them (amazingly) aallowed us to ride on the shoulder of these 4 lane ‘motorways’. We had to get back east 20 miles to a little place called Separ and there was no alternative but to ride the interstate – a trifle intimidating but there is a healthy sized shoulder to ride on and Americans are some of the politest drivers around. We joined the large trucks and cars racing along, pushed by a healthy tail wind, so made fast time. At … Continued

Our new 11kg life

New trip and new bike setup. We have ditched the carriers and panniers and our home is strapped to the frame of our fat bikes – following the growing ‘bike packing’ scene. We have had an awesome summer of bike packing trips, our fat tyres inspiring us to explore the high open Central Otago tops as well as classic rides like the Old Ghost Rd, St James Cycleway and the Clutha Gold. Our shakedown trips have helped us sort gear carrying options and get fit for the long GDMBR journey from south … Continued

Eat, sleep, ride, the Great Divide

The Great Divide Route in the US is a 4300km route from the Mexican border to Banff in Canada. It crosses the Divide many times and has a height gain/loss of 60,000m. People race it in a record 14 days, we have the length of time our platinum card will give us free travel insurance..just under 3 months! Most people ride it north to south, but because of our timing we are starting in the south. Check out an interactive map of the route under the Maps -> Great Divide MBR menu … Continued

B is for bike

and ‘I’ is for impulse! This week Alan and I introduced a new steed to our stable.. It started with me wanting to replace my full suspension mountain bike, it ended with both of us purchasing fat bikes – hard to go past an almost half price deal.. I described fat bikes to my mum as looking like something a child would draw if they were told to draw a bike. So we are the proud owners of 2 Surly Pugsley’s – the fat sibling of my Surly Troll that I have been touring … Continued

Exploring the India Himalaya

Unexpectedly our trip this year ended up being in the Indian Himalaya, no complaints as we had both spent time in the Himalaya walking and skiing so time to spin the wheels there. Our plan is to fly into Delhi, get the train to Shimla and then bike up the Spiti valley crossing the Kunzum La into Ladahk, Leh and then a side trip to the Zanskar region on the northern side of the Himalaya. We will finish in Srinigar – note the posts below are in reverse order..

Ending our journey in the Vale of Kashmir

More 4 am wake up calls from the local mosques were a feature of our last days in the predominantly muslim state of Kashmir. From Kargil we had our last pass to cross into the Vale of Kashmir, the 3800m Zoji La and we had our first day of getting wet while biking – hmmm – we have been spoilt. We parked up in Drass for a day so we could get good weather over the pass. Drass has the dubious fame of being the second coldest inhabited town in the world when it hit minus 60 … Continued

Entering the fabled Zanskar

The huge peak of Kun dominates the down valley view from Rangdom but we missed the sunrise on it because of a veil of high cloud. The mornings fun was taking the shortcut to the Rangdom monastery 6km away across the river flats. We could ride most of the numerous river channel crossings even when they reached the bottom of our panniers. At this time of year the river is chocolate brown and runs high from snow melt, by the end of summer there would be substantially less water and by this … Continued

Have you one pen please?

We were warned, in black and white, how bad the road surface was on the route in from Kargil to Padum. At present it is the only way for people and supplies to get into the villages of the Suru and Zanskar valleys. it is a dead end road and the Zanskar valley inhabitants are cut off for 7 months of the year by snows on the 4400m Pensi La. It is 240km into Padum and 140 of them are rough and cobbly. I was excited to be going back to Padum … Continued

Following the Indus – knocking on the door to Pakistan

One day of eating, relaxing and clothes washing in Leh seemed enough and we made a late start down valley. There seemed less traffic on this road that links Leh to Srinigar – the final destination of our journey. As we were climbing up to a saddle a small van pulled up alongside and the occupants said ‘hello’. It turned out to be the two tour leaders of a cycle group we’d met in Keylong and they’d given us a spare tube. They were going to be staying at the Nimo, where we … Continued

Last high pass to Leh

From Pang we had a short day to the shrinking Tso Kar Lake. We were picturing camping by the blue waters but all we could see was salt plains in the distance. We did see a herd of wild donkeys instead as a small compensation. We treated ourselves to dinner at one of the luxury camps dining tents for a diet change from rice, dahl and subje. A large group of motorcyclists came in well after dark – cold, wet feet and feeling miserable because of altitude. Not happy campers. We were away early … Continued

North Into Ladakh

For 300km on the road to Leh (from Manali) there are no permanent settlements and the road is only open for about 5 months of the year because of winter snows. To accommodate the busy tourist traffic over the summer there are a number of parachute tent ‘cafes’ that are set up along the way providing food and tent accommodation for the huge number of motorcyclists, vehicle traffic and the small number of cyclists that need food and a bed. There are 4 high passes on the route, up to 5300m, and the road varies from … Continued

Raising the bar on cycle touring – Kunzum part 2

In Batal we woke to a grey and cold day, pleased that we had crossed the pass the day previous. Eggs and roti, chai and another chai were needed before we faced the day ahead. We had been warned! The first few km’s we bounced down the road alongside the Chandra river. We came to the first of several large areas of avalanche debris. The first was flat and a long way from the river so we pushed our bikes across, no problem. The sections of snow got progressively trickier in terms … Continued

First Wheels over the Kunzum La 2015

It was time to start moving forward again with the challenge of getting over the Kunzum La. The ‘advertised’ opening date is 15 June but because of a big winter they were looking at a much later opening date. We talked to motorcyclists who had been to the pass and back and they complained of very bad roads and not being able to carry on over. Kaza had started feeling like home and we had dinner our last night with the only foreigner who lives there most of the year -a woman … Continued

Immersion on the high roads

With time to spare before the Kunzum La opens we decided to do a loop above Kasa that would allow us to spend three nights at around 4300m. We ditched our camping gear and other miscellaneous and left town with just 2 paniers each. It was a big climb above the Spiti valley alongside yet another stunning gorge. Part way up we met a roading crew laying new tarseal – a big fire heating the bitumen and then it was mixed with gravel in a Lorax type machine which presumably then spread … Continued

Discovering the Kibber Canyon

We are constantly amazed on things we stumble across on our journeys, whether it is good timing (lunching monklets, Hindu processions) – or by a casual conversation with someone. In this case an Indian motorcyclist mentioned a rope bridge beyond Kibber village that stopped wheeled transport to the next village Chenai. We carried on climbing from our overnight stop at the Kye Monastry and arrived at the village of Kibber (at 4000m altitude). Mid afternoon we went looking for the said rope bridge. What we found was an amazing deep canyon cutting through … Continued

Of things Budhist and barking dogs

At 10 years old, the host from our Kaza Guest House, escaped with his mother, father and 2 brothers over the Himalaya from Tibet to Nepal. Near the border they were shot at by Chinese and it took 3 months for the journey. They arrived in Nepal with nothing. It was the same year that the Dalai Lama escaped Tibet during China’s ‘Cultural Revolution’. Most things Budhist in Tibet was destroyed or banned. At 15 he was working on the Indian roads with his parents – he earned 1 1/2 rupees for an … Continued

In the village of Nako

We spent a couple of nights in Nako as it is such a lovely village. The old part of town is an eclectic collection of mud stone houses. Most of the houses have a small walled pen for goats and cows, a bottom story of the house is for animals or grain storage, then living is on the upper storey. Walking lanes separate the houses and any animal dung on the lanes is cleared for drying for winter fires or compost. There is no forest on the hills at this altitude so … Continued

The Bowels of the Himalaya

Every time I think we are emerging from the bowels of the Himalaya we are submerged again into yet another incredible gorge, cycling under solid and not so solid cliffs, bouncing along roads that maybe 10 years ago were smooth tarmac but now are broken and rough. The smooth descent from Recong Peo was followed by rough travel through a gorge that as we emerged we saw the sign “World’s most treacherous road”. Leaving early meant we didn’t have to deal with the traffic as well – tho it has dropped off … Continued

India’s Religions – gods and cricket..

From Sangla and the Baspa Valley we bounced down to and along the Satluj and back up to the district headquarters of Reckong Peo to sort an Inner Line Permit to allow us to carry on up to the Spiti Valley. We thought we may have passed the last of the hudro projeccts as the river was in full force – sadly they are starting on the next dam. The road alongside the river was rough, dusty and slow. Reckong Peo is a large town, set high on a horticulturally developed ridge … Continued

Dead Cow Road to the Beautiful Baspa Valley

Our progress along National Highway 22 is being slowed by diversions to amazing places off the highway. They are popular tourist destinations with local Indian tourists from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolcatta and we are often stopped to get our photos taken. It is not peak tourist season yet and there are not many foreigners around either. O f course no one else is on a bike and with the nature of the topography there are no push bikes used in towns. From our PWD rest house we had an early morning descent … Continued

Stunning and Altered Landscapes

We headed up the Satluj valley from Rampur. We had a few hours along the main valley before a 1000m climb to a small  village called Sarahan – famous for an old Hindu temple Bimakali, named for the Goddess Bimakali who occupied a small shrine room guarded by her tiger consorts.  We were lucky with the weather as it was overcast and drizzly which made the climb bearable in terms of heat. We found a nice hotel and had a look around the temple and town. Next morning I woke with a … Continued

From hill top station to hot lowland riversides

In the Indian way of things it takes half a day to sort a sim card in Shimla, the up side is that we discover The India Coffee Company coffee house. We leave Shimla in the heat of the midday sun (even at 2200m). Up thru dense pine forest, climbing and contouring to our ridge top town of Fago. No accommodation in the town so we start the descent and come upon a lovely ‘Homestay’ guest house  set above apple orchards. Dinner at the nearby restaurant and the owner tells us he … Continued

Heading for the hills – Delhi to Shimla

We were up at 4 am for our travel day to the foothills. First step was to go back to the Parcel Office with our bike boxes and get them registered for the train trip. Despite assurances we stayed with the boxes and supervised their transport across all the railway lines of the New Delhi Railway Station. it was a relief to board the train knowing the bikes were safely aboard. It turned out we were travelling first class to Kalka (4 hr trip) – comfy seats, bottled water, snack and lunch … Continued

On the ground in New Delhi

Is it a good sign to spend the first 3 hours of your journey on the tarmac in a plane that is being cleared by authorities for lightening strike? Despite that small inconvenience we made all our connections through to Delhi and we arrived mid-morning to be met by our taxi driver from the  Pearl Hotel. His mumbling about our 2 large bike boxes squeezed into his vehicle, and police, came to nothing. Our hotel is in Paharganj, 3 km from the centre of the city, and very close to the New … Continued

The Peru Great Divide Route

I spied this route on the website Andes by Bike and I got excited. it looked remote, tough and spectacular. Neil and Harriet had only just completed it in a north to south direction and we were the first team to ride it northbound, with an extra section from Arequipa to the start. Their notes were detailed and we just had to do the maths to turn all the distances upside down so we did not get lost at key intersections..

The Grand Finale – wow

We have been blown away by the vistas of the Cordillera Blanca, and our circuit of Huascaran has been an amazing way to finish. The loop (Carhuaz return) is approx 200km and close to 5000 vertical metres (which incidentally took us into the stratosphere) and the first 90km is baby bottom smooth paved road. We did it in an anti clockwise direction, crossing the paved Punta Olympica pass thru to the town of Chacas. We had our first whole day of rain on the trip so we sat it out in our … Continued

The Low Point of the Journey

Leaving Oyon we had a big day with 1500m of climbing and 2000m of descent, followed by a ‘rest’ day of a 50km downhill. This dropped us to a new low for the trip of 1300m (the day before we had been at 4800m). The scenery was reminiscent of Pakistan – dry landscapes with pockets of green where there is irrigation. The Gran Canon gorge that we followed down for the last 10km was deeply incised and we could sit back and enjoy it on a downhill, another incredible landscape we imagine … Continued

What the mountains have to offer

Peru was described to us recently as 3 countries within one, the coast, the mountains and the Amazon headwaters. We have only experienced the mountain region and it’s riches. Our impression is that even tho’ it is the toughest of the regions for the people to live, it is thriving. Small towns seem to be engaging in major municipal work projects and we guess the money is coming (via the government) primarily from mining – just from the rich colours in the mountainscapes, one can imagine the rich minerals that lie below. … Continued

The Big Mountains Muscle in

As we near the end of the third section of this Peru Great Divide it seems that the everything is ramping up a notch – the roughness of some of the roads (seemingly the descents for us), the views from the passes and on these last two days some big glaciated peaks started appearing in the backdrops – a bit like they have been digitally added. We also found our best campsite (yet). We had two more passes between Tanta and the Caraterra Austral (the main west/east highway from the capital Lima). … Continued

Surprises in the Rio Canete

From Laraos we plummeted down a curvaceous smooth paved road to the Rio Canete and joined a single lane paved road from the coast heading inland. The paving lasted a few km before we hit the ripio again and bounced our way up the steepening and dramatic gorge to Huancaya. After a particularly steep section we topped out at a beautiful deep lake confined by the dramatic canyon walls. After biking at river level for so long it wasn’t surprising to see the road ahead climb high above the valley floor to … Continued

Steep climbs on short rations

We couldn’t leave Huancavelica without one more visit to the cake shop for a second breakfast. Then up the road for a steep climb up a side valley to yet another scenic pass, complete with cowboy who left town about the same time as us and passed us near the summit. The other side had stunning outcrops and lakes in the upper basins and then as the road steepened we had a feeling we were descending into the bowels of the earth. Suddenly we were bouncing down a steep rough road between … Continued

Rejuvenating in Huancavelica

It took three days in Huancavelica before we felt we wanted to move on. There was a lot of eating to be done and in between times, things to see and do. Today was a good example: Wake up. quinoa muesli, fruit and yog, big sandwich of avocado, tomato, cucumber and olives. Go for a walk up to Sanctuary del Señor de Orepesa for a great view over town. Second breakfast at cafe in the plaza, jo – hamburger, juice, Alan – desajuno Americano. Catch taxi up to historic mercury mine, walk back to … Continued

The unknown is the best part

Licapa – camp 4700 – camp at a different 4700 – Huancavelica. The day previous over the two passes had been hard and when we awoke in Licapa we contemplated a rest day but it was only 3 days to the provincial capital of Huancavelica and limon pie so we made a plan to carry on. There was nowhere to buy food after the first small village 15 km in so we did a shop up of our standard fare (bread, pasta, fish, tomato, crisps, eggs, mayo, puffed corn, tea bags, milk … Continued

Deep river gorges to high mountain passes

Vilcashuman – Cangallo – Chuschi – camp 4200 – Totos – camp 4150 – Licapa Rested from our stay at the Inca town of Vilcashuman, we set forth once more. It was Sunday and after a climb back up to the rolling high country, we started a descent to Cangallo. We were accosted by a harmless drunken group enjoying Sunday afternoon drinks high above the town. It turned out to be a special local/religious day and that evening the plaza was lively with bands and loud speakers as we tried to sleep … Continued