View From The Back - Days 32-37

July 20
Day Thirty Two – Just Past Cuba to Desert Camp– 65 miles – 2,398 miles total

We were woken very early by the sound of several heavy lorries going past, but slept in for a little while extra until the alarm went off. We were eating breakfast when the lorries returned, each one brim full of gravel, brought from a storage site further in to the desert.

This was a day I had been nervous about for a long while. The desert roads are supposedly tricky to navigate through and are often too sandy to ride along. If it rains, then the tracks become impassable, but if it is too dry, then I knew that we were unlikely to come across a good source of water until we reached Grants, some 110 miles away.

I set off along the sandy road a little ahead of Marco, knowing that he would soon catch me anyway. I negotiated the first turn and started to feel a little more confident about the map reading; the roads looked OK too. That feeling soon disappeared as we approached ...

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View From The Back - Week Five (Part 1)

July 17
Day Twenty Nine – Horca to Hopewell Lake – 71 miles – 2,184 miles total

Alan and I woke to a very cold and damp morning, but it was dry at least. The good news was that my calf was feeling OK. A bag of ice from the camp host certainly helped the healing the evening before.

We ate breakfast, packed and got back onto the trail, wondering if we were going to a) make it to El Rito and b) ever see Marco again.

The trail took us further down the valley, alongside the Conejos (Rabbits) River towards Horca. It was really cold and I couldn’t find my warm gloves, meaning that my fingers were absolutely frozen by the time we arrived at the local store, where the sun had finally reached. We’d heard that we shouldn’t rely on the store in Horca; it is run by an old woman who apparently has quite a flexible approach to opening hours. As we were looking for a nice hot cup of coffee, the store was closed!

The sun was now out ...

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View From The Back - Week Four

July 10
Day Twenty Two – Slater to Steamboat – 63 miles – 1,644 miles total

We were up and about before sunrise and although it was pretty chilly, it looked as though it was going to be a good day. We heated oatmeal and drank tea before setting off towards the town of Steamboat. I had been very disappointed about not making it as far as we’d hoped the day before, but set off determined to ride better today; knowing that we were only going to ride about 60 miles certainly helped. I hoped it would feel like a rest day, which sounds a bit crazy, now I think about it!

The trail was a good one again and we were making pretty good time even though it was uphill for most of the morning. Marco went on ahead and I continued the climb on my own. The last mile and a half was very rocky indeed and I had to push most of it.

A steep and rocky downhill followed and I started to think about whether I would be able to finish ...

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View From The Back - Week Three

July 3
Day Fifteen – Squirrel Creek Campground to Jackson – 94 miles – 1,101 miles total

We didn’t have the best night’s sleep – it was pretty warm in the tent which didn’t help, I’m sure. We woke up and got packed away in time for a fantastic breakfast – just what we both needed. I was feeling much much better, even despite the poor night’s sleep.

We got out onto the gravel road nice and early and the weather was pretty good for us, a little cooler than the previous couple of days. I felt like I was racing along, but Marco was still up ahead of me as we crossed over the state border out of Idaho and into Wyoming.

The trail was in good condition until we started to climb up along the edge of Yellowstone National Park. I kept my eyes out for bears, but didn’t spot any, perhaps they were staying out of the way of the mosquitoes that were swarming all around us and feasting on our flesh.

We stopped for a short break alongside ...

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View From The Back - Week Two

June 26
Day Eight - Seeley Lake to Lincoln - 53 miles - 522 miles total

After a disturbingly short sleep, the alarm sounded and was promptly silenced. I was exhausted and felt like I’d only just crawled into my sleeping bag. Fortunately, Ollie and Marco both seemed to be a bit on the slow side this morning, but wandered into town to get some breakfast, leaving me in the tent to get myself together.

I managed to drag myself up and out and walked into Seeley Lake to try and join the others for some breakfast. The place we’d agreed to meet only served coffee, but the lady there was very friendly and told me that she’d given Ollie and Marco a lift (a lift!!!) up the road to somewhere serving a good breakfast. With her good turn for the day already done, I received no offer of a ride and so had to slowly make my way up the road to the diner.

As if things weren’t bad enough, I arrived to discover that Michael Jackson had ...

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View From The Back - Week One

Banff, Canada to Seeley Lake, Montana - 469 miles

June 19
Day One - Banff to Chester Lake Trailhead - 43 miles

I didn’t sleep at all well and was tired when the alarm went off. Still, we all got ourselves down to the kitchen in the Banff YWCA (where we were staying) and ate a huge amount of cereal and yoghurt.

Ollie went into town to get his bike bag sent on to Phoenix and Marco and I finished off sorting the bikes out, and Marco grabbed a few minutes more sleep.

After some last minute repairs to Ollie’s trailer, we finally set off from the YWCA towards the start of the trail, just a couple of minutes away. We were met by Robin and his family at the trailhead and they took some photos of us looking nervous and excited as we set off on this epic journey. I know that I had expended a lot of nervous energy in getting to this point and as we pulled away from the car park, I let out a whoop of excitement - very unlike me ...

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An amazing journey!

Colorado - day 25
As far as I can remember from all the travels I’ve done and experiences I had, this one goes in the top 5! When I’m looking back where it started, it makes me smile and remember me how incredible it is to travel and to meet people.

I liked this trail very much because it gave me a total different view of the USA and the people living there. We went through small towns most of the time, places where you wouldn’t go and visit if you were coming from Europe for sure. I could appreciate how friendly and helpful the people are. I know now why they have these big pick-up trucks: to pull their huge trailer anywhere in the mountain. The food isn’t great and it’s not going to change I think, we struggled to find pasta in restaurants all the time. It’s really a burger & food chains land, no doubt! But the USA are big, huge, it’s a big sky country with amazing landscapes, reason why I came back with more than 1300 photos ...

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Finally, some pictures!

I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for some pictures from the trip, so here are a few of the shots I took along the way. Hope you like them and can now see some of the amazing landscapes that we rode through.

Starting out from Banff
Starting out from Banff

Marco slurping down breakfast before Elk Pass
Marco slurping down breakfast before Elk Pass

Ollie after his crash and first flat
Ollie after his crash and first flat

More awesome Canadian scenery
More awesome Canadian scenery

More awesome Canadian scenery
More awesome Canadian scenery

The mountains outside Fernie, Canada
The mountains outside Fernie, Canada

Reflections in Upper Whitefish Lake
Reflections in Upper Whitefish Lake

The boys apply the Butt'r before the climb to Richmond Peak
The boys apply the Butt’r before the climb to Richmond Peak

Bear grass on Richmond Peak
Bear grass on Richmond Peak

On the way up Richmond Peak
On the way up Richmond Peak

Ovando - more dogs than people and home to the best sandwiches on the Great Divide Trail
Ovando - more dogs than people and home to the best sandwiches on the Great Divide Trail

The Tetons, from the road to Jackson Hole
The Tetons, from the road to Jackson Hole

The Tetons, from the road to Jackson Hole
The Tetons, from the road to Jackson Hole

I was so slow that Marco was asleep by the time I got to our meeting point
I was so slow that Marco was asleep by the time I got to our meeting point

The descent towards Radium
The descent towards Radium

What a place to camp
What a place to camp

Entering New Mexico - the road from El Rito to Abiquiu
Entering New Mexico - the road from El Rito to Abiquiu

New Mexican Skies
New Mexican Skies

In the desert, New Mexico
In the desert, New Mexico

See! It was real desert, with cactii and everything
See! It was real desert ...

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The Final Miles

Marco and Simon at the Mexican BorderOur last day started out wonderfully well. We had slept under the stars in the desert, woke before sunrise and were on our bikes as soon as it began to get light. The air was cool (ish) and the trail was good, and although we were a little bit sad that it was the last day of the ride, I think both Marco and I were excited about reaching our goal; the Mexican border post of Antelope Wells.

We still had about 80 miles to go, including the infamous (among Divide riders) Lonely Highway; the seldom used road that covers the final 45 miles from Hachita to Antelope Wells.  Naturally, it is uphill (if only very slightly) and of course we were riding into a headwind but the hardest thing about the road was the complete lack of traffic; I counted around 15 cars during those miles, and most of those were Border Patrol vehicles.

The silence gave me plenty of time to reflect on the trip overall. It seems like light years ago since we left Banff, but at the same time, the ...

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