Friday, July 10, 2009

Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks

On July 2nd we rolled into Yellowstone National Park. We explored the park by bike until the 8th seeing amazing geyser basins (which look like they should be on another planet), canyons, sulfur hot springs and everything else Yellowstone. The park was quite crowded with people, mostly RVs and car campers. Yellowstone had great deals for hiker/bikers. five dollar campsites just reserved for hikers/bikers. The rangers and staff treated us much differently since we weren't like the rest of the crowd which hardly ever gets 100 feet from their car. One lady Amy, who worked in one of the lodges gave us her employee ID card. We'll see if it ever comes in handy. In the park we meet a lot of nice people, most of them hikers/bikers. On the 8th we left Yellowstone for Grand Teton National Park. There was some road construction through out the way and at one point the construction workers gave us a lift through a one lane route in the bed of their pick up. Grand Teton is amazing! We have camped along Jackson Lake for the past two nights, taking short day hikes when we feel up for it. Yellowstone was great but the vibe of Teton is much better. A lot less touristy/amusement park feel and a more active crowd. Right now we are sitting in the beautiful Jackson Lake Lodge looking out at the sharp Teton peaks. The plan is to ride/camp in the park until the 13th where we will then head to the town of Jackson,WY. The Parks have been amazing so far but one thing they lack is the "Trail Magic" of the Great Divide Route.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Boulder, CO (Jeff's post)

I am home, resting the knee, if you consider exploring the mountains resting. I head to Boulder Canyon, hike through the hills looking for amazing climbing spots. There is a river, whitewater and rushing through (its high and fast this time of year). Here and there are ropes to cross over on. I put on my harness, clip and, and cliffhanger style I pull myself across. At one point I dipped a little low and half my body was imersed into the rushing river.

Acutal climbing will take place sunday. I will try and maybe hike Pikes Peak this week.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


After a 6am hail storm we departed Upper Lake for Island Park, Idaho. We crossed the continental Divide at 7,800 feet and descended into Idaho. Out of Montana after nearly 750 miles. The Idaho side of the divide was full of trees and mountains unlike the sagebrush plains of southwest Montana. After a fairly easy 32miles we arrived in Island Park, ID. We chowed on 5 dollar foot longs and relaxed in the park. We decide to stay here for the night instead of riding the extra 2 miles off route to a campground. We were eventually kicked out because the park was owned by the RV park across the street. The owner let us stay camp for free on one of his sites if we left the park by night fall. Can't complain with that. We spent the night at the gas station eating a dinner of chili cheese dogs and a dessert of carmel sunday cones. Fred then came up with an idea to alter our route and ride to Seattle. We soon realized this was unreasonable but did some brain storming and decide to spend the next two weeks biking Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We couldn't be this close to the parks and not spend some time in them. As we fell asleep an insane thunderstorm came and went in a matter of 10 minutes.

Upper Lake Camp

Today Jeff departed at 8am with "The Pirate" of Lima, MT. It was strange riding without him. The ride was a long, windy battle over 57 miles with spectacular scenery! The route took us through the Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge and skirted the Centenial Mountains. The headwind was so brutal at one point that it took about 45minutes to ride 3 miles. around mile 50 We took a break at the ranger station in Lakeview, MT to eat dinner at a picnic table. Ramen and Chef Boyardee, yum. The rangers even let us use their microwave inside. As the station was closing Fred asked a Ranger about vending machines in town and was told there were none. But the Nice Ranger lady walked over to her house and brought back 2 sprites and 2 mikes hard lemonade. nice cold drinks to relax with once we got to camp. At Upper Lake Camp the mosquitos were terrible. So terrible that we built a fire to fend them off then took shelter in the bivys by 9pm.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Two and one

We wake up and pack up camp quick. 'The Pirate' and Darrel show up at 8am, we load Jeff's bike and gear into the truck. We say our goodbyes and Jeff leaves for Dillon while Fred and Paul venture onward towards Idaho.

The story doesnt end here, dont worry.

Jeff will go to Denver, get another bike (hopefull Specialize will deal with their failure of a bike and get him a new one) and he will rejoin the others in about 2 weeks in Wyoming or when they arrive in Winter Park, CO. Until then he plans on hiking, mountain biking (more extreme), rock climbing, and enjoying the freedom of life.

Fred and Paul will update the blog as they go while Jeff makes an offshoot for his own adventures (if you are interested in reading them). Those two are gonna have good times and meet amazing people and I (Jeff) wish them luck, and until I catch up to them, best wishes.

Caption- Jeff rushes to beat the storm by Wise River and thinks to himself "Damn Z-Spokes!"

The party continues to Lima (Lime-ah)

A sunset at 945pm

We wake up and hit up the RatPod breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, hashbrowns, eggs, oatmeal, banana bread, cereals, fruits, juice, and again all free! We have thrown donations towards the cause to help it.

We call up Joe, the local bike shop owner and he opens on Sunday just for us. We buy the right spokes (they're even made in Montana unlike those damn Z-Spokes), the spline tool, and some tubes. We head out and take the interstate all the way to Lima.

Halfway there, Jeff gets a flat up front. We stop and fix it, seeing a piece of glass caused it. Then another hole is on the tube. Two flats on a brand new tube. Just as we are putting the wheel together, the back tire blows out! As if it was stabbed!!! Nobody touched the bike, we all just stared at it. We took it apart and found a big hole, but no cause. We peddal on. 2.5 miles from Lima the front tire goes flat again. The patch didnt hold. We use another. Now there are 5 patches on the new tube from that day. We arrive in Lima as the tube goes flat again.

After buying food we are going to pump the tire and go to the park. We get near the bike and the back tire blows again!!! WHAT THE HELL!? Nobody touched it, Fred and Paul just stare, and Jeff breaks something and smashes another thing. We walk to the park.

After learning and accepting that things happen for a reason, Jeff feels that because of his knees and all the problems with his bike (for no reason and without provocation), he must make the adult decision to pull out. He gets a ride back to Dillion in the morning with "The Pirate" and his friend Darrel. We hit up the local saloon, have a farewell drink, and head to bed in the town park.

A clear night with plenty of stars in the sky, and the sun still setting at 10pm.

Rat Pod! Dillion to Dillon?!

We wake up to a gorgeous morning, hot sun beating down on us. We see road cyclists going by, about 20 or so before we head out. Then more come around the corner. And more. And more. We begin yelling a question to each group to find out whats going on. We find out its the Rat Pod charity ride. Another yells there are 550 riders. We were very confused when we asked where the starting point was (Dillon) and then the ending point (also Dillon). This ride is a charity ride that is 130 miles in a day around the Pioneer Mountains to raise money for Camp Make-a-Dream. A very cool event and so many bikers. They all claimed we were headed the wrong way and food was back the other way.

At the top of the peak, Jeff hears a ting and realizes he blew a spoke on his back wheel. Without the right tool we cant fix it. We flag down the mechanic thats for the ride, he helps us, only to realize that the spokes Jeff got from his mechanic back in RI were the wrong size. Great. Thanks to Richie, the mechanic for the help on the mnt.

We head down the hill and hit up elkhorn hotsprings, and asked the two colorful individuals working where the nearest bike shop is. 45 miles away. Damn. We make a sign out of a pepsi box, and after several cars, one stops. Its perfect! Three empty bike racks and he was in the RatPod ride, heading to dillon. Kevin is a true live saver, driving us and saving us a day and a half of biking.

We make it in time for the party! And what a party!!!! We dine on pulled pork, pasta salad, cookies, pie, ice cream, cake, chips, soda, free beer! I make tons of friends, all crazy bikers who did the 130 miles. And take advantage of all the free beer! I meet the people working the event, JB who works for adventure cycling and Leta and Marissa who work for the camp. Another crazy biker is Don, a mechanic from Missoula who fixes Jeff's wheel for FREE!!!!

Jeff gets on stage with the band and asks the crowd about free camping or a place to stay. We are told we can sleep at the football field at Western Montanta Univ. where the party is.

We hang out and meet more people, have more beer and food, get free bagels and bananas, and sleep for free. AMAZING DAY!! For everything bad that has happened, something amazing comes from it.

Goddamn Z-spokes...

Wise River

We leave the KOA campground and gather supplies for the day. A quick stop at the bikeshop and hotel to update the blog and we go. We ride the frontage roads for the whole day, skipping the incredibly steep Fleecer Ridge, and putting us ahead a day. We take the highway along the river and see many people in boats fly fishing! What a cool site. We race through the valley and just miss getting hit by a rain storm, only to be faced with an intense headwind that takes a lot out of us.

We reach the "town" of Wise River. The only thing going on there is a mercantile where we buy microwave dinners and sit outside to eat. We meet a group of people in an RV who are traveling, one who biked from Pennsylvania to Oregon back in the 70's, and then hitch hiked back! Cool group of guys. We also take a generous helping of candy from a basket at the post office. Thanks U.S. postal service!

We bike 10 miles down the road, slow from the wind and dinner, and find a nice clearing off to the side with people's camping gear there already. It looks as though the wind destroyed half of it, and we set up on the other side. The guys come back later in the night from fishing and we chat for a bit. Again, no tarp tonight, only a clear sky filled with stars. And Jeff's knees are doing great.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Fred and Paul head off on the trail while Jeff takes the interstate to favor his failing knees. They take a wrong turn yet still have an amazing time even in the rocky mountainous terrains, at times having to throw boulders into creeks so they can make a bridge and cross.

We all ended up on the interstate and arrive in Butte, after some monsterous wind going uphill. Paul and Fred run into a nice lady after using the casinos for free food. They ask her for directions to the local bike shop where they will meet up with Jeff. She unexpectedly arrives there and offers to buy us all a large pizza, plus a six pack of Pepsi. We head to the local park where she tells us stories of the town and we chow on food.

That night we decide to stay at the hotel and have a rest day the next day. We eat a gallon of ice cream, rolos, and some green apples while watching our old friend television.

The next day Jeff hangs around in the park to rest his knee while Paul and Fred try and get more free casino food, to no avail. The town is interesting, split between historic buildings and scary places. We see Transformers 2 (AMAZING MOVIE) and head off to the KOA campground for the night.

Almost 500 miles down so far. Off to Wise River tonight.

Helena...and TOM!!

Toms House, the white roof house, 3rd floor

We leave Deadman's creek to Helena. The roads are washed out and are totally mucky and muddy around 7000 feet. As Jeff slogs on in the front, he stops and sees a bull less than 20 feet away staring right at him. We freeze and grab the bear spray (if that'll even do anything), and back up to work our way around him.

By now our bikes and shoes are covered in a mixture of mud and cow poo. The fire road has vanished and become a dirty farm road. We spot a truck down the way and head to it, only to be stopped by more scary dogs. The cowboys are asleep on the side of the road and wake up, giving us directions to Helena. We avoid more cows, at times having to hop over barbed wire fences. We finally hit Helena.

At the local outdoors store we ask about lodging/ cheep camping. An employee, Tom, tells us his house is a block away and we can crash there. The third floor of an old building with tons of space and even a view from the roof over the entire town of Helena and the mountains. Its almost too perfect! We walk to the store and freak out a bit more as a car of teenagers come by yelling Paul's name, multiple times and following us for a few blocks.

We hang out with Tom for the rest of the night and in the morning, after grabbing breakfast, we hit up Glacier bike shop. Jeff has his drive train changed, Fred gets new tires/tubes, and paul has his rack fixed up. Awesome shop and employees! We check out the town while we wait for the bikes. We grab lunch and depart to Park Lake, only to find it closed due to danger of falling trees from Beetle Kill. We must push on to Basin, another tiny town, to camp. At this time its already 6pm. We still have uphill, difficult single track forests to go through, almost all uphill.

The ride down was scary and exciting, not really being able to see without sun. Paul takes a graceful spill, Jeff loses his sunglasses, and we see a few elk/deer.

We roll into the Merry Widow Mine campground around midnight. We cook in their rec hall and hang out before going to sleep (difficult not to sleep on the couches). In the morning we depart early so we dont have to pay, but nobody even came to ask us for money. We were'nt the ones to find them.

Deadman's Creek

We leave after saying bye to Andrew and buying a huge floor pump at the local hardware store. The ride to Deadman was quite difficult with steep continental divide crossings...and we mean steep!!

We come down from the mountain into a dry farm land with shotgun shells echoing off the nearby hills. As we round a corner we hear a voice asking if we want water. Jeff gladly accepts and we all ride in. The man who owns the farm, Kier (K-ear), talks to us about our trip. He then offers us a box of powerbar gels. Then asking about our Ramen dinners, leaves and returns with 2lbs of frozen, fresh ground beef. Then follows that with a bag of homemade bread, onions, ketchup, mustard, and a bag of cookies. Our tears of happiness could not be stopped. He would have given us a stove if we asked (and maybe his car), but his wife dragged him off before he could.

We looked for the campsite after making a small wrong turn, yet we could not find it at all. A couple driving down the road with mean looking dogs informed us of some areas by the crick (creek in western terms), where we could sleep. We find a nice spot by the stream where we make a great fire and enjoy lots of beef!

Big Nelson & Lincoln

We leave Seeley Lake for Big Nelson camp area. Not much to report there. Jeff got a flat and we camped on a gorgeous lake. And a chipmunk ate some of our food.

We head to Lincoln, a one stoplight town. We climbed 6 miles up hill and the rest was downhill, but it was not that easy. Jeff's tire was low on air, and oddly enough both his and Fred's pumps did nothing but let more air out. So much that he could not ride down the hill. After walking for 5 miles, a car finally came up the road and we were saved with their bike pump. We cruised on into Lincoln.

We set up camp at the city park and head to Scapegoat Eatery. Fred and Jeff each got a 15" pizza (taco and bacon respectivly), and Paul got a massive fried chicken dinner with jo-jo's (steak fries battered with chicken breading...weird). Back at camp another biker shows up (Andrew), he is doing the Lewis and Clark trail and is 30 days in. Andrew joins us for a walk to the store where we pick up food for the next few days. Andrew is pictured above feeding a deer that wandered up next to us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seeley Lake

So we left the camp ground and purchased some candy bars at the lodge before setting off. There was a 5.5mile climb in which at the top we had to hike through the pass of deep snow and tight trails (terrible conditions). Jeff's knee started acting up and forced a slower travel speed for a bit. The downhill was great and the scenery was fantastic. We entered the town of Seeley Lake. We immediately found food down on the lake at a little shack called "Lindsays Bayburgers", where we each devoured 1/2lb cheese burgers, chips, and drinks.

At the gas station/ hardware store/ subshop/ pizza place, we asked a ranger for places to camp. Who then shows up but Tallahasee! He is looking for his other racer buddies. We follow them to the local hotel and again, a bit pricy for us, so we head to the local camp site and stay for the night.


We started the day off with a long 6 mile climb. We were all focused and ready for business, not saying much on the way. On the ride up we met a GD racer from Tallahassee, FL (nicknamed Tallahassee by us). We all rested at the top and he left 10 minutes before us. As Jeff flew down the trail, he slammed on his breaks and started screaming "PAUL!!! BEAR MACE!!!!" Fred soon joined the screaming and Paul was quick with the mace to be ready. About 100 yards ahead were three bears, two cubs and the mom. The little ones bolted while the mother stood her ground and did a short charge towards us. Meanwhile, the three of us stood screaming our heads off and acted as big as possible. It worked, luckily it was a black bear and she bolted.

Later in the ride we missed a turn and ran into Tallahassee (who also missed it). We ran into a local construction worker who was a jerk and made sure we didnt camp on his property by following us out in his truck at less than 5mph. We stopped and went slow on purpose. The local ranger made up for the jerk by giving us directions to Holland Lake lodge, 20 miles down the highway. On the way we got caught in a lightning storm and had to rest off at a local motel. We met a family from Arkansas and relaxed with a delicious cherry coke under the protection of the motel.

The hill to holland lake lodge, we met another racer named Bruce from Iowa. Paul talked to him he knew Paul's hometown of Glen Ellyn. Bruce had relatives in Naperville, IL. The lodge was a bit expensive for us so we camped next to it in mosquito country. We ate beans and rice in the shelter of the bathroom. They had plastic chairs for us to sit in. Somebody got the toilet as a throne.

Big Fork continued!

We camped along beautiful Flathead Lake, largest lake west of the Missisippi. We went down the road to "Burgertown" (Home of the Flathead monster), and chowed on delicious / huge cheeseburgers. That night we headed back to camp and sat by the lake watching the sun set while thinking of the events so far.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Whitefish Experience

Day 3, Monday night: We see a presentation at the library about energy and climate issues put on by a group of college students who toured the state on bicycles. Not a bad show to entertain us. After that, we head to the bicycle shop and ask where we can camp for the night. We are told by one of the workers that he caretakes 65 acres of property about 3 miles away and we can stay there. We gladly accept, and after buying some groceries, we ride with one of the shop employees to the ranch. The view was amazing, and the caretaker Lee, was as friendly as could be. We dined on pasta and tea, and then headed back into town to wander around, buying ice cream and looking at the mountains while we feasted. Its amazing, even though its 10pm, the sun is still setting and its light outside. (29 miles total today)

Day 4: Big Fork, MT: We ride 40 miles through gorgeous farm land, on easy pavement and gravel roads. We talk to a few locals and take a nice break before heading into the small town. We hit up a nearby bar and order a huge plate of nachos and french fries, something to calm our stomachs. Afterwards, we hit up a gift shop, and will try and find a place to camp for the evening. (42miles today)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Update to Whitefish, MT

We've been on the trail for three days and there is much to say, but we'll keep it as brief as possible.

Day one: We leave the hotel in Kalispell and drive a little over an hour to Roosville, parking on the side of the road by the border of Canada. After pictures, packing, and saying bye to Senor Sawicki, we depart. We were sucking for wind on those first hills we hit, taking a much needed break miles into the trip. Around mile 19, Fred begins to trail behind (unlike him), and as Jeff mentions that Fred does not seem to be doing well, altitude sickness punches Fred right in the gut and he loses his breakfast and snacks. With this confusion going on, we take a wrong turn and head a few miles down the wrong road. We try and call for help. No such luck. The map is no help. At this point Fred can hardly move much. But a herd of angry looking cows gets us going really quick. As Jeff scouts a trail, Paul and Fred see a grizzly bear cub pop out of the woods. We all high tail it to Grave Creek Campground, where with the help of fellow campers, we find out we made a wrong turn. After dinner and relaxation, we help out an Aussie who is touring the continent by motor bike. We let him camp at our site and helped him hang his food away from bears. Sleep. Overall, good ending to the day. Met nice people who helped us out. (30 miles today)

Day two: Beautiful Montana. We start the morning with a fire, cowboy pancakes, and a great attitude now knowing where we need to be headed. We make our way up a long, slow climb (2 miles straight up). Following this is an amazing curvy downhill road, with spectacular scenery along the way. We run into a few of the GD racers and chat with them a little bit. As we descend down the hill, Fred pops his back tire, and again altitude sickness slaps him in the face. He loses breakfast and snacks again. We make it to the bottom at Tachuck campground where Fred rests for a bit before pushing on. We push on through more downhill, next to a beautiful whitewater river. We talk to locals along the way and they mention snow on the pass by Red Meadow (our destination for the night). With only 10 miles after the final turn to our campsite, we begin a long, strenuous climb. Our first obsticle was downed trees and two feet of snow. We had to push/pull our bikes through for a little over a mile. But the top was such a reward; a beautiful mountain lake with a campsite right on the water, absent of anybody else. We cooked dinner, enjoyed the lake, and crashed from exhaustion. (51 miles today)

Day three: We get up and are amazed at the blue skies and the mirror lake we can see from our sleeping bags. The weather has warmed up but is still cool. We make breakfast consisting of cowboy pancakes and tang. A feast in our eyes. We spend the next few hours writing in our journals and enjoying the surroundings. As we pack up camp we run into a few locals, one fisherman from Whitefish and a couple who have a cabin on the mountain. The couple tells us stories of how many people have died in the area we stayed at. One park ranger who froze on the mountain and another guy who was killed by teenagers who then tried to burn his body. Glad we had the campsite to ourselves. Other than that, they all seemed very nice, always willing to talk. We hiked a mile in snow, and then flew down hill 29 miles into Whitefish. We dined on huge slices of pizza outside, dropped our bikes off to be guarded and fixed up, and will now run errands and buy food for the coming days. This place is amazing, with mountains everywhere you look and the coolest people. Never a bad time. Oh, and Fred didnt get sick today. Positive. (29 miles today)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The longest day

So we finally arrived in Denver, CO. Fred and I drove from Newport, RI starting at 4am Eastern time. We met with Paul near Iowa City around 11pm central time (19 hours for Fred and jeff). We finished the final stretch to Denver, ariving at noon mountain time (too tired/ in a daze to do the math). Nebraska is possibly the most boring state ever!

Our bodies hate us. We need sunglasses to protect our brains even inside the house. The raindrops pierce our sensative traveled skin. Yet we decided to take a bike ride when the rain cleared. 14.5. Sucking wind up a hill, we felt like death, but amazing at the same time.

We leave tomorrow morning for Kalispell, MT. staying in a motel and leaving on the trip sunday.

It looks like rain all week in MT...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Less than a week to go

Hey everybody,

This will be the first posting on the blog that will, for the next two months, be your link to us and our adventure. We will post on it often in towns when we can find a computer, or we will have somebody sign on to do it for us. Feel free to leave your comments and advice as it will help keep us going after those long 50 mile days in the pouring rain.

A little about what we're doing.

Me (Jeff Sawicki), Fred Palmer, and Paul Stano are going on a bicycle trip that will start on the border of Canada in Roosville, MT and end in Antelope Wells, NM right on the border of Mexico. It is the longest offroad bicycle trail in the US. We are calculating our trip to be about 2500 miles. We are camping out every night (minus the hotel stay here or there), carrying all our gear on our bicycles, and will buy food and stock on water as we go.

Thats it for now. Off to train some more. Slept in the bivy sack last night in the pouring rain... must say that it was not bad but I could have used a tarp above my head to block the monsoon a little better.