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Day 65: Sparwood, BC July 21, 2007

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Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh Canada!!!

I MADE IT!! It took me 64 days (minus 6 rest days) to bike from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada! I arrived yesterday at about 5 pm, in a town called Roosville. After crossing the international border I figured hey, why stop now… so I kept biking. And here I am, 2 days into Canada in a town called Sparwood, home of “The World’s Biggest Truck.” I personally think that’s a lie, actually, the info center told me it was a lie, but it still makes for a nice sign when you’re entering town. But to it’s credit, it really is quite large.

I have been riding pavement, and will continue to do so until Elkford, another 20 miles from here. From Elkford, its 110 off pavement miles into Banff. My best friend Alex from NY will greet me at the Spray River Trail where it intersects the Banff Springs Hotel. That is the FINAL point of the ride, where I will cross whatever finish line there may be at the end of this thing. Hopefully next to the end point is an ice cream stand. I will need a lot of ice cream when I’m done.

I got to a bike shop this morning in a cool mountain town called Fernie. Replaced a cable, fixed the rack, again, and did a once over on the bike. I think everythings ready to go. I’ve learned my way around fixing the bike. Makes it cheaper to borrow tools to do it myself when do get to the bike shop.  Fernie is somewhat of a mountain biking mecca.  It’s a booming town with some serious mountains and terrain well suited to downhill biking in summer and obviously all the winter sports too.  It reminds me of Alaska, thanks to the towering alpine mountains and the powerful and fast moving Elk River.

Next check in will be in Banff, where I can call this journey complete.  It’s been wonderful so far, sad to finish on my own.  Please don’t worry about my safety, I have not made it this far due to luck.  I carry bearspray, don’t bike in the dark, and am an expert at not getting lost.  Well, I don’t know so much about the last part, but it usually does work out.  Seriously though, I’m fine on my own, and only have 2 more days of riding solo before I meet up with Alex in Banff.  From there we’re off to Jasper to walk the famous “Skyline Trail.”  I can’t wait.

Til next time, tailwinds and ice cream.

-Jon

Day 62: Polebridge, MT July 18, 2007

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60 miles to the border!

I’m taking today to explore more of Glacier National Park. I’ll be hiking with Matt, who I met at the hostel. We’re headed to the end of Bowman Lake where we’ll spend the night at a backcountry campsite. It looks like a wonderful spot. 7.1 miles each way. It’ll be great to take a hike, and get off the bike for a day.

Last night I rolled into Polebridge after saying goodbye to the crew at Agpar. I biked 25 miles to the Northern Lights Saloon for a great dinner and live music too! They have a cool outdoor stage and a really unique scene. They supposedly have a great bakery in town too at the “Merc.” For a small town, there sure is a lot of cool stuff going on here! After dinner last night, I showed up at the hostel to a jam session. The wine was flowing, as was the music! It was a blast. If you ever make it to Glacier, you should try to spend a night in Polebridge! Talk to Oliver or Jodie at the North Fork Hostel, they will hook you up.

I also spoke with a reporter from the Arizona Daily Sun yesterday, so keep your fingers crossed, there may be more press on my ride soon!

If you’d like to read more about this last week, check out the most recent post on http://www.jamieandlee.com

Thats about it. I’m off to the woods now for an overnight hike. Thanks for checking in!

Day 60: Whitefish, MT July 16, 2007

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Good news, I’m only 100 miles away from the border!

This week has been great, lots of good cycling and lots of fun too.  I’ve been joined by Jamie and Lee, as well as Steve from Great Divide Cyclery in Helena.  Jamie is driving the shuttle vehicle, and the 3 guys are doing the riding.  It’s working out really well.  It’s a relief to have a shuttle vehicle at this late point in the tour.  That will end in two days when Jamie and Lee head south to finish the sections they skipped.  Steve also has to go back to work (the real world stinks sometimes, doesn’t it?)

Tomorrow we’re headed to Glacier National Park.  I’ve always wanted to go.  They say the glaciers will all have melted by the year 2030.  Thats quite sad.  So, better see them soon!  Thanks to Liz, I’ve got a National Parks Pass, and entrance won’t cost us anything.  It’ll be nice to get off the bikes for a day and do some typical sightseeing!  Ahhh, gotta love the convenience of taking pictures right from the car.

Last night we stayed near Kalispell with Jim and Cristelle Parker.  After an afternoon of tubing on the Swan River, we headed over to their friend Gary’s house for a great dinner, and even better desert.  Pie and ice cream.  Now how did that know that cyclists love pie and ice cream?  Go figure!  They were great hosts.  I had met them 2-3 weeks ago at Bannack State Park the day they I fell on the bike.  It was fun to reconnect, and have some fun on the river.  Sometimes the magic of this bike tour has nothing to do with what you do on the bike, but what happens off the bike.  Thank you for the special memories guys.

I also picked up 5 new gigs of music here in Whitefish.  My dad custom loaded a Sansa MP3 player with new tunes to help me finish this ride.  I’m right on schedule here to finish in Banff and meet my best friend Alex on July 23rd.  This tour is wrapping up really nicely.  What trip, I can’t believe it’s almost over.  Before I know it I’ll be back on a plane to the east coast, and this will be a piece of history.  Than I can begin bugging everyone for all the donations they’ve promised!  Keep an eye on your inboxes for those emails!  I’ve made good on my miles, now let’s see you make good on your pledges!  Info on how to donate is listed on the right side of this page.

Once again, thanks for all of your support.  Keep the comment and good wishes coming, and for those of you on the east coast, SEE YOU SOON!!

Day 56: Still in Lincoln, MT July 12, 2007

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 First of all, you must check this out.  It’s a link to a great article published today by Inside NAU.  (Thank you Diane Rechel for all your help!)

http://www4.nau.edu/insidenau/bumps/2007/7_11_07/yoder.htm

And now an update from the trail… 

Yes I’m still in Lincoln!  I am starting to feel better and will be back on the bike tomorrow, riding from Lincoln to Seeley Lake, MT.  But not by myself… (read on!)

So, I get a phone call last night from Lee and Jamie (two folks who I rode with in NM and CO.  They have had a very hard ride, to learn about their ride, click on the link to their page on the right.  Anyway, Jamie hurt her back near Lima, MT and her ride essentially is over :(  Sorry Jamie!!  But some good has come from this incident.  In order for Lee to continue riding the trail, they are renting a car and Jamie will shuttle for not only Lee, but me too!  They are driving here to Lincoln tonight and the 3 of us will share a motel and begin the supported ride tomorrow!  Wooo hooo!  No more solo riding.. that is a VERY good thing.

Another update..  My buddy Steve from Great Divide Cyclery in Helena, MT will be joining us beginning tomorrow!  He is meeting us in Seeley Lake where his parents own a cabin.  We will be 3 strong on the trail, with a support vehicle!  This will allow us to do more miles per day, not to mention make the logistics much easier.  No more need for carrying days and days worth of food!  This rocks. 

 My dad is sending me more music, and I’ve got 3 care packages to pick up before I reach the Canadian Border. 

As I’ve mentioned, the last 2 weeks have been the hardest for me, mentally and physically.  With all of this great news, my spirit has been lifted and I am really looking foward to the rest of the ride!  I could not ask for any more right now.  I have been happy resting, and am eating well and trying to give my body what it needs.  Lots of Vitamin C, water, and yummy food to keep me feeling good.

Thank you so much for all of the support.  I really love the comments coming in, so please feel free to share your thoughts!! 

Day 54: Lincoln, MT July 10, 2007

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Hello everyone!

 I am taking a day or two of rest here in Lincoln.  This past week has been a tough one.  A fall, a ruined wheel, a sore back, 7 flats, a broken rack, and now a cold!  Ouch.  I am trying to not let all of these events break my spirit, but it is hard.  I have just over 300 more miles in the US and then 220 in Canada.  The thought has entered my mind that perhaps I should skip Canada.  That would allow me more rest time right now, which I really do need. 

Right now I have 12 more days to complete the whole trail, which means I’m looking at 40-50 miles of riding per day.  On a good day, that’s no problem.  In fact, I’ve gotten my total weight so low, that I could probably do even more.  But I can only do that when feeling well.  The past 2 days have been perhaps the hardest of the entire trip.  It’s been hard for me to ride up the passes here in Montana.  They are super steep, and take a lot out of you regardless.  Yesterday I had no choice but to hitch up Stemple Pass, just to make sure I’d be able to ride this morning into Lincoln and get to a motel asap.  I am starting to feel better already, and am actually looking foward to a break from the bike. 

One exciting announcement..  Northern Arizona University may publish a short article about my ride!  That would be awesome.  Who knows, if they cover it, maybe the AZ Daily Sun would be interested as well!  This could go national!  Well, I don’t know about that, but it would be cool to receive a little press, especially right now during the “home stretch.”  It would certainly give me a moral booster!  Updates on that to come.

I do have phone service, so any friends or family wishing to call me SHOULD!  I would love to hear from you. 

Thanks to everyone who reads this page and keeps up with my trip.  And a special thanks to those who take the time to leave a comment.  I love reading them, and believe me, they make a difference. 

Day 52: Helena, MT July 8, 2007

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Quick stop here in Helena to fix up my front wheel.  I had 7 flats between Butte and here, which is more than I’ve had this whole trip.  The new wheel I bought in Butte is single walled and had some spoke nipples on the rim that were sharp and exposed.  They were wreaking havoc on the tube.  So Steve at Great Divide Cycles hooked me up, did a great job covering the rim with duct tape, rim tape and another protective rubber layer.  We’ll see how this holds up.  There’s not another bike shop for 350 miles (till Whitefish) so this will have to do.  If the flats continue I will probably lose it! 

Had a great night here last night, meeting lots of Steve’s friends, all good guys.  They are really into downhill mountain biking, and today are headed to Big Sky, which seems to be really popular for biking.  Would probably be a little too extreme for the Voodoo, so I think I’ll stick to the trail.  Steve may actually join me later this week because he has some time off of work.  We’ll see.  Other than that, I’m kind of caught behind 3 riders (David, Michael and Lee) and I am in front of Josh and Ryan.  So, yes, I am solo once again.  I like it though because I meet way more people when traveling alone.  Some of my strongest memories from this trip come from the people I’ve met along the way, so this is a bonus.  There is no shortage of “trail magic” for those who ride it alone.  Although now that the music I’ve brought is so old I don’t even bother to listen, the solitude I experience all day is a bit of a downer.  It would be nice to have some company out here.  Hopefully I’ll catch David soon, or meet more northbounders if there are any.  For all I know, we could be it.  Haven’t really seen too many faces on the trail this year!  Don’t mind that though, it’s cool to be part of such a small group of people who do this kind of thing.  Of course if we were on pavement we’d see alot more.  On the days I’ve ridden pavement on the “TransAmerica Trail” (which criss-crosses the Great Divide once or twice) I’ve always run into other cyclists.  I think I prefer it this way.  It’d be hard to do a paved tour after this! 

Guess that’s it for now.  I would really like to encourage you to donate if you can, whatever you can.  Even if it’s like $5.00.  Maybe you could just send a note wishing me well, or even just think of me as you’re enjoying a hot shower and wondering what’s on the tube.  Before you fluff your down comforter and prepare for a comfy sleep, think of my tired body on the trail and wish me well!  PEACE! 

Here’s how you can help… July 6, 2007

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 For those who would like to donate, please read on!

I am less than 600 miles from my goal, and it would be WONDERFUL if people could get a jump on sending in their donation!  It will help me to know that people are behind what I am trying to accomplish and it will also guarentee that the money I’m trying to raise actually gets there!

Donations should be sent to : 

Dustin and Kristen Yoder Memorial Foundation, Inc.
c/o Law Office of David Gray, P.C.
4500 N. Avenida Polacca
Tucson, Arizona 85749

Please make checks out to “Dustin and Kristen Yoder Memorial Foundation, Inc.”

Thank you so much for all your support!  It means a heck of a lot!  Keep it coming and please spread the word!  For more info, please visit http://www.yoderfoundation.org/Pages/scholarships.html 

Day 50: Butte, MT July 6, 2007

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Hello from Butte!

 Got a few care packages this week.  Thank you Liz, Rob and “cdr-head” from my friends at Terrapin.  Lots of food, photos, and music for the road!  Yay!

So, worry not, but I did take a spill this week.  I was going down the steepest downhill so far, and my rear brakes weren’t locked in tight enough.  Basically I rounded a corner way too fast and wrecked, got thrown about 12 feet from the bike and destroyed my front tire.  It was tacoed.  I was able to McGyver the wheel to rideable condition and then went about 200 miles on a wheel that most would have considered complete trash.  I consider myself an “acrobatic faller” so most of the damage occurred to the bike, mainly the front wheel.  Luckily my buddy Ryan witnessed the whole thing and waited patiently while I got things fixed.  This delay caused both me and Ryan to fall behind the group about half a day.  No big deal.  We caught up to them this morning.  Not to mention I now have a new front wheel and a not so sore set of shoulderblades!

I got a lot done today here in Butte, and have been trying hard to get more recent photos onto the blog, but this computer isn’t having it.  So a text update will just have to do. 

I am 420 miles from the border of Canada, and it’s only another 220 from there to my endpoint of Banff, Alberta!  At 50 miles a day I’m looking at another 2 weeks.  I can certainly handle it.  I have scaled my weight down tremendously.  I switched to a lightweight “dentaured alcohol” stove.  Just cooked some Annes mac and cheese this afternoon and it worked perfectly.  I’ll just have to dial in the amount of fuel to pour in so I don’t waste much cooking.  I have sent home all the extra weight ie; books, unnecessary clothing, even my tent (I now use a tarp/bivy.)  I weighed everything at the bike shop today.  I’m sitting at about 30 lbs for the bike, and 40 lbs worth of gear and food.  Thats very reasonable.  It’s a lot better than most of my companions who carry excessive items.  I am enjoying the opportunity to live as simply as possible.  I basically have my bike gear and my camp gear and that’s it.  No extra luxuries.  I will enjoy those when I return home.  My main concern is that I bike well, sleep well and enjoy every mile.  And so far, I am.  I was hard after the fall, but I am resting here in Butte and will be back at it tomorrow.

In other Great Divide news, my buddy Josh Elder www.joshuaelder.com just got RABIES!  He was attacked by a rabid raccoon near the steepest climb of the entire trip!  Very random.  He is now on a crazy schedule of shots and carries napkins everywhere to keep his foaming mouth at bay.  His buddy Ryan may or may not cut his trip short due to lack of funds.  Michael, Lee, and David have pressed onward and I will hopefully catch them in the next few days.  Trying to catch other riders out here is no fun.  It’s also not a lot of fun riding at others pace, especially if they want to ride faster.  It take alot away from the ride.  So I ride at my pace, and I suppose that’s why I enjoy going solo.  I would like to avoid it, but I may have to do a few more solo days on the trail this week.  I hope not. 

So, thats it for now.  Thanks for keeping up with the blog.  Stay in touch and please feel free to leave comments!

Slide show #3 June 28, 2007

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Care packages June 28, 2007

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Just wanted to add something here.  Anyone who is interested in helping me out can send me a care package through the mail.  Basically, you prepare a package of lightweight and nutritious foods (tuna in pouch, granola bars, dried anything, etc) and send it “general delivery” to a post office on my route.  This requires some coordination on both of our parts, but it can be done.  These packages GREATLY help me in parts of my route where there are minimal grocery stores.  I aim to receive packages in the most remote sections, it lightens my load and guarentees me the calories I need while I’m on the trail.  SO, anyone interested, please leave a comment on this thread, and I will get in touch with you on where to send your package.  Please respond soon, as I’m done with my ride in less than a month!  I will also happily accept music mixes in mp3 format if you mail them on CD..  That would be a bonue!  Thanks!

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