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On top of the volcano

September 5, 2012 at 1:44 am

So, I was in Yellowstone National Park, one of the supposed highlights of the United States. Bad weather rolling in, and a bad mood rolling in, too. Here’s some mood music: “Dam That River” by Alice in Chains.

Yellowstone is nice enough but I guess I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to appreciate it all. Also, I was really tired of the long day before, feeling it in my legs. I had an appointment in Jackson, Wyoming, in two days, where I would stay with Dawn and family. But between Macks Inn and Jackson were about 190 kilometers to cover in two days. And with these legs, I didn’t know if I was up for it.
In Yellowstone you ride on pavement, which is nice, but there is more traffic too. And from the road, the scenery really isn’t all that much — just trees. You have to get out on trails to really appreciate the wild scenery, and that was something I didn’t really have the time for. I was hoping to reach Grant Village, a ride of 90 km. But it quickly turned into a struggle, with more headwinds, rainshowers, and endless up- and downhills. This was turning into a slog, and right in the middle of one of the wonders of the world too. Not good! Still, I managed to take some pictures of the sights around.


Approaching the volcano

September 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

I spent the rest day in Lima working on the blog and just being a bum in general. Amazing how much time the blog can take up. I really like to write up my stories and show you guys my pictures but man, does it eat up the hours.

Wayne & company were going to Yellowstone so I had all the time I needed, fortunately. The next day I was planning to ride towards Yellowstone myself. But not before spending a little bit more time with my hosts. I departed too late, as usual!

Just to get you going I’m playing you this song by dutch band The Machine, called “Sphere… (or Kneiter) …” — great stuff on a ride.

A fine day in little Lima.


August 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm

So after the gun-toting madness of Beaver Dam Campground, and the haunting experience of Bannack, it’s time for some hippy music! Listen to “Love Like A Flower” from Baby Woodrose’s ridiculously good album “Third Eye Surgery”. This album really pulled me through today. Put a flower in your hair and sing along!

Find your destiny, be all you can be
Turn off your tv, set your brother free
And grow your love like a flower
And love like a flower

So nice.

I woke up in Bannack State Park and I wanted to see what I was made of. I mean, sure I climbed a lot, and sure the terrain is tough, but I’m not exactly making long days now, am I? So I just wanted to see if I could get to Lima in one day (putting two riding days of McCoy’s “Cycling the Great Divide” into one). There was one big climb to do, lots of rough dirt roads and about 125 kilometers of riding, fully loaded.
My original plan was to wake up at 6 AM. However, the battery of my iPhone was depleted so I didn’t have any alarm clock. I woke up at seven, but it was so gosh darn cold, I didn’t mind. I had reconciled myself with the fact that it was going to be a long day, anyway.

Steaming breakfast in the chill morning air.


August 29, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I’m dedicating this entire post to Bannack, the first official capital of Montana. There’s lots of pictures, because I want to give a good impression of it (and because I want to remember every part of it myself).

A soundtrack suitably haunting is provided by Sixteen Horsepower. Please listen to “I Seen What I Saw” and imagine yourself among the derelict remains of Bannack.

First the road to Bannack, which was beautiful and remote. The morning in Little Joe Campground I talked with Dennis & Sherry, a couple living just a two-hour drive away. Again we talked the hours away and they sent me on my way with home-made zucchini bread and a home-grown zucchini! The kindness of the people around here simply knows no bounds. Sherry has done some cycle touring herself, so we had lots to talk about. Again I left pretty late, but there’s no substitute for meeting new people and spending some time together. I took plenty of time off fortunately! This trip wouldn’t be the same if I had to rush.

Where could the Cow King be?

Sweatin’ bullets

August 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe

Like me, Joe is heading way down south…

The night was very cold in Butte, about freezing. So I waited a good while before heading out. I got to get another taste of my latest enemy: the headwind. On the way to Butte I had to endure furious headwinds (the stretch from Basin to Butte, on the frontage road along the Interstate especially) and today would be the second day. The road was pretty nice though, Scenic Byway 73.

Note how the landscape is changing. The forested mountainslopes are retreating and the sagebrush desert is encroaching upon the route.

Getting into no man’s land.

Blood, sweat, no tears

August 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm

The Mars Volta – Cygnus… Vismund Cygnus

Crazy technical stuff today. But first I stayed with the Hall family (Lisa, Reed & their kids Holly and Jake) in Montana City. It was so nice of them to offer a bed and a shower to me and it was great fun staying there! The night I was arriving they had a bunch of guests over — a sales trainee class + their trainer, over one night to get acquainted with their managing director!  Dinner was copious and I had a lot of fun talking to the new employees. I hope they had as much fun listening to the stories of the crazy dutch bicyclist!
Reed is a passionate elk and I got the chance to eat some elk taco. He also provided me with a good length of jalapeno & cheddar elk salami, boy was that one good! The 22nd of August they drove me back to Last Chance Gulch, Helena where I had stopped two days before and we bid our goodbyes. Thank you so much for the hospitality, guys! It was an invigorating and delightful visit. And I got hooked up with lots of food, too!

Last Chance Gulch, downtown Helena

Polebridge revisited

August 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Remember when I visited Polebridge and stayed at the North Fork Hostel? I met Andrew & Terry there and they took some pictures — and even found the time to send them to me! Thanks, guys! Now you can all I see what a nice place it is.

Oliver, proprietor of the North Fork Hostel and ranger at Glacier National Park.

Animal Farm

August 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Soundtrack: Goatsnake – El Coyote

Because it starts so slow and hung-over! And because it involves howling at the moon…

Feeling a littlebit under the weather because of all those beers, I left Lincoln at noon, August 20th, a big breakfast in my belly. Today I would face my first Great Divide crossing in the USA, but the maps warned me about “extremely steep uphills”. Well, we would just have to wait and see!

Entering… the Moo-Moo Farm

Peak practice

August 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Soundtrack: Earthless – Sonic Prayer

Loaded with psychedelica, building with anticipation and then exploding into wild guitar leads, to reflect the steady climb up to Richmond Peak and the crazy, ear-popping descent.

So, after the lazy days it was time for some challenge. Not before having breakfast at posh Holland Lake Lodge though. Fried eggs (“over-easy” — another totally foreign concept to me), baked potatoes, bacon (bacon is good for everything), the whole shebang.

The map warned us about the very challenging terrain, so mentally we were well prepared. With a mildly distended belly I took off for Richmond Peak…

Back into the wilderness…

Lazy Bones

August 22, 2012 at 7:50 pm

So I’ve got a week’s backlog of posts to make… I’m splitting them up into a couple ones!


In order to make things a little bit more interesting, I will be compiling a personal soundtrack of this trip. The proper soundtrack to read this blog post to is Brant Bjork’s “Automatic Fantastic”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZMJBQWNQSA

It’s from the Jalamanta album. Lazy music for lazy souls!

OK, here we go.

I had a couple of lazy days the past few days. “Lazy” means doing about 70 or 80 kilometers and climbing about 800 to 1000 meters with the fully loaded bike. That didn’t sound lazy back home, but it sure feels that way right now. I must be getting into shape. It also depends on the terrain, as I would find out later…
The other dutch guys are getting way ahead of me. I could do 120k each day, but to me, that wouldn’t be fun. Being tired all the time, worrying about food, getting knee problems… this IS a holiday, you know. So when I have the opportunity, I just sit back and relax. And I talk to people, a lot. Like Michael Barry, a cyclist who bought me lunch at the Echo Lake Lodge. Or Charles Fockaert, a Montanan resident from Belgian descent. I shared a couple of beers with him over in Bigfork, talking about his planned trip to Europe.
I’ve met a couple, Jacob and Emma, who are riding the Great Divide with her parents, Michael and Margaret. Both are in their late sixties and riding the Great Divide up until Butte! How awesome is that? Usually during the day I ride alone, at my own speed, and in the evenings we meet up. I met them in Whitefish (on my rest day) and I rode with them a couple of days. We said goodbyes in Seeley Lake. They’re really nice people and I’m definitely going to send them some dutch liquorice when I’m home!
So the days have been easy riding but we’ve been in camping on more “obscure” sites, such as Cedar Creek campground. I’ve been plenty practicing hanging my food in the tree and living without a shower!
At Holland Lake I met the Hall family and they offered me to stay at their place a couple of miles from Helena. Such a sweet offer! And only because they made a wrong turn they saw me. Talk about serendipity.

I had my first “mechanical” failure. Broke a tent peg while ramming it into the ground… too bad!

Here are some pictures. As usual, the “need to know” bit about distances and campgrounds is below them. Keep in mind that a portion of the distance is just riding around looking for shops, or for the campground if it’s off-route. I haven’t made a single wrong turn! … yet

Some bad weather brewing right outside of Whitefish.