We, Jim and Jeanette, aka Rachel’s parents, spent 6 days riding on the GDMBR with Rachel and Chris; we laughed, we cried, it moved us!
Chrachel has given you a lot of the details, so I will just focus on a few odds and ends from the trail.
We spent 6 days and 6 nights on the trail with them and covered 240 miles, which was way more than any of us expected. A huge key to this was my cousin Sydney Anne, who dropped us off and then picked us up, removing all issues around, “How do you get back to your truck?” She and Jack also fed us delicious meals for the 2 days after, assuring our fast recovery.
We started by being dropped off in the town of Eureka, Montana.
They were surprised at the amount of food we brought, but they just took it and kept asking to take more of our stuff on their bikes to lighten our load. Of course we let them, because we just didn’t know if we were going to be able to keep up with them and extra weight might slow them down.
The ride started off on paved roads, which we weren’t expecting, but soon changed to dirt forest service roads, with almost no traffic. This was really fun, because you can ride side-by-side, talk, and not worry about cars. I am pretty sure the back roads and no cars makes this trip much more fun for Rachel and Chris than the cross country ride. At about the 10 mile mark, we came upon a brewery, and of course that meant we had to stop. This was perfect, as Jeanette had said before we left, “If I could drink a beer every 10 miles or so, I think it will be easy”. Perfection was actually happening and within 5 miles after the brewery, she was starting to make plans for how we could spend future weeks on the trail with Rachel and Chris. However, unfortunately, due to my crash with 8 broken ribs, the doc said to stay off the bike until I heal. Bummer.
It turns out there are 2 things that need to get into shape: your body and your mind. First is the physical, and, at the end of 6 days, that is going pretty well. The harder one is the mental. The best way to understand this is when the temperature rises over 80 degrees and you have 2,000 feet of climbing to do. First off, 2,000 feet up is from here to the top, but the route goes up and down between here and there, so you are probably going to climb at least 2,500 feet today. So as we go up this climb, Jeanette and I are looking around every corner, just hoping to see the top. Chris and Rachel, on the other hand, are just riding along, happy to be out in the woods without a care in the world. It doesn’t matter to them if the road is up, down, or flat. Rachel kept hanging back with us and telling us jokes and funny stories to get our minds off the climb, which was really cute. We kind of started to figure this part out and get our mind in shape, but probably needed another week. I am still not sure I can imagine liking riding uphill as much as down, and Rachel has confessed that the head wind in Wyoming kind of got under her skin.
Eating is amazing. When you go into a Subway and say, “I’m going to get the Cold Cut Combo,” Chris says, “But it only has 720 calories- get the Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt; it has 1,200 calories.” We consumed packages of Double Stuf Oreo’s, family sized packs of M&M’s (plain, peanut, peanut butter, and caramel), donuts, bear claws, etc and that was just for snacks. In Whitefish, we went out for dinner and had appetizers, burgers, and fries, and, with not a fry left in sight, we went out for ice cream and were all still a little hungry.
It’s a lot of fun to be able to eat all you want. The one downside is that they seem to be happy to eat apple slices and peanut butter in a wrap for every single meal, while we wanted a bit more variety, so we ate the wraps and then pulled out the candy, cookies, etc.
The one caution that Chris has is don’t get your hopes up. We blew it and had high hopes on the last day of finishing off with a steak dinner at the Holland Lake Lodge. Alas, there was a wedding going on, and the restaurant was closed to the general public. No steak, just finishing off the last of the rice and beef jerky. Bummer. We did make up for it with a huge, delicious breakfast the next morning at the Echo Lake Cafe. I am happy to report that it is possible to eat dinner plate sized pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, and raspberry coffee cake in one sitting and not feel full.
Rachel and Chris are a blast to hang out with. They really don’t have a care in the world. What time should we start? Who cares. What time should we finish? Doesn’t matter. How far should we go? As far as you feel like. Once in a while, there are goals, like meeting someone at some point in time, but they have built in enough buffers to make that work out easily.
Hopefully someone will make a video of them taking down their tent and rolling it up. When it is folded and ready to roll up, Rachel wraps it around her waist and twirls towards Chris, who is holding the other end, to get all of the air out and make it easy to roll up. They have this move down to perfection as it happens every morning.
The camping turns out to be a blast. The goofy outfits in the pictures were often a result of putting all your clothes on to keep the mosquitoes away. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you lay there looking out at the stars and think, “If I get up, I will have to put on some clothes, and there isn’t really anything out there that needs doing.” Then you convince yourself that you really don’t need to go to the bathroom that badly and simply fall back asleep. Between the sound of a stream and being tired from the ride, we slept really well.
We aren’t ready to quit our jobs and do the whole trail, but it is easy to see why Chris and Rachel enjoy it so much. Riding with them was a total blast and you should definitely figure out how to spend some time on the GDMBR with them this summer!