6 07 2009
Starting out from the Montana border...

Starting out from the Montana border...

CDN GDR 2009: Photosall posts

We drove down to Eureka, MT on Saturday 27 June in a rental car with our Surly Pugsleys hanging off the trunk on a folding bike rack.  These racks always scare me and I kept looking back to see if the bikes were still attached to the trunk!  My fears were unfounded and they made it to our motel safe and sound.

We had a poke around town for some nightlife, but came up empty.  There were a couple options, but they were a bit scary and people smoking inside bars is something we can’t handle so we grabbed a case of beer and headed to our motel room for the night.

I slept fitfully and woke up a bit dazed.  By the time everyone had a shower, we ate breakfast and grabbed some final supplies it was 11am.  Not exactly a crack of dawn start – something we’d regret later in the day.  Eventually Kurt’s GF dropped us off at the border and she headed home in the rental car [thanks for the lift SN!…=-)].

We rolled across the border into Canada without any troubles and started our CDN GDR tour in earnest.  It didn’t take long for us to turn onto a gravel forest service road [FSR].  We were just getting used to the handling of our fully loaded Pugsleys when the climb to Galton Pass started.  Little did we know we’d spend the rest of a hot hot afternoon slowly cranking and pushing our rigs uphill from shady patch to shady patch.  Yikes!

Given our lack of touring this year, the heat of the day and how unexpected this was [we didn’t have much info on the newly proposed CDN GDR route] our morale took a beating.  I did my best to keep it inside while I laboured uphill trying to remember why I wasn’t on a patio at home sipping a cold beer with my GF?

Every chance we got we doused ourselves with cold creek water and soaked our t-shirts to keep cool.  We also plowed through our daily snack supplies at our frequent rest stops.  One of the benefits of bike touring is getting to eat anything you want in large quantities while losing weight.

Finally we reached the summit in the late afternoon – tired, but happy to have overcome what turned out to be one of two really hard sections of the whole ride – the other being Elk Pass.

Kurt rides the "good" side of Galton Pass

Kurt rides the "good" side of Galton Pass

On our way down the backside of Galton Pass we rode some very smooth and scenic double track FSR.  The views and lack of pedaling made us smile big time!  We met our first CDN GDR riders at this point.  They turned out to be the only other riders we met on the newly proposed CDN GDR route and happily we met them just before our only potentially difficult route finding section.  They explained roughly where to look for the singletrack connector that joined Phillips-Rabbit FSR to Wigwam FSR.  They had spent half a day lost in search of the north end of this connector.  As it turns out it is much easier to find from the south as the road literally ends where the singletrack starts so there is much less uncertainty where to start looking in the woods for the trail.

From the south just ride to the end of the FSR where you’ll see a big cut section of timber forming a clearing head straight north into the trees and look for blue flagging as well as what is becoming a pretty clear trail as more bikers ride this route.  From the north we built up a cairn of rocks to help mark the start as well I took a GPS way point I can send you by email.

Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack

Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack

The singletrack connector was narrow at the south end and muddy and steep in places.  We pushed a lot it.  Towards the north the trail flattened out and opened up.  This made riding possible, but I can see how it would be easier to loose the trail at this end or have trouble finding it in the first place.  The whole trail was marked with blue flagging tape.

At the south end of Wigwam FSR there was a newer western section we could ride or the older eastern road.  The riders we had met earlier in the day recommended the western road as the said the old road was in bad shape.  It turned out to be a good idea.  The newer western road was buff, fast and rolling with only one climb of note.

Early on the Wigwam FSR we stopped on a bridge to cook up a meal.  I can’t say I love freeze dried backpacking meals, but they sure are easy to make and we ate them right out of their packages with a spork so there was almost no clean up to do.  A meal for two was about right for one hungry biker at ~1000 calories.  Unfortunately Kurt left his spork on the bridge during this meal.  Something we wouldn’t notice until the next day.

We rode the rest of the way up Wigwam FSR and decided to camp just south of the junction between Cabin & Wigwam FSRs.  It was about 8pm when we stopped after ~ 52kms of riding.

I hid our bear cans with our food up the road away from our tent and enjoyed a brief campfire before falling soundly asleep.



13 responses

6 07 2009

When I first looked at the pic “Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack” I thought your feet were in the air and you were doing a cyclocross style remount.

That is some spectacular scenery. Hope I can get up that way some day. Not sure about the Pugsly though. The tires alone look like they weigh as much as a LHT.

6 07 2009

Thanks for the comment Todd. I own a LHT and I’m pretty sure I’d be faster on the GDR on a Pugsley. Those fat tires are almost entirely air so they don’t weigh as much as they look like they might. Our overall speed on the GDR was right in the ballpark with all the other riders we met – most of whom had suspension on their bikes.

6 07 2009

Do you find the Pug to be a better option for MTB touring than a standard 26″ or even a 29er? I suppose the tires on the Pug are suspension enough themselves, so that cuts out a good bit of weight right there.

6 07 2009

The Pug is really a 29er and because of the fat tires provides some measure of suspension – say 1″ so it’s not as harsh as a rigid bike while having no extra parts to break/maintain like a hardtail or FS bike.

Keep in mind that if you ever wanted to you can run a Pug with “normal” 29er MTB wheels/tires and even a 29er suspension fork. So really it can be several different bikes.

Having said that I love the way the 4″ tires ride and I think we’ve proven there is no speed penalty on the GDR. Our best day was 145kms [mostly uphill over a pass] with full camping gear. So with a lighter performance oriented load I think we’d be able to do 160km [~100mile] days.

15 07 2009
CDN GDR Day 2 & 3 « The Lazy Randonneur

[…] CDN GDR 2009: Photos – Day 1 […]

15 07 2009
matthew lee

route engineer for the new CDN section of the GDMBR here. i can’t tell you how tickled i am to read your account of riding the new section successfully and being positive about the tough connector. eventually new trail will be cut but for now, there’s no reason to deprive people of this amazing valley simply on account if a little bit of hike-a-bike. the wigwam river valley is amazing! and how about cabin and flathead passes? just fantastic. i must give you kudos for gaining galton pass in reverse. as i ripped that at warp speed on day two of tour divide, i felt collective sorrow for all the future south-to-north riders. anyway, i came to your blog to respond to your inquiry on the tour divide blog so i’ll just say i’m happy you found the connector and i hope you come back to ride it again someday. BTW, thanks for the rock cairn on the south end of the connector. I do hope the cairns i installed on the north end still stand.
all the best,

16 07 2009

Hey Matthew,

Thanks for the comment. The new southern section of the CDN GDR is great – incl the singletrack connector. I think our goal will be to go back next year with much lighter bikes and ride from Banff down to Roosville on the standard route and then back to Sparwood on the new CDN GDR. We really like the new route from South to North – especially if our bikes were lighter and we were mentally ready for Galton Pass…=-)

I can’t recall any cairns on the North end of the connector, except right at the end and the cairn we built was just adding to that one as it was small. having said that my memory is crap and I was tired at that point so there may have been other cairns I just don’t remember.

Anyways thanks again for all your hard work on the GDR. I’ve followed your exploits online over the years. *two thumbs up*

ride safe,


18 07 2009
CDN GDR – Day 5 « The Lazy Randonneur

[…] CDN GDR 2009: Photos – Back to Day 4 […]

20 07 2009
Bow Cycle | Vik’s Picks » CDN GDR Tour Reports

[…] Day 1 […]

8 12 2009
Dave Blumenthal

Howdy. Nice ride! I’m interested in any GPS data you have for the CDN GDR, in particular the singletrack portion that might be harder to follow. You mentioned in your writeup a waypoint for the northern end of the singletrack, but whatever you are willing to share I’d be happy to receive.


9 12 2009

I’m in Baja so I can’t give you my waypoints for the GDR, but here is a link to the new reroute on Google Maps. You can pull the key waypoints off it. There are only a few junctures so not many are needed. The Adventure Cycling Association website has waypoint files for the normal CDN GDR for free DL’d. You’ll have to marry up the two ignoring the lower portion of the regular CDN GDR route.,-114.79943&spn=0.733704,0.614301&source=embed

Have fun – it’s a great ride…=-)

18 03 2010

Howdy. Back from Baja? I’d still love to get the CDNGDR track/waypoint data. Since Matthew Lee asked me to make a fresh inquiry, I’d guess that the data from the google map you linked may be approximate and good for overall route planning, but not field verified and good for nighttime navigation. Will pass whatever you have onto the ACA.

18 03 2010

Hola Dave,

I’ll dig out what I have, but I just grabbed my waypoints from google maps. I didn’t run my GPS between waypoints. I may have grabbed a couple extra waypoints on the ride for stuff like the north start to the singletrack section since it can be a bit tricky coming North to South. The route is dead easy to follow other than the singletrack connector and if you have a waypoint at the start and end of it you’ll have no trouble staying on route.

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