A few years back, I was eating a steak dinner with my family. I love steak and am a notoriously quick eater. And, as soon as that filet mignon touched my plate I cut out a fat piece and shoved it into my mouth. It was so good, and I was craving more, but as I went for round two, my body engaged in an epic battle of man vs. food.
I was choking. First time in my life. I had literally bitten off more than I could chew.
Why am I telling you this? Well, yes a steak dinner sounds heavenly right now (instead of ramen noodles and instant rice). It’s because that feeling of panic when I couldn’t swallow that steak felt the same as when I nearly collapsed on day one pushing my bike up the very first trail.
As I laid in the shade, rethinking a lot of decisions (like why did I choose to be a New York Jets fan?), I thought about how I handled that moment with the steak. At first, I panicked but quickly understood the gravity of the situation. I got my nerves under control, looked at my dad, and made a choking motion with my hands. Seeing what was going on, my dad jumped to the rescue and performed the Heimlich, likely saving my life.
Similar to that moment, I had two choices. Quit now, and run away to Canada (tempting) or get a grip and make it work.
Night one, after pedaling for 4 hrs straight (with no dogs in site), I found a damn by a reservoir and set up camp. I was so exhausted I didn’t make dinner. I rounded up all the quick snacks I had, forced them down, and retreated into my tent as soon as the sun went down. Oh and I lost my sunglasses. Great Divide 1 - Clint 0.
Day 2 - Shark Attack
Day two was a little easier. Or so I thought. I rode along this beautiful lake. Fish jumped every second as I rode by. The road was flat, I met two dogs (Beaver and Milo) and I felt like this was what I set out to do. Check out this view:
More importantly… here are Beaver and Milo, the first official dogs of the trail.
Then I ran into Mt Shark. After 3 hours of constant uphill, I collapsed again. This time I retreated into the shade and napped for about 20 minutes.
It was then that I realized… dude you gotta eat. Shoutout to Mott’s Squeezables.
The instant sugar regained my strength and suddenly I was cruising down this incredible mountain road. I found my campsite, made friends with a really nice family who gave me a soda, and went to bed feeling ready for the next day. Can’t say I got a point back, but I didn’t give ground either.
Day 3 - Proof I can befriend humans, not just dogs.
Now it’s day 3. I battled the elk pass, entered British Columbia, and got an amazing view of three glaciers. I made friends with Clemens, another Great Divider. We camped at Blue Lake which was stunning and met Bella and Kya, two very good pups (Kya was photo shy but Bella loved to swim).
We also met Fien and Jessir (sorry about the spelling dude, Fien had her name on a towel). These “Two Tired Belgians” are on a mission. Alaska to Argentina in just under two years. Needless to say, Clemens and I need to step up our game. Give ‘em a follow on Instagram if you can or check out their website at www.twotiredbelgians.com (from left: Fien, Jessir, me, Clemens)
Day three is in the books. The roads are very steep, but I feel like I am slowly gaining ground and it’s absolutely beautiful here. It was great to make friends and meet some dogs along the trail. Off to Elkford in the morning. Excited to share more soon (or as soon as I get some cell service!)