In a condo, far far away, one man (manchild) prepares himself for the journey of a lifetime. He alone (on a fairly populated trail) will battle the elements for two months with nothing but a bike, his bare hands, and his keen (self-proclaimed) intuition for primitive survival.
This is what I am calling Pedaling for Puppies. A lighthearted website that not only tracks my journey down the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, but more importantly introduces you to all of the pups I meet along the way — or well, most of em.
If you haven't guessed by now, I'm writing this to record my journey, share stories with others, but mostly, entertain myself with eye-rolling dad jokes and niche life lessons you only learn when you're stuck with your own thoughts. I apologize in advance!
What is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)?
If you're not familiar with the Great Divide Route, it's a bikepacking route that stretches from Banff, in Alberta, Canada, all the way to Antelope Falls, New Mexico. In total, it's just about 3,000 miles of riding effectively parallel to the Continental Divide hiking trail. Notable stopping points include:
- Helena, MT
- Butte, MT (hehe Butte)
- Jackson, ID
- Silver City, NM
Here's a map that roughly shows you what the route looks like.
How long do I plan to be biking?
Believe it or not, I actually purchased, read, and took notes (not sparknotes) on a book about the Great Divide Bike Route. The book outlines a 70-day trip, but in my estimation, I think I can conservatively complete the route in just under two months.
For context, there's a race held each year where riders see how quickly they can complete the trail. The record for the fastest time to complete the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is just under two weeks. Obviously that guy was just showing off and while anyone could totally break that record, my goal is just to come back in one piece and not get eaten by a grizzly bear in my sleep. If that takes an extra week or two, so be it.
Why am I taking this trip?
Long story short: because I can. And that's nothing to scoff at, either.
I'm fortunate enough to work for a business that rewards employees with a sabbatical after working at the company for 5 years. Given that it could be another 5 years before I get the chance to do something like this again, I wanted to check this off my list now because who knows where I will be then.
As for why bikepacking? Well, that's easy. I don't swim too well, and walking sounds dreadfully boring. That rules out a canoe trip and hiking with a heavy pack didn't sound too friendly on my lower back. I figured I've been riding a bike since I was kid and I just recently ditched the training wheels. How hard could a two-month traverse be?
Why Pedaling for Puppies?
When my brother's made their canoe trip down the Mississippi River, they started a website called notquitelc.com. Part of this site was used to update readers on their travels and the experiences they had during their trip. They also used the site to raise money for cancer research, a cause that they both had strong personal connections to.
Inspired by their philanthropy, I wanted to pay it forward to a group of people volunteering their time and risking their lives for the betterment of others. The cause that I found, was Shelter Ugolyok. This animal shelter has been operating in multiple areas of Ukraine throughout the military conflict this year. They have been protecting animals that have been abandoned and rescuing pets that families have had to surrender as a result of the war. They're doing some remarkable work and I would like to use this site as a way to aid them in their efforts.
For more information on Shelter Ugolyok, read more here.
To be continued...
As I get closer to my trip, I will post more updates about my preparation, information about the trip itself, and any interesting training stories that happen before I set out. Once I do leave for the trail, I'm not quite sure how I will update this site, but rest assured, I'm working on that. When I have a solution, keep your eyes peeled for another post. If you have a solution, use that comment section below and shout it out. Or, use the comments to poke fun at me. So long as it's funny, both are acceptable.