MONTANA – Ivins residents Craig and Diane Shanklin continue to bicycle from from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. They hope to be among the few Utahns to successfully bicycle the 2,500 mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail. St. George News continues to follow them during their trek.
Here’s the latest update from Craig Shanklin:
It is getting much cooler. That must mean we are further north and summer is fading. When Di and I (and fellow riders Denise and Dave) began pedaling at the Mexico border, temperatures were well over 100 degrees. Mornings now in Montana are in the upper 40s with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s.
We have now been pedaling for 35 days and are 1850 miles into our adventure. We have ridden through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. Today we are enjoying a rare rest day in Butte, Mont., We expect to finish our ride of the Great Divide mountain bike trail in about 2two weeks, crossing into Canada at Roosville, Mont.
It is probably no surprise to hear us report that the trip has been more beautiful and more difficult (much more difficult) than expected. It has also had a few other surprises. In the last week, riding partner Denise, descending a steep trail, hit deep sand at the bottom and was thrown over the handlebars in dramatic fashion. She was lucky. We were able to make trailside repairs to her bike and she seemed to avoid serious injury. Closer evaluation by medical professionals showed she had dislocated and broken a finger and probably has cracked ribs. However, she continues to ride, ignoring the constant rib pain and the awkwardness of riding a bike with one hand bandaged with a split.
A few days later, her husband Dave, our other riding companion, got word his mother was gravely ill in Florida. We were able to get him to an airport and he flew out to be with her. The three of us are now continuing our ride towards Canada hoping he can rejoin us before we reach the border.
Forest fires have been a constant for us on the trail. Almost daily we are either adjusting our route to by-pass an active fire or are riding in smoke which can make breathing harder and often obscures the beautiful views.
While this route is remote with forest service roads, jeep trails, gravel county roads and mountain bike trails, all of which avoid most towns and cities. We look forward to our near daily interaction with cyclists riding Southbound on the same trail. Several hundred people a year are able to complete this border-to-border trip, with many coming from foreign countries. On average we meet two or three cyclists per day, giving us someone new to engage in conversation as well as an exchange of valuable information about what lies ahead. So far this week we met a retired Navy Seal and riders from the Yukon, Wales and the Netherlands.
Our bikes have held up remarkably well considering the rugged trails. We have had no significant equipment failures, not even a single flat tire between the four of us. We have seen wildlife too. in addition to deer, elk and antelope, this week we were chased by an aggressive coyote and had a close encounter with a badger. However, we have still not seen a moose or bear, in spite of reports by other riders and daily warning signs posted along the trail. We are tired of the constant jangling of our bear bells and are now carrying protective bear spray.
This continues to be an incredible adventure, showing each of us that we can do more than we think we can. We look forward to sending you a final update from the Canadian border in early September.
Craig Shanklin, 56, and Diane Shanklin, 49, left St. George on June 10 for the U.S.-Mexico border in Antelope Wells, N.M., where their pedaling will begin. They should reach the U.S.-Canadian border at Roosville, Montana after about 60 days.
They will ride through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
Diane Shanklin pedaling near the Chain of Craters National Monument in central N.M. She and Craig Shanklin are enroute to Canada, about 2500 miles away. Photo taken approx. June 18, 2012. | Photo courtesy of Craig and Diane Shanklin
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail, developed by the Adventure Cycling Association, is the longest off-pavement bike route in the world. The trail follows the Continental Divide as closely as possible and crosses the Divide 29 times.
The Continental Divide is the ridge along the Rocky Mountains that separates the rivers that flow east from the rivers that flow west in North America. It runs north-south from Alaska to northwestern South America.
Twitter hashtag: #ShanklinGDMBT