Tour Divide 2011 Call-ins

One of the magical things about the Tour Divide is the MTBCast call-in service. If you can find a pay phone on the route – which are actually still, "plentiful" in the areas the GDMBR wanders through, you can call a 800 number and leave a message, that will then be posted up by MTBCast for everyone to listen in. It gives a strange little peek into the psyche of the rider, as they attempt to explain the past x days, in a somewhat unreal daze from the countless miles in rain/snow/sweltering heat and usually right before or after an enormous meal. It’s really amazing any of us were able to say anything of substance.

Below are the call-ins I made and then transcribed, which I found while searching the MTBCast site – also some more photos of the route to give you some more of a tease. My thanks to Joe Polk for taking the time in taking our calls. Enjoy!

Sparwood, B.C.

Hello, this is Justin Simoni aka TheArtist. I’m currently in Sparwood and there’s a parade going on! Yesterday was an amazing ride. I think I said in the dinner that it was, “as much fun if not more since I had romantic events with a loved one”, although I used I think more “school boy” type of a language at the moment – I was… it was a long day –

Anyways, I calling to say, just to state that I’m going to try the Flathead Route and I thought I’d state that, it’s just too rad to not try and it’s not every day that you get to go into that sort of track of land like that and play out my Edward Abbey/Gary Snyder kind of fantasies. Anyways, I hope to call back in a couple days, let you know I was successful. Everyone please wish me luck – talk to you later.

Eureka, MT

Hello this is Justin “Mountain Man” Simoni aka TheArtist, I’m just calling in from Eureka, where I spent the night between them I think the Church and the School or the Library? The Library. Just put my head down for a couple seconds.

I made it through the Flathead Valley of British Columbia. It was one of the most amazing, incredible, eye-opening rides I have ever taken in my life. There’s so many incredible things to see. Very quickly – lots of snow on the Flathead Pass. Just – Desolation! There’s just no one there, because there’s no way to get in it. Incredible night at the Butts Cabin. It was just me and Miss May on the girly calendar. Another slog through Cabin Pass. Some beautiful, beautiful mountains on a perfect, perfect eggshell blue day on the Inverted Ridge and then a midnight traverse over the Galton Pass to Eureka.

Butts Cabin | GDMBR | Tour Divide

So, a lot of pictures taken, a lot of stories to be told. Couple encounters with some bears, some moose, some elk – things like that. I’m so glad, I have no – I can’t really put into words right now how beautiful the area was. I think a lot of people missed out by taking the (Fernie) Alternative, which is OK, but words can’t describe.

Flathead Pass | GDMBR | Tour Divide

Alright, I should end this – take care, be safe. I know JP is in Eureka right now, which is crazy, so I’m going to try to meet up with him and make sure he’s doing OK. Feeling great, feeling wonderful, I’m so energized from that ride and I’m going to tackle on the Whitefish Divide. OK, take care, until I get to another pay phone in a couple of days, pack over(?) in a couple days, take care, bye bye.

Whitefish, MT

White Fish Divide | GDMBR | Tour Divide

This is Justin, "Love Wolf" Simoni, Tour Divide Standard Route Diary, Eureka to Whitefish. Whitefish Divide, the road, road? Route. Completely lost now under snow slide, feeling of an alpine traverse on 45 degree snow slope, hundreds of feet of snow above and below, bivvying that same night on top of Red Meadow Lake Pass, at 1:30 in the am, after being confused as to the whereabouts of the route. Over a meter of snowpack and much more on the drifts, plus much more on the snow slides. Did not want to walk on a snow bridge on the actual lake and have it tumble. Rain most of the night, found shelter underneath a large pine tree. Not the optimal time to find that my bivvy (sack) is not 100% impermeable to water. A touch hypothermic, but exhaustion made morning come quickly. Waterproof socks made out of plastic bags and packing tape my saving invention.

Whitefish a welcome sight for sore eyes, fatigued body. Took the rest of the day off to regroup and recover. 10-4 in regards about challenges of Richhmod Peak. Will wait till daylight before pushing over. Welcoming an easier day. Let’s see my cycling prowess. Until Seeley Lake.

Ovando, MT

This is Justin Simoni Tour Divide Standard Route Diary – White Fish to Seeley Lake – Wednesday ride was a novelty – nothing but riding a bike – no mountain passes to trudge through. Met the genius inventor/frame builder Tarmanon(sp?) on the route, showed me his before-their-time race bike creations.

Richmond Peak | GDMBR | Tour Divide

Thursday’s Richmond Peak North Face traverse was not without drama. As I was cutting steps in the well-over 45 degree snow slope with my stand-in ice axe, my bike slipped down the slide zone, hundreds of feet only stopped by a tree. I performed an, “uncontrolled glissade” down to get it, being able to self-arrest, before I also hit bottom. I ascending back up slowly, by creating a good purchase, by kicking steps in the snow, hoisting the bike up and throwing it explosively onto the above ledge. I’m certainly very sure my Tour Divide is unlike my fellow riders, but just listening to the terms I’m using to describe my day, it may be unlike any other ever run. Onward to Huckleberry Pass.

Helena, MT

Hey, this is Justin Simoni also known as The Bearded One on the Tour Divide 2011, had a really great run last night. Got from Seeley to Helena, (~118 miles, 3 Continental Divide crossings) just outside of Helena, bivvyed right inside the National -Park- (Forest) boundary. Was greeted this morning by passerby’s in a car that knew my name and that was really uplifting and energizing, so thanks, guys.

Not much more to say. I’m going to stuff my face full of food, finish this cappuccino, maybe take a nice glance at that girl with the fancy-colored stockings and head out to Butte, I’ll talk to you soon,

Butte, MT

This is Justin Simoni on the Tour Divide, got into Butte Montana last night after I think finishing the last section that was rerouted in Montana – you won’t believe this, but that little 5 mile section on the four wheel drive track was the most grueling and spirit reducing section of the entire course. The area looks like a natural disaster hit – major, major road erosion, deep sticky mud, wet snow fall, steep and rocky descent. I even managed to flip over the bars, hitting some quicksand. It just never ended.

Um, well, until it did.

Interstate riding in the middle of the night, in the rain? Huzzah!

Earlier that day, I met a pair of motor cycle tourers following the Great Divide Route. They’ve been seeing my tramping tracks on the snowy passes and they were really excited to finally meet up with the crazy cyclist that had taken on all the passes they themselves couldn’t go over.

I’m really looking forward to a reprieve of less intense terrain to regroup, basically everything! I do have a growing infection on my eye – it’s a stye. But I’m going to um, keep an “eye” on it. Sometimes sunscreen really does a number on my eye health. I’m just keep it clean. Thanks for all the well-wishes. You guys are really, really helping me out. I’m glad I can inspire, and just to let you know you that you are really inspiring me. Everyone just stay safe.

Idaho

Hello Tour Dividians 2011, this is Mr. Justin Simoni. I’m in Idaho! I made it out of Montana, it is amazing. And I just got some intel about the snowy passes that await me in Wyoming. I was kind of wavering on it, talking to some locals and they were like, “NO WAY.”, but I got some fresh intel and we’re going to go for it! We’re going to try. That’s all we can do. So together, let’s give it a good try. Put some really good positive vibes in the air for me, I really really would appreciate it. I’ll talk to you I guess in Pinedale! will be my next stop. I’ll be going blitzkrieg until then, to get through on my three jars of peanut butter and loaf of bread. Take care everyone, bye!

Flagg Ranch, WY

Hello, this is Justin Simoni, Tour Divide 2011, I am at Flagg Ranch at the entrance of Yellowstone! In Wyoming! Hey, Wyoming! What’s up? I decided to take the standard route and I made it over the first of three super snowy passes – the easy one as well, around 9 or 10 miles of snow pushing – pretty easy, and here I am.

I am so sorry that I did it via, “Dark Side of the Moon”, the SPOT is off and I am out of batteries. I didn’t know I would go through 3 pairs of lithium batteries, 3 pairs – 3 pairs of 3– 3 tries of 3 – wah? anyways, do the math yourself –

And the batteries – although they have them here, they are asking for $14 for 4 of them which is grossly inflated, as is everything in this grocery store – and actually this whole place is totally not my scene – I am disgusting. So I am going to push down the line and resupply somewhere else. I’m down to now two jars of peanut butter! and we’re doing alright. I’ll talk to you soon, hopefully get the SPOT dot going as soon as possible for you guys, until then take care – thanks for all the well wishes and inspiration that you give me – take care

Dubois, WY

Hey this is Justin Simoni of the Tour Divide 2011. If you look at my SPOT track, you can see that I was on top of Union Pass going every which way, trying to find the road!

Because I can’t!

Because everything is covered in snow!

Literally, you should see the pictures I’m taking. The track just basically ends and I can’t figure out where it goes and the ACA map doesn’t have the resolution I need. So I’m off route in Dubois, or as the locals call it, “Duh-boys”, looking for some sort of topo map with some better – oh look there’s a bike tourer, a topo map with better resolution, so maybe I can just kind of orient, do some sort of orienteering, to get through the high plane section and get through to the track.

Union Pass | GDMBR | Tour Divide

If I can follow the track, like I’ve been all the other 7 passes, where it’s either cut in the side of a ridge, or through the forest, it should be no problem, but the problem is, that there is just this high plains where – I mean, just look at my SPOT I just could not find where to go. Pretty good hunch that it was to the North of where I started looking, but I looked all over.

So today I am hanging out in Dubois. I already went to the Forest Service place and they do not have the correct topo map because that’s where their territory (county) just ends, right where I need it. So I’m going to an outdoor place and then to the library. Probably going to spend the night in Dubois and try again. As you know, my creed is, “Never Say Die”, not “Give Me Convenience, or Give Me Death”. So that’s the deal. Hopefully have a good update in Pinedale. Take Care.

Eric Bruntjen called in with an important message

Hey everybody, Eric Bruntjen here the editor of the Cordillera calling in. As you all know, the Cordillera is the anthology of the Tour Divide and Great Divide race writings. And this year we’re raising money to benefit Linnaea Blumenthal who is the daughter of Dave Blumenthal, who died during last years Tour Divide race.

Calling in because I have some really exciting news to share with everyone. I talked to somebody yesterday who wants to match donations for Leniah Blumenthal. He’s going to offer up a matching donation of $15 – the full purchase price of the book, for every book sold between today and when Justin Simoni either finishes the race or calls it quits – which I can’t imagine considering his performance so far.

So that’s really exciting news. We can raise a lot of money for Dave Blumenthal’s daughter and I want to ask everybody to go out and talk to your friends and family and push the book a little bit. If you don’t know about the book, you can check out the bikepacking threads and the Cordillera.org has information. I hope everyone is enjoying the book and we can push through and raise some good money with this really generous matching donation – it came out of the blue, I was just really surprised but I’m super energized by this. This is I think is our lonely highway, this is the bikepacking community’s lonely highway – we gotta to push through to raise some good money, for a good cause. So I’m hope all the racers are doing well and stay safe!

Rawlins, WY

Goooooooood Morning Tour Divide! Justin Simoni here in Rawlins, WY. Soon to pass into my home state of Colorado. A few day sago, I successfully, after the second try, traversed over the Grand Massif known as Union Pass, thanks to a new pair of sunglasses and a topo map or two.

Imagine: crossing Warm Springs Creek and seeing nothing but snow in all directions in front of you on that high alpine plain. And wondering which way leads to the track and which way leads to being an accident statistic.

With the WY passes completed, I successfully avoided the 2011 reroutes! Mr. Lee says there’s no bonus points for doing so, but just as Napoleon crowned himself emperor in front of the pope in Notre Dame, I’m crowning myself, king of the mountains of tour divide 2011, happy to accept any challengers, bring your crampon and ice axes.

Yesterday rode through the Great Basin, on two packets of M"M’s a few PB and J’s and a beer! a local gave me in Atlantic City. And I got so thirsty, I drank the beer! Still hauling my snowshoes around, I’ll check back in the future,

Del Norte, CO

Hey, this is Justin on the Tour Divide, checking in Del Northe Colorado, or as I like to call it, Colo-Radical, just had an early dinner with the Virginian at Boogies and having a lot of fun in my home state of Colorado.

Met up with my friend Ericka, local Steamboat-er had some cheeseburgers, Met up with a superfan in Kremmling, had a burrito, met up with my Brother, who lives in Silverthorne and works on Main Street, I believe he works in a place ccalled, Steak and…Pork (Rib, actually)- right on the route, check it out, they didn’t want to confuse anyone with the name. Had Huevos Rancheros and French Toast and saw my good friend Fawn who works at Absolute Bikes in Salida. Gonna go over the pass tonight, or get pretty close cause the weather is getting a little cooler and I like to get into the high country. Water looks a little weird from this point out but we’ll manage. Just going to plow through, have another late night watching the stars, satellites, space ships and constellations at night. Hope everyone is doing well, I’ll talk to you in New Mexico.

Cuba, NM

Why hello this is Justin Simoni of the Tour Divide 2011. I am in Cuba, NM. Hanging out, restocking, refueling, getting about 2 gallons of water on my back. Spent the night in back of a firehouse, just outside of Cuba, listening to the radio chattering about the fires in NM, it’s totally No Joke. Had to take the reroute from the Skyline Lodge. They were wonderful host for my breakfast. I’m sorry to say that I was not able to finish the Bigfoot Challenge of 5 dinner-plate sized pancakes and 3 sausage patties. Next time I guess. Heading to Grants, today. Should be a pretty straight-forward ride. Happy – my ass is happy for the straight-forward pavement. I’ll check in, in Grants. Hope everyone is doing well.

Grants, NM

Hey there it’s Justin, Tour Divide, I am in Grants, off to a late start. Because about a 100 miles into my ride yesterday my right pedal exploded!

Broken Pedal | GDMBR | Tour Divide

And I was able to of –

obviously we carry, in our kits, we carry a simple sewing kit and duck tape, so I was able to mangle the pedal together. But, those last 20 some odd miles were done in intent. I’m hanging out at the Walmart sourcing another pair of pedals. Hopefully to make it to Silver City. The little radical inside me is cringing at the idea of buying something from Walmart, but there you go. Anyways, I should fly try to make Pietown if it’s open and beat the hit. I hope everyone is doing well, talk to you soon.

OUT

Hey this is Justin Simoni, I have to make this short, or I’ll get way too emotional, I just took a spill, on the route right after getting off the continental divide trail and I was able to dislocate my shoulder I think, I am at the Gila Regional Medical Center, getting it checked out, so I have to tap out and I’ll give more details later, but Joe if you can please expedite this or tell Matthew or whomever is in charge that would be great. I’ll talk to you guys later – bye.

Final Thoughts

Outside of Silver City. At the end of the CDT section the cues told of a
wonderful descent into the pines. The descent also featured a bumpy ride. I hit a particularly nasty bump, with what looked like a scoop
taken out creating a fully capable dirt jump, propelling my bike and I through the air in less than complete control.

Bucked, and completely airborne, the front wheel landed first and folded, twisting my handlebars and landing myself on my side, rolling my shoulder
in immense pain. Crunch! My left shoulder wasn’t working anymore. I felt around the torn jersey and bloody mess for bones sticking
out. Found none. Whooped and cried into the morning until I got myself collected.

Never had I felt so much pain and immense amount of emotion for what must be the end of my race, not 130 miles of a milk run route to go. Banged the front wheel straight, pain like lightning up my hand, enough to hobble to the end of the road, and miraculously flagged down a passing jeep, which transferred me to a fish and game police truck and from there, the ER. My ride was indeed over.

The ER treated me wonderfully and the diagnosis is good. “Just” a sprain.
No break, no dislocation. The bike fared a little worse. The front wheel is toast and will all be shipped home.

I am very emotional about not finishing, but will keep a strong visage. I
am more of a hopeless romantic than a constant thrill seeker, even though my race seems to have been quite adventurous indeed or even foolish to ones following. I cannot think of anything more poetic than crashing out with a day’s and night’s ride ahead of me to some imaginary line in the sand. Like the final page of a Hemingway Novel, it all changes quickly and unexpectantly. Like Bobby D says, blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Never knowing your limits until you cross a little over the line, I come out of this race with a scratch to my name, a bruised a battered shoulder and a deliciously destroyed ride. I also come out with the start of new wisdom.

I cannot thank the countless people enough who have helped enough in this
message, but will try my very best in the weeks that come. You have come together in an amazing way as a community and almost as close as family. Many times, more than I feel I deserve. You have all made me aspire to become a better person.

I am especially honored to have inspired the matching donations towards
Dave Blumenthal and his daughter’s scholarship fund, as I also lost my parents at a younger age, during a tough time in my own college career. Paul and Marilyn I dedicate this incredible ride to you, as well as Richard Keane, a family friend an incredible member of my hometown’s community all lost 10 years ago. Richard from 9/11, my parents from cancer and alcoholism. A rough year, but from scars sometimes sprout beautiful flowers.

Thanks everyone for the very ride of my life. So far.