NOTL native Kaleb Schriefer is riding the Tour Divide from Alberta to New Mexico in honour of his brother Noah, who died of an overdose. This is his first report from his journey.
Special to The Lake Report
What a wild first 10 days it has been.
I have completed about a quarter of the race so far. Currently at mile marker 726, of 2,700 total miles, in Butte, Mont.
I have travelled south from Banff through Montana and will be entering Idaho in the next week or so. The terrain is breathtaking.
I have never spent any significant amount of time in the mountains, only flown over and driven through them. It is absolutely stunning riding through these mountain passes, negotiating the terrain, coming across wild rivers and lakes.
And interacting with the wildlife is something I will not soon forget.
The first three days after departing Banff were a real struggle. The route threw us out into the wilderness to cross Alberta’s Elk Pass near Kananaskis.
The wild terrain and cold rainy and snowy weather was a real surprise and struggle for me. I came prepared to ride my bike, not hike to the top of a mountain in four feet of snow.
With a few late season winter storms affecting the higher altitudes, our route got changed as we entered Eureka, Mont.
We opted to stay off the mountains and stick to the highways to get into Whitefish. I’m glad we did, because up to 10 people with extreme hypothermia ended up getting rescued by local search and rescue helicopters.
The last several days have been excellent weather as we make our way southeast through Montana heading toward Idaho. The landscape has already changed drastically from sheer mountains to a more rolling hillside.
My attitude continues to be positive, despite some real hardships finding water and being able to pack and store the right amount of food in between resupply points.
I’ve been mostly staying at campgrounds, with a few rest days already due to the extreme weather. I’m surprised how well my body is holding up. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not 20 anymore and my body consistently reminds me of my age.
My legs and butt are constantly super sore, but not so much so that I don’t get on the bike at 5 a.m. and pedal over 100 kilometres. It’s amazing how resilient one’s body is.
Once you break through the comfort bubble, the body adapts. I’ve had very little bike trouble but had to replace my rear tire due to a bad puncture. Otherwise, just some regular maintenance and I feel like it is serving me well.
Thank you to the Pie Plate Bakery Cafe in Virgil for sponsoring my bike, aptly named “California Toast” because it’s avocado green. Other people have not been so lucky, with broken cables, blown out tires and cracked handlebars.
As much of a struggle as it is riding while loaded down with nearly 40 pounds of gear, food, and water, the descents and views are worth every grinding pedal stroke.
As this trip means a lot to me, I find myself overwhelmed with emotions as I spread Noah’s ashes along the peaks of the Continental Divide and their priceless panoramic views.
This was what Noah was in love with: The clean mountain air, the laid-back lifestyle of the small mountain town and the sense of self-sufficiency.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my ride and all the in-kind support.