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GDMBR Chapter 17

Glacier National Park, MT, to Fernie, British Columbia

Too much of a good thing

Ugh, for whatever reason I took almost no pictures during this stretch. I do remember that we started early the morning we left Sprague Creek campground and with the help of a strong tailwind, smooth surfaces and very little traffic, blew through thirty miles in just a couple hours.

We took another break in Polebridge to eat the biggest breakfast burritos I've ever seen, plus coffee and a bonus pastries.

Then because of said burrito, coffee and pastry, I had the absolute worst stomach ache of my life. If I weren't on my bike, I would have spent the day on the couch in the fetal position, second guessing my decisions.

Hyper-focused riding

Then the route turned onto a 4x4 road that was incredibly chunky and technical and was impossible to go fast up—or down. I was off the saddle, shifting my weight back and riding my brakes most of the downhills.

Like, really really chunky, rugged, rocky and uneven grades with occasional cliffs to one side. For miles. Many miles. It took us past primitive campgrounds that were closed off with temporary signs warning of recent grizzly activity. It also took us through recent burn areas that, coupled with a growing wind and darkening skies, felt super creepy.

Again I took out my bluetooth speaker and blasted music. Jens teased that if the music didn't keep the bears away, my singing surely would.

Annnnnd then the heavens opened.

It was chilly so we both stopped to put on our rain gear. By mid afternoon we had passed our goal campsite. It was still raining so we decided to push on to Eureka and splurge on a warm, dry hotel room.

The return of... hrumpy Caity

By the time we got to Eureka we had ridden over sixty five miles through technical terrain in the rain, and the burst of energy that the burrito provided had now resulted in a complete bonk. I was hrumpy again. Really really hrumpy.

We stopped at the local grocer to pick up dinner, breakfast and resupply.

I obnoxiously insisted on walking my bike around the store with me, while Jens parked his out front.

I was not in a good place to make decisions, which meant I ended-up buying waaay too much food. I bought four yogurts and a party platter fruit bowl—in addition to a heap of other items.

Canada, eh!

The next morning was our big crossing into Canada! We crossed at the Roosville border crossing, just north of Eureka. Overall, it was rather lackluster... the guard looked at my papers and only dryly commented, rhetorically, "don't you have good biking in Boulder?"

Short-term memory

Having forgotten about the previous day's stomach ache, we stopped for lunch and again ordered enough for a small crowd...

Notes on food... and bodies

Early on during the ride, I lost weight. I also lost strength and energy. Despite stopping to eat meals and snacks throughout the day, I simply wasn't eating enough sugar or fat to support what I was asking my body to do.

I had to shift the way I thought about food. It was now my job to fuel my body, providing it with a steady supply of nutrition to prevent bonking and sustain a healthy touring bodyweight—which turns out to be about eight or ten pounds above my normal weight.

It also, coincidentally, developed into a food scarcity mindset. When I came across towns and restaurants, my brain told me to eat as much as possible because it might be a day, or two, or three, until I came across another restaurant with hot, salty, nutrient-rich food again.

Between those hot meals, I was eating wholesome oatmeal in the morning with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate and a dollop of peanut butter on top, followed by plenty of snacks, some kind of leftover packaged sandwich and candy bar, then more snacks, peanut butter and finally a dehydrated backpacker meal with cookies and/or chocolate bar.

I was eating between 3,500 and 4,000 calories a day. Easily.

And my body was changing. My legs were massive—to the point that people commented on how large and strong they were on more than one occasion. I also developed a barrel belly. It wasn't fat or muscle per se... I think it was literally just because my stomach and intestines were constantly full. Constantly processing the food I was consuming from the time I woke up until I went to bed.

I learned to appreciate and love this new body. It was mine and I was thankful and amazed at how it was able to adapt in order to do what I needed it to do.

Welcome to Fernie

As promised, James came through with his offer to stay at his place! We pitched our tents in his backyard and enjoyed access to a shower, laundry and a kitchen where we cooked a meal for the first time in a long time.

After several back-to-back big days and rising temperatures, I needed a break, so we decided to take a proper zero day in Fernie.

Also taking advantage of Wi-Fi, I got caught-up on Marco Polos, texts, emails, banking and the news (ugh). We met for coffee downtown then rode leisurely along the river, stopping to sit and read by the water until dinner time.

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Brian Syptak
Brian Syptak
Jul 29, 2022

How's the bike and gear selection holding out?

Caitlyn Milton
Caitlyn Milton
Jul 29, 2022
Replying to

Hi Brian! When rebuilding my bike in Vancouver, I realized the shop in Kalispell installed my new front directional tire backwards (they're maxxis ikons). They're tubeless so I don't have a good way to fix it myself... but if it took me a week to notice, then it can't be too bad, ha! Gear-wise, I don't think I would have changed my bag setup... only what I put in the bags ;) Hope all is well - looking forward to getting back home to CO :)

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