Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Great Divide - An Unlikely Encounter

Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi Wan.
Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time.
A long time.

Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977)

Craig, Rob & Andrea on my Day 15.
Crazy random reunion on a remote Montana road on the Great Divide.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

While I stop for a break on Lima Dam Road early on Day 15 of my ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a man and woman ride up on loaded bikes. She immediately notes my Christian Cycling water bottle from a popular circuit road race we promoted for years called "Wheels of Thunder" and asks if I'm from Denver. I reply that I lived there for 20 years, but moved home to South Dakota many years ago.

"You're Craig Groseth of Sheridan Ross!" blurts out the man.

Sheridan Ross. Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.  

Who is this guy?

The next time I see Rob & Andrea is on my Day 38 shortly after Indiana Pass.
We later camped together on my Days 39 and 40 in New Mexico.
They also finished the Great Divide at Antelope Wells.

Many hundreds of cyclists ride along the Great Divide every year, both South Bound and North Bound. We leap frog with many South Bound riders from early on, over the big Montana passes, and across the Great Basin, occasionally camping together. We also stop to chat with North Bound riders, as their stories are always interesting and their intel on the trail is priceless. 

On our Day 14, rain and wind drive us to seek shelter at the small town of Lima, Montana. We're not alone. We learn of 9 South Bound riders and 2 North Bound riders hunkered down for the night there. If the roads dry enough overnight to ride, we're sure to be leap frogging a few others in the morning.

Dawn breaks clear and bright. The gravel/dirt roads are soft, but rideable, with frequent pools of standing water to negotiate. We decide to shoot for Red Rock Lakes Campground at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, about 60 miles away with modest elevation gain. Some hours into the day, tire tracks in the soft road reveal a few riders ahead and I see others coming from behind. I stop for a short break.

That's when the man and woman Great Divide riders stop. When he says that his name is Rob Traver, I recognize him immediately. Twenty-one years ago, Rob was a new associate attorney at the Sheridan Ross law firm where I was a senior partner. He says that I taught him how to write his first patent application and that he always enjoyed stopping by my office for work. Rob adds that he never left without some quality bicycle talk, too! Imagine that!

What a serendipitous encounter out on a remote road on the Great Divide. We end our day camping together at the Red Rocks Lakes Campground, along with several others. 

Rob and Andrea unknowingly leap frog with me over the next 3 weeks, as they ride faster and farther most days, but also take a number of Zero Days. Our paths finally cross again over 3 weeks later in southern Colorado, as I lounge in the sun at Summitville, shortly after topping Indiana Pass. We all stay in Platoro, CO that night and camp together again the next two nights in New Mexico. They then take a Zero Day in Abiqui and ultimately finish in Antelope Wells a few days after me.

Thanks, Rob & Andrea. That was a real treat!

Here are a series of pictures of some of the other Great Divide riders we shared time with along the way. Meeting these riders is one of the best, most memorable parts of this entire experience.

Ron (Colorado), Craig (South Dakota), Tobias (Ohio), Franz (Virginia), Paul (Nebraska)
Leap frogging Great Divide riders congregate at the USFS Warm Springs Campground in Idaho.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

The Three Amigos (Gary & Michael in the background, Rich in the front middle), Craig & Franz
Great Divide riders leaving the Grand Teton National Park Hiker/Biker Campground.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

Great Divide rider Linda Gryczan of Helena shares a few miles with us in Montana.
A few days earlier, Linda rode Paul to the Helena Post Office and Great Divide Cyclery.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

At 71, California Ken bought a new bike, his only bike,
loaded it up, and started riding the Great Divide.
The last I heard, he was still at it in New Mexico.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

North Bound rider Bill near the end of his journey.
He counseled to take it easy the first 10 days.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

Mark and Lisa on a 7 month ride from their hometown of San Diego, to Antelope Wells,
North Bound on the Great Divide to Roosville, and then back to San Diego.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

Retired lawyer Michael about to complete his North Bound Great Divide ride,
as part of his 4 1/2 year world cycling tour.

Out for a morning ride, Dave from Helena rode with us for over an hour, sharing local lore.
Four years ago at age 71, Dave rode the Great Divide from Banff to Helena.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

Intrepid group of young North Bound riders that Paul dubbed "Boyz-to-Men."
I didn't write down their names, but their ages were 23, 22 and 16.
They provided great intel on staying at the church in Wise River.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

Brooklyn Hipsters Mike and Tom were North Bound hoping to enter Canada.
Mike says, "I like your sunglasses, man. They look retro."
I reply, "Thanks. They were new when I bought them 20 years ago."
(photo by Paul Brasby)

North Bound Great Divide riders Allie and Race of Fargo, ND are full of good cheer.
Weeks later, I read their entry in the Toaster House journal in Pie Town, New Mexico.

The last North Bound riders I saw were a father-son team battling headwinds across the Great Basin.
This is the 18 year old son, waiting for his father. Both tough cookies.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

I'll close the rider pictures with Tobias, an energetic, engaging, enterprising young attorney.
He put his career on hold to ride the Great Divide and fearlessly rode through all sorts of weather.
He did have a hard deadline to meet his girlfriend, for he planned to propose. Great guy.

We also met many hikers, including through-hikers of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Their route is generally more rugged than the Great Divide, as it follows hiking trails along the Continental Divide, wherever possible. However, to connect those trails, the CDT also uses many of the same roads as the Great Divide. Those folks are a different breed altogether. Just a joy to talk with.

CDT hikers greet each other with trail names.
Here we meet the delightful Sweet Pea, Mace and Beardo.
(photo by Paul Brasby)

CDT hiker Speedy G looks like he's out for a day hike.
By far, the lightest set up I saw the entire ride.
Speedy G christens me "G-Man."

Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars (1977)


  1. It's a small world when you are from Sodak!

  2. Man, we were obviously so close to each other, I pulled into Rawlins where my wife picked me up on August 13th. I met that father/son duo a couple of miles north of the transition between pavement and gravel a few miles south of Pinedale, and Rob and Andrea overnighted together at Atlantic City and the A & M Reservior. Enjoyed the memories your blog brought back!

    1. Sounds like you were just a day behind and traveling at about the same pace. Sorry to have missed you. But glad to hear that you enjoyed your ride.