The Fun-Suffer Divide: Bikepacking the Continental Divide Trail - Video

Mar 13, 2018
by evo  
Views: 12,113    Faves: 146    Comments: 7


Words: Chris Shalbot | Photos: Scott Rinckenberger | Video: Justin Olsen

Access to our remote backcountry trails aboard a mountain bike is becoming more and more challenging. Ride along on the Fun/Suffer Divide with Chris Shalbot, Scott Rinckenberger and Justin Olsen as the trio discovers a stretch of the Continental Divide Trail between Montana and Idaho in the hope of shedding some light on this beautiful stretch of country, all while inspiring others to explore too. Rewarded with views, memories and most importantly, a sense of accomplishment that will last a lifetime, the crew proves that a pathway to preservation exists through discovery and use.




THE ADVENTURE
When planning this out we wanted to make sure that we did as little to compromise the riding experience as possible. The solution was to stage lockable YETI coolers. We would ride two or three days, hit our cache, leave our garbage and load up with enough food to get us to the next drop without weighing us down. We could stage a lens or a tripod needed for that specific section, batteries to charge our cameras and phones to access GPS. If we had a mechanical on the trail we were equipped to do quick fixes that would last us long enough to get to limp along and then properly replace it at the third drop.






bigquotesYou get into this mode where everything in your world becomes really simple. It comes down to covering the miles you need to cover, making sure there’s enough food and shelter. And all the distractions you’re used to all kind of fade away.Scott Rinckenberger


THE LANDSCAPE
One of the greatest features of mountain bikes is the ability to cover big mileage and the opportunity to move through multiple landscapes and ecosystems in a single adventure. Our trip began in a forest killed by wildfires that were strewn across the trail from countless blowdowns. Eventually, we found ourselves in the alpine making our way along ridges and dropping down to make camp at water sources and resupply. The southern leg of our journey found us transitioning out of alpine terrain, and into long rolling ridge lines with endless views. Watching the show of light and shadow rolling across the landscape with the movement of the clouds was one of the most iconically Montana moments. Trail-surface varied as much as the views with everything from massive boulder fields to rolling single track in well-spaced trees, from old roadbeds to dinner sized plates of shale and everything in between.

The dense trees, blind corners and the nearly excessive use of bells kept wildlife sighting to an unfortunate minimum along the trail save for deer, a fox, coyote, hawks and it was slightly ironic that the grizzly and moose we saw happened while driving to our drop locations.





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CAMP LIFE
Aside from the backcountry cabin, camp was wherever our legs and daylight dictated. We usually arrived at camp with enough light to make dinner and set up camp. We went to bed each night dirty and tired. We awoke each morning, still dirty, still tired. Our camps varied from our cooler locations to the shore of an unnamed alpine lake to the bottom of a cold, dark gulch with a raging creek. We strategically planned and placed the food, supplies and camera gear needed to get us between each drop in the coolers. Breakfast was a combination of oatmeal, chai seeds, nuts and dried fruit. By day 7 we were sick of oatmeal and began experimenting with anything and everything we had. Highlights included chocolate covered espresso beans and even gummy bears. Lunch was a variety of bars, jerky and summer sausage while dinner was a rotation of freeze-dried dinners we could make in the dark by adding boiling water. What little room remained was filled with random, last-minute snacks packed in haste. The excitement of opening a cooler unable to remember exactly its contents resembled a child on Christmas morning. The occasional coconut water or beer to go with the bag of tortilla chips and a small bottle of salsa were a welcomed moment of moral recharge every couple of days.







bigquotesOn such a large ride, the last thing we wanted was to be weighed down by 11 days of food. Our solution - staging lockable coolers allowing us to resupply and discard our waste as we went along.Chris Shalbot










We are evo - a ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, wake, and skate retailer based in Seattle, Washington, USA, with stores located in Seattle, Portland, and Denver. We also offer trips to remote locations across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, and legendary mountain biking through our evoTrip Adventure Travel Trips. Evo explores the collaboration between culture and sport by seamlessly joining art, music, streetwear, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and wakeboarding. Our aim is to bring all things relevant to the urban, action sports lifestyle into one creative space. Whether it is on the website, on the phone or in our stores, our aim is to make all who come into contact with evo feel welcome and excited about their experience.


MENTIONS: @evo @TransitionBikeCompany @Patagonia




57 Comments

  • + 75
 These are my favourite kind of mountain bike videos, well done fellas.
  • + 19
 I agree. More of this pls.
  • + 3
 Totally agree
  • + 3
 Yes Yes Yes
  • + 2
 My favorite type of riding venue
  • + 1
 Great video! I just would like to see some kind of instruction video which shows how and what to pack to survive next 4/7 or more days.
  • + 2
 @BartDM: We are all different bbuutt water, food, shelter, sleeping bag, couple spare parts, some med supplies, and a whole lot of trial and error. Constantly ask your self when looking at all supplies, do I NEED this, what else can i use this for, what's the likely hood of this not working, and do I absolutely NEED this. That's my method at least.

More videos like this, please!! Also, more insight to planning is helpful to tickle the old noodle.
  • + 1
 @charles0210: thanks man, I think this question `` do I need this`` will be very helpful.
  • + 19
 Thanks for a great video fellas! This is my local romping grounds, as a resident of Salmon, ID.

When I heard a video was being made up there, I feared the Bike Mag consumptive "new mecca" curse was coming. On the contrary, we need more videos like this that portray an appreciation of the backcountry.

With the rabid Montana closures that have been happening over the last couple of decades, I feel fortunate that I am still able to travel in these remote areas by bicycle.
  • + 5
 Thanks for all you guys do to keep those trails open and running. Absolutely spectacular place to explore by bike!
  • + 7
 Chris & Scott, I'm sorry to have missed the show at Evo Seattle on Saturday. The "mini-flu" has kicked my butt all weekend. Nonetheless, thank you for putting this together.

This is exactly the kind of adventure that stirs the soul, stokes the fire to get out of the house and office and ride your bike! Furthermore, we need to see places like this to be able to know what we are going to miss if the land is not protected and conversely if access is eliminated. Right now, there's discussion in Montana that may lead to the closure of quite a few trails on top of those already lost.

www.savemontanatrails.com
  • + 3
 Sorry you couldn't make it. Hope you're feeling better! So glad to hear that you are finding this project a good inspiration to get out, explore and ultimately protect these trails. Cheers!!!
  • + 6
 Great video and photos! That is a hard fought section of CDT with amazing alpine payoffs. Chris Shalbot, PLEASE post your route using Trailforks to raise awareness. This is a potentially endangered area for mountain bike access and has been targeted to become Wilderness in the past. A revision in the local USFS Travel Plan or Forest Plan could change everything. Thanks!
  • + 1
 I'm curious as well as to which route they went. Sounds : www.trailforks.com/route/continental-divide-trail-cdt-montana

May Creek Cabin at the beginning of their ride is here: 45°38'38.2"N 113°49'19.4"W or starting up this trail most likely. www.trailforks.com/trails/may-creek-103-14453 Appears they then headed South.
  • + 4
 @boxxerace: Yeah, you're on point. We did spend a bit of time riding from Chief Joseph pass north to the wilderness boundary before turning around and heading to May Creek and south from there, ultimately over Elk Mountain before pedaling back to Leadore, ID. Shalbot may have the whole route handy to share.
  • + 4
 That entire stretch of the CDT from the Wilderness boundary of the Pintlers all the way south to (and beyond) the Italian Peaks is in the crosshairs of the Wilderness movement. If you haven't looked at the maps to NREPA, google it and have a look at what will be the end of backcountry mountain biking. They have pulled down most of the maps but here is a link to the Wilderness that would be created in the Big Hole if NREPA passes: pbs.twimg.com/media/CrxZoJOVMAA3HyZ.jpg
  • + 6
 @ikswoldar: A wilderness without some access for human powered bicycles is a wilderness I'm not interested in having. We are not cutting any trees down. Or drilling for oil. Or putting a strip mall in. We are wandering between the trees, just like those who hike or ride horses. To discount this as anything less, is sheer incorrect and offensive. Human powered ski touring is not frowned on during the winter, nor should bicycling along with our brothers and sisters who hike. We are one.
  • + 8
 Great trip and thanks for bringing the Montana trail issues to the masses. It is a real fight up there.
  • + 6
 Love the size of the truck and you still need a bike rack and roof box! So dope!
  • + 1
 Storage-us Optimus..Plecostomus..
  • + 15
 In #Murica, that's a tiny truck.
  • + 1
 @PAmtbiker: Love the full-size trucks!! We do tow a sled trailer with our Tundra though...couldn't swing that with a Taco.
  • + 3
 It may be a Super Taco, but it's still a Taco. Most 'Mericans drive Super Burritos with double meat.
  • + 6
 I too have found that Yeti Coolers keep my tires nice and cold.
  • + 3
 Over the course of 11 days and 200 miles of trail, the only other humans they saw were a handful of hikers... Absolutely insane that we are being banned from areas like these...
  • + 1
 @scottrinck,
Rad project!! So glad those trails are seeing bikes! Rebuilt and built many miles of that section of CDT (and know many of the others who built large portions of the MT section you rode) you rode. Makes me happy it’s all getting used! Ride it! Protect it and ride it some more! We’re losing trail so fast here in MT!! Thanks for the attention on the issue!
Cheers,
Quint
  • + 3
 This must have all been shot in Idaho, because Montana doesn't exist. #FakeNews
  • + 3
 i bought a 24 inch monitor recently, suddenly felt very small! Anyways loved the pic format
  • + 1
 So good to see the photos full screen!
  • + 4
 Love your public lands and don't take them for granted.
  • + 1
 This is sweet! I plan on riding some of this summer after racing Butte 100 in Butte, Montana. Then the next weekend struggling through Pierre Hole 100 after doing some of this! Stoked!
  • + 0
 You should read Guy Martin's book 'worms to catch'. He rode the continental divide in under 20 days. Fantastic read and gives a real insight into the mindset required for riding for 20 days with 4 hours sleep each night
  • + 2
 Do you guys have a gear list?

Such a fantastic piece. Living in Idaho, I'm excited for some of this soon. Nice work!
  • + 2
 Glad you dig the project! What an amazing state Idaho is for riding. Can't wait to get back!

Some of the gear details are outlined on the evo site where this story is also hosted. www.evo.com/discover/bike/fun-suffer-divide

Cheers!
  • + 1
 @scottrinck: Thanks a bunch!
  • + 2
 awesome adventure. would be great to see more details on your YETI cache locations and routes taken. thanks for sharing
  • + 2
 Riding epic trails with the bros - awesomness. Having an extra large Yeti to store your spare Maxxis tires - priceless.
  • + 2
 I haven't explored to much of the CDT but the sections around Butte America are awesome!
  • + 3
 NIce job, boys
  • + 3
 Beauty pics!
  • + 1
 Ride of a lifetime! Thanks for putting this up guys!
  • + 1
 Excellent video with decent music and talking! Very nice guys!
  • + 2
 Nice work gents!
  • + 1
 Congratulations,a real life experience,well done
  • + 1
 Wow, what a beautiful place.
  • + 2
 Epic. This is living.
  • + 1
 Sweeeeeet!!
  • + 1
 Goosebumps.
  • + 1
 Radness!
  • + 1
 Awesome!
  • - 2
 Is this in Wyoming? If not where?
  • + 5
 This stretch of the trail is in Idaho and Montana
  • + 1
 @evo: Looks like some fine riding along Notellum Ridge
  • + 6
 They started near Chief Joseph Pass or ther-a-bouts and went south to Leadore.

www.trailforks.com/region/cdt-north-beaverheads
www.trailforks.com/region/cdt-upper-bighole
  • + 2
 @chuktA: Right on the money. We pedaled out of Chief Joseph Pass, actually rolled north from there to the Wilderness line just to check it out, then rode south to Elk Mountain and down into Leadore.
  • + 2
 @scottrinck: Congrats on braving Stevenson-Old Bulls Cutoff above May CG. That can be deadfall hell in there. Also, how was the drop down Quaking Asp from Elk Mtn? I put that up on TForks so I wouldn't miss it on my next Elk Mtn trip...like I did on my last Elk Mtn trip! Anyway, great work on a great trip. Thanks.
  • + 2
 @chuktA: Deadfall hell above May Creek for sure. Hardest earned miles of the trip maybe. Quaking Aspen was quite the mix of rough single track, cattle trails, ranch double track and some road. Quality ran the gamut. Definitely helped to have a gps route to follow in the more sketchy sections. All downhill though, so it went pretty quickly.

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