We Found Our Hearts in Montana – Morgan Taylor

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

Montana, oh Montana. In Montana we battled the desire for stillness with the impetus to keep moving. We sat and watched animals, we spent time in new places that excited us very much, we batted away mosquitoes and fled from them. We pedaled day by day, sometimes through remote terrain, not seeing anyone else for hours or possibly days at a time. We found our way.

Off to another stealth camp spot.

This leg of our trip was inevitably going to be the one where things beyond our gear setups settled down, where our minds and bodies decided what our days would look like. No longer did we worry that others left camp early, and that we preferred to linger over another coffee; being in the outdoors is your own experience, and not one that needs to be dictated by how others travel.

We rode largely without maps, planning no more than a day or two in advance and sometimes no more than an hour or two. Having ridden far from home, we were in an unfamiliar yet somehow comfortable place, still at the beginning of a trip that at this point seemed as though it might never end. We were pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of others, whether locals or tourists, inquisitive of our journey and often wondering how they could help.

Blowdown at the Whitefish Divide summit.

Days came and days went and we were given the time to work through long conversations about the rest of our lives both past and future. We sat with strangers, staring into embers, sharing food, understanding their approach to life. Many desire to escape to the wilderness though few carve out more than a few days at a time to do it.

In Montana we came to conclude that as bicycle travelers it was a bit like being everyone’s children. We shared campsites with people whose own children were older than us, whose curiosity about our chosen form of travel led them to be generous with their space and belongings. By no means were we needy – our bikes were as expedition-worthy as any of those motorized vehicles – but the appearance of vulnerability from an outsider’s perspective was unavoidable.

Morning yard sale.

Despite our “follow your nose” approach, there’s something to be said for following an ACA route: we met more bike travelers when our route intersected one of the many that riders follow with detailed, waterproof maps. We honestly don’t feel alone out here, yet there is still a sense of comfort in sharing a picnic table and a bottle of wine with others who are pedaling the days away.

Groups of Divide riders on their plus bikes with gear strewn about. The former ultra-runner with a degenerative neurological condition, riding for possibly the last time in his life. The family of four – kids nine and twelve – traveling by bike for the past eleven months. The friends who set out annually to tackle a different ACA route for a month or so. The road riding car campers from Colorado who shared their state park campsite. The lawyer who rode the TransAm in ’76 and was driving the route doing day rides. There are so many ways to spend your days riding bikes, and all of them are worthy.

Party train!

We landed in Missoula and were greeted with familiar faces, friends from around the continent who had all planned their own journeys to land in this place at this time. We soaked it in, we became comfortable, we felt at home. We could have stayed there forever. As the #DFLtheDivide crew slowly dispersed, back to their respective corners of the continent, we felt some feelings of loss. It had been so memorable, so wonderful, and so easy to fall back into the life of having a roof over our heads. We knew we had to set out yet again, to reach out into the unknown and find our community.

Our community is now the people we meet, who come into our lives sometimes for a few minutes and sometimes for a few days. We spend more time than ever with strangers, listen to what they have to say, offer and receive advice. Even short interactions can change your life course – but you have to reach out and make those interactions happen.

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Follow Morgan and Stephanie on Instagram and follow their routes on Strava.

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  • joshhh

    this post is so amazing! I’m tearing up at work looking at the portrait photos :’)

    …the scenery is nice, too!

  • hansgman

    John, it would be awesome if we can have a full screen mode for the picture slideshow. Sometimes, the vertical resolution on our screen crops out the images when viewed in-line with the page content.

    • What part is being cut off? Can you post a screen grab?

    • Alex Steadman

      I don’t get cut off images but I was just thinking that I’d really like a full screen mode.

    • Sean

      Full screen would be rad.

      Although, as a work around – The image sizing seems to be dynamic, so if you decrease the width of your browser it will proportionately decrease the height of the image. Decrease width until you can see the whole image. Badda-Boom!

      • If you guys are talking about your super widescreen computers cutting off the captions, then yeah, make your browser window narrower and the images will scale down. It works just fine on my MBP with tabs open, not in full screen, but I know some netbooks have a wider aspect ratio. A full screen mode won’t make the images any bigger anyway if that’s your problem!

  • Will Ashe

    This has to be one of my favorite photosets ever posted on The Radavist or PiNP! Killed it!

    • Whoa, thank you!

      • Will Ashe

        You’re welcome! I just felt like you really told the story of this part of your trip through these photos.

  • spencer harding

    this makes me so damn happy! i wish i could have spent more time in missoula with everyone.

    • We really didn’t get enough of you, Spencer! Hugs!

  • Nate Kaiser

    Amazing reportage Morgan! Any chance you got the social handle for that family that’s been riding on the road all year? They’re kids are the same age as mine and I’d LOVE to do something like that with my own crew.

  • Beautiful! Inspiring! Well-written!

  • Man, wow! This was what I needed today. And damn Missoula looks so good.

    • We’ve declared Missoula as our unofficial home in the US. We even got a 406 phone number. You gotta go!

      • Morgan, we just met Helena (your mom?) in West Van! I was touring up there last month and we were in grocery store a grocery store. She told me all about your touring and said I should follow you on Instagram. Happy trails!

  • Harry

    Such a feel-good story seeing friends meet and ride together

  • So good!

  • Mark Reimer

    Damnit this is just the BEST!

  • @Brienhall

    Whew! All the feels. Amazing photoset and blog entry. THANKS!

  • Dexter

    This looks amazing!

  • Whitney Ford-Terry

    I went to visit the old house the other day, Murray says hi.

  • S. Harris

    That was great. Looking forward to more!

  • boomforeal

    this might be your magnum opus morg. so damn good!

  • I am loving this more and more with each update.

  • Sean Fleming

    just wow…dream experience

  • always so inspiring and fun!cheers from italy