GDMBR #9: Porter’s Bike Explodes in Montana Wilderness!

Porter’s fine carbon fibre rear wheel exploded beneath him with a deafening KABLAM! and blew apart his Santa Cruz Tallboy mountain bike on a remote Montana road. “Lying on the ground, my first thought was the flare I carry to scare off bears went off,” he said. “My second thought was I’d been shot. My third was I’d better pick myself up off the road before I get run over by a logging truck!” 

Miraculously, he wasn’t hurt except for a few bumps and scrapes. But get a load of his totally busticated wheel rim with the tire wrapped around it.

Porter sent a message from his InReach satellite tracker to mine. “Bike broken. I’m ok.” I meant to message back “On my way,” but my hands were shaking so much I mistakenly sent a preset message that said “Can’t reply now, will write later.” I did find him, though, using my usual combination of the Adventure Cycling Great Divide Mountain Bike Route map, Delorme road atlas, map of Montana, Cycling the Great Divide guidebook, Earthmate phone app, and Gaia GPS app.  

My thought was this trip is over. But the minute we got cellular coverage, Porter was on the phone calling all over Montana for another wheel rim of the type Goat, his mountain bike, needs. Early the next morning he drove 300 miles round trip from our hotel in Dillon, Montana to Helena, where the Great Divide Cyclery/The Garage got Goat all put together so Porter could pedal off again the next day! 

Amber was a basket case and needed a tall one, on the rocks, with salt! Here’s Porter reassuring her that yes, he really is okay!


47 comments on “GDMBR #9: Porter’s Bike Explodes in Montana Wilderness!

  1. WOW, that looked horrible–Porter, I am so glad you are OK. I can’t let myself think about all the ways that could have gone worse! But as always, you shake yourself off and solve the problem get on with getting on. Gail, until you could see he was fine and find him, it must have been some scary moments. Taking a tumble like that, you must be sore all over, Porter. I guess you just can’t keep a good guy down– xo

  2. OK – Gail and Porter, that’s one heck of a bike explosion story!!! That photo of the aftermath is unbelievable. I am so grateful Porter is not seriously injured. As your friend Rosemary stated above, you both are the epitomy of pick yourself up, fix the problem and keep on keeping on.
    Love the last photo of Amber and Porter. Too cute ?

    • Thanks, Ina! No doubt you and Frost know all about pick yourself up and keep on keeping on! So glad you like the photo of Amber and Porter, Amber is pretty feisty!

  3. wow. great story. so happy porter is okay. i thought ahout porter on my recent cdt sojurns. he’s a really tough guy. seriously.

    • Dean, thank you, and we’ve been following your CDT adventures with fascination. So glad you survived the terrifying storms in the San Juans! I read your account to Porter and he said “Yup, that’s the CDT in Colorado!” We both admire you and your own adventures, and your amazing ability to photograph them as they’re happening!

  4. If it weren’t the pictures and a “reliable” witness like Gail, would I believe this? Maybe Porter just wanted to get the next beer a little quicker . . . so call Gail? Wow, though!! I can imagine the quick thoughts (flare explosion, random bullet, etc.) roiling through his what-am-I-doing-on-the-ground brain. So glad he’s okay, and back on the saddle. And hey, Gail, next time (and there will likely be a next time), take a deep breath before you finger hits the pre-set send!! Ride on, Porter! Write on, Gail!

    • Thanks a bazillion, Larry! Great comment, we appreciate how well you get this whole situation! Hope all is great with you and that you’re having a grand summer!

  5. Wow! What in the heck causes something like that to happen, Gail? I’m still shaking my head . . . and not just about the exploding bike, but also about Porter’s round trip bike ride to get a new wheel.

    That photo of Porter with Amber is so adorable, it could be used as evidence (if you ever needed it) that Porter is more than just a guy in seriously good shape with an excellent level of equanimity, he also understands and appreciates beautiful women of depth (like Amber).

    • Melanie, thank you! Porter and Amber and I are shrieking with delight at your comment about Porter and Amber’s photo-op. You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, and I desperately hope things will calm down enough at our next stop for me to binge-read your fabulous dating blog and get caught up on your dating anthropology! XO

  6. So grateful that Porter was not injured. Not surprised that you both coped so well. May the rest of your trip be less interesting! 🙂

  7. Whoa! That must have been scary! So glad the bike is fixed and Porter is OK! How lucky is he to have you as his support system, back-up, and absolutely best buddy!


  8. Yikes and double Yikes. I guess there are not any Roadside Assistance trucks for bikes in the wilderness. This situation would make a perfect story about Resilience.

  9. You guys!!!! Not enough to adventure. You have to add adventure to the adventure. Glad everyone is OK. That includes Amber and the bike.

  10. Gail, I’m so glad Porter is okay! A wheel failure like that at a bad time could be fatal. What courage and trust and solidarity you two embody!

    • Dawn, yes, this is an extraordinary practice in vulnerability and openness to whatever is happening in the Moment. It’s wonderful to know you understand. Much love, Namasté.

  11. Good grief, Gail! What a blowout. You two are something else, again and again. So love your picture stories. Wishing you continued wild but safe journeys. Sorry I missed you in my home territory here.

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOUNG LADY!!! I’m of an age to say that!

    Huggggs all around,

  12. No two people are more competent than you two…and yet life happens. I am visualizing a huge white light around you both…Amber too.

    • Thank you so much for visualizing the white light around us, Kathleen, it must be working. Amber is sure of it too! Life does indeed happen, so much is out of one’s control despite all preparations and precautions. We wrap you and Jeff in white light too!

  13. OMG you guys!! Porter, you’d better start wearing bubble wrap, I don’t want you to end up like me. Gail, you are so cute with all your maps trying to find him. You are both so amazing, I think Amber must be an angel in disguise keeping you both safe! Keep on keeping on!! Say hi to Amber for me…

    • Pam, I’ve been trying to get Porter in Saran wrap for years, but maybe bubble wrap would be better, LOL!! Yes, Amber is our outrageous little angel with a big attitude. She keeps us on the strength training regimen you created for us, and whips us with the Theraband when we don’t do enough bird-dogs! You’re very amazing yourself and we hope your own athletic misadventures are all healed by now!

  14. What an amazing journey these past few years. Now this !! Memories recorded of postholing through snow, thirst, encounters with interesting two and four leggeds, wild storms, and so much more…all preparing you for this Grandaddy of them all. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill dukka. Thanks for taking us all with you through your posts, Gail.

  15. How could I be laughing and crying at the same time while reading this post? Life could not possibly be more exciting right now! The funniest thing is thinking what went through Porter’s mind when he got the auto reply back from you, “Can’t reply now, will write later.”
    “What the hell is she doing…!?”
    You both have the right amount of get-it-doneness to get out of any pickle and I just love reading about your adventures. Huge hugs to you both and so glad you’re still huggable!

    • Drew, I knew you’d get a kick out of that “Can’t reply now, will write later!” The first thing Porter said when I finally showed up to rescue him was “Whaa?” Hugs back atcha!

  16. Oh My!! You two, woops, three, are hilarious! I have been chuckling and OMG (ing) through your adventure. The pictures are both breath taking and funny. Amber is one lucky lady to be traveling with you, I know she was torn between this trip and spending time with me in Boston for the summer, right choice. Well my sistah-inlaw, See you both in August, stay vertical Porter! Hugs

    • Katherine, Amber says you got that right–she actually wanted to spend some quality girl-time in Boston with you this summer, but knew terrible things would happen to Porter and me if she weren’t here to take charge! We’re SO excited about seeing you in August! Much love, your devoted sistah!

  17. Just getting caught up! Wow! What a crisis! The shattered wheel was an unbelievable picture. Did the bike mechanics postulate why this happened? Carbon is a great light-weight material, but it breaks rather than bending. Hopefully Porter’s wheels will stay intact for the rest of the trip. Somebody said the adventure starts when something goes wrong. What an adventure!

    • Gary, the mechanics said they’d never seen anything like it! We have our theories, will look forward to sharing with you when we get back. Hope you and Peggy are having a great summer!

  18. hey all,
    I know you’ve moved on from grizzlies, exploding bikes, luminousness and simple boot shit, and I just have to say, I can’t help but think that you’re in a Far Side cartoon and we hear the bears looking at youmand just having a great belly laugh. “you know, we could give him some serious damage while he’s out of commission here, but Darn, he’s funny! Can’t wait to see what he provides us next. Let’s just phone ahead to our guys further south and put them on the watch. This guy is just too rich. We haven’t had one this amusing in years.” “And have you caught the chic with the doll who shows up every now and then?? What a hoot!”

    Porter, you were in my morning dream a couple days ago: riding high on your bike, your last leg of returning home to Miss Gail. Your style was quite wonderful and your smile wide. I’ll describe further when you two return to Boulder.
    Much love, S

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