Oatmeal and Coffee on the Great Divide Route
There was a brief break in rain, but the clouds were still looming when we set up camp in a marshy aspen field full of cow patties somewhere on Storm King Mountain. By the time we washed dishes after dinner and began our evening bedtime rituals, we were already fantasizing about breakfast. My two friends and I lay in our sleeping bags listening to the rain against our tents and tarp, and imagined the concoction we knew awaited us at sunrise.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route took us from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico over six weeks and 2700 miles. Breakfast was always roughly the same, a comforting constant during a time when each day brought new challenges and scenery. For lunch we ate whatever snacks we could pick up at convenience stores as we passed through towns, and dinner was a communal feast combining what we carried in our rations: typically, an uninspired minute-rice concoction, made slightly better with a square of what we dubbed “night chocolate.”
But breakfast was always the hearty reliable staple: coffee and oatmeal. As the sun rose, we clicked on the small stove and stared impatiently as the water boiled and our eyes gained focus. We had the foresight to mail ourselves packages every 750 miles, and had a steady stream of the lifeblood we needed to survive in the wilderness. With over 60 miles to ride each day, we still supplemented with whatever coffee we could find. But on those sparkling early mornings, we had gourmet coffee. Unable to wait, we poured the grounds right into the boiled water and filtered cup by cup as we constructed our carbs.
Our recipe changed over time as we rode up and down mountains along North America’s great ridge, but the heart of it remained the same. We spread our breakfast offerings on the table and chose what fit the mood and the ride ahead. Packets of instant: maybe walnuts, or apple cinnamon, or the trusted plain. Peanut butter. Protein powder. Trail mix, seeds, and dates. In the week after each mail pick-up, we added dehydrated delectables like goji berry powder, powdered coconut milk, or protein powder to the oatmeal. It turned into a thick, rich slop. For one brief, beautiful moment every day, we felt full and satisfied.
Photo by: Meghan Dinneen