Megamoon (The Film): When Love & Adventure Come Together
“Patrick and I had been together (and going on great adventures) for over ten years when we decided to make a plan; and that plan involved getting married and going on a honeymoon… a honeymoon on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.”
Editor’s Note: “A must-watch, inspiring, short-format film. It’s refreshing to get an intimate look at the GDMBR and see the reaction from folks (who aren’t from the US) to the landscapes and natural world of our great American west. Read the backstory below and stay tuned for Hannah’s follow-up article with tips and info about filming a bike adventure.” – Logan
Patrick had been granted a 3 month sabbatical from work, so that set our timeframe. I’d also entered a lottery to win a permit to paddle the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon…and won…which placed us in the Arizona desert in July.
After paddling the Colorado River we bundled all our clothes and camping gear into two little trailers and hopped onto mountain bikes to travel some 2,500 miles along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Antelope Wells, New Mexico to Banff, Alberta in Canada.
A brief note about our gear. We both cycled On-One hardtails and pulled along BOB Yak trailers we’d purchased second hand on ebay. With only two previous trailer outings under our belt, we found them to be stable and easily packed even in a haphazard way. The BOB bag is huge, probably bigger than my expedition rucksack, and the temptation is to fill it. Most of the time we did carry too much. I confess to even occasionally attaching a 5 litre bag of red wine – remember this was our honeymoon after all. I’m happy we chose the setup we did, but our next off-road cycling expedition might involve a more lightweight style of packing.
New Mexico proved to be the most difficult section of the trip. Not least because our bodies were in shock. We’d only just begun the adventure, it was August, it was hot, and it was the desert. On day two Patrick also dropped the GPS in the one and only desert puddle which left it completely fried. On day three we suffered ten punctures and were left with no spare patches.
As we cycled along on day four – each pulling a heavy trailer – the sandy desert floor beneath us was unfamiliar and considering we were from a small island where it rains a lot we were definitely out of our comfort zone. We had been desperately searching for a spring, or even a cattle tank, to refill our water bottles since we got up that morning. With lows come extreme highs and finding the spring, a thirsty six hours later, was one such high. We danced, we sang, we smiled and we ate beef jerky. It’s moments like these…when you’ve really earned it, that life feels good.
There were some literal big ups too. If you’re familiar with the GDMBR you may know that the highest point on the route is just shy of 12,000ft. And for us, travelling south to north, the longest grin inducing down was 23 miles – nonstop – all completely down into the beautiful town of Salida, Colorado.
We’d given ourselves a relatively leisurely pace and weren’t too hung up with going off route when we fancied it. The Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks were two such highlights we didn’t want to miss. This trip was a chance to explore, enjoy each others company, soak up the mountains and toast marshmallows at every given opportunity.
Another stand out memory was celebrating thanksgiving with a group of Canadian Hunters. We dined on supermarket Turkey (which I found quite funny) and they gave us beer whilst regaling us with hunting stories as we sat in their tent. A tent which had been there every hunting season for forty years. It was amazing! They told us about a hiker just the week before who had spent six days without food after being bluff charged by a bear four times. The hunters fed him too. They told us that there are too many grizzly bears in the valley now. That night, near the hunters camp, Patrick awoke to hear heavy breathing snuffles just outside the tent. In good husbandly behavior he remained wide awake until morning but let me continue sleeping soundly.
By the time we were in the colder months and surrounded by big snow capped mountains, I think I can honestly say it was completely my kind of heaven. I felt comfortable and energized. We toasted marshmallows on campfires almost every night. We glugged back cold red wine with such a calorie deficit there was no hangover in the morning.
It’s true that sometimes I think I had the better side of the bargain. Patrick did nice things like letting me warm my frozen toes under his armpits on the side of the road and in return I’m not always sure what I offered but he says he enjoyed seeing my smiling face even after grinding up some hideously long hill.
I’ve no idea what the next adventure will be, but I’m fairly certain it’s going to involve two wheels.
Megamoon premiered at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2014 and was shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award. It went on to win the Silver Award for the Best Spirit of Adventure film at SHAFF 2015 and is part of the Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2015 World Tour…next stop China!
Hannah Maia is a filmmaker from the UK who runs a production company called Maia Media. Find out more about the Megamoon trip on her website www.maiamedia.co.uk. Follow Hannah’s adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.