When he was 12 years old, Ben Goff came home from school and announced that he wanted to ride his bike to Canada. Such a bold proclamation, easily brushed off as youthful enthusiasm in most households, found fertile ground in his home. His father Graham, a cyclist and bike tourer himself took him at his word. “Great! We’ll leave the week after school’s out,” he replied.
A few months later they successfully completed the journey from their home in Bozeman, MT to Canada and made a vow to take a long-distance riding trip every-other summer from that point forward. (Ever the conscientious father, Graham balanced things out with his daughter, doing long backpacking trips with her on the other years.)
Over the coming years, the Goff’s’ took some amazing rides. They pedaled from Bozeman, MT to Steamboat Springs, CO. Two years later, from Portland, OR to San Francisco, CA. The two following adventures both crossed the entire United States. The first was a southern route completed as a “three generation team” along with Ben’s grandfather. Next, Graham and Ben raced the Trans Am Bike Route including an added bonus of 500-mile “warm up” by starting in Bend, OR and riding to the starting line. After venturing onto roads less-traveled in Scotland’s Trans Alba race, they decided to draw up a back-country backpacking race of their own back home – and the Odyssey was born.
In 2020, after over 5,000 miles of driving, scouting and pre-riding, the Goff’s’ pulled together a rag-tag group of bike tourers for the inaugural event. With COVID-19 restriction limiting travel the initial year’s participation, 6 riders completed the inaugural event. With roots dug deep in Montana (and hearts melted by this incredible family riding saga), Astral Cycling is supporting the race in an effort to help foster the world-wide acclaim that the route deserves.
The 1,776 mile adventure travels clockwise around Montana, passing through the Rocky Mountains, across the expansive prairies and breaks of Central Montana, crosses the Missouri River, climbs over the 10,947' Beartooth Pass, through the Northern portion of Yellowstone National Park, and back to Bozeman. Short paved sections link smooth gravel, unmaintained dirt roads and single track. Resupplies are often days apart and the route is rough, steep, and remote. Riders will climb over one-hundred-thousand hard-earned feet throughout the ride. Montana’s infamously fickle weather is certain to add to the adventure. The challenge is great, and the rewards are plenty.
This route grew out of Ben and Graham Goff’s loving relationship, forged over a lifetime of adventure, and a zillion miles of shared riding. Join us on September 7th, 2021 to take their ride.
Words: Loren Mason-Gere
Images: The Goff Family and @Montanabikeodyssey