Adventure Cycling Montana - Northern Tier

December 17, 2014


With Montana's unpredictable late fall approaching, we had placed all our eggs in this weekend's basket by driving 200 miles northwest to Libby, Montana, to film on Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier Route. The clouds loomed on the first morning of shooting and Director of Photography Bobby Jahrig, and I looked at each other, thinking we might have made a mistake.

Our cyclists evaluating the weather situation.

One of the riders almost immediately emphasized that his favorite cycling weather was “threatening rain” because it put an urgency and excitement in the air. We knew then we’d made the right decision. The weather was perfect for this section of this route.

Me, Bobby, and Dillon ready for rain.

It's wild country around Lake Koocanusa, and we were surrounded by rugged terrain and could count the number of cars passing by on one hand. The threatening rain heightened these beautiful conditions and the crew ended up having to tell the excited cyclists Travis Switzer (an Adventure Cycling cartographer), Mel Wardlow, and Evan Smith to slow down because they were cruising too fast for some of the shots — a bizarre problem for most bicycle tours.

Travis, Evan, and Mel speeding by us.

Throughout the next year, we will be releasing five short episodes of Adventure Cycling Montana, highlighting each of the five routes that cross the Big Sky State. Partnering with Epic Montana for a video series was a no-brainer for Adventure Cycling. Executive Producers Mick Faherty and Nick Davis of Epic Montana built a team with a passion for the Treasure State. Jahrig and Dillon Jenkins led the crew, flawlessly running everything from sound equipment to drone cameras.

Our cyclists ride by as we have no less than three cameras on them.

I'm in my last year of a three-year MFA in filmmaking while also working full-time at Adventure Cycling as a graphic designer. It is such a treat to have both of my worlds intersect on projects like this where I get to work with such incredible people. Directing Adventure Cycling Montana has been, hands-down, the most exciting work I've been able to do for Adventure Cycling Association.

My arms were weirdly sore from this.

I am so thankful for everyone that made this first Adventure Cycling Montana episode happen. We could not have asked for more enthusiastic riders or a better crew. It was a blast taking in the scenery, laughing/singing with the riders, hitting up the local eateries, basking in the luxury of the Whitefish Bike Retreat, and (above all) riding inMontana. If you haven't cycled the Northern Tier yet, I would suggest you start planning.

Photos by Mick Faherty

This post was written by Rachel Stevens, Director of the Adventure Cycling Montana series.


2WX: Hans March 11, 2015, 10:43 AM

Both were really great, fun, inspiring pieces of film. Makes me want to ride Montana...after my trans-Adirondacks this summer. Hopefully ACA and Epic MT will do a section on the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail in MT. It is not just "on" my bucket list, it IS my bucket list!

Ride safe,

Brian Moran February 16, 2015, 12:59 AM

I'm sure that after the film makers who put in the work creating this nice little film are thrilled that the only comments we can muster are about the color of the clothing worn in it.

Kevin Madzia March 3, 2015, 2:41 PM

Yes, Brian, most of the above are prime examples of people who are ruining the Internet. Have they ever heard of the concept of "on-topic?"

Dougie February 7, 2015, 9:44 AM

I'd like to hear less music and more natural sounds of touring in films of this nature. I also appreciate a limited amount of FX, which are generally overused and obfuscate films.

John Weyhrich February 2, 2015, 11:49 PM

Nicely done, Rachel! As a reminder (and shameless plug), we're up there every summer enabling cyclists to enjoy all that gorgeous country while on our two-day, fully supported benefit bicycle tour. For those interested, check out all the smiling faces (and brightly colored jerseys) at:

p.s. Wearing one of her many other hats, Rachel designed our logo, too...

Doug January 27, 2015, 10:36 PM

I totally agree with the high vis imperative and ACA should be promoting this in their productions. That said, great photography and a fun little segment! The caption on the penultimate still pic should say "no fewer than three cameras", not "no less". A minor point, but if we're going to be professional.....

Jay January 12, 2015, 11:54 AM

Great film. Love Montana. And, yes, we all need to light up. I ride with either a yellow vest, yellow windbreaker, or Yellow rain jacket (Showers Pass). Also ride with lights, day or dusk. always. have two white blinkers on front and three on back. When I ride my recumbent I also have a light weight light on my flag pole. It is the safe way to go. Ride to live, live to ride. Hooaahh!!

Roman January 12, 2015, 12:15 PM

A way to go, of course I forgot to mention that it's a great video, regardless of the LOW VIS of some of the riders. I was always thinking about using a pole on my touring/commuter bike (not recumbent) and placing a light at the top, but never accomplished it. Now I read that you're doing this on your bike. Well done.

Roman January 11, 2015, 9:46 PM

I have been using hi vis clothing as early as I learned they exist, say last 30+ years plus lights day/night. Two years ago I acquired "Design Shine" rear 10Watts LED lights. According to motorists they claim that they see me from over a mile away in bright day. Not cheap $230 + batteries, but my life is worth it. I think it's.

Moos January 9, 2015, 2:44 PM

I wholeheartedly agree. WE have to make wearing high vis cool. If the cool kids are wearing it then so will everyone else.

I have been wearing bright clothes since I have been riding. It doesn't have to be yellow or green. Red, white,bright blue,etc. all can work as well as flashers etc. It depends on where you are riding. The blue might not work in the desert, but here in the forests of the east coast it tends to be seen.

Bottom line is cyclists have more to lose in any car vs. bike crash so it is our personal responsibility to prevent this un-fortunate possibility.

Clay Exton February 2, 2015, 8:28 AM

I know , as a driver, that cars now have too many blind spots in front, pillars are massive now, with airbags inside the pillars. Not enough glass, I catch myself not seeing a cyclist quite often. Then you have people not paying attention, especially in cities. Cycling cities is not an option for me. Cell phones are especially dangerous, with cyclists and car drivers. Bright colors help, but so does paying attention by both ends, and making car design improvements to maximize visibility forward and sideways.

Dale Hutjens January 9, 2015, 6:29 AM

Xtian, you have hit the nail on the head. I wear the See Me Wear brand of high visability clothing when i ride and i have had motorists stop and tell me how much they appreciate that I am making myself visabile to them. We, as cyclists, need to keep preaching this to the manufactures!

xtian January 26, 2015, 5:02 PM

Thanks Dale - yes, I feel that way when I am 'motoring.' It seems to me that in the US at least, 99 percent of the people who ride a bike that costs more then a few bucks also drive cars. Don't they see the difference between bike riders who blend in with the environment vice the ones they can see??!!

bookbikehike January 8, 2015, 1:37 PM

We're going there!

william buttry December 20, 2014, 8:24 PM

Xtian I could not agree more I ride a tour easy recumbent and on the back of my seat I have a orange vest over the seat so all the reflective stripes are pointing to the back and I ride with my tail lights on a slow flash day and nite so I wont be missed . to see some of my videos go to you tube wbuttry1.

xtian December 21, 2014, 5:16 PM

Thanks William - and thanks for pointing me to your videos - I look forward to seeing them!

Gail Lewis December 18, 2014, 3:59 PM

You might want to keep an eye on the two young Canadians on an adventure. They left Ontario Canada on homemade electric assist tricycles in September. They are on a south west route looking for planned sustainable communities while making a documentary.

xtian December 17, 2014, 2:46 PM

Riding bicycles for some six decades I fail to understand why riders continue wearing jerseys/jackets of other than high vis colors. It is obvious from this video that the guy wearing high vis yellow really stands out, while the other two rides blend in and out of the landscape depending on the light and the surroundings. I think they are doing themselves and motorist a great disfavor by blending in with the terrain.

Mike Nielsen August 9, 2015, 9:21 PM

Hmmm---Bright Orange, Bright Blue and Yellow. They all stood out to me. I wear black wool jerseys and don't plan to change. Its what I have and what I will use. They have taken me the entire Norther Tier, twice across Australia and New Zealand, off road through the Himalaya, the length of Viet Nam, France, Germany, Baja, through much of BC and the American southwest. The only bike wreck I have ever had was getting hit head on by another idiot cyclist on a bike trail. I was wearing a very bright Adventure cycling Utah jersey at the time.

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