Wednesday 8/31. 40.7 miles. From the Alpaca Farm with Barbara Nie and John, to BQuick Running in Helena. Cows, bellowed most of the night because they wanted grass on the other side of the fence. Tara said they sounded like Chewbacca. The accommodations in the covered wagon were great. Complete with a very large jar of m&m’s. We left around 9 am, a bit late for a hot day. Almost immediately we saw a giant pile of bear poop with lots of berry seeds in it. Road alone today, as John and Louis stayed in Lincoln. We crossed two divide crossings, making it four continental divide crossings in total so far. We are about 522 miles into a 2700 mile adventure. Over the last couple days we’ve learned that as you keep your head down watching the road surface, as you’re breaking downhill for eight or 10 miles, and only looking up intermittently at the scenery and sometime scouting the side of the road for bears, you also have to look forward once the cow Poo becomes pretty regular in the road. Saw lots of beautiful black cows brown cows and white and brown cows. The cattle guard crossings are quite frightening. Metal bars going perpendicular to the direction of travel, that are widely spaced so a cows hoof or a bike shoe or a bike tire could slip through them if positioned wrong. We ride over them slowly. I am quite certain I saw a grizzly today, but we stopped well before approaching it and when we did approach that spot there was nothing to be seen. Yeah! When we topped out on pass number three we did the happy dance with two new friends Kenny and Stephanie. Arriving in Helena it was 95°. One of Tara‘s panniers had broken so we went to the bike shop for a repair. Great accommodations sleeping in BQuick running’s yard.
poo-Phoria: Tara heard this word somewhere. from my definition is enough volume to know that you’re done for the day, and it happens before you get on your bike for the day, and you feel cleansed.
poo-phobia: after you’ve had a bad burger and you are afraid you’re going to have to stop to poo every 20 minutes all day long on the bike and you might not get to your destination at all!
Monday 8/29 48 miles from Seeley Lake to Big Nelson FS Site
It was cold at Seeley Lake this morning, 35 degrees. Same routine. Up, pack stuff, have coffee and breakfast, finish packing the tent after it has dried as much as possible, pack the stove, separate out todays food and make it assessable, get on the bike. Full gloves, tights for me and jackets to start the day. The ride to Ovando was eventful. John was not feeling well after he and Louis had burgers and lots of milk last night. Tara and I both could have slept longer. Our days start with a climb which is sort of planned. Today I was happy to go up to warm up. We stop every 30-45 minutes for snacks, clothing adjustments- more on or off, pee breaks. Today we all came to a skidding stop as a black bear ran up a tree about 20 feet from us. He quickly decided his best option was to come down and run up the road. We stopped again a few minutes later as a small shallow pond had tracks coming across it. Bear? Deer? At this point I was fiddling with my phone for a picture and tipped over. It happens to everyone, or so it seems. We arrived in the famous town of Ovando that caters to cyclists. Tara and I had packages at the post office with food, a sleeping bag liner, butt butter, and Larry sent some maple candies. We stayed in town a couple of hours- eating, ice cream, post cards, texting. It got hot. By mid afternoon and we decided to continue on to Big Nelson. Fed a donkey a bite of apple, then he ran off. The last 15 miles Were flat and hot past endless hay fields, fencing and some cows. Keep the rubber side down!
50+ miles yesterday (Tuesday 8/30.) from big Spencer campsite on Cooper Lake through the town of Lincoln all the way to the Llama Farm. We crossed one continental divide. Arrived at 8 PM last night slept in this covered wagon at the Llama Farm last night. Barber now hosts Bike packers free of charge. Food wine drinks jars of M&Ms anything you could want with four or five funky little cabins. They do not accept donations but ask that you pay it forward somewhere somehow. Yesterday morning to Lincoln was supposed to be easy but I was tired and it was difficult. We spent about three hours in the town of Lincoln and purchased a charging cord, huckleberry ice cream and spent some time at the library. Once on the bike I felt rejuvenated and we rode for about 4 1/2 more hours. We’ll worth it for a night here! We should reach Helena today.
Sunday 8/28. 35 miles and 6-7 miles more getting food, groceries, doing laundry, showers, talking with Mimi and family. Holland Lake campsite to Seeley Lake campsite.
We left about 8:30 am and climbed until lunch. Seemed like a bit of a short day, arriving in a town with services and plans for bathing and food and laundry. The campsite at Seeley Lake was about 3 miles from the store. We set up camp and were expecting to pay $5 for the group, when a rider (Dan from Wisconsin) came into camp with only a $20. No one could make change so he paid for everyone. Thanks Dan? We went to town - Tara got change from the bar to pay for the laundry and showers. The showers were in the back of the laundromat. How convenient and certainly a new experience for both of us. Then off to PIZZA. I was soooo happy. We chatted with Mimi a bit (She had her hand surgery today - Tuesday the 30th) and is doing well. Lots of deer in the campground. Lots of little spotted fawns. I was able to talk with John a few minutes and finally say Happy Anniversary. The mornings on the bikes pass quickly and the afternoons seem to drag on a bit with the miles passing more slowly - when I am tired for sure. Food is a bit of a challenge, balancing enough of the right food with weight. The lake was pretty as the sun went down and the temperature dropped quickly. Our friend John was up in the night - he and Louis had burgers that didn't sit well. Ugh when you feel badly on a bike.
Saturday 8/27. 40 miles. Cedar Creek to Holland Lake. I’m so fortunate that John is happy to support my adventures. Secretly, he’s probably happy to be rid of me for a while! Wet soggy morning. Oatmeal again…..outhouse was rated a”2”. A “1” rating warrants pooping in the woods. We waited for the sun to dry our tents a bit. Once on the bikes, the 0.8 mile warm up back to the trail was not so bad. We road with John and Louis today. It’s nice to have company! Almost all on dirt roads today. A long climb early then a bit of up and down. We are low on food because we can resupply tomorrow so the bikes are a bit lighter. We passed Peck Lake which was an option for camping the prior night but we were all glad we didn’t try to go that far. We would have been caught in that storm. Holland Creek was a nice campsite on the lake. We had fantasies that the lodge would have ice cream or food for sale but we were disappointed. We connected with Sandra (from Germany) and Steve (Montana) today also and they caped here as well. Everyone bathed in the Lake. We shared the camp fees so another cheap night of camping. No service to call my honey on our anniversary but our search and rescue device can send a pre typed message so he knew we were well. All is well.
Friday 8/26. 37.5 miles to Cedar Creek remote site. Finally slept well in the tent litter box. Cedar creek is on the Sean River. We arrived to large puddles in the site so we camped on the river bank/boat launch and prayed the river didn’t rise! After setting up our tents we dove in just in time for a thunder and lightning and rain storm pass. It was windy but only for a few minutes. We arrived by 3:30 which has become a bit of our normal-up and ride early, unpack, set up tents, swim, eat, sleep, pack, ride, repeat. Today’s ride was the bike path, then a paved road back into Ferndale. Then a long flat road before the big climb. I adjusted my shoe clip to reduce / prevent the knee pain. We climbed up on a good dirt road 8-9 miles to the 14 mile mark. All gradual and not too grueling. We follow the west side of swan lake to the detour. This section had an alternative detour by choice if you wanted to avoid some logging trucks. We took the main route and never saw a logging truck. Six of us riders i’ll stopped at the same intersection for lunch. That’s unusual as everyone rides at a different pace. Headed down a big hill before lunch Tara and I were caught in a bit of a rain storm for maybe three minutes. We put on our rain jackets and when we arrived at the lunch spot no one else have even been rained on! The campsite was 0.8 miles off the trail….down. We dreaded the next morning start but it wasn’t bad! It was overcast and cool today which made for nice riding. Once the sun is out it gets quite hot!
Thursday August 25th. (Again. Am I delirious? Probably…) Awake a lot in the night at &whitefish Lake due to the freight trains. And another night of thunder and lightning. Left early and went to the Buffalo Cafe for a BIG breakfast. Mostly roads all day. Stopped at the big train in Columbia Falls, Montana. Lots of farmland, hay fields, and deer. All the gardens are fenced in to protect the veggies from the deer. Pretty valley views with really tall mountains and lots of deer. One small fawn was trapped inside the fence. Went almost to Ferndale and turned onto a bike path for 2 miles into Big Fork. But we didn’t see any big forks in town. Stayed at the Big Fork State Park campground in what Tara called a “tent litter box”. It easily drains water during a downpour. After swimming and fishing a thunder storm, we road into town for groceries and DAIRY QUEEN! Almost heaven.
Wednesday August 24, 2022. 46.5 miles. We rode from Dickey Lake, South of Eureka to Whitefish Lake State Park. Loud thunderstorms in the night and we woke up to soggy wet tents. We also awoke to an incessant beep, beep, beep, as the logging started before daylight. Craaaack! Thud! Crunch….beep, beep, beep. They must drive logging vehicles that cut trees backwards. It has been quite dry which has been great in the morning packing the tents, especially from a weight perspective. Today we are continuing on a detour due to construction. We went up the Stryker Whitefish Road road about 15 miles to reconnect with the great divide route. 10 miles were a slow steady grind up, and up, and up. We both felt strong and it was the first day it was overcast, so it was much cooler. We took lunch about 3 hours into the ride near a gated side road. The road itself was gravel but all rideable. Then we went down, down, down. I like going down. We intersected the GD trail near Upper Whitefish Lake. In 5-6 hours of riding the gravel roads we saw 3 cars and 3 cyclists. As we came into the town of Whitefish, a summer home and ski resort town, we road the length of the lake, mostly high above the lake with a steep drop down to the lakeside. And no guard rails…..in town we found a great coffee shop before heading to the White first Lake State Park. There we reunited with John and Louis. We also met a Danish couple who arrived late, coming from Alaska and headed to South America……that’s lot of miles! That’s Tara cleaning up a dinner spill as bear prevention.
Bike Care: we have most of what we would need for a bike repair with us. Shifter and Brake Cables, a tire, tubes, brake pads, rags, cleaner, lube. Spare spokes, chain links, and nuts and bolts. We clean the chains daily and may stop mid trip for a tune up somewhere.
Thursday August 25 The freight trains and rain (and very loud thunder and lots of lightning) in the whitefish State Park campground were amazing all through the night. We had breakfast at the Buffalo Café with an Argentinian young man waiter who invited us to bike in Argentina. Then we rode through Columbia Falls and saw the big train. And the Bundt pan sunflowers……. roads through lots of large home construction out in the big big sky of Montana. The road turned left, then right, and left, then right, then left, then right, then left…..signs of the day: “ be brave take the hill“. « Great Divide- cyclists welcome to camp” and our mileage….Antelope Wells 2,327 miles and Banff 384 miles…..at what point will it be shorter to finish than to go back?! We rode 40 miles to the town of Bigfork, which is on Flathead Lake. After a refreshing dip in the lake The thunder sent us back to our tent site to set up camp. The state parks have a shared cycling and hiking group camping area which is very nice. There’s even a bike stand to hang your bike to clean it. We then rode to the grocery store to stock up for three days of food and had a pre-dinner Dairy Queen. Delicious broccoli and garlic cooked in rotisserie chicken juice and the rotisserie chicken. I then attempted to eat a half of everything I bought because it weighs so much!
Tara tested the time lapse of us erecting our tents. It was quite entertaining but won’t upload here. I’ll try on Face book.
Tuesday August 23rd. Every day we make sure we have weighmetry….think symmetry with weight evenly distributed on each side. We left the Baynes Lake RV Park early, before 8:30 AM. Coyotes yipping and yapping through the night we’re pretty excited. We crossed the border into Montana at Roseville. The border guard said “where are you going” and Tara said Eureka which is about 14 miles away while I simultaneously Said Mexico, which is about 2500 miles away. He said “welcome home” and we rode through. Just before the border we met John and Louis who are riding the same route at a similar pace. It has been great to share trail information with each other. Todays ride was a lot of roads with prairie views. We stopped for Subway lunch, A resupply at the grocery store and at the forest service building to find out about trail conditions. Another major section of the trail is closed and we have to do a reroute. We missed some Beautiful areas but this puts us ahead of schedule. We took tobacco Road and Ant Flats Road to get off the highway to a forest service campground on Dickey lake. About 54 miles today. It rained 10 drops, so we got out our rain jackets and then put them away 15 minutes later. Met up with Louis and John and an “older” woman from New Zealand who was headed north. We all shared a campsite - $3 each, easy on the budget. We swam in The lake with a dual purpose of bathing and Washinh our clothes. As we ride along we have a lot of time to think of crazy words. The day after Fernie we saw lots and lots of bear poo……tall piles, flat piles, running bear piles…. All full of berries. We scatdaddled (skedaddle?) all day and took no photos but I finally took the time to get a photo yesterday.