Good morning Columbus! Wake up at 5:30, breakfast at 6 and on the road at 7 am. Today started out with breakfast with the some of the locals, joking and connecting. Bikes are more akin to Harley’s then to Treks as noted in our truck stop motel.
The ride today started at sunrise at a brisk at 41 degrees and after 90 miles and a gentle climb of 2,600 feet we hit 99 degrees with a headwind. The ride provided opportunities to meet with locals from a pelt fur store to a motorcyclist riding cross country with his dog sitting on his gas tank. Leaving Montana ,we rode into Wyoming, our 5th state since starting our ride two weeks ago. We ended up in Lovell on Sunday was like a “ghost town”, with everything closed.
Today was a great day to be on the bike and just the opposite of yesterday. Great views, great roads and most importantly a great tailwind for nearly 100 of the 111 miles today. As a bonus the air was much clearer as we moved east of some of the forest fires. The morning was brisk. We rolled out before sunrise and it was 39 degrees and hitting 102 when we finally arrived in Columbus, Montana. Time to break out the arms warmers, gloves and jackets for the first 20 miles tomorrow!
As we rode through the small towns it was interesting to see a strong sense of community with events being planned and set up for labor day weekend.
While the roads we great for about 8 miles we rode on Interstate 90, the same road that starts in Seattle and ends up in Boston. As I looked up and the cars were passing I was reminded the speed limit is 80 mph!
Today promised to be a relief from the day before with a slightly shorter ride, and considerable less of a climb being a 2-4% gradual climb. What we did not factor in was the winds. Thursday we had some enjoyable tailwinds while today we had just the opposite. We started out a 6 AM to go to breakfast since our hotel was being remodeled.
Breakfast took longer then expected and we were not on the road until 7:30 AM. The beginning part of the ride took us around a lake and dam with some great views.
On the downside, the balance of the ride (70 plus miles), were along busy roads with little shoulders, heat and headwinds. Tomorrow promises to be better, tail wind, shorter ride and less vertical.
Today marked the longest rode to-date at 125 miles and climbing 5,700 feet. We started in downtown Missoula shortly before 7 AM and rolled into Helena some 8 hours later. Helena is the Capital of Montana, located between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park). The temperature was a brisk 46 degrees at the start and 90 when we finished. Fortunately the air was significantly better then the previous two days were we were “smoked” by the wild fires.
We crossed the “Continental Divide” at 6,400 feet, (over a mile high and nearly 1,000 feet higher than Denver). While the climb was tough, a group of us stayed together to the summit, where I then made a break for it on the downhill hitting 49.86 miles per hour. It was a rush, with some challenging cross winds as I rolled into town. Another great day on the bike! Tomorrow on to Bozeman a “short” 120 miles and 4,100 feet.
Over dinner tonight we reflected on the impact and power of the environment and the changes we are experiencing on our ride. From the power of the Pacific Ocean, to the eclipse to the lush green of the pacific northwest. As we headed over the majestic rolling wheat fields we came into Missoula and rode through what weeks before were engulfed in wild fires impacting over 50,000 acres of parched and dry land.
Ironically a few thousand miles south the Hurricane Harvey is changing the lives of millions of Americans in Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to everyone impacted. I encourage everyone to consider a donation to the American Red Cross.
Slept in until 7:30 today (vs the typical 5:45 wake up call). It was a treat. The day started off with a fantastic massage, followed by breakfast and time for R & R. Missoula is a great college town, though it is covered in a haze from the recent forest fires. Last night and tonight we are at the Double Tree Missoula, on the banks of the Clark Fork River. The view from my room is great!
We are eating really well and contrary to what some have thought I do not think I will loose weight. Between breakfasts, well stocked road side “refreshments” and dinners, we are all eating very well!
Today was a short ride from Lolo to Missoula, Montana capping off 800 miles with less than 3,000 to go. While my infamous accident was nearly a week ago, I am feeling the aches and pains and looking forward to being off the bike for the next 36 hours. My neck, back and hip are reminding me of the accident. Advil, Neosporin, ice and more gauze pads should help me get back on the road. The ride today was “smokin” taking us though miles of forests recently burned, leaving the air heavy and smoky. It is incredible how the fires torched the trees but left most of the underbrush unscathed. (click on the images to see more).