June 30th Statistics – East Glacier to Shelby, MT:
- Today’s Biking Distance – 69.0 miles
- Today’s Average Speed – 16.7 mph
- Today Ascent – 1,202 feet
- Today Descent – 2,636 feet
- Today’s Ending Elevation – 3,336 feet
- Total Trip Biking Days – 12
- Total Trip Biking Distance – 859.7 miles
- Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 71.6 miles
- Total Trip Ascent – 40,524 feet
Finally a prefect day: All day sunshine, temperature mid 60s in the morning to low 80’s in the afternoon, beautiful, but different Montana scenery, moderate to low traffic, and wide unbroken shoulders (with some pebbles and rocks).
Another new record for the trip besides hours of sunshine – My fastest speed of the trip (in fact, ever for distance), 16.7 mph for almost 70 miles. While I would like to claim it was my conditioning, it was greatly assisted by tailwinds and a 1,500 feet elevation drop over the 70 miles.
To my frustration I had to catch a ride in a vehicle for 2 miles today. Route 2 was under construction with one passable lane for several miles and cars are led through the construction by a pilot vehicle. Typically, we have been allowed to skip the pilot driver and proceed through the construction. Today, I was stopped at the beginning of the construction and told that a grizzly bear and her cub were grazing near the construction area and that I would not be allowed to bike through for our own safety. The pilot vehicle (pickup truck) put my bike in the back and drove me the two miles. Unfortunately, the bear and her cub were gone by the time we reached the area.
The change in scenery was dramatic today as we passed the Rockies and entered the Plains (see todays photos when posted). At mile 30 I passed acres and 100s of power windmills scattered over the Plains. Most of the area I biked today is in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Tomorrow will be the longest ride of the trip so far and our first century ride, about 111 miles. We are meeting for breakfast at 6:30 am and hope to be on the road by 7:30 am. Unfortunately the weather report is for rain in the PM as we approach Harve, MT (our second rest day).
June 28 – Eureka to Columbia Falls, MT
June 29th Statistics – Columbia Falls to East Glacier, MT:
- Today’s Biking Distance – 74.2 miles
- Today’s Average Speed – 11.2 mph
- Today Ascent – 4,344 feet
- Today Descent – 2,431 feet
- Today’s Ending Elevation – 4,845 feet
- Total Trip Biking Days – 11
- Total Trip Biking Distance – 790.7 miles
- Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 71.9 miles
- Total Trip Ascent – 39,322 feet
After Nancy and I celebrated our anniversary on the telephone at 7 am PMT, today started with a lot of concerns – rain, a change in routing due to a muddy 3 mile section (thanks to Tom from Austin who was riding East to West and shared with me what he experienced yesterday), and 3 miles of road and traffic similar to the stressful ride yesterday on Route 93. Thankfully, for our long ride and climb today, the road improved after 3 miles and provided a wide shoulder, traffic diminished to a moderate level, and the rain stopped after an hour (even if we did not get much sunshine today). It stayed cool all day and only occasionally got above 60 degrees. But for climbing I was comfortable with shorts and a short sleeve jersey after the rain stopped. The only other exciting moment was when two dogs at mile 65 hid behind a bush to attack me until I was next to them – I made it unscathed.
The challenge today was crossing the Continental Divide. Unfortunately, we did not get to ride the “Sun Road”. It is closed to cyclist between 11 am and 4 pm and adds over 100 miles to the ride which creates lodging and logistic problems. We took the “easy” alternative over Marias Pass, 5,216 feet, which we reached after 63 miles of riding from Columbia Falls. While the overcast diminished the visual impact of the mountains, it was still a stunning ride. Along the way I stopped for a great lunch at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, MT, a historically unique inn including six log cabins and six cabin cabooses and a diesel locomotive that has been converted into a luxury suite, They also have a collection of trains (full size) on display. Nancy – they also have 33 km of groomed cross-country trails in the winter and spring.
We had a great dinner at the top rated restaurant (out of 9) in East Glacier, Serrano’s Mexican. It was packed and we were very fortunate that they were willing to seat us. I decided to walk to walk the 1/2 mile back to our inn after dinner. Along the way, I noted for the first time during the trip the overwhelming smells of the forest and mountains – mushrooms, pine, moss, and many others I could not name, but my wife Nancy could. It is still light a 9:30 pm, so I am very happy I decided to walk and experience the moment as my friend Shelley constantly remains me.
Tomorrow is a very easy day, 70+ miles, mostly flat and downhill, so we aren’t going to meet for breakfast until 8 am and probably begin our ride until the late hour of 9 am.
I am two days behind posting photographs (6/28 and 6/29) but hope to get caught up tomorrow when we arrive in Shelby, MT. Goodnight All.
June 28th Statistics –Eureka to Columbia Falls, MT:
- Today’s Biking Distance – 70.7 miles
- Today’s Average Speed – 11.8 mph
- Today Ascent – 3,478 feet
- Today Descent – 2,735 feet
- Today’s Ending Elevation – 2,981 feet
- Total Trip Biking Days – 10
- Total Trip Biking Distance – 716.5 miles
- Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 71.7 miles
- Total Trip Ascent – 34,978 feet
The bike ride today was nearly perfect except for one stressful issue. The great part of the day included: 1) Sunshine all day (regardless of the fact that is was 39 degrees when we had breakfast and only 45 when we started biking at 8:30 am – it did reach the 80s), 2) Continued beautiful scenery, 3) Light traffic on 22 miles of bucolic country roads (with some climbs over 10% reminiscent of Chester Country), 4) the city of Whitefish, and 5) dinner at the Three Forks Grille in Columbia Falls – the best meal of the trip so far (the Caesar Salad with smoked trout was outstanding).
The bad, really bad, element of the day was 50 miles biking on Route 93 – lots of traffic, little or no shoulder on most of the 50 miles, uneven and broken pavement where I had to ride – overall terrible road conditions – a very stressful experience. It was only at dinner that we were told by our waiter that Route 93 is the most dangerous road in Montana – certainly not a surprise. I had a scary moment when a logging truck came so close to me (even without on-coming traffic) that I was blown off the narrow shoulder into the dirt (I kept the bike upright). Unfortunately, we have one more similar road to ride in North Dakota (Williston to Minot with natural gas trucks) which we are going to revisit biking.
Tomorrow we cross the Rocky Mountains – our last major climb until we reach New York State.