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.
June 27th Statistics – Libby to Eureka, MT:
- Today’s Biking Distance – 73.1 miles
- Today’s Average Speed – 13.0 mph
- Today Ascent – 3,478 feet
- Today Descent – 3,082 feet
- Today’s Ending Elevation – 2,533 feet
- Total Trip Biking Days – 9
- Total Trip Biking Distance – 645.8 miles
- Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 71.8 miles
- Total Trip Ascent – 32,243 feet
The bike ride today was nearly perfect: RAIN – NONE; Road conditions – very good; Traffic – very light; Scenery – best of the trip so far; Terrain – Hilly with enjoyable 1% to 5% grades. The only factor that kept the day from being outstanding was the lack of sunshine – overcast and looking like rain with only occasional moments of sun which also kept the temperature somewhat cool at mid 50s to low 60s until the sun finally came out for good the last 30 minutes into Eureka. Tomorrow is forecasted to be sunshine all day with temperatures increasing from the high 50s to the low 80s.
Northwest Montana is nothing short of spectacular. I have so many pictures, it may take another day to edit and post them.
Everyone rode the total 70+ miles today except Dale who drove and supported us with the van. Unfortunately, we had 4 flat tires today (not me), but no one seemed to care considering the views and Dale being there to help.
I also spent time with 4 fellow cross country bikers (self supported), Jesse (a physical therapist who rode cross country six years ago) and her father Rick from Cincinnati. I also met Nick, a college student in outdoor recreation at Western Washington University who is riding by himself to meet friends in New Hampshire before school starts in mid-September. A photo of Jesse, Rick and Nick will be posted in today’s photos. Finally, I met Dennis, a unique fellow with from Wooster, MA with pure white hair, ponytail, and beard, who was riding to Minneapolis since he has already biked from Minneapolis to Maine. He has also walked the Appalachian Trail several times.
While the Ksanka Inn is very basic, when we walked across the street to the very non-descript 4 Corners Casino and Restaurant for dinner, we found a very nicely furnished and decorated restaurant with great food (mine dinner was pasta with smoked chicken crimini mushrooms, and sweet red peppers, in a smoked cream sauce). The mountain surrounding Eureka are stunning – we are also only 7 miles from Canada.
P.S. Today I fully recognized the pleasure of smooth road surfaces, tail winds, and climbing grades of less then 5 degrees.
June 26th Statistics – Sandpoint, ID to Libby, MT:
- Today’s Biking Distance – 95.7 miles
- Today’s Average Speed – 13.4 mph
- Today Ascent – 2,958 feet
- Today Descent – 3,034 feet
- Today’s Ending Elevation – 2,085 feet
- Total Trip Biking Days – 8
- Total Trip Biking Distance – 572.7 miles
- Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 71.6 miles
- Total Trip Ascent – 28,765 feet
Today I set two personal records for the trip so far: 1) highest miles biked in a single day – 95.7 miles and 2) most hours biking in the rain in a single day – 7.5 hours. It started raining within minutes of leaving our hotel in Sandpoint and became a downpour by mile 5. At mile 10 the weather changed to rain/drizzle for the remainder of the 96 miles and 7.5 hours. As a result you may notice that there are no pictures posted for today.
I can brag that I was one of only 3 bikers out of 9 (including our tour leaders) to bike the entire 96 mile route today. Two biking guests gave up after 10 miles and got in the van, while one rode another 10 miles before throwing in the towel (actually getting the towel to dry off). The Classic Adventure threesome decided not to confront the weather on a bike today and traveled by van today, but were waiting for me numerous times on the route with water and snacks.
I was described by some of my friends and traveling companions as a bumblebee with my black and yellow bike, yellow and black bike wear, yellow bike seat and pedals, yellow rain cover for my black helmet, black and yellow rain jacket, black rain pants, and yellow shoe botties. On a day like today when I kept reasonably dry, warm, and visible to the traffic, I proudly claim the title Bumblebee Biker.
Northwest Montana – I didn’t get to enjoy my first views of Montana (mile 35) due to limited visibility, looking down to keep water out of my eyes, and due to Montana law, keeping the bike on the shoulder of the road or on the white line if there is no shoulder (last year the Montana State Police stopped two members of the tour group for riding in the road). However, the Montana that I was able to capture in those rare glimpses during the day were magnificent and even more stunning than the Cascades in many ways – not the snow covered mountains of the Cascades, but numerous mountains valleys of green with flowing rivers and streams of beauty. I am disappointed that I was unable to photograph the scenes.
It appears we may have a day without rain tomorrow – you can only hope.
P.S. My appreciation of Gore-Tex is magnitudes greater than it was a week ago.
First rest day of the tour. This morning I met a father and daughter from Cincinnati who are riding coast to coast over three months.
My statistics for 7 days of biking:
- Total Miles Ridden – 477
- Total Feet Ascended – 25,807
- Longest Miles Ridden/Day – 92.4
- Largest Feet Climbed/Day – 6,578
- Days Without Rain – 1
- Riding every mile regardless of the climb or the weather
- Beautiful scenery every day
- Great biking companions in our Classic Adventures group
- Huckleberry ice cream at Trinities in Sandpoint, ID
- Having lots of rain gear
- The thrill of 20+ mile downhills
- Meeting so many passionate and adventure cyclists on the road making the journey coast-to-coast
- Not being tired at the end of any day
- Having a beer and ice cream at the end of each day without guilt
- Having my wife, Nancy, so supportive and excited to hear about every day’s experience
- Missing friends and family
- Most importantly, missing my wife Nancy
Rain for most of today limited my photos. When the sun came out just before arriving in Sandpoint, ID, the scenery was stunning – Enjoy.
June 24th Statistics: Ione, WA to Sandpoint, ID: Distance – 92.4 miles; Average speed – 13.0 mph; Beginning elevation – 2,110 feet; Ending elevation – 2,161 feet; Total ascent – 2,432 feet; Total descent – 2,454 feet.
Felt like the premise from “Groundhog Day” – the third day that we had breakfast at 7 am so we could leave early hoping to beat the weather forecast which was worse than yesterday, i.e. greater chance of rain, thunderstorms, and hail. We also had the challenge of facing the longest mileage so far, 90+ miles.
Well, the odds didn’t play out in our favor today – 10 miles into the ride, the sprinkles turned into a cold torrential downpour (51 degree) for the next 36 miles (about 3 hours of riding). The deluge took my mind off the thunder. However, my waterproof hood, waterproof jacket, waterproof gloves, waterproof pants, waterproof booties, and finally, waterproof socks almost delivered perfect protection (my left foot was soaked). Surprisingly, other than a wet left foot and occasional rain rolling into my eyes, I wasn’t too uncomfortable (it must be the Marine in me). After 46 miles and 4 hours, the rain stopped, it warmed up to 57 degrees but it remained overcast. Finally, at mile 70 the sun came out, the temperature increased to the high 60s for the rest of the day – perfect way to enter Sandpoint.
Only when I arrived in Sandpoint did I find out that only three of us rode the entire weather challenged 90 miles. The rest of the my biking companions taxied in the van during the downpour and began riding again at Usk, WA, (mile 50). At mile 56 I left the beautiful state of Washington and entered the beautiful state of Idaho by crossing the Pend Oreille river from Newport, WA to Oldtown, ID. The ride into Sandpoint was stunning.
While I wasn’t able to look up much during the first 46 miles, the scenery was again beautiful. We paralleled the Pend Oreille river for the entire 90 mile ride today on rolling country roads. If not for the weather during the ride, it was an exceptionally beautiful route. I did see a moose who stared at me with interest (some local residents looked at me the same way as I passed them dry on their porches).
Sandpoint is our first rest stop. Time to do my laundry.
June 23rd Statistics – Colville to Ione: Distance – 42.9 miles; Average speed – 11.8 mph; Beginning elevation – 1,915 feet; Ending elevation – 2,110 feet; Total ascent – 2,995 feet; Total descent – 2,460 feet.
Today was planned as a short day (40 miles) due to lack of lodging unless we rode 80 miles – glad we choose the short day. We left early this morning again hoping to beat the weather forecast which was worse than yesterday, i.e. greater chance of rain, thunderstorms, and hail. The entire ride today was on Route 20, climbing nearly 3,000 feet over 30 miles with a steep 7 mile downhill into Ione. Unfortunately, we didn’t beat the weather – cold (low 50s) with light rain that started early and continued off and on for the entire ride with constant thunder in the distance. Fortunately, my cold weather and rain gear kept me reasonably warm (actually, not cold) and dry (actually, just moist).
Regardless of the weather, the scenery was stunning when I was able to look up without water running in my eyes. One of our group had to give up at the top of the downhill due to cold and a concern about the steep downhill on the wet road. Two others riding companions took a wrong turn and rode an extra 20 miles. I made it the entire way, although the downhill did challenge my braking and turning skills as it took numerous sharp turns. At the bottom of the downhill, Jim and I stopped at the Cabin Grill 3 miles outside of Ione to get something warm to drink, get out of the rain, and await the van to arrive with our luggage (they were still supporting the riders on the rode).
Little did we know that the Cabin Grill was the only restaurant for 30 miles and that we would be having dinner and breakfast their as well. The town of Ione was two blocks long with a grocery, church, gas station, and our lodging (see today’s photos). Tomorrow, while flat will be the longest ride of the trip so far, nearly 90 miles into Sandpoint, ID. We will also have our first day off to rest and do laundry – can’t wait.
June 22nd Statistics – Republic to Colville: Distance – 58.2 miles; Average speed – 11.4 mph; Beginning elevation – 2,573 feet; Ending elevation – 1,915 feet; Total ascent – 4,016 feet; Total descent – 4,964 feet.
We left early hoping to beat the weather forecast of increasing chance of rain, thunderstorms, and hail as the day expired. While the day started cold, overcast, and wet (see today’s photos), by the time I reached Sherman Pass, 5,575 feet at mile 18, the sun came out for the remaining 40 mile ride to Colville, WA. The 23 mile downhill from Sherman Pass to Kettle Falls, WA and the Columbia River was wonderful (I am running out of new words to describe the views in the Cascades) as it followed the roaring Sherman Creek down a canyon lined with trees and wild flowers.
The sole complaint is the regular duel between some logging trucks (see today’s photos) and bikers – some logging trucks refuse to budge from the travel lane when passing us and clearly are forcing us to ride well into the shoulder regardless of the lack of oncoming traffic, wide roads, or the condition/width of the shoulder.
The final 17 miles from Kettle Falls to Colville was on valley roads in Stevens County – cattle grazing, lush green fields, horses farms, surrounded by mountain meadows and forests (see today’s photos). The evening in Colville was exciting. Shortly after arriving at our restaurant, Maverick Steak House, the bad weather hit – the restaurant loss power, the outside dining area was abandoned, lightening was frequent, and streets flooded. Nevertheless, dinner was great and the Comfort Inn, well, very comfortable.
June 21st Statistics – Omak to Republic: Distance – 69.5 miles; Average speed – 10.7 mph; Beginning elevation – 968 feet; Ending elevation – 2,573 feet; Total ascent – 4,412 feet; Total descent – 2,807 feet.
Today’s ride was basically one long flat ride (26 miles), one long climb (29 miles) and one long downhill (15 miles). Best weather day so far even if 49 degrees when we began in the morning – lot of sunshine and warmth. One of the most interesting moments was meeting two women my age from Georgia who are biking from Portland, OR to Freeport, ME to their home in Georgia. They are carrying all their own gear, including camping gear if needed, on their recumbent bicycles (windshield included) – See today’s photos. Their husbands and children had no interest in the trip and are following it on two blogs the women are posting. Nancy, I offered them food and lodging if their ride from Maine to Georgia routes them near us. You would enjoy them.
While the flat ride was nothing special, the views and scenery on the climb and ride down were magnificent (see today’s photos).
Over dinner at Ester’s Mexican in Republic, WA, population 958, we had conversations with local residents. Republic is a one industry town – underground gold mining of old mines using new technology. The future is uncertain as some mines are expected to close in 5 years. Joining us at dinner were two more cross country riders, Earl from Southern CA & Lewis, a high school math/computer science teacher from Wellesley MA. They were introduced by a mutual friend, but met for the first time face-to-face when they started the trip in Anacortes. I have to admire them as they, like the Georgian women, are carrying all their own gear, including camping gear.
June 20th Statistics – Mazama to Omak: Distance – 61.0 miles; Average speed – 11.2 mph; Beginning elevation – 1,957 feet; Ending elevation – 968 feet; Total ascent – 3,486 feet; Total descent – 4,708 feet.
Today’s highlights: Sunshine all day (although 47 degrees when we started); More magnificent Cascade Mountain views (see today’s photo post ); Not the thrill ride of yesterday, but still a rush – 7 mile downhill (7% grade) and 5 mile downhill (5.5% grade) after reaching Loup Loup Pass (4,020 feet). The quaint town of Winthrop; Delicious breakfast at the Mazama Country Inn; The Black & Blue Steak and Blueberry Angel Desert (angel food cake, blueberries, ice cream) at the Koala Grill in Omak; 18 hours before I have to sit on the bicycle seat again; Hot shower and internet service. Not a highlight: A bearing going bad in one of my pedals; No services for 30 miles.
June 19th Statistics – Rockport to Mazma: Distance – 78.8 miles; Average speed – 10.2 mph; Beginning elevation – 222 feet; Ending elevation – 1,957 feet; Total ascent – 6,578 feet.
Today’s highlights: Easily (but not quickly) completing the hardest day of biking for the entire tour!!!!; Little traffic and wide shoulders on route; Sunshine at 1 pm for the rest of the day; Magnificent Cascade Mountain views (see today’s photo post); A 17 mile downhill (5%-7% grade) at the end of today’s route – going 30+ mph for 30 minutes was a rush (I am not going to share my maximum speed for fear of giving Nancy a heart attack); Arriving at the Mazama Country Inn with energy to spare; Burning up 6,500 calories; Relishing the 38 lbs I lost and did not have to carry up the mountain; A long hot shower and dry clothes at the end of the day. Not a highlight: 47 degrees, overcast, and misty to begin the ride at 8 am; being wet, cold and sweaty for 4 hours, sweaty for 4, and freezing for 30 minutes as I plummeted 17 miles down from Washington Pass; a 40 mile climb so I could do the 17 mile downhill.