Bicycling 4,174 Miles Across the United States

June 29th – Columbia Falls to East Glacier, MT

Crossing the Continental Divide after a 63 mile climb of nearly 4,500 feet.

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.

4 responses

  1. poppy laughlin elliott

    hi steve-i am sure enjoying your trip! stay safe! and happy anniversary!

    June 30, 2012 at 1:14 am

    • Steve

      Thanks Poppy. Do you live anywhere along my route?

      June 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

  2. Al Stiles

    What is your dog strategy? I tried to keep one water bottle full with the nipple partly pulled out so I could grab it and hose them down. I found that works pretty well. I was amazed how many roads we rode on that were not really suitable. Sounds like after a few miles at least things improved.

    June 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    • Steve

      Never had a dog strategy – your idea of using the water bottle sounds great. I will use it next time. Thanks.

      I have to admit the road conditions have not been as good as I had expected – although I doubt that there are viable alternatives.

      July 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm

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