Aug 9 24 miles to Seely Lake (Motel)
We had a four mile ride on a narrow, rocky ridge at the edge or rock slides going downhill circling an alpine meadow appropriately named Grizzly Basin. Riding on sharp rocks is hard for us Michigan riders used to sand. I'm glad I have some experience mountain biking in Arizona. Again, we were in an area closed to all but foot or bike traffic and we got the idea that there wasn't much traffic except a few Great Divide riders. Not that we are paranoid, but we saw MANY piles of fresh bear scat. Our comment-keep Grizzly Basin for the Grizzlies! At one point I was negotiating a narrow turn on foot when my bike and trailer and I went tumbling down a rock chute and stopped when my left knee (remember that when you read the next day) embedded in the rock. Jon had to extract my bike and trailer from on top of me. Later, trying to hurry down a long 3 mile downhill because of the bears and being tired and hungry, I crashed twice more, both on my left knee. Plus, with all the bouncing over rough terrain, I lost a water bottle from my trailer, my washcloth that was tied to my top tube, and my mirror that got plucked from my helmet by a tree. I was bummed about the mirror, as that was the one that I bought with my first bike way back in 1980. Oh well, time for change.
Don't think everything is bad. They say Montana is Big Sky country. Well, I say it is big scenery country, big mountain country and big animal country. You can't look anywhere without seeing beautiful scenery. At the end of every road, at every turn is a mountain, a valley, a vista. Wait till we get home and you see my pictures. I'm afraid my little camera just isn't doing it justice.
Aug 10 27.5 miles to Ovando, population 50 people and 100 animals (that's what the sign said).
Afton has a habit of wiggling in the trailer. When we are behind (which is most of the time), she leans from side to side looking to see how far Lander is ahead of her. When we get too far back (which is often), she cries like a calf crying for his mama. I tell her she sounds like an animal in distress and the bears or mountain lions are going to come eat her. All this tends to throw my bike back and forth. I've been dealing with this the whole trip. Nine miles into today's ride, we were going down a gravel road, fairly fast. I looked at my speedometer afterwards and my max for the day so far was 18 MPH. I don't know if that's what I was doing then, but for dramatic effect, we'll say I was going 18 MPH, and whether Afton wiggled or I just lost it, but anyway, I went down hard, and let me say, it was not a pretty site. Shock, nausea, the whole nine yards. The whole right side of my body is scraped or shredded, plus several fingers on my left side, including one I basically removed the knuckle from. Jon was a great nursemaid, as I laid on the gravel for about an hour. The abrasions we can take care of. I am more concerned about my left thumb which is either jammed, or sprained or dislocated. Hopefully not worse. Somehow I also shredded the nipple on my camelback, leaving my high and dry had not Jon brought along an extra one. He's always prepared. Oh, during all this, Afton came out sitting right next to the overturned trailer, still leashed to it, and not hurt at all. And she still wiggles.
I managed to climb back on my bike. I can't grip the handlebars with my left hand. I just lean my palm on them. I can only brake with three fingers. Luckily that is my front break. I can downshift with my fingers, but upshifting takes my thumb. I have learned to do it awkwardly with the back of my hand. If my thumbs not much better when we get to Helena in a couple days, maybe I'll go to the hospital. For now, I'm all bandaged up (TJ and Steffany, I used the Strawberry Shortcake bandages) and using the good collagen wound care treatment that we have been using on the dogs pads.
All my mountain biking friends know I am known for some spectacular crashes. This was one of the better one. Luckily, I have some prescription strength ibuprofen left over from my broken ribs from doing an endo last year.
We camped that night on the lawn of the museum at Ovando, MT. (Jodie and Todd, think Mitchell OR). There was a general store across the street, a cafe that closed at 3 PM and a couple knick knack stores. Can you imagine camping at the Museum in Gaylord? Or even a city park? We stayed with other bikers for the first time. Ira and Andrea were a young couple who started from Chicago 3 months ago and have a year to go all around the US. They have no schedule and no planned route, only go from day to day. I'd like to be that carefree. Really felt like we were back on the Old TransAm trail, visiting last night. A couple of brothers also pulled in for awhile to visit, then continued on. They are doing the first part of the Great Divide in a week and will be done in Helena. They had heard about the couple that was traveling with their dogs. During the 98 trip, we were known as the "family on the TransAm". Now maybe we will be known as the "people with the dogs on the Great Divide".
Aug 11 25 miles to Lincoln. Private campground
We cheated (no, not doping). We took Mt highway 200 all the way from Ovando to Lincoln, instead of going up and over a mountain pass on gravel. It was all paved and cut 8 miles off the day. It was fairly flat and followed the Blackfoot river all the way. Had some beautiful views we would not have seen up in the mountains. We justified it by saying I was still recovering from injuries. The point is to get to New Mexico and have a good time, anyway. It also got us here early enough to take a shower (yea!), do laundry and blog in an internet cafe.