Day: 18; Daily Mileage: 38.2; Total Mileage: 870.8; Stopping Point: Missoula, MT
Today was a slow day. We rolled out of bed at 9:30 and after we waited out another storm it was 11:30 by the time we were on the road. It was a nice, but cold, downward ride to Missoula. We made excellent time.
Missoula is the one reason why we headed so far north. Adventure Cycling is the group that puts out the maps for the TransAm trail and they are located in Missoula. We road right through town to get there before they closed.
The Big Ride had taken a day off in Missoula so they could all visit Adventure Cycling. Adventure Cycling had ice cream set out and tons of people milling around. We went in and did the tour thing and got our pictures taken. They take pictures of all the cyclist that come through, hoping that one day they will have great records of everyone that ride across country.
Kevin, the man that we talked with for awhile, happened to be a Red Wings fan. He had a flag over his desk. Todd was really excited to see it.
We splurged again and stayed in a local hostel for $8 a bed. We had a great time. We met up with the two men, Alex and Brad, from Grangeville, Emily, Ed, Kyle who had passed us at one point, Sean he had been at the hostel for awhile, and a few other people. The majority of us were on bikes and we spent a lot of time talking.
Right after we arrived, Ed asked us if we would eat a meal with him so he could cook in the kitchen. He cooked wonderful chicken cacciatore with fresh green salad. It was great to have a home cooked meal. Breakfast the next morning was cereal and real milk and strawberries.
Day: 19; Daily Mileage: Total Mileage: Stopping Point: Darby, MT
We said goodbye to Ed for the last time this morning. He's going to ride the northern route to New York. We shared addresses and invited each other to drop, or bike, in any time. We will all miss him a lot.
We rode uphill most of the day. It rained as we left, but stopped not too long later. As the day wore on it got slightly sunny. We pushed hard most of the day and got to camp near 7:30. We could see another storm coming, so we rushed like mad to put up tents. We threw in the gear. We grabbed dinner and shower stuff and ran inside. It thundered and lightning while we showered and ate dinner.
We were riding in the Bitterroot Valley, between Rocky Mountain Peaks, all day. It is supposed to be very beautiful. We couldn't see a lot because of the fog and rain. We could see steep mountains with difficult passes, and snow covered mountains beyond. We could understand how the pioneers had a difficult time finding passes through the mountains.
Day: 20; Daily Mileage: 58.6; Total Mileage: 999.8; Stopping Point: Wisdom, MT
I'm really beginning to hate Montana. It has rained since the day we entered it.
We continued up to Lost Trail Pass and Chief Joseph Pass. The last 12 miles to the top were the worst. The first few minutes the sweat just poured off of us. We were riding in shorts and t-shirts. Thirty minutes later, the clouds rolled in and rain started to fall. We put on light, semi waterproof coats thinking the rain would stop soon. But the rain kept coming. It poured. Then it hailed. Little ice chunks stung bare legs and cooled us down. No one stopped to put on more clothes because as suddenly as it came it was gone.
Off and on the whole way up and back down it would rain, hail, or snow. Once we crested the peak, near four o'clock, we put on rain gear and gloves. The ride down was cold and fast. We stopped only once or twice in the whole 25 miles.
The valley was visible in all directions as we rode into Wisdom. Dead ahead of us was a patch of clouds that seemed to be sitting on the ground. Just to the right was a big space of sun. To the right and back was just cloudy miserable and directly behind us another storm. All to the left was just cloudy.
With this type of weather, we see quite a few rainbows. One night we could see a full rainbow and just a bit bigger than it was another, fainter rainbow.
Day: 21; Daily Mileage: 68.7; Total Mileage: 1068.5; Stopping Point: Dillon, MT
Today was a glorious day. After a week of rain, it all was gone.
When we woke up the sky had the same stormy look it's had for days and we thought we were in for another day of rain. The temperature was 40 degrees, but a few layers of clothes made it more pleasant. Right outside of town we stopped to celebrate 1000 miles. We did the Mom thing; in other words we took pictures.
Two o'clock the clouds cleared up and the sun peaked through. It was our first look at why Montana is called Big Sky. The sky really does look bigger. It's probably because I'm so used to trees obstructing my view of the horizon.
Dad broke another spoke as we climbed the last hill of the day. He made it to the top before he fixed it. The man at a local bike shop later trued the wheel and gave some advise. It was both good and bad. The rim of the tire had also been cracking because of the weight. He recommended that Dad get a new wheel. Which brought us a major problem. My tire has more spokes so he could use that, he could call ahead and have them make him a wheel, he could call the store back home and have him ship it out, or we could lighten his load. The man at the Dillon store said the wheel would hold up for a few days and we'll deal with the problem tomorrow when we can make some calls.
Day: 22; Daily Mileage: 60.1; Total Milage:1128.6; Stopping Point: Virginia City, MT
I knew it was cold even before I woke up. I got out of the tent and the tarps covering the bikes were covered in frost. Reaching through the tangle of bikes, I grabbed the first pair of pants I found and ran to the bathroom, leaving Todd to unlock the bike. When I got back and checked the thermometer, it was 32 degrees.
It didn't last long though. It must of gotten near 70 or 80 degrees. I was burnt out from the heat, mainly because I haven't been that hot in a while. The air is much drier here and sweat evaporates quickly.
The land has also changed. In every farm field is some kind of irrigation system. The only trees grow along the banks of a river and all the hills are covered in green grass. The mountains surrounding the area are topped with snow. Combined with the green hills, they looked picture perfect.
The locals all say that we are in the foothills and I guess I must believe them. None of this land is flat. Most days we will climb forever in the morning and coast downhill into camp. Others are the other way around.
I must put in a very good comment for Nevada City, which we spent a good hour or more at. Mr. Bovey moved old homes and buildings to the area after the original town became a ghost town. When Mr. Bovey died the state bought it for $6.5 million. John, the caretaker is the only resident of the town and the only one that knows how to restore the antiques. I cannot say enough good things about Nevada City, except that it is a must see.
Day: 23, Daily Mileage: 43.8; Total Mileage: 1172.4; Stopping Point: Madison River
Another day that started cold and ended up hot. The second the sun hits you, you start to cook. It you stand in the shade, not working, it's cool. Once again there was no rain in sight. This makes us really happy bikers!
The whole town of Virginia City is built on a hill. The campground happened to be uphill of the town. So we left our panniers at the campground and rode down to town. The end of town at the bottom is much like Nevada City. The upper end has older buildings, but touristy shops and restaurants.
The climb out of town was a tough 7% grade, especially once we loaded the gear again. These hills come and go and all I can say is I think we're getting stronger.
Four men passed us from Germany, today. They have 28 days to ride from Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco, Ca. Along the way are stops at Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas. They are traveling 150+ km a day, which translates to 90 or 100 miles.
Day: 24; Daily Mileage: 51.6; Total Mileage: 1224; Stopping Point: West Yellowstone, MT
Mom crawled out of the tent, took one look at the sky, and said it would rain. At that point, the clouds were mainly on the horizon and made it a gorgeous sunrise. When we got on the bikes, though, the rain was practically falling. After a short while the sun showed it's fiery face and we fried.
The ride ended at a local bicycle shop where Dad got new wheels for his and Moms bike. The deal is if Dad cracks the new rim then he can take Mom's. It took him some time to do the swapping, so we set up camp and made reservations to see a play.
At 8:30, we went to a small theater and watched "Oklahoma!" In between training this spring, I participated in a production of the same play. It was great seeing the play performed by others. We got to talking with some of the actors afterwards and they were really impressed that we were doing this trip. While we were talking, a couple from Flushing, MI stopped to talk to us. They had ridden across the country a few years back. When we finally got back to camp, it was very late.
We've caught up with Sean and Kyle. They spent today on a bus tour and will probably be heading out tomorrow. We keep "leap frogging" different people like that. Emily was in town that night, too.