As I have mentioned, my trip is coming to an end. This is bittersweet as they say. Due to the virus, this trip did not go as planned and can’t deliver what I envisioned during the planning stages.
Nevertheless, it has delivered a large measure of adventure, pain, exhilaration, and challenges. It may of not been the dream, but I’m not disappointed at all. The lessons I have learned and memories made will never be lost or diminished. Maybe even more so because of the virus!
Brother is on the way!
My brother is driving from MI and plans to meet me in Missoula, and we will then travel to Yellowstone for a few days of camping and sharing stories as Steve biked across the country in 1984. Then Steve will give a ride back home. So the trip nears it conclusion at any rate.
So…the idea was born last night as I set up my tent. Tomorrow could be last day of riding. I am currently around 100 miles from Missoula and could take 2 days to get there and meet Steve. Or, I could go big. Ride it in 1 day. Go big.
It would put together everything in one tough ride. Not only would it be almost 100 miles, but would require riding over several mountain passes and 3500 ft of climbing. A quick check of the weather for tomorrow shows a light headwind of 6 to 10 mph. Seems appropriate since most of the ride has been against the breeze. Only thing missing is rain. But the weather shows that it will be be hot and likely 95 degrees in the afternoon.
I digested this idea all night at camp. When I crawled into my sleeping bag, I felt I had to try. One last hard blast to Missoula. Let’s go for it.
Blast to Missoula
The day and ride delivered everything I expected. The first 20 miles I rode down US35 from Big Fork along the Flathead reservoir. Snowcapped mountain peaks rose above this huge lake on either side. I planned to start at 6 am but slept until 6-30 which was not normal. But the mountain blocked the sun rising and I overslept.
So with the later start, I had to deal with increased traffic on 35. This is a two-lane mountain road with constant climbs and descents. For first 25 miles there was no shoulder and often there was a guardrail as the road dropped precipitously to the lake. I had my light flashing and Made sure to position my bike on the road so drivers would not try and pass me at same time another vehicle approaches from the other direction. Make them truly pass me as I had nowhere to go on the edge but to crash over rail. Fortunately, I met light traffic and patient drivers and survived until I got to Polson which is on N side of lake.
Devil went to Georgia, er, Missoula!
In Polson I hit the first café I found and got large waffle, bacon and eggs. Now I was powered for the next stretch. I left and stayed on US93 north. This road has a large shoulder for 90 percent of ride so very safe. It is four lane highway so cars and trucks roar by most of the time. I turned on my Apple shuffle loaded with Brothers Osbourne and classics like Devil went to Georgia and pedaled away.
The road has large mountain peaks wearing white on both sides. It also passes thru the Bison range where you view buffalo roaming the mountain side. Incredibly scenic for an Indiana boy used to flat cornfields.
Around Arlee you start to climb. And climb. It Is a long way to top of mountain pass and took several hours to get to the top. The heat also was getting tough, and several times I pulled over in the shade and rested. Also consumed a frozen Snickers which is likely the greatest treat in the world in these situations.
The descent into Missoula was equally impressive. Maybe 20 to 25 miles long at speeds ranging from 40mph to long extended stretches at 20 mph. What a great finish.
Missoula or Bust!
I soon passed I90 and a large collection of motels and campgrounds near the intersection. I wanted to make it downtown Missoula. Only downtown would do to end this.
I found a Red Lion hotel 1 block from main drag. It cost 100 per night but they gave me the 2nd night free since TV didn’t work. I killed bbq chicken dinner and cold beer. The day was done and now will wait for Steve to pick me up..
I plan to keep blogging about each day until I get home. I’m sure there will be some crazy adventures w Steve because there always is craziness. I will give a full report coming up.