Match Line

Day 27: Monday, June 22, 2015

Stop to Stop: Richland, OR to Baker City, OR

Underway: 7:15 am    Off Bike: 12:20 pm    Ride Time: 4:11 hrs    Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 45.6     Total Miles: 1,916.6      Weather: Sunny, warm, calm

First Things First: First day with no firsts that I can remember.

Mile to Mile: Another relatively short day today at only 45 miles. The terrain is changing from tree covered mountains and canyons earlier to lower shrub covered hills today to high desert later this week. Temps have been perfect for bike travel – especially in the morning but the trend line for this area later this week is highs above 110 degrees. Might be time to boogie.

One of the ways we measure time is changing map panels or, better yet changing maps when we get to a final map panel. Today we changed to the last map taking us to Eugene, OR. That’s crazy. I will still have parts of two maps for the Pacific coast but I can’t think that far ahead.

It’s interesting how well laid plans change almost everyday. Cheese and Dragon we’re going to stay at the Best Western and chill out for the afternoon. They called to see what kind of deal they could get which was tolerable but not a deal. They decided to wait and see. I was going to camp – it’s cheaper, I’ve been sleeping well and the weather is good. So we pull into a RV Campground just as we get to Baker City and they are willing to let us set up three tents on one site, the have a little store, a laundry room, great showers and shade. What more do we need. So $5 each and all plans have changed, everyone is happy and we have time to nap to our hearts content. Life is good.

In Passing: Immigrant Gulch, Dry Gulch Rd, Timber Canyon, Maiden Gulch, Love Creek, Glasgow Butte, Virtue Flat, Powder River, Coyote Creek.



Fathers Day

Day 26: Tuesday, June 26, 2015

Stop to Stop: Oxbow, OR to Richland, OR

Underway: 7:45 am    Off Bike: 1:30 pm     Ride Time: 3:23 hrs    Stayed At: Park
Miles Traveled: 32.4     Total Miles: 1,771.0     Weather: Sunny, warm

First Things First: First tumbleweed.

Mile to Mile: Short day, short post. Got up early, made oatmeal x 3, hit the road, climbed a hill, climbed another hill, went downhill for a little ways, climbed a bigger hill, saw a cow wandering around, stopped in Halfway for a snack, finished climbing the big hill, zoomed down the big hill into Richland, looked at a house to rent, left quickly, headed for a campground, had a guy stop and tell us to go back through town and set up our tents in the town park, found park, set up tents (and hammock) under big pavilion, watched first rain and wind in weeks pass by, rested, worked on projects, made dinner, laughed, relaxed, planned tomorrow and went to bed early.

Since it is Father’s Day, it reminds me of a Father’s Day in 2002 when we all sailed our little sailboat from Bayfield, WI the NYC. Our first stop on that adventure was Black River harbor on Fathers Day and one of my favorite pictures was of the girls sitting on some rocks with the sun setting on a great day. I wish everyone could be here to share this adventure but at least I can share some stories. A little lonesome but not a bad day on Mike’s Great Adventure.

In Passing: Imnaha River, Officer Butte, Halfway, Immigrant Gulch.





Hells Canyon

Day 25: Tuesday, June 20, 2015

Stop to Stop: Near New Meadows to Oxbow, Oregon

Underway: 7:15 am Off Bike: 7:15 pm Ride Time: 5:15 hrs Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 84.2 Total Miles: 1,739.6 Weather: Sunny, warm, calm

First Things First: First time in Oregon; First broken spokes.

Mile to Mile: Today’s goal was Oregon – my traveling partners are motivated to get to their final state before the ocean so Oregon it is. Our routine has become travel 15-20 and stop for breakfast, travel another reasonable distance while it’s still cool and have lunch and relax (in the shade) and push on to our hoped for destination. Today it worked perfect. We felt good and the miles clicked by. It didn’t hurt that the day started with a long downhill on a quite road almost down to our first stop.

After some challenging “mongo”climbs and fast downhills, we finally flew down into the dreaded Hell’s Canyon – which turned into one of the most beautiful rides of the day along a 14 mile Snake River reservoir with steep hills and rock walls along the sides.

It has been great traveling with a couple other bikers – we’ve had some great conversations on the road and lots of laugh – especially when we are tired and delusional. We are all different personalities, backgrounds and experience levels but for some reason we fit together well. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to our future adventures on our journey across Oregon. We can almost smell the ocean. Crazy to think about isn’t it?


Mongo Day

Day 24: Friday, June 19, 2015

Stop to Stop: Motel near Lucile, ID to campground near Tamarack

Underway: 7:20 am    Off Bike: 7:30 pm    Ride Time: 5:09 hrs     Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 60.4    Total Miles: 1,655.4    Weather: Sunny, warm, tailwind

First Things First: First swim in a hot spring pool; First trail name – Mongo.

Mile to Mile: Today was a leisurely 60 mile day. Cheese and I started the day with a good breakfast at the motel before heading to Riggins to try to connect up with Dragon again. He did finally respond to a text and happened to only a few minutes away. Reunited again, we hit the road again on another phenomenal travel day. We clicked off the miles, had lunch and continued to tick off miles. We followed various rivers most of the day through canyons and past ranches and farms.

Our big detour of the day was to try out a hot springs pool near New Meadows. The hot pool was really hot which made odd sense on an already warm day. It really felt good on our tired muscles, though. After several games of pig (guess who won) in the bigger cool pool, we dragged ourselves into New Meadows for BBQ and on to a “campground” just as the sun was setting behind the hills. It was good to be day to be traveling together again on this adventure.

We hope to get to Oregon tomorrow or Sunday another cool milestone. The last state before hitting the ocean….Oh…and I finally got a trail name – Mongo. Not quite as cool as Maverick but it’ll do. Mongo out…






What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Day 23: Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stop to Stop: Syringa, ID to Steelhead Inn, Lucile, ID

Underway: 6:55 am    Off Bike: 5:30 pm    Ride Time: 6:26 hrs    Stayed At: Motel
Miles Traveled: 74     Total Miles: 1,595.0      Weather: Sunny, warm, calm

First Things First: First money found by the side of the road – $10; First switchbacks; First lemonade stand; First haircut; First barber who gives away free beverages – including beer!; First motel.

Mile to Mile: Great travel day today. Cheese (Mark) and I headed out first down 15 miles to the next town – Kooskia – and spent time packing up some junk to send home (mostly cold weather clothes and unused stuff. The other two guys showed up in a little while and we had a leisurely and big breakfast to fuel us for a big climb up ahead. We said goodbye to Clown (Shawn) as he peeled off to go north while we were heading south and west. Dragon (John) took off down the road and we never did catch up to him. That left Mark and I to pound out the miles today.

After a tiring and challenging climb we kept pedaling up, down and around some beautiful countryside until we stopped to refuel and get haircuts in Grangeville. We let a little of the heat of day cool off before heading for another big climb and terrifying 8 mile steep downhill. Fun but mentally challenging because you have to stay focused and keep pumping the brakes to avoide hitting terminal velocity which, on this hill would probably be 120 mph. We survived and coasted into Whitebird mid afternoon to see if Dragon stopped here or kept going. We couldn’t find him but suspected he kept pounding another 30 miles under ideal travel conditions.

We continued on another 15 miles and stopped at a very nice and comfortable motel where we made ourselves at home. If you get this way on the TransAmerica Trail, the Steelhead Inn right on the Salmon River is an oasis worth stopping for a break. I may not want to leave tomorrow.





Everyday Is An Adventure

Day 22: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stop to Stop: Lochsa Lodge in Powell, ID to Syringa, ID

Underway: 7:20 am    Off Bike: 4:30 pm    Ride Time: 4:35 hrs    Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 73.2      Total Miles: 1,521      Weather: Sunny, warm, calm

First Things First: First time traveling with other bikers; First time swimming in a mountain stream; First fire in a fire pit.

Mile to Mile: It’s fun to be traveling in this area because there have been lot’s of other bikers around on the road and at camping spots. I met 3 other bikers at the lodge who have been traveling west bound for a few days – just long enough to give each other trail names. Cheese, Clown Shoes and Self-Proclaimed Dragon are from different parts of the country and traveling different routes to get to this place at this time.

After breakfast at the Lodge I headed out first and promptly got my second flat 1.6 miles from the Lodge. Another piece of invisible tire wire. It’s a little tricky fixing a tire on the edge of a road with no shoulder but I got it down and kept on pedaling downstream….for 73 miles along the Lochsa River – picture postcard scenery the whole way. Although you still have to pedal because the grade is so shallow, the journey was about as good as biking can get.

We all met up at a campground in Syringa and lazed around the fire until it was time to crash after another day’s hard work on the road less traveled. You never know what the day will bring but that is part of why this type of travel is so appealing. Everyday is an adventure.





A Recipe for Perfection

Day 21: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stop to Stop: Missoula, MT to Lascha Lodge in Powell, ID

Underway: 7:45 am    Off Bike: 1:45 pm    Ride Time: 5:00 hrs    Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 58.3    Total Miles: 1,447.8    Weather: Sunny, calm

First Things First: First time in Idaho; First time in Pacific Time Zone

Mile to Mile: Somehow the ingredients came together today for the perfect biking day.


• Sunny blue skies with puffy white clouds added for flavor
• Low humidity
• Light to calm winds
• Limited traffic
• Windy mountain road
• Easy upstream climb, short grind to the pass and fast race to the finish
• Stunning scenery with a hint of pine

Mix together for five hours at between 78 and 82 degrees taking frequent breaks to take pictures and sample the recipe as it gets better and better with age. Enjoy!

Today was the reason why bicycle touring can become addictive. You work hard for days like today and want to savor them. I left Missoula, fueled by homemade banana bread (thanks Cindy) and Bigga Pizza for breakfast and started south and west following the Lolo River upstream. The grade was so easy that I could peddle at a consistent 12-14 mph paralleling this beautiful, blue stream rushing it’s way past me downhill to Missoula. The last four mile climb to the top of Lolo Pass wasn’t even that bad since I knew, on the other side, I could expect an exciting 6 mile ride down a windy road following the Lascha River downhill towards the Pacific Coast.

I quit early to stay at the beautiful Lascha Lodge – they let bicyclists camp for free behind their little store. Plus, except for a couple camping spots, the next place for services is 66 miles down the road. As I am writing this, a light breeze is keeping me cool in the shade, I am surrounded by pine trees and I can’t wait to have a leisurely dinner at the lodge tonight. The only thing better is if I could share this day with someone- the Lascha Lodge is only a 25 hour drive straight thru dear. Should I stay an extra day and wait for you?

In Passing: Lolo, Fort Fizzle Site, Telephone Butte, Bear Creek, Bitterroot Mountains, Rocky Point, Parachute Hill Road






39 Years

Day 20: Monday, June 16, 2015

Stop to Stop: Campsite 15 West of Ovando to Missoula, MT

Underway: 6:45 am   Off Bike: 10:30 am    Ride Time: 3:27 hrs    Stayed At: House
Miles Traveled:45.4     Total Miles: 1,389.5      Weather: Sunny, tailwind

First Things First: First warm shower host; First flat tire; First care package (thanks – lucky I got a flat before I got the package or I might wonder about a connection).

Mile to Mile: What an amazing day. It has taken me 39 years to get to Missoula and the Adventure Cycling Headquarters and it was everything I had hoped it would be. What a great group of people. This is a sample of how a (busy) day in the life of a cyclist can be…

• Got out of the sleeping bag into the cold (38 degree) morning air, cooked oatmeal and hot chocolate, broke camp, packed up ant hit the road by 6:45 am.
• Followed the river and wind downhill into Mssoula stopping frequently to take pictures and visit with numerous bikers heading north to Alaska or east to Virginia.
• Arrived at Adventure Cycling, got my picture taken for the wall, had an ice cream and pop, got a tour of the offices, bought a T-shirt, plugged in my gadgets to charge, met a young guy traveling east bound on the TranAm and got a lead on a place to stay.
• Started off to pick up my package and noticed I had a flat – a small piece of wire from a shredded tire had punctured the tube. Easy fix in their shady backyard courtyard but I had to take everything off.

• Left everything there and rode 3 miles down to the PO and get my much anticipated care package. Thanks for the great treats! They will inspire me over the next few passes.
• Stopped at a random bike shop on the way back and decided to have my chain and rear gear cluster replaced – less than 20 minutes and $52 later I have piece of mind and smooth shifting gears.
• Stopped at highly recommended Bigga Pizza and feasted on an excellent pepperoni and onion pie – just enough left for breakfast.
• Called Bruce who is the Warm Shower host and he said it would be fine if I stayed the night. (Thanks Bruce).

• Returned to HQ to get my picture taken potentially for something they are working on for the 40th Anniversay of the TransAmerica Trail next year and pack up my stuff. I got my bike weighed – I’m 10 lbs heavier than when I started…Hmmm…I wonder why that is?
• I road off a couple miles to my home for the night, met Beacon who is traveling west bound on a trip to Seattle, took a shower, blogged, went out to a coffee shop with Beacon and headed home to plan tomorrow, repack, lay out my sleeping bag and crash for the night.
Just another really special daon Mike’ Great Bike Adventure…..





Can You Smell It?

Day 19: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Stop to Stop: Stop before Roger’s Pass to campsite 15 miles from Ovando

Underway: 6:45 am    Off Bike: 4:30 pm    Ride Time: 4:55 hrs    Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 68     Total Miles: 1,344.1     Weather: Sunny

First Things First: First town with a 4-wheeler trail right through town (Lincoln); First time hanging food bag to keep bears away; First crossing of continental divide (not including one I passed near Fargo).

Mile to Mile: close your eyes. Can you smell it? I’m talking about the smell of ponderosa pine. I’m surrounded by it and it’s real – not the stuff hanging in your car. I love it!

The day started a little sketchy. Temps were around 38 degrees and low clouds/fog blocked the sun and gave the cold air a clammy feeling. I was cold in my sleeping bag too so I just decided to get up and start pedaling. I’m glad I stopped where I did. The big climb – about 4 + miles at 6 mph began minutes after I left camp. I was cold and sweaty at the same time. Pedaling made me warm but the cold wind sucked the warmth away instantly. I just kept pedaling. I finally made it to the top of the pass and chatted with Holly (hi Holly) who was going to hike one of the peaks at the top of the pass. We had a fun chat (hope you added another peak to your list and the sun came out just as you reached the top) and she started up while I flew down…and down…and down. Basically, except for a couple easy climbs, all the way into Lincoln – somewhere around 12-14 miles!. I was cold but exhilarated from the early morning ride and quickly found a place to do laundry 2 minutes from a buffet breakfast and one minute from the grocery store. When they aren’t dying a slow death, small towns can be amazing.

After finishing my various tasks, I headed down the road toward Ovando, literally. The road I am on follows the course of the riiver so, except for a few minor bumps up, I just flew. It didn’t hurt that I had a nice 7-10 mph tailwind most of the time. A little too much Sunday traffic but I kept my head down and pedaled.

I had wanted to stay in Ovando – the little museum there let’s visitors camp on its grounds for free. It’s trying hard to get tourists off the main drag to spend a little time wandering around. I visited with a couple people in the shops and museum, had a snack and agonized over should I stay or should I go. Given that I still had an amazing tail wind and the volunteer at the museum said there were camping options about 15 miles down the way made the decision easy.

The last 15 miles zipped by and I found a gravel road leading to some campsites along the river. Lucky it’s Sunday afternoon. I found one of the best campsites I’ve ever stayed at (ever) only 10 minutes in on a rough gravel road. As I write this I am overlooking at a scenic meadow across a lazy blue river surrounded by ponderosa pine trees. I guess in the winter, the elk come down along here in big groups to rest and hang out. Pretty cool way to end another incredible day.







Animal Farm

Day 18: Saturday, June 12, 2015

Stop to Stop: Great Falls, MT to campsite near Roger’s Pass

Underway: 6:15 am    Off Bike: 4:20 pm    Ride Time: 7:51 hrs    Stayed At: Stealthsite
Miles Traveled: 89.2     Total Miles: 1,275.9     Weather: Sunny and nice

First Things First: First stealth campsite.

Mile to Mile: Rabbits, deer, antelope, prairie dogs, pheasants and cows….and incredible scenery. That’s how my day went. I made a quiet and easy escape out of Great Falls – I did’t have to run the gauntlet of strip malls that is my memory of downtown. With perfect riding conditions the miles just ticked by. The wind stayed calm for the first 75 miles and let me enjoy the solitude and peacefulness of rural Montana. I stopped at mile 50+ in Augusta for an early lunch and found a bustling little town with 3 or 4 choices for a place to eat. Many places are losing there only restaurants for miles around. Even bars are closing due to lack of business if you can believe that. In 10 years it will be harder to make a trip like this with fewer or no services for long stretches. Also makes the trip less interesting.

The last 14 miles were another test today. There were camping options back in Augusta but that was too early to stop. I planned to get to an area at about mile 92 where there is some U.S. Forest Service land to stealth camp. I ran out of gas just short of my goal. As I write this I hear a little stream gurgling into a tiny pond about 300 feet off the road through an open fence. Someone has a private little pond here complete with a swim platform. It doesn’t look like it’s been used in a while. I am surrounded by pine tree covered hills and only have to listen to a car pass every 5 or 6 minutes. Hopefully nobody cares I’m here for the night. All in all, another memorable day on the great Bike Adventure.






Day 17: Friday, June 12, 2015

Stop to Stop: Fort Benton, MT to Great Falls, MT

Underway: 6:45 am Off Bike: 4:50 pm Ride Time: 6:34 hrs Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 56.4 Total Miles: 1,186.67 Weather: Sunny, warm, WINDY

First Things First: First swarms of Mosquitos; First Chinese buffet

Mile to Mile: Ugh, what a day. My easy 54 mile jaunt to Great Falls turned into a slow, tedious and noisy slog. The first 20 miles were fairly easy but I had hoped to get something to eat in Highwood and the only place in town – the bar – was not open at 10 am. That’s okay, only another 30 miles – I’ll be done by early afternoon. Ha! First a new hazard showed up. If I stopped for a snack or drink, squadrons of mosquitos would show up and attack from all sides. My well deserved breaks turned into misery. I had to stay above 10 mph or they would catch up and draft right along with me looking for a landing site.

Then the next obstacle showed it’s true form. The forecasted 6-8 mph winds from the SW started roaring at 15 with gusts to 20. (A guy I talked to later said they were gusting to 30 and I believe him). If I stopped pedaling, I would slow so fast that it seemed like I had the brakes on. Right on my nose. Most of the time. All I could do is keep my head down and peddle even if I was only going 6 mph. I was excited when I saw water towers and building off in the distance. Almost there. Water. Food. Rest. As I turned on the highway towards Great Falls, the sign said 6 miles to town. At the speed I was going that was another 45 minutes. The buildings were part of Malstrom Air Force Base. Double ugh.

I did make it but there was no rest for the weary. I first had to fix my bike seat. A major support bar underneath ear had sheared off. Luckily, I passed by a place that added trailer hitches and did welding. Twenty minutes later and $5 poorer, my seat was fixed (for now) and the annoying squeak every peddle revolution was gone. I found a Chinese buffet for lunch which solved my fuel issue. And I passed by a grocery store and restocked for tomorrow. Things were looking up. But the simple encounter that made a rather ugly day special happened while I was stopped at a light, in rush hour Friday traffic when a lady in a car two lanes over yelled over to ask where I was going. San Fransisco, I said. She said she saw me in town back in Lewistown – that was 2 days and 150 miles ago. She said,” I loved the good luck message your daughter wrote on your pack”. I said thanks – amazed that this little event just took place. She wished me luck and we were on our ways. It made my day.l







Day 16: Tuesday, June 11, 2015

Stop to Stop: Lewistown, MT to Fort Benton, MT

Underway: 6:50 am    Off Bike: 4:40 pm    Ride Time: 8:00 hrs    Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 105.3    Total Miles: 1,124.3     Weather: Sunny, warm, calm/S breeze

First Things First: First snow capped peak sighted; First century (100 mile) bike ride.

Mile to Mile: Thankfully, that wasn’t the temperature today. I completed my first century – 100+ mile – bike ride today. It was something on my bucket list for this trip and I was surprised it worked out today and not somewhere back on the plains. Although there were some decent climbs today they were rewarded with some satisfying and fun downhills. Most of the terrain was flat since the route took me through the Judith Valley. The scenery was spectacular – especially this morning. Low fog hung over the peaks on the horizon making for some surreal scenes especially backlit by the low morning sun. It burned off quick making for a sunny, warm and perfect biking day.

My 100 mile day wasn’t totally by choice. There was a good camping option at 40 miles in Denton but I got there by 10:30 am so stopping for the day with perfect conditions was not really an option. (I did stop to refuel, though, at the Denton Café where I enjoyed an au jus sandwich, fries and a strawberry shake). The next known camping option was in Fort Benton. I probably could have found a piece of grass in Geraldine but, by that point, I “only” had 26 miles to go to Fort Benton. These are the choices we make on the road every day. I started to feel the wear and tear at about 90 miles – just about the time a headwind showed up to test me again. Thankfully the last 5 miles to the campsite was mostly downhill helping me keep my sanity.

It was fun to visit with another biker again today. I had just come flying down the best downhill of the day – he was going to be just starting a big climb. Hank is from the Netherlands and is traveling from Seattle to Minneapolis along the Northern Tier Route. He biked from Maine to Minneapolis last year so he will complete his cross country journey soon. Call if you need a place to stay Hank.

After some setting up camp right next to the Missouri River, doing some bike maintenance and taking a long cool shower (while simultaneously washing out some clothes), I felt as good as new (almost). I did get a little cooked today and my rear end really started feeling the miles. Just as I was finishing this post a couple deer wandered by to visit – a nice way to end a special day.

In Passing: Denton, Coyote Creek, Gigantic Warm Springs, Indian Grave Butte, North Mocassin Mtns, Coffee Creek, Geraldine, Hatstack Butte, Mud Spring Coulée, Round Top


Magic Carpet Ride

Day 15: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stop to Stop: Hill Ranch Oasis to Lewistown,MT

Underway: 7:45 am Off Bike: 4:30 pm Ride Time: 6:42 hrs Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 85.8 Total Miles: 1,018.8 Weather: Overcast, cool, NE wind

First Things First: First 1000 miles (woohoo!); First cattle drive; First mountain pass (4,789 ft); First bald eagle.

Mile to Mile: Even though today’s ride was mostly uphill – I gained over 1,500 ft of elevation from Mosby near the ranch to my first pass – it seemed almost effortless (until the 5 miles just before the pass which made me sweat). It didn’t hurt that I started with a good old farmers breakfast of eggs, bacon, Montana sourdough pancakes, coffee and juice ( thanks again Delores and everyone for taking such good care of me). I flew down the hill from the ranch and, within minutes, ran into my first cattle drive. They were moving a small herd of cows and calfs to a new pasture near the ranch right up the road. I have cow manure on my tires to prove it. The cows didn’t know what to make of me but I passed through slow and took pics and a movie.

It also helped to have a gentle but welcome tailwind pushing me along. I was able to sustain steady speeds of 15-18 mph for long stretches. I had a nice rest at the ranch too. I was able to bank 50 miles before noon. Seeing the first mountains of the foothills of the Rockies motivated me to peddle a little faster too. After a long 5 mile climb up and over my first pass, it was a well deserved 3 mile glide down into and through Lewistown. On my way into town I met a couple more east bound riders – Caroline and Andy from London, England. They were still planning to ride another 40+ miles because they had gotten started late. It’s always nice to see how many people from other countries are out riding across the U.S. Good luck on your journey, guys. I wanted to keep going to do my first century but the next available camping was over 30 miles away – doable but not really worth it.

After getting a few essentials, I ended up at a small Kiwanis run campground/rest area. I’m glad I stayed because this is a perfect spot to stay for the night. I had a great visit with some volunteers planting some plants and making the park just a little bit nicer. It is so exciting to be in the foothills of the Rockies already. Time just seems to be flying by. Montana has been kind to me so far and I can’t wait for what tomorrow will bring.

Antelope Races

Day 14: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stop to Stop: Jordan, MT to Hill Oasis Ranch

Underway: 6:55 am    Off Bike: 12:30 pm  n Ride Time: 4:13 hrs    Stayed At: Ranch B&B
Miles Traveled: 52.8    Total Miles: 933     Weather: Sunny, warm with NE breeze

First Things First: First antelope race; First trees in Montana; First B&B rest stop.

Mile to Mile: Today was planned as a “short” 53 mile day to the Hill Ranch Oasis B&B – they allow cyclists. Actually they love to have them. After a late start around 6:55 am, bright sunshine with clear blue sky’s greeted me. And a gentle NE breeze to help me along and kept me cool. What a gift – lets peddle.

The terrain quickly changed from the steep uphills and short downhills to long gradual climbs with long, amazing downhills. My terminal velocity (and when I started braking) was 30.2 mph. Things happen fast at 30 mph so I am trying to keep it in the 26-28 mph range. But it is a blast watching the scenery (and miles) fly by.

Speaking of things speeding by. As I was accelerating down another glorious hill I was startled by movement on the other side of the road. It’s…a…big…xz!?…antelope. Less than 20 feet away racing me down the hill. I was going 20mph and he hardly looked like he was trotting. He crossed the road in front of me and ran along the fence line looking for an opening. After a few minutes I stopped to get the camera out hoping he would stop. He found an opening finally and headed off across the range. It was worth the entire day of brutal headwinds the other day just to get here to see that.

The miles ticked by quickly and I soon found myself at the only civilization before the B&B – Sand Springs – where, even though I was going 20 mph, I stopped to take a break and re- sunscreen. I used the Internet at the convenience store to send a couple messages home and happily hit the road again.

It’s amazing how fast things can change at only 12 mph. I was cranking up a hill and looked up and saw…TREES! Pine trees! Lots of them. I am now in the Montana of my dreams. The sight and smell almost brought tears to my eyes. I hope it lasts for a while.

The turn off to the Hill Ranch B&B was at the end of a two mile downhill stretch and I soon found out why it has “Hill” in its name. The steepest hill yet laid between me and relaxation so I cranked up almost losing traction and soon found myself, sweaty and tired, meeting Delores, the owner and her son Kevin and wife Gala. I get to sleep in a real bed tonight. And have pork BBQ. And do nothing in cool air conditioned comfort.

Dinner was amazing. Great conversation. I felt part of the family. Hey Grandama A – she has a blue plate collection just like yours, the same kinds of carved chairs and knows the difference between ebleskivers and pancakse. I’m beginning to really like this Big Sky Country.

In Passing: Dugout Coulée, Rattlesnake Butte, Castle Butte, Sand Springs, Big Dry Creek

Work Day

Day 13: Monday, June 8, 2015

Stop to Stop: Circle, MT to Jordan, MT

Underway: 6:30 am    Off Bike: 3:30 pm    Ride Time: 6:20 hrs    Stayed At: Park
Miles Traveled: 69.1    Total Miles: 880.2    Weather: Sunny, hot and dry

First Things First: First rattle snake (road kill); First sunburn – missed a couple of critical spots with the sunscreen.

Mile to Mile: Today was a work day – it’s all about the miles. The scenery is beautiful but there is a lot of it so I need to keep moving when conditions are good. After the painful wind yesterday, I decided to improve my odds and leave really early when it is cooler and less windy. I was gone by 6:30 am even though I took the time to make hot chocolate and scrambled eggs. There is something satisfying to have 25+miles in the bank before 9 am.

The terrain started changing from flat , broad grasslands to more hills and valleys with a few cows roaming around trying to find something to eat. I started seeing lots of sagebrush and some type of yucca plant. Mostly just vast expanses of dry grassland in all directions. The changes made for some interesting riding – lonely but interesting. It’s hard to meet people zooming by at 70 mph. This is some of the most rural areas in the country. From Jordon, it is at least 70 miles in any direction to another “town”. The only break today was a brand new wayside rest ,in the middle of nowhere, at about mile 31. A real Oasis with AC, cold water and clean bathrooms.

I finally rolled into Jordon a tired, hungry, sun-baked and grubby old man. I had a nice cold drink at the gas station – feeling a little better. Found the grocery store and stocked up – things are looking up. Noticed the town pool (lots of kids running around in swimsuits) and had a free shower – life is getting good. Found the town park and set up my tent in a shady spot. What more is there you ask. A lot more actually. I stopped by the sheriffs office to ask about camping and met Amari – the under-sheriff here. She said camping was not a problem and she even let me use her phone to call home to arrange a mail drop and to arrange a stop at a ranch tomorrow. Thank you Amari – you made my day. My day ended like every day from now on will (if I can find them again) with a f’real strawberry-banana smoothie from the grocery store. Life is good in Jordon, MT.





Welcome to Montana

Day 12: Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stop to Stop: Glendive, ND to Circle, ND

Underway: 8:30 am    Off Bike: 4:30 pm    Ride Time: 6:00 hrs    Stayed At: Park
Miles Traveled: 50.6    Total Miles: 811.1     Weather: Sunny, warn and …WINDY

First Things First: First track stop shower; First soul crushing day.

Mile to Mile: Today was planned to be an easy day. I wanted to rest my knees a little, get done early and relax a little. The “towns” are a long way apart and most have limited or no service so you have to plan carefully. I was up at 6:30 am but fiddled with important tasks (remember – easy day) and was finally leaving the nearby Albertson’s grocery store at 8:30 am restocked and ready for anything. For a while I thought, “this is going to be easy”. Sunny, warm, calm winds and straight, flat road. What a deal. Well, Montana had some news for me. My luck with the wind finally ran out. After an easy first hour, I started feeling it. Flat tire? No. Brakes rubbing? Am I dragging a boat behind this thing? Nope. Oh, the roaring, hot, dry, in-my-face wind must be the problem.

I was ready to collapse by mile 20. I had already finished half my water and I still had 30 mostly uphill and all upwind miles to go. Lindsay, the “town” I collapsed into had no services (or people as far as I could tell. The only building not in danger of collapsing or blowing away was the post office where I filled my bottles with crappy but wet water. I found a little shade by a decrepit old building and made lunch to see if I could re- energize myself. After much agony, I decided to keep going – tomorrow could be worse. I played mind games all the way to Circle. I counted 600 pedal strokes – about a mile at my sometimes pathetic 6 mph. I counted 1/10 of a mile markers…another mile. Soon I got into the right frame of mind and just pedaled. I was thrilled to see a 10 every once in a while on the speedo. Woohoo. I finally raced into Circle at 11 mph and stopped at the first gas station – the Cenex – I came to and had a big gulp and enjoyed a little AC for a while.

My luck and mood changed in an instant. This station has a beautiful bathroom with a washer/dryer and shower. Better than most we saw on our entire sailing trip. How much is a shower please? Best $5 I have ever spent. I was refreshed, cooled down, rehydrated and even found where the town park is where I can stay for free. Wind, what wind. As I write this, I am at a picnic table, in the shade with a now gentle breeze keeping the bugs away. I’m full, my clothes are rinsed out and almost dry, my electronics are charging and I’m happy again. What a day.