Early in the morning I awoke to the sound of rain. Knowing that the road ahead is prone to muddy impassable sections I buried my head under the covers dreading the dawn. Got up turned on the SPOT and managed to hit one of the wrong buttons and put it away. Result was that the SPOT turned itself off, a fact I didn't discover for many hours. Had some breakfast and started north towards Polaris.
As it turned out, the road wasn't all that bad, just a couple of soggy areas and it all went fairly well. Someplace near the Bannack State Park, my OCD kicked in and I checked on my SPOT and found out that it was turned off. Changed the batteries for good measure and rode on towards Polaris. When I got to Montana High Country Lodge was surprised to see a sign out front with my name and Bundy's on it, as Russ Kipp knew we were coming and had a nice welcome for us. MHC is a great place to stay and I left the next morning after breakfast. Thanks Russ and Karen for opening your home to us !
|Medicine Lodge Road scenery|
|To the Right|
|Awesome Welcome !|
|Ready to roll for Butte|
On the way to Butte, I stopped to drink a Coke that I had gotten at MHCL and was surprised by Kevin Jacobsen and his family who were camping in the area after Kevin having finished #3 just a few days earlier ( on a single speed ! ). Was really good to meet them.
|Kevin and me|
Getting to Wise River was the easy part, being all on pavement. Then comes Fleecer Ridge. I did a lot better with it this year. Took my water, my sleeping bag roll up the hill first, then pushed the bike up. That got some weight off the front and I could actually push the darn thing. It still was a pain, but not as impossible as it was last year. Near the top a thunderstorm was starting to happen and there was no place to go, just keep on climbing and hope we don't get hit. The ride down the other side went well and pretty soon we were across I-15 and making a long climb up the other side and looking back at Fleecer. I got into Butte much earlier than I did last year, not as beat up and ready to do well on the next day.
|Kind of a pain to get up to, but a nice view of Butte from up here|
|Picture does not do justice to how "up" this thing is|
The next morning I grabbed some waffles at the Continental breakfast at the hotel and started out, getting to do a hassle of a climb right at the edge of town, climbing up to the "M" on a hill above Butte. The ride to Basin went well, and I ran into Bundy there, and we rode towards Helena.
The Lava Mountain trail was the main obstacle for the afternoon. Pretty much unrideable for me, lots of pushing the bike uphill and the descent was just too treacherous to ride, so I walked and walked, and finally got through it all. We headed on to Helena, found a hotel room and started looking for a restaurant which turned out to be harder than we would have thought, as it was the 4th of July and everything was closed. But we did find an Italian place, had a great meal and back to the hotel and to bed.
|Took a nap on the floor of the bike shop with this fellow|
|New Brakes here !|
|Cyclist house in the ilama pasture|
Next day's ride was to Seeley Lake. And it started raining and as we climbed Huckleberry Pass we got dumped on pretty good and had rain and mud all the way to Ovando. I had soup in Ovando at the Stray Bullet, met Bundy as he came through and we started. About a mile outside Ovando, we could see the rain coming and didn't have enough time to get all of our rain gear on. Some of the strongest wind I've ran into in a very long time and good sized hailstones hit us, and we elected to run for it to a group of trees where we got the rest of our gear on. Continuing on to Seeley, I noticed the bike was making even more noises. In Seeley the hotel had a hose and soap and water, and we were able to wash the bikes up a bit and things seemed to go pretty good. Good breakfast burritos at the gas station and on to Richmond Peak.
|Finished with Richmond Peak|
The ride up Richmond is really pretty, with the "Chinese Wall" on the right separating you from the Bob Marshall wilderness. We rode ( I walked some ) and up and over and stopped at Holland Lake Lodge for lunch, and then on to Swan Lake. Swan Lake was a little off the route, but was good to be able to get in a cabin for the night rather than sleeping with the bears.
The next morning we had a McSwan sandwich, got some stuff to go and started for Whitefish. A pretty good ride, one good sized climb, breakfast at Echo Lake Cafe and got to Whitefish with a little bit of rain falling. I got my hotel room and headed for Great Northern Cycle where Will added some oil to my derailleur housing which made the shifting work quite a bit better.
Bundy had bigger bike problems with a failing rear hub, so we had breakfast the next morning and he stayed to get that stuff fixed and I started out, initially thinking I would go only to Polebridge. But when I got to that turnoff, it was way too early in the day to quit and I continued to Eureka. It rained quite a bit as I climbed up Red Meadow Pass and all along the Flathead River, and then as I climbed Whitefish Divide. But got to Eureka around 9:30 with another hotel for the night, and a good breakfast the next morning at Cafe Jax. Then I headed for British Columbia with the sun up and a pretty day.
|Near Whitefish Divide|