7/21 Geyser

Biked 47 miles to Geyser from Great Falls. Planned on getting to Stanford for a total of 60, but a few things worked against me.

This morning I got out of camp at 8. Stopped at the gas station to air up my front tire. Also thought I saw Snickers bars 2 for $1.40, but it was buy 2 get 1 free. A terrible deal. Then I bought a Subway sandwich to bring on the bike. I used Subway’s wifi last night for signing up for Warm Showers, so I thought I’d take 10 minutes and post up 2 blog articles. Yeah well that turned into a multiple hour project that ended at 11:00. Their upload speed is quick. Fastest of this entire trip, but I had a lot of images and blog posts to put up on this site.

At 11 I got onto the road. Still had one last stop to do at Albertsons. Walked around too long. Wish I knew where things are like at my local home store. Riding the road through a town is no fun. There are so many side streets and business entrances that I’m super cautious about every vehicle.

Heading out of town, there were big shoulders for a good distance. I did run into a 5 mile stretch of construction before the town of Belt. There was barely room for two cars across the temporary gravel road. Surprised they weren’t doing one direction of traffic at a time time. They did have pilot trucks guiding traffic, but they were still passing eachother. The vehicles and trucks were all giving me good space.

After Belt there is a rest stop. Stopped there to use the restroom and get water. Two construction workers started a conversation with me about my bike. Finished by inviting me across the street to get good water from their dispenser. Nice offer, that I took them up on.

The rest of the ride was a gradual up hill. my average mileage for the day was 8. Kind of surprised me after so many hills of only 3 to 4.5 mph.

I camped at the Geyser City Hall’s lawn. Wasn’t sure at first if it was ok. Asked a person who was on the street. He told me to ask at the bar because, in his words, “that is basically their community center.” The bartender said that she understood it to be ok. At the bar I also got fries and a pizza because they were a good deal.

There was a good sunset. The night was the warmest in many.

I’ve included photos of the silly truck balls I found on the road back west of Lincoln. Gave them to Bruce one of the long term campers at the park. No way I’m going to carry the silly things any farther.

7/20 Great Falls Planning and Rest Day

I should have been biking today. Don’t have a time constraint, but I just like being on the move.

Today I got a free Montana road map from the office. Wrote the campsites and whether the town had services on the map. Wish I had the Adventure Cycling (ACA) map. Would have saved a lot of time. I have their GPS route and services file. ACA labels the waypoints with a numbered name field then the important information in the description field. I have yet to find a gps program that makes it easy to see the information in the description field. At home I have a Java program I wrote to swap the fields. Wish I had it on the phone.

Early afternoon I called around to the bike stores about getting my spoke replaced. Their prices were reasonable, but they said I could get my bike back tomorrow evening at the earliest (one said 3 days from now). I decided to put the Fiberfix spoke in and ride with that. Aired up at a Holiday gas station, then ate at the Subway that shared the same building.

Sent my first WarmShowers request to a family. The site is about finding and offering hosting to bike touring people. The family lives in Lewistown. Would be a nice change of pace. Maybe hear about their bike tours. I read they also have pets. I miss my pets Dusky and Rosie at home, so pets are always good.

Late evening, I caught up on preparing my pictures for the blog. Tried uploading them, but the connection is too slow and most importantly unstable.

Need to get out of here quickly in the morning. Air up my front tire, grab a sub for lunch, then stop at the food store for some dinner to carry with. I’m assuming Stanford won’t have anything because it is a town of less than 500 people.

July 19th, Lewis and Clarke East, Day 2

Biked 70 miles today. Might be my longest day ever. Did 50 miles by 4pm, then another spoke broke on my rear wheel causing me to slow down and get to 60 by 6pm. Got into camp around 7:15 at which point I made 70.

The first half of the trip to Simms was hillier than expected. I cruised up most of the hills in my 2nd granny gear, not the lowest. The smooth pavement really helps the hill climbing. Many of the hill climbs on the GDMBR had bumpy roads which really slows momentum.

On this first half I pushed my water further than ideal. I saw a few streams on the six mile very fast descent. Then there was nothing for another handful of miles till a medium sized river. I wanted to fill at this river. I had 2 bottles left and estimated I had 3 more hours to go. I like to drink at least 1 bottle an hour. There were two guys at the river and a beat up car. One of the guys was in the car and didn’t look all right with his face in his hands looking down at the floor mat. Situation made me uncomfortable. Why are they out there with no fishing gear in the early morning. Drug users on a trip? Two of them and one of me. Didn’t like it at all, and really didn’t want to get mugged or worse. All the streams after there till Simms are cow poop infested and disgusting. When I got to Simms, I used the outside water spigot at a church. Chilled there for an hour and drank 2 bottles of water and talked to my brother.

The second half went by quickly. Flat. Fun thing was stopping at a Lemonade and Brownie stand run by a handful of young kids. Based on the Brownie pan, I think I was customer 3. That food stand was the first open “store” in the last 40ish miles since Lincoln, and I had biked through a few “towns”. The first gas station was 70 miles, since Lincoln next to the on tamp to the interstate.

Spoke broke with about 15 miles left. Stopped and moved my rear bags up to the front. They really make stearing slow.

Camping at Dick’s RV was $19.50. They gave me a 10% discount without asking. Maybe they were taking pitty on the dirty wore out looking biker.

July 18th, Lewis & Clarke Route East, Day 1

Camping tonight at 5,600 ft elevation near Roger’s Pass. Hopefully it won’t get to -70F as it happened in the winter of 1954 at a mining camp near here.

Got up at 7, but unexpectedly I didn’t leave till 10. The main delay was losing my bike lock key set. I locked the bike Thursday night and didn’t put the keys where I always do — or I did and they fell out, since I remember finding that zipper open. After emptying all my bags, checking all the pockets, looking on the floor of the teepee, under the picnic tables I was minutes from going to the mechanic and asking if there was a bolt cutter around. Decided to look under the picnic tables one last time, and I found the keys partially under the leaves of a weed growing in the gravel.

The Lewis and Clarke alternate route heads east out of Ovando on highway 200. This really is not a good road for bikes traveling east the road is twisty with a river off to the right. Guardrails placed 2 feet from the white fog line are all over between Ovando and Lincoln. West bounders only have the 2ft wide shoulder to worry about. 200 has wider shoulders after Lincoln.

What I missed yesterday when planning miles is that there was a mountain pass I needed to climb. The grade wasn’t too steep, and the gain was about 1,000ft. I actually felt like I had the road to myself because 9 miles are under construction with guards at both ends holding up traffic till the pace trucks gets back to lead the next group. 5 to 10 vehicles would go buy every 15 minutes. Awesome to have a whole lane to myself and the traffic forced to go slow do to the pace truck.

For a bit in Lincoln I thought I was going to stay there. Right outside the campground I decided I didn’t want to stop with the daily mileage at 28. That is just too low. I crossed a rangers station that was open and went in and asked about campgrounds. She said there weren’t any in the 20 to 30 mile range, but there was a dirt road at the top of the pass that would likely have somewhere to put a tent. I said, “I didn’t realize there was a pass.” Makes complete sense that I would need to cross the divide one last time, since I was on the west side.

My tent is set up next to a small trickling streem winding down a tight nook. Has its own micro climate. Cooler and higher humidity causing green moss to grow on all the trees. My tent is set just outside of the cooler area. I moved my bike further away so it would have less dew on it in the morning.

Dinner was an apple, spaghetti “circles” in a can, Knorr with half an onion cut in it. Dessert was an apple pie pastry.

Tomorrow I have a sizeable descent for around 6 miles. I’m currently planning on heading straight to Great Falls for a bit more than 70miles. May end up being my longest day this summer. Hopefully I can find a laundromat and showers. I’d like to get my clothes cleaned and me cleaned fully.