Going up!

We’re starting to gain altitude, moving toward the continental divide later in the week.

We’ll actually cross the divide tomorrow, then again going into West Yellowstone. The divide is not a straight line, nor is our route. We’ll be headed south most of this week.

Arriving in Boston is sort of the icing on the cake. If we just wanted to get to the Atlantic Ocean, there are shorter ways to do it. We will ride >4300 miles. (See below.)

If you want to get technical, there is more than one continental divide. Everything west of this one drains to the Pacific, east of here drains to the Gulf of Mexico, east of the next divide drains to the Atlantic – but then there’s the divide for the area that drains north to the Arctic.

We’re in Lincoln, MT, at about 4500 feet if my altimeter is to be believed. (I just checked, and we are at 4541 ft.)  We didn’t so much climb today as gain altitude. By my seat of the pants calculations we were going up about 1% for much of the day – enough to make you feel weaker than you really are, if you don’t realize you are going up.

We started the day with a visit to  Adventure Cycling.8E3AD824-6030-4A8C-8F05-734FBF5E84CC

They started as “Bikecentennial”, to encourage people to bike across the US in 1976. They have remained in Missoula but morphed into Adventure Cycling. They still promote self-contained transcontinental rides but have expanded from their one initial route to multiple routes and a couple of north-south rides.

You can buy paper (Tyvek) maps or online maps from them and choose your own adventure.

They also do advocacy work and work with international cycling groups. They sponsor some supported tours, but the focus is still on DIY.

They have historical bikes displayed (e.g. their cartographer’s first bike, the first bike to explore their transcontinental route, bikes built by a local frame builder which have made the trek).

They also have a “wall of fame” where they post the photos of transcontinental riders who stop in to visit on the way. I discovered you can’t escape folks from Wisconsin when I met these two:3524D139-3C5B-4FCB-9C14-720008F10F5C

We left Missoula in the cool of the morning. I kept arm warmers on until after 10. It was a leisurely start, as we were asked not to arrive in Lincoln before 2:30.

We rode upstream all day, following the Blackfoot River. We seem to do a lot of riding upstream. 727F9599-CC4E-442F-8BC3-2EBAA998066C

We rode along the southern edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, part of the second largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48. Bob Marshall advocated for setting aside wilderness areas in the 1930’s. Here is the historical marker in his honor:360CEDF6-61BD-4D9F-AB72-39FBA656FBF6.jpeg

Marshall worked for the US Forest Service and was a co-founder of The Wilderness Society.

While we’re honoring people, I happened upon a church in Missoula. If you recall the book and movie “A River Runs Through it” (with Robert Redford), this was the church of the man who inspired the book.63207778-7569-454D-AADE-DC0F6C92144A

The Tour Divide is a mountain bike race the length of the continental divide, and passes through Lincoln. From their live map, it appears that one rider is approaching town now. There are riders who have finished (at the US-Mexico border) and there are riders still in Canada.

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and they will be the big things”  – Kurt Vonnegut, as quoted on a sign in the high school gym here in Lincoln. A school gym that quotes Vonnegut can’t be all bad.  And this is the “below” I wanted you to see. It is the little things that will make this journey, not the arrival at the east coast.

You should know, dear reader, that I passed up a beer in town with other riders in order to write this. Such is my dedication to this duty;)


The first days are the hardest days

Http/m.youtube/watch?v=TSlajKGHZRkUncle John’s Band

The first week is over. If the link doesn’t work, the song starts:

“Well, the first days are the hardest days/Don’t you worry anymore/Cuz when life looks like Easy Street/There is danger at your door.” (Lyric by Robert Hunter)

The first week is over. We rode 612 miles in 7 days, climbed a few mountain passes, rode a century in the rain. I had three flats, one in the rain. (Better than Mike from Dublin, who had 6). A rider had to go home with an injury, another missed three days of riding with a cold. Hypothermia claimed a few during Saturday’s rain.

We frequently camped in clover fields. I received 4 bee stings on my feet as evidence.

If Sunday weren’t a rest day, we’d have had to add one – or have a mutiny.

I spent much of the week singing to myself – reggae one day, topical songs (especially today) – “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Uncle John’s Band [for the lyric above], “I Can See for Miles” [altered to “I Can Ride for Miles” to inspire me to keep going]. Also obnoxious pop songs that attacked at odd moments (“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”, with the line “another tank of gas and back on the road again.”)

On our day off today, I ate in restaurants, ate cardamom ice cream, shopped at the local bike shops, and got the bike (and me) in shape for the next week.

I replaced my rear tire with a Continental Gatorskin (due to 3 flats in a week), bought a patch kit and 3 spare tubes, patched two tubes from this week, cleaned and lubed the bike, got a new taillight.

Most useful item: Hefty 3 galllon bags – you can pack ‘em with clothes, squeeze/roll the air out, and zip them shut. They are a great size – one holds jerseys and gloves, one shorts and socks, one post-ride t-shirts and another post-ride shorts, etc.

Most useless items packed (tie): 1) Ziploc jumbo bags (made for packing things and squeezing the air out) – they are hard to seal, pop open after sealing, and tear easily. 2) Park Tools brand patch kit. The vulcanizing fluid is very thick and becomes tacky almost instantly and the patches fall off in seconds. Back to Tip Top brand for me.0BCDB2E0-EE63-4F3B-8A11-8B96C5575112

You’ve heard of people who bring everything but the kitchen sink. I brought the kitchen sink.

Random bonus photo – the prettiest bike on the trip:A4C8C70E-9651-446D-9142-8363C1740EB9

Next week is bound to be easier. We ride 6 days until our next rest day.

Your blogger – still standing after this week, plus a pizza and 2 glasses of wine.

Alan about to summit at Thompson Pass (failed to upload yesterday)

Epic Ride!

Being on the western edge of the time zone, it didn’t get dark until after I was asleep. The rain started first.

It started raining at 10 PM and was still r

Our support fleet at 5 AM, the only time I see them all together.

aining when I woke up at 5. I took down the tent in the rain, packed up in the rain, and rode down to breakfast in the rain.

Breakfast is the only photo I have to upload from the day. It was too wet to take any other pictures.

We rode 103 miles in the rain, the last 50 into a headwind. I would not have made it without the company of Alan from Kirkland, WA and Ed and Ally (a father-daughter team) from New Jersey. I rode with Ed and Ally for much of the day, Alan for part of it, and the four of us together rode into Missoula, after we came upon Alan changing a tire just a few miles out of town.

Ally is a newly-minted RN from Rutgers who decided to go on this trip “before I have to be a grown-up”. I can attest that she is a grown-up, riding relentlessly through a driving rain that left us all coated in grit and soaked.

Ed is a union carpenter. He confessed that he likes to ride in front in order to control the pace so Ally doesn’t leave him behind. Being a good daughter, she waits for him at the top of climbs. She is a mountain goat.

Since I have no photos from today, I’ll add some that wouldn’t upload from Thompson Falls. The dam at Thompson Falls

Group photo at the pass
Lunch at the pass, Alan about to summit

The road we took to the pass, view while riding upstream, dawn before the climb