Monday, July 24, 2006

Hiding Out in Missoula

If you have mountains, you have passes...steep climbs and long ones. But two passes in a day is tough: like day 4 with Badger and Big Hole Passes. It was the second one that almost did us in. After climbing pass number one, Badger Pass, the winds picked up. Altogether we climbed over 3000' that day. The summit was so gradual at the very top and the headwinds were so stiff that I couldn't actually tell when I topped out. In any case I was having to pedal long after the hill must have started down.

And then what should have been a 12 mile coast into the town of Jackson, turned out to be 3 miles of coasting and 9 miles of hard work.

Oh...and it was hot. Very hot.

When we finally got to Jackson I was out of water...and I had been carrying a gallon. I filled up a water bottle at the campground sink and could only get hot water out of both taps. I saw the owner coming and asked, "Do you have another faucet? I can only get hot water out of this one."

"Hot water is all we have," she said. "Jackson is built on a hot spring. It's perfectly good to drink."

We filled our containers, but had to let them cool in the night air before drinking from them.

Now after a couple of days where the terrain on the "Route Elevation Profile" looked like cartoons, I was ready for a break...especially since not all of the riding had been on pavement. Mike and I chose an alternate route which was the actual trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as the trail the Nez Perce used fleeing Col. John Gibbon's U.S. troops in 1877. And it wasn't riding UP Gibbon's Pass that wore me out, it was the hell-bent descent over the handlebars that I was trying to avoid. That rock and gravel forest road dropped 2000' in 7 miles into the town of Sula...a town of basically one building and a campground.

We reached Hamilton in an easy 35 miles the following day. Notice the termperature on the restaurant sign next to our motel. It is not often that one finds such a large thermometer that will even go to 108 degrees! That is why we were staying in a motel...and we picked one with the very best of air-conditioning systems. We froze our asses off.

Speaking further in a personal vein, despite having drunk a over gallon of water a day for the last couple of days, my total urine output less than a cup.

So here we are taking a day off in Missoula...sort of recovering, sort of relaxing, sort of trying to prevent putting too much stress on our old bodies. This is the home of the Adventure Cycling Association, which published the maps we are using. We went down there today. One of the cool things about the place is that they have a lounge for touring cyclists with free ice cream bars and soda pop.

We talked to a couple of guys there. One rider was from New Orleans. He had been on the road a long time and felt he really had nothing to return to. His droll recollections were a riot!

We also met Allen Ho from California. He has a great "crazyguyonabike" website that lets you see every day or just certain areas...very nice. Allen is also going to Canada, although he was not sure he was going all the way to Jasper. What a great couple of people!

Tomorrow we leave for Seely Lake with fresh legs.

For another account of this and especially for more details and really beautiful pictures, follow Mike Moye's Roadrunner Tracks. His is not a blog, so the new stuff is at the bottom...not at the top. Check it out.

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