Archive for the ‘Montana’ Category
The trip was a success! I completed over 4,263 miles from Yorktown, VA to Portland, OR and then down the coast to San Francisco, CA between May 26, 2009 and August 19, 2009 (86 days). I met many amazing people along the way, pedaled through 13 states, and saw a lot of spectacular scenery. I feel like I’ve now seen some of the United States, but there is still a lot remaining to explore.
The first few states were rather ‘familiar’ as far as scenery goes – I hadn’t been to Kentucky before, but western Kentucky was quite similar to Virginia with a lot of horse farms and open fields. Eastern Kentucky was a little more poverty-stricken and was cluttered with trash on the sides of the roads. The roads were in poor condition with potholes (we had to be very careful to pay attention and not hit one)! I picked up a staple from the road in eastern Kentucky and got my first flat tire. We only briefly saw Illinois (I think we spent 2 days biking through southern Illinois), but we met some really fun people, namely two motorcyclists who invited us to their home to camp outside, grill, and play in the lake. Also, we saw Superman in Metropolis, Illinois, which was off-route and not planned. As it happened, we had bike problems that day and had to hitch-hike 70 miles to a bike shop to get a new chain for George’s bike. Missouri was very humid and the Ozarks were filled with hills.
About 40 miles outside of Springfield, Missouri, my shifter cable broke and I wound up hitching a ride with to a bike shop. For the first time since we left on May 26th, I was in civilization again. Springfield was a large city (from what I could tell), and they had a Chipotle and Starbucks. That was exciting! We pedaled through Missouri in six days and then when we reached Kansas, we switched our sleeping and biking habits. Instead of riding during the day, we rode at night and slept indoors at fire stations, libraries, and churches during the day to avoid the 115-degree heat and humidity. It worked fairly well, except that I biked the entire state of Kansas carrying a viral infection, only to realize it when I entered Colorado.
Just 70 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado in the hamlet of Arlington, I found myself extremely sick and unable to continue pedaling. I stopped and told the guys I couldn’t go any further. This was my last opportunity to find someone who could help me – there were approximately three houses and a few shady trees. I stopped, rested, and when I wasn’t feeling any better, I walked to a house to see if anyone was home who could drive me to a doctor. A nice man, by the name of C.D. Anderson said he’d give me a ride to Ordway, CO (25 miles west). We rode there and the clinic said I needed to get to a hospital, but the next closest one was in Pueblo. He gave me a ride all the way to Pueblo, another 45 miles down the road. There, I admitted myself to the Emergency Room and spent the next five and a half hours receiving saline and anti-nausea medicine. I slept on and off until 6:30 that evening when I was released. Lucky to have distant relatives in the area, they came and picked me up and they took me to their home in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few days later, thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger, Cindi from Westcliffe, I had a car to borrow and was on my way to visit a friend from college. Unfortunately, I got sick again and at this point was very frustrated, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me. This was the only point in my trip where I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to continue if the virus didn’t get out of my system. I slept and rested for another day or two and then went whitewater rafting (already had reservations made) and then drove to Estes Park to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains and take photos.
I finally got on my bike again almost two weeks after getting sick and was now solo pedaling to meet Chase, my new riding companion, who was a few days ahead of me now. Unexpectedly, I spent a few nights in Salida, Colorado when I met Mike. He showed me around town and then guided me up my first 14er, Mt. Elbert. It was an incredible experience to be on the highest mountain in Colorado and one of the highest in the lower 48 states! After a day of recuperation, I climbed 26 miles up and over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet! There, at the top of the pass, Chase found me and I rode down the other side of the mountain and then hitched a ride back to Pitkin where he and his family had rented a cabin for a few days. We spent a couple days in Pitkin and Ohio City with Chase’s family before we hit the road again on July 14th.
The adventures really picked up once Chase and I met and started riding together – we found ourselves first taking a short-cut from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT in two days and meeting a really nice woman by the name of Lauren. As it turns out, she invited us to have dinner with her (grilled steak and peppers along with pickled asparagus) and sleep in her camper van just outside of Paradox, CO. Then we met Wayne, who gave us a lift from La Sal Junction to Moab and then into Arches National Park, where we toured the park in the afternoon together. It was a great time and nice since Wayne hadn’t had an opportunity to see the park before! After Moab, we rode down to Monticello (I had to pick up mail) and then onward to Hite, UT (Lake Powell). This was one of the worst days (from Blanding to Hite) as the heat was cranked up and the 88-mile stretch without services was brutal. We each carried 1.5 gallons of water and pedaled all day to get to Hite campground.
What would have been a long journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada turned into a spontaneous adventure where we found ourselves 700 miles north getting dropped off in Yellowstone National Park. We caught a ride with Jack and his 7-year old who were on their family vacation. We were like family for 3 days and it was amazing. We had such a great time! Once we parted from Jack and David, we left to go to West Yellowstone where we ran into five cyclists that Chase last saw and rode with in Missouri! Who knew we’d end up back on the Transamerican Route in Montana weeks later and run into them!
A few more mile of pedaling as we rode through Montana to Missoula where I bumped into my best friend’s ex-husband in a bike shop, saw my last chiropractor of the trip (6th one), got my second (and last) flat tire, and did my last long uphill climb (before reaching the coast) of 46 miles over Lolo Pass into Idaho! Just into Idaho, we met a great family from Frederick, Maryland who invited us to eat dinner and camp with them. Thanks again to nice people, we camped with a couple from British Columbia at a campground in Washington, camped on someone’s front porch in Walla Walla, Washington, and found ourselves chased out of a campground after we spotted three large snakes within five minutes. Needless to say, we camped on the side of the road that night only six miles from the campground, as we were exhausted from riding 106 miles in the blazing heat with headwinds!
Finally into Oregon, we were excited to reach Portland. However, it wasn’t over yet! We hit horrible headwinds in Columbia River Gorge (apparently the windsurfing capital of the world), yet no one gave us a heads up about this! We battled the headwinds for about 100 miles or so (on and off with the intensity), but once we were within 150 miles of Portland, the winds picked up even more! Chase wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I. We agreed to hitch a ride the last 90 miles into Portland so we wouldn’t pedal away for two more days to get there. Instead, we wanted to enjoy seeing Portland before having to continue down the coast (or in Chase’s case, before he had to fly home).
On August 9th, we reached the Pacific Coast at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I had 3,570 miles at this point. Our last evening of the ride (coast to coast), we camped in a city park as all the campgrounds were full and the motels/hotels were all booked. To make our story more fun, we camped illegally (in a city park, as there was nowhere else to go) and the next morning the police came at 5:55am asking us to leave.
The last leg of the trip, I rode solo down the coast from Nescowin, OR to San Francisco, CA. I met a lot of really nice people along the way and rode with several groups of riders as well. I met four motorcyclists from Victoria, British Columbia in Bandon, OR and then we reunited again in Brookings, OR the next day, 100 miles later. It was fun to see the same faces again on several occasions and we really had a great time exchanging stories and hanging out at the campsites together.
At last, I reached San Francisco on August 19th at six o’clock in the evening after riding my final 72 miles. From August 19th until August 25th, I spent the time in San Francisco sampling some of the most delicious ethnic food while hanging out with one of my best friends — Iman, who flew from the east coast to meet me! On August 25th, we departed on a train back across the country. Again we met many interesting people, including Thane and Brenda of Sioux Falls and the friendly Amtrak staff. My arrival into DC was mixed – the trip was officially over and I would have to re-acclimate to life back home and return to my full-time desk job.
Friday, July 31st – Missoula, MT to Wendover Campground, ID
Today was a bit of a slacker day – we got a really late start, but mostly intentionally. We had planned to start about mid-day and just ride to get over our last major pass, Lolo Pass. So we slept till about 9/9:30 and then started to get organized and we did a last load of laundry at Brent’s before heading into Missoula around 1pm for Chase’s last Pita Pit experience. Then we mailed off a few odd things to shed some weight and then we were going to hit the road, but Chase realized he hadn’t yet replaced the broken sunglasses, so he went to the mall and then an outdoors store to try to find a decent pair. And then finally we left Missoula around 4pm and had the next 40 miles to climb slowly over Lolo Pass.
The riding wasn’t too bad actually – it was very gradual and we ran into Joe and Geordie just about 7 miles from the top of Lolo Pass at a RV park. They were taking a break and we had just stopped to refill on water. The guys were only going a few more miles up the road before calling it a day. We wanted to get over Lolo Pass and then down into Idaho before ending the day, especially since we’d had such a late start.
At the top of Lolo Pass, we changed into Pacific Time and gained another hour, but lost an hour of sunlight so to speak. Instead of the sun setting around 9:15pm in Missoula, it would now set around 8:15pm in eastern Idaho. After the pass, we rode another 20 miles or so downhill and then it flattened out for a bit – but was still easy riding. We had hoped to make it to Jerry Johnson’s Hot Springs at mile marker 152, but we pulled into Wendover Campground to refill on water (we had seen a sign as we came down into Idaho about last stop for gas and all services for the next 65 miles), so we thought we’d better be safe and have plenty of water in case we didn’t find any for the next 65 miles or so.
We stopped into the campground and were instantly greeted by some folks who had just pulled in shortly before us. They invited us to stay for dinner (spaghetti and garlic bread) and to set up our tents on their campsite since they were all sleeping in an RV. It was amazing – awesome spaghetti and company. Turns out the McDonald’s (Mac and Lauri) are from Frederick, Maryland and just doing a 3-week adventure around the country with their two kids Marley (9) and Tyler (13). So we just sat around and chatted and then Tyler made a fire and we all made smores which were yummy. Finally we called it a night around 11:45pm or so (in Pacific Time).
Most random question about the bike trip:
Mac: “So how do you keep it platonic?”
Chase/Kiki: “Umm, wow. [Chase farting] – “well that answers that” – Kiki
Wow…that was funny and definitely an odd question and first question ever for this trip.
Posted by Kiki | Montana | Posted on July 30th, 2009
Thursday, July 30th – Hanging out in Missoula
We decided to hang out and relax in Missoula and try to let our bodies recoup a bit – my back and shoulders were killing me so I was definitely looking for a day off.
I got up around 7:30 or 8:00 and Craig was packing up to head out. He and Brent went and grabbed breakfast downtown somewhere and then Craig went off to continue riding on his own. Chase and I planned to hang around town for another day.
I made an appointment at a chiropractor’s here in town and went and saw her at 10am and then I ventured off on my bike to explore the University of Montana’s campus as well as a store called Rockin Rudy’s which had all sorts of odds and ends…pretty neat place. I wound up buying a T-shirt that says “My ass is on vacation… Missoula, Montana” – couldn’t resist that. Even though I’m not really on vacation because pedaling across the country is hard work and requires a lot of endurance and calories!
I then went back to the ACA and met Chase there and then we ran and did a quick Walmart run – forgot to buy batteries for the flip video camera and backup for the GPS in case the solar panel runs out of juice. Afterwards, we biked down to 1st street to Free Cycles and did a small informal class there before trying to build bikes for fun. We were there all day messing around with bikes that were donated, trashed, scrapped, etc. We had to look for all the parts to build a bike from the frame up – it was a little frustrating since it was sometimes hard to find stuff that worked together, but it was a pretty cool place nonetheless and with enough time, you can definitely build a decent bike for free.
After working at Free Cycles all day, we left about 7:30 and went down to Taco del Sol to grab a bite to eat. We got burritos and then headed to check out REI (the smallest one in the country, I believe)… it was still neat though. I did an exchange and then we wound up sitting outside REI for 2.5 hours talking about all sorts of stuff and I got us ice cream from Albertson’s for $1/ice cream cookie – amazing! It was tasty!
Finally, we headed back to Brent’s to crash for the night – but only after doing more journal updates and such. Finally, I went to sleep around 1am and called it a night.
Tomorrow we’re heading off for a half day of biking to get over Lolo pass and then the rest of the riding should be relatively flat or downhill-ish until we reach Portland (so we’ve been told anyway)!
Posted by Kiki | Montana | Posted on July 29th, 2009
Wednesday, July 29th – Darby, MT to Missoula, MT
So I forced myself to wake up early this morning since I wanted to get to Missoula as soon as possible to enjoy half a rest day and see some of the town. I woke up at 6:30 and rolled out about 7am after packing up and leaving a note for the ladies who got us a motel room. I then ran across to the gas station and picked up some calories (donuts and some electrolytes) for the 17 mile ride to Hamilton. I forced myself to ride fast, keeping a pace of 16-20mph and an average of about 17mph when I arrived to Hamilton. I had sent Craig a text message seeing if he had left Hamilton already or if he was still there and wanted to ride to Missoula together since Chase was still sleeping and getting up slowly. I was a bit more motivated to get to Missoula earlier rather than later. So Craig and I wound up riding the 40+ miles to Missoula together.
The ride went pretty well – it was flat for the most part with an ever so slight downhill grade, but barely noticeable for the most part. We ran into a couple other touring cyclists, Barbara and Matthias, two Germans from Hamburg who started in Richmond and are ending their tour in California. We chatted for a bit and I was able to practice some German which was nice and then we continued on our way to Missoula. The last 17 miles or so were pretty slow and not exactly fun. I was really in a bit of pain at this point with my shoulder and back and was frustrated that the pain was coming back. I also hated the last 6 miles of the ride since it was even more slow and we had to ride on the shoulder of highway 93 which was absolutely no fun at all.
But finally we made it to Missoula – just over 4 hours of riding time with an average around 14.5 mph, I think. So it was a pertty fast-paced 72 miles or so by the end of the day, and we arrived by 1pm or so, so we had the whole afternoon to do whatever.
Did a quickie Walmart run and restocked on a few items – bagels, peanut butter crackers, soap, shampoo, that sorta junk. Then we were off to find the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters/office in Missoula. The ACA creates the maps that we use for biking across the country and we arrived to the office where we were greeted with ice cream, soda, candy, and a free membership if we didn’t already have one, so that’s exciting. I should be getting the magazines now which’ll be awesome:)
Once at the ACA headquarters, I started to look for a plcae for the three of us to sleep (preferrably indoors and not having to deal with tents and such). I started by looking up hosts on WarmShowers.org (an organization for cyclists who are traveling and looking for people to stay with – a hospitality group but for cyclists only). I called several people and left messages, but never heard back from any of them. Then about my 6th call, someone picked up and said “the answer is yes” before I could even tell him about us and ask if he was available. So that was really cool and Craig and I rode up to Brent’s place in the Rattlesnake area of Missoula. We were greeted outside and then chatted a bit, did some laundry, and then Brent and Craig rode down into the city and I waited for Chase to show up and unwind a bit before we then headed downtown to grab some food.
We wound up getting pitas from The Pita Pit, which was amazing! Afterwards, Craig met us at The Big Dipper for ice cream and I had a Little Dipper (Maple Walnut ice cream + hot fudge + whip cream + nuts + a cherry on top. It was delicious! After ice cream we just headed on back to Brent’s to sleep for the night.
Posted by Kiki | Montana | Posted on July 29th, 2009
Tuesday, July 28th – Jackson, MT to Darby, MT
Wow – today was a rough one. We got up at 7:30am, went across the street to get real food for breakfast — I had a breakfast burrito, hash browns, and toast – it was decent, but not great. The place just opened and they’re working on getting the kinks out, so no real complaints. It was normal food and was decent in taste, just not super warm or hot. Craig came over shortly after we sat down and had breakfast with us as well – he camped out back behind the lodge in a camping area they had there. He also gave us his leftover dinner last night when he saw us at the lodge frozen and cold from the ride, so that was really nice and we were very appreciative since nothing was open at 10:15pm. We got on the road about 10:15am this morning since breakfast took a while (a little delay on the cafe, but no biggie). The riding was pretty easy, but for some reason I wasn’t feeling it. I just couldn’t get in the groove to ride like I had been the past few days with a really good and fast pace. Shortly after starting, I wound up with a horrible pain in my rib and it stuck with me for the remainder of the day. I also started to have back pain again – probably because I did two passes and 106 miles yesterday and didn’t think to put the back brace on again. I have been riding without it for maybe 5-6 days now which has been great. I have had very little pain at all, and then I started to feel some pain/soreness today. I think it’ll probably go away soon – I’m just going to continue stretching and taking the vitamin pill things. Craig again left us in the dust as he rode on – he’s a much faster paced rider and also is carrying a lot less weight on his bike (to his advantage). Chase and I were a bit slow and not really in the groove today, but continued on anyway. We did the Gibbons Pass (which was an alternate route to the usual). It was gravel for 8 miles to the top of the pass and 12 miles down on the other side and apparently cut off 4 miles from the main road. We decided to give it a go – and boy was that a bad idea. The scenery was much more pleasant and beautiful, but the gravel in places was really course and loose, so it was a pain to ride on. The ride up to the top wasn’t so bad and took about 45-50 minutes, but the ride down was horrendous. The road was not easy at all – lots of rocks, lots of loose gravel, and it was steep, so there was a lot of breaking involved. 50 miles into the ride today and I wound up with my second flat of the entire ride across the country. I was a bit bummed, especially since I didn’t want to deal with fixing a flat in the heat (it was now sunny and hot out). I fixed the flat after one tube’s valved was broken upon pumping it up, so had to use my last new tube.
Finally, down the mountain and into Sula, Montana and it was already 6pm. We had spent 3 hours climbing 8 miles and going down 12 miles of gravel – it was pathetic and annoying. So we got ice cream (Snickers ice cream bars) at the convenience store (the one and only thing in Sula, and that was closing 1 minute after we arrived)! We refueled in an attempt to make it to Hamilton for the night. That would then leave us with 50 or so miles to Missoula for tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Hamilton was still 33 miles away and 16 miles after we stopped and got ice cream it started storming horribly. The winds picked up really fast and before we knew it, we were being blown all over the road and sand and dirt was flying into our eyes. The rain was coming as well – it was a nasty storm and we had 2 miles to go before reaching the town of Darby. We got there and found a place to take cover out from the rain. We then found out the entire town was out of power from the storm, so the restaurants couldn’t serve anything. I got out my cooking stuff and decided to make pasta on the sidewalk outside of the community center. It was tasty and Chase also made pasta. While we were out there on the sidewalk, two ladies walk past and chat briefly asking if we had a place to stay tonight. We told them know and they mentioned they were staying at the motel down the street and that they may still have rooms available. Chase and I get back to cooking and eating and then the two women come back in the car and tell us that there’s a room waiting for us back at then motel and it’s been paid for. It was incredible – how nice of them to get a room for us and pay for it. Apparently, they told the motel owners that they have kids similar in age to us and thought about if their kids were in this sort of situation, what they’d do. So they went ahead and bought us a room for the night, which was the most amazing thing anyone’s done for us on this trip thus far. So we came to the motel and the power was still out, but just about when we got into the room, the power came back on! It was awesome. Got a shower and cleaned up and now updating the website with all the blog updates from the past week.
I’ll add photos into the blog entries later when I have more time, but for now, text will have to do. I did add more photos to the picasa web albums though, so you can check those out.
Posted by Kiki | Montana | Posted on July 27th, 2009
Monday, July 27th – Virginia City, MT to Jackson, MT
Had a bit of a rude awakening as we camped out inside the community center after receiving permission from someone in town. However, this morning a woman came in and in a nasty tone told us we shouldn’t be in there and that it wasn’t allowed, but that she “wouldn’t bust our balls” for being there. What a whack. Not very friendly at all and woke us all up at 7am. It was, me, Chase, Craig, and the 5 JMU guys from the “Z team” camping out there. Jacob was also camping out there, but he was outside camping, not in the gymnasium.
So the day started about 8:45am and Craig, Chase, and I headed for Twin Bridges and eventually Virginia City. We had 106 miles to cover and 2 fairly big passes to cross. We got caught in a rain storm in the late morning around 10-11am, so we took cover in Sheridan and hung out there for an hour or so for the storm to pass. The guys had some breakfast and what not and then we headed on to Twin Bridges (a quick 10 miles or so downhill with 20-24mph pace going). It was a nice ride. Then the ride to Dillon was pretty good as well – fast riding again with maybe a slight tailwind that helped. We arrived to Dillon just after 2pm and had McDonald’s for lunch (YUCK, never again). We left Dillon around 4pm and had another 48 miles or so to go before reaching Jackson, where there were supposed hot springs.
We had two passes to cross, both pretty significant climbs (2,000 feet for one, the other at 1,800 feet or so). The first pass was pretty grueling as it was 14 miles of uphill and the winds were coming from the side and they were strong! Craig disappeared way off in the distance – he left us in the dust. So Chase and I climed the passes slowly, but su.rely. After the first pass, we got rained on again and saw a rainbow (woohoo, or not), and then climbed the second pass slowly for another 10 miles or so and then we were freezing cold because we had gotten wet. My feet were frozen beyond frozen – I was miserable and we had another 11 miles to go and it was 9:30pm when we finished the second pass. At the top, we put on all our warm clothes (socks, hats, gloves, long-sleeve shirts, jackets, pants,etc) in preparation for che 11 miles of downhill we had coming. Unfortunately, the 11 miles of downhill had a few bumps in it so it took about 45 minutes or so from the top of the pass to Jackson.
We rolled into Jackson freezing cold and miserable at 10:15pm to find the bar still open. We went in there to warm up and hung out and Chase celebrated the end of 106 miles and nasty weather with a couple beers and a double shot of whisky. Chase decided to go ahead and get a room there which was much appreciated at this point – so we got a cabin room with fireplace and two beds, shower for $4 0. It was excellent and we crashed after showering and woke up at 7:30am the next morning.
Posted by Kiki | Montana | Posted on July 26th, 2009
Sunday, July 26th – 8 miles north of West Yellowstone to Virginia City, Montana
Woke up to the annoyance of having to go pee this morning. Well, I woke up at 3:45am and had to get out of the tent to pee. I’m tired of having to pee in the middle of night – it’s frustrating waking up and having to get up in the cold and go outside. Anyway, so I woke up at 3:45am and then again at 7:30am to pee so got up and Craig was up as well, and then I woke Chase up. We started packing up and rolled out about 45-60 minutes later and then Chase and I stopped at the first turn to sit down and have some breakfast (cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter and then some apple sauce). Tasty! Then the three of us hit the road towards Ennis, Montana (65 miles from the start of the day). We did great riding today as we let Craig lead most of the way (he has a nice fast pace and a lighter load then either Chase or me)… and we were going downhill most of the way to Ennis. We were cranking anywhere from 16-25 mph or so on the way to Ennis. Our average speed for the first 66 miles was 15.9 mph and we got there in just over 4 hours, I think. It was awesome – we were really making great progress. We arrived to Ennis around 2pm and then Chase and I made our bagel sandwiches while Craig went to Subway. We then set up shop at Subway for a while to do some internet research for our route and to check email, respond, etc. and all that fun stuff. It’d been almost a week since we last had access, so we were there a while. Craig rode on as he was hoping to make it up the last big hill for the day prior to the storm. We hung out in Ennis for a bit longer and then were about to head out, but the storm was looking bad and there was lightening, so we decided not to continue. We went back into town and met a couple of other cyclists who were heading to Denver, so we spoke with them a bit and then decided to get ice cream from the former Dairy Queen Bar. I wound up with a large raspberry shake which was amazing, but totally unneeded!
After another long break while waiting for the storm to pass, Chase and I finally left Ennis about 7pm and started the 14 mile trek to Virginia City, Montana. We had about 8 miles of uphill grade and then 3-4 of really nice and steep downhill. On the downhill, Chase hit 40mph exactly as he hit the 3,000 mile mark and I hit my new record speed ever… I hit 55mph on the downhill without even really needing to pedal much, which was pretty awesome. I was psyched that I got that high of a speed and luckily I didn’t have to worry about big turns coming up or any traffic, so I just sat low and crouched down and easily hit 55mph – who knows, I probably could have hit 58 mph if I’d pedaled just a little harder.
We rolled into Virginia City around 8:30 and debated whether or not we should continue. I wanted to do a century and it would have been doable since the road is downhill for quite a while before we hit another series of uphills. However, I wanted to top off on water, so I asked this lady and she told me to go to the community center and fill up there. So I did and there were the rest of the JMU guys (The “Z Team”) and Craig, so we wound up just crashing there with them. We’re staying in a really old gymnasium and sleeping on the floor inside which is great since it’s less work to put up a tent and take it down in the morning. So I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight!
We did 80 miles today with an average of 13.6 mph, which is pretty awesome, especially with our 8 miles of uphill at the end of the day.
So we’re estimating an arrival to Astoria, Oregon between August 5th and 7th, so we should be well on target if the route is as we expect – a fair amount of downhill along the Columbia River in Washington. Our route across Idaho is approximately 170 miles from the Montana border to the Washington border on highway 12. We’re hoping to knock that out in 2 days, but now thinking about it, it’d be really awesome to cross the state of Idaho in one day – granted, that’d be something like crazy, but aren’t we crazy?
Saturday, July 25th – Lewis Lake in Yellowstone Park to 8 miles north of West Yellowstone
We woke up fairly early, or at least I did. I got up at 6:40am and walked around the campground while I waited for the rest to rise. Once they were all up we started packing up and had breakfast (kid cereal again, which was awesome!) I had trix and apple jacks again which was amazing! We rolled out of the campground around 8:45am and headed for Old Faithful (the geyser) and watched that around 10:30, I think it was. It was pretty neat and there were tons of other geysers in the park that we could have seen, and we saw some from the roads, but not shooting the water up in the air like Old Faithful. Nonetheless it was pretty neat. I also met some Germans who were visiting and was able to practice my rusty German again which was nice – they were from Hannover and Mainz, and visiting a relative who lives in Illinois.
We had our last meal with Jack and Dave at the lodge and then Chase and I packed up our bikes and changed back into biking clothing and started to look at the maps again under the awning of the lodge as it was raining now. We spoke with one guy from Seattle, Washington who seemed to know the roads in the northwest fairly well, so he was trying to give us suggestions or tell us if the roads we were looking at would be good to ride and so forth. So we think we’ve come up with a new route to get back to the coast in time for Chase to get back to Texas and hopefully in time for me to ride down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco.
Finally, around 2pm we headed out of the park and started riding the 30 miles to get out of the West Entrance towards West Yellowstone. Spotted buffalo, a bald-headed eagle, and elk in the park before leaving. About 3 miles before we exited we saw another touring cyclist so we stopped to chat and it turns out he’s also riding to Astoria, Oregon (the end of the Transamerican Route). Craig (the cyclist) also had ridden the Northern Tier back in 2003 and now he’s doing the TransAm Route as it’s his last free summer for a while (he’s studying at UVa’s Medical School). We rode to West Yellowstone together and just as we were about to take our photo of the entering Montana sign, Chase sees some cyclists he knows from WAY BACK on the bike tour. He ran into his “Z-team” buddies (the 5 guys who just graduated from JMU this past May). He last saw them back in Eminence, Missouri on June 25th (Day 30). So it was really odd to bump into them again such a long time later and especially since we were supposed to be on the Western Express Route and they on the Transamerican Route. But we’re caught up now and who knows, maybe we’ll finish with them or before them.
So we stopped and ate at this pizza place which gave us a 1/2 off discount for cyclists, so that was awesome! Chase, Craig, and I all got 12″ pizzas and then shared them and they were decent – not the best, but not horrible either! After eating, we went to the grocery store to pick up some things for breakfast and lunch the next day or so. We wound up with plain bagels, ham, and cheese for lunch, and cinnamon raisin bread and peanut butter for breakfast, along with some apple sauce. Pretty yummy and odd, but tasty:) The three of us rode out of West Yellowstone then in search of a place to camp – we rode past a campground that was full and decided to camp in the National Forest Land, so we went back on an access road and pitched tents on this track that was pretty nice with grass and pine needles. We hung our bear bags (filled with food, toiletries, and anything scented), pitched our tents, and called it a night around 9:30 or so.