Bicycle tour Cycle Montana with the Adventure Cycle Association
T minus 9 — I thought I’d get in shape for both cycling and hiking by running up Mailbox Peak. Mailbox Peak (the new route), is just outside of North Bend, WA, and is about 4000 feet of climbing over 4.5 miles. It was stupendous. I tried out some new shoes, the Altra Lone Peak 3, and they worked wonderfully. More nice, they have a loop built-in in front and velcro behind to accommodate Dirty Girl gaiters. The “climb” was dry going up, but continuous rain on the descent, and at the top had to endure a bit of hail. I recorded the hike on my eTrex but messed up so that I was unable to download the trip to the computer.
The summit of Mailbox Peak, with a mailbox! And, no, I am not trying to imitate Mickey Mouse with my gloves. I usually wear cycle gloves while hiking since I always use hiking poles, but decided to try out cheap cotton gloves that jewelers use, and actually liked them better.
T minus 8 —Went up to son Jon who lives in Arlington, WA to do a variant on riding the Centennial trail front which added a bit of hill climbing. I was sore from the day before, but figured it was different muscles being used, so it shouldn’t matter.
T minus 7-3 — now I’m really sore since it was a lot of the same muscles (!). . . too sore to do some serious bike rides. So, I sat at home, resisting to feed my face, since I knew that I still needed to loose 10-15 lb.
T-minus 1 — I woke up early Friday morning, with the car completely loaded with my bicycle, and other stuff. It took about eight hours to drive to Missoula. I was able to get to the ACA offices early, where Arlen was able to give me a tour of the facility. It was quite impressive, but unfortunately I wasn’t lugging my camera around to document the event.
T-0 — this is officially day 1 with the ACA, though there is no riding that occurs. Since the event starts about 3:30 pm, I had time in the am to stop by REI where I got some new touring cycle shoes, made by Pearl Izumi. They were remarkably comfortable. The evening intro, orientation and dinner were standard for ACA rides, and the biggest challenge was that of trying to remember new faces and new names.
T-1 — Missoula to Darby, 66.1 miles, 1752 feet elevation gain.
This day was mostly on a public bike path that headed straight south of Missoula, with a few variants to get us off of the main path, which was a very busy highway. The weather was cool but without rain while riding, though it had rained last night. We spent the night in an RV park. Most things in town were closed, but we caught the closing minutes of a brewery owned by the mayor of town to cherish a Schluck of brew.
Our first (and last!) landmark structure, THE COW!!!!!
First bridge to cross, just while leaving Missoula.
Our eager ACA workers, Brian and Sarah
Sarah hanging out with some scraggly old fart dude that came along.
T-2 — Darby to Wisdom 58.01 miles, 3615 feet elevation gain.
Wisdom was heavily infested with mosquitos, as the campground situated adjacent to the mosquito breeding grounds. To get to Wisdom, we had to go over Lost Trail Pass, which put us briefly into Idaho, and then over Chief Joseph Pass, giving us some fairly substantial climbing. I was riding with Cindy von Gillette, who was giving me a substantial challenge to keep up with her on the hills. We got our obligatory photographs on top of the pass, which was also the Continental Divide. On the lengthy descent, we had a lunch stop at a seriously mosquito infested Nez Perce battle site. Further descent brought us to our campsite. It was uncomfortably hot, which led to our retreat to a local tavern for beer.
Cindy in perfect form, climbing the pass.
Welcome to Idaho
Barely made it up the pass!
In the vicinity of Nez Perce Battle Site, buffalos replaced by bovines.
T-3 — Wisdom to Wise River – 38.8 miles, 518 feet elevation.
During the night, Cindy had been throwing up, and a trip to the Krankenhaus (see previous post for explanation) diagnosed profound hyponatremia and volume depletion. This meant that she had to stay in the hospital for at least a night, leading to her dropping out of the tour. Her husband came to get her, and a day later she dropped by (at Fairmont Hot Springs) to get her bags and say goodby. From then on, I rode mostly alone or with Dave von Seattle, and on day 3, the ride was short and hot. A few people did extra miles, but not this kid. The tavern in town was owned and operated by an old Scottish dude who was at times the lead singer for Van Morrison and Paul Revere and the Raiders. After dinner, some dude from Montana Conservation Commission (I don’t remember the exact name) gave us an interesting talk on the loss of the buffalo. The night was too hot to engage in mental cogitation, and I crashed early.
Without Cindy, we were left with two old farts, me and Dave, leaving the herd.
More of beautiful Montana
T-4 — Wise River to Fairmont Hot Springs 39.8 miles, 1690 feet elevation gain.
This was another short day, and ten miles of the route was doubling back of what we did yesterday. I rode with Dave von S, and it was a most beautiful day. The climbing was not too difficult, but it again was quite hot. We went over an unnamed Pass that crossed the Continental Divide, but which we named Chief Running Dave Pass. A marvelous descent brought us to a large resort where we were staying. We went into the hot springs swimming pool which had quite warm water with much minerals, making it hard to swim in, and deprived us of the coolness we needed for a hot day. Still, the resort had enough luxury to make it a nice place to stay.
Dave now barely making it, using a cane he found on the side of the road.
Dave on the continental divide at a pass which is now named Chief Running Dave Pass.
T-5 — Fairmont Hot Springs to Phillipsburg 73.3 miles, 3451 feet elevation gain. This was a 41 mile route, with an additional 32 mile option that I took. The ride was thankfully quite cool, but VERY windy with a predominant Gegenwind (headwind). The first 8 miles retraced our previous steps, but then entered the town of Anaconda, location of a previous large copper mining operation. The climbing was not challenging, save for the very strong Gegenwind making it feel like a 9-10% grade. The optional 16 miles there and 16 miles back to the Sapphire mine was most worth it, with spectacular beauty, and a nice way to put mileage on the day. Phillipsburg was having its 150th birthday, but I decided that a shower and food and sleep were more fitting for me.
Always a welcome site, the water break!
Waterfall seen when coming down from Georgetown Lake.
Sapphire Mine addition
T-6 Phillipsburg to Ovando 64.5 miles, 2031 feet climbing
The morning started out freezing cold, with ice on our tents and bicycles. The ride started later than usual, and I was bundled up with mittens and other accoutrements to maintain warmth. Then I realized that I just wasn’t feeling well. Perhaps it was the same crud that did in Cindy von G. I don’t know. Anyway, it was too cold to stop riding, so I did some vomiting while pedaling away on my bike. I’m glad nobody was with me. I continued to feel ill, and it was miserable climbing over a minor pass, though the temperature became acceptable. I was too cold and feeling too miserable to snap any photos, or to really enjoy the sights. The only memory was that of dodging a cow in the road. It was a night with minimal food, certainly NO beer or cigars, and my only effort was an attempt to stay hydrated. Ovando had awesome ice cream at the village store which will go long remembered. Sorry, but I was too sick to feel like taking photos.
T-7 Ovando back to Missoula 58.1 miles, 1112 feet climbing
I spent the night having runny diarrhea, which continued into all of the next two days. I didn’t wish to worry the tour directors, and knew that I was otherwise okay, so just bucked up and enjoyed the ride. To play it safe, I decided to ride a bit slower, and just hang out (ride) with Dave von S., who is a most pleasant and enjoyable character. There was a minor amount of climbing, but for the most part, the ride was totally flat, if not a bit downhill. I stopped very briefly by the ACA headquarters and said hello to Emma, and then dashed on, wanting to get home before another diarrhea spell. The drive was very smooth, and I was able to hit the front door before 6:30, a 7-½ hour drive for 493 miles.
Tent village of a herd of migrant bicyclists
crossing the plains of Montana.The caterers Jack and Kathy talk with Lisa and Fido
The final road
Thoughts on the ride.
- I love the way the ACA does tours, and especially their fully supported tours.
- 2. The staff were stupendous.
- Arlen is just a super guy, and a perfect tours director.
- Dave did a wonderful job at handling problems such as a meeting hall that suddenly became unavailable, and sick riders that needed to drop out.
- Sarah was most incredible. She was most certainly the most up-beat, cheerful leader that I’ve had while on ACA tours. You could tell that she loved cycling and adventure as she radiated it. I especially loved her rock quotes, which were different at each of the water stops that she handled.
- Brian was probably the best bicycle mechanic that I’ve ever seen on the ACA tours or other bicycle trips. And, he was confronted with multiple challenges, such a broken bottom brackets, fractured derailleurs, etc. I would have loved to work in a repair shop with him for a few months to acquire some of his bike wisdom. Besides, he was a super guy that I really enjoyed being with.
- Amy was awesome. She is a real entertainer, and especially funny when it came to the “talent” show. What a delight.
- Bill was silent, behind the scenes, but always a most pleasant person. He had the job of hauling all the luggage around.
- The ACA gets an award for going out of their way to support bicycling. They really stick to their goals and objectives to encourage bicycling. We had people drop into our camp that were on cycle tours, and they were allowed to share our campsite and…
Now that I’ve met everybody, I’ve gone back over the google group introductions that everybody provided, and it is so nice to be able to put a face and personality to each person. My only regret is that the week went too quickly, and there wasn’t enough time to get to know everybody as well as I would have liked. But then, there is always an excuse for yet another tour.