A Few Days in Hurricane

After rushing to get down to southern Utah, we are pressing pause for a few days.

The original plan was for me (Robin) to compete in the Huntsman Games today, in the 400m. I’d been training for this for most of 2019. Although I’d had a few health-related setbacks during the year, I thought I was more or less ready to compete this week. 

Unfortunately, the four days of long drives left me with a ‘tangled up’ left side (sciatic type pain and low back discomfort). It was uncomfortable trying to train during the trip down and it did not improve after we arrived. After a bit of agonizing, I decided not to try to race, as I still felt very off balance today. 

This is not a serious injury; it will just take some stretching and movement work to get myself back in alignment. (Although I do already miss my health care rock stars back in Bend!) Life is all about resilience, and this is a very minor setback.

Meanwhile we are enjoying the warm, sunny weather and taking these few days to get ourselves better organized. There’s a lot of fine-tuning when you launch 2 humans and 1 cat into a new small mobile living space.

I guess you could say we are working out the kinks this week. All the kinks! 😬

Tomorrow we’ll switch to another campground closer to Zion and explore our first Great Park of Utah.

Here is T’Chat walking on a leash for your viewing pleasure:

Ely, NV to Hurricane, UT

We landed at Sand Hollow State Park and the weather is warm and delicious! We are thrilled to stow away our winter clothes for a while. Even T'Chat has shed a coat as evidenced by the fur ball tumbleweeds rolling past my chair. We will be here three nights so we'll have a chance to re-organize and re-pack our stuff now that we have a few days of experience under our belts.

Just so you don't think everything's unicorns and puppy dogs, last night we figured out that the black tank valve jiggles loose when we traverse washboard, gravel roads. So when I (Ross) twisted the end cap off the tank outlet to connect our sewer hose, I got spewed. So if you experience a bit of schadenfreude, now would be a good time to express glee.

Veyo’’s Pies, Veyo, Utah. We bought a slice of volcano pie (butterscotch), lemon and apple. 3/5 pie stars. But we still enjoyed them!

Veyo’’s Pies, Veyo, Utah. We bought a slice of volcano pie (butterscotch), lemon and apple. 3/5 pie stars. But we still enjoyed them!

View from our site in Sand Hollow.

View from our site in Sand Hollow.

View from Ross’s morning bike ride in Ely.

View from Ross’s morning bike ride in Ely.

Frenchglen, OR to Winnemucca, NV to Ely NV

Makin’ tracks! On the move the last two days, in order to get to St. George, Utah for the Huntsman Senior Games this week. (The Games is a story for another post.)

Yesterday we left at dawn from Page Springs CG and had a nice breakfast at the historic Frenchglen Hotel. I always wonder about restaurants in very isolated towns like this. How do they find and keep employees? How do they keep fresh food ingredients in stock? It must be a lot of work.

It was three hours to Winnemucca, where we camped at Water Canyon Recreation Area (BLM land) in an aspen forest beside a laughing creek. After parking (and feeding the whining kitty), we dashed back to town to do laundry at a laundromat and groceries/supplies. We usually “divide and conquer” in these situations to save time. I did laundry, Ross did groceries. T’Chat napped.

Ross found a lovely mountain bike trail in the morning and I ran sprints up the hill near the trailer. We made our typical green breakfast smoothies* by hooking our blender to a generator outside the rig. Pretty funny.

Today’s drive was long for us (4.5 hours) through a very desolate part of Nevada - Route 50 - dubbed The Loneliest Road in America. Route 50 was part of the original Pony Express route. No ponies anymore, but a great empty road in a vast landscape of sagebrush and sky.

Spending tonight in Ely, NV. Brothels are legal here and have giant signs inviting guests to visit. What happens in Ely, stays in Ely.

*Smoothie ingredients: 2+ cups of greens (spinach, kale, dandelion, chard, beet, etc), berries (blue, straw, cherry) whey protein, psyllium husk, flax seed, kefir or whole fat yogurt, beet juice, fish oil, potato starch or green banana (prebiotic fiber), water.

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Water Canyon Recreation Area

Water Canyon Recreation Area

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Steens Mountain Loop

October 11, 2019

Highlights

  • The sub freezing temperatures make for an ideal sleeping environment all bundled up under multiple layers of bedding. Fortunately for Ross, Robin is first to get up and fire up the furnace and coffee. Ross stays in bed snuggling with T'Chat who after eating her breakfast is ready for a warm host.

  • The 400 watt solar install is charging our batteries to 100%. It's one thing to have a plan. It's a second thing to execute that plan. It's the best thing when the execution works out as planned. What this means is that we have unlimited power to run our trailer as long as the sun is shining. We did have to briefly fire up the generator to blend our green smoothie. Our blender is old and pulls over 1,500 watts to get started.

  • We hopped in the Ford F-350 (aka "The Beast") and drove the 50 mile Steens Mountain Loop. The views were outstanding, especially overlooking the salt flats of the Alford Desert.

  • Have you ever heard of Shakshouka? It's a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, coriander, and cayenne peppers. We prepared this on our cowboy wok and it was delicious. Nothing like eating gourmet meals in a rustic campground.

View toward Alford Desert from top of Steens Mountain.

View toward Alford Desert from top of Steens Mountain.

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Aftermath.

Aftermath.

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Crystal Crane Hot Springs to Page Springs BLM Campground

October 10, 2019

Highlights

  • We survived a night in 8 degree F low temperatures! While our choice of the 4 season Outdoors RV trailer was deliberate, we remained skeptical that we would stay toasty in frigid, frosty weather. Recall that we've previously adventured in a Leisure Travel Vans Unity (cold), a Chinook Concourse (teeth-rattling cold), and off-road teardrop trailer (don't get out of sleeping bag cold). So you can imagine how pleased we were with our current trailer's propane furnace.

  • We braved the cold temperatures by warming to an interval workout (Robin: sprints; Ross: burpees and vertical jumps).

  • We reserved the private hot springs tub and turned up the heat (on the water). Very nice.

Lowlights

  • Our sewer cap was frozen on to the outlet and broke when Ross forcibly removed it which prompted a trip to Big R's in Burns, OR.

  • Robin has run out of her cookie stash and now we're out in the middle of nowhere.

Official morning temperature. We survived.

Official morning temperature. We survived.

These guys cracked us up on our gas stop.

These guys cracked us up on our gas stop.

Entrance to Page Springs. Seems to be an anglers paradise, fishermen everywhere.

Entrance to Page Springs. Seems to be an anglers paradise, fishermen everywhere.

Bend to Crystal Crane Hot Springs

October 9, 2019

Highlights

  • The new Ford F-350 pulls the trailer with ease. We are so glad that we upgraded from the ½ ton Ram 1500 to the 1 ton F-350 with the PowerStroke diesel engine.

  • After landing at Crystal Crane Hot Springs and Campground, we enjoyed a soak in the mineral springs. Even the sprint to and from the trailer in near freezing temperatures doubled as interval training.

  • We whipped up a most delicious lentil and veggie soup in our pressure cooker. And to celebrate the beginning of this new adventure, we cracked open our nicest bottle of Pinot Noir that we've been holding on to for some time. We visited the White Rose Estate Winery and Vineyard on a previous trip to the Willamette Valley and splurged on some wine to take home. This was our last and dearest bottle.

  • T'Chat met her first billy goats!

Updated pic with F350

Updated pic with F350

In the hot spring!!

In the hot spring!!

Robin loves goats and goats love Robin.

Robin loves goats and goats love Robin.

Aaaand We're Off!

Today is official launch day. We spent the last few days moving out of our condo into the 21-foot living space we’ll be in for at least the next 6 months. “Will our stuff fit” anxiety is over. It fits, no small thanks to the extra space in the back of the pickup truck. We both wanted to bring luxury items (medicine ball, Ross’ overalls, ham radio equipment, kettlebells, pie-making equipment, books). Lots of organizing still to do, but plenty of time ahead for that.

Most important: T’Chat loves the rig. She’s the most adaptable kitty ever, probably because she was bottle-fed from nearly birth. She grew up leash-walking, hanging out with our rottweiler and corgi, traveling. Nothing much fazes her except the first 20 minutes of travel. She inevitably throws up on the the very first day we drive within the first 20 minutes…then never again. Paper towels will be handy this morning.

Ross and our friend Slim created a perfect setup for T’Chat in the back of the trailer. They took her old kitty condo, turned it over and anchored it in the corner. It’s a great perch for naps or watching birds and squirrels. When we are in transit, T’Chat will ride in the truck with us.

Today’s itinerary: Bend to Burns, OR. About 3 hours of travel. Leaving Oregon just in time, as temps were in the low 20’s here last night. Burns won’t be better (11 degrees!), but luckily we’re in a ‘4-seasons’ vehicle, with good insulation. We won’t hit warmer weather until we get to southern Utah early next week.

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GDMBR Day 58

Start: Beauty Creek Hostel, Jasper National Park

Finish: Jasper, Alberta, CA

Miles: 54.3 miles

Odometer: 2,932.4 miles

Ascent: 700 feet

Descent: 2,400 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

Today was bittersweet! The bitter part: the most miserable weather to date. Cold, damp, blustery and windy, and pouring down rain. Even though my ride was shorter (40 miles) and downhill, it was pretty miserable. I was wearing all of my layers and still shivered continuously while I rode. The sweet part: arriving at my final destination, Jasper, Alberta.

I had a reservation at a hotel but they were not ready for me so I changed into my dry clothes in the bathroom. I went to the local pharmacy to get some more doxycycline for the rest of my trip home, and visited the bike shops to see if I could get my bike shipped home. Unfortunately, local bike shops do not provide that service so I will be taking my bicycle on the train with me.

Lunch and dinner were loaded with vegetables, including cauliflower and kale. It is time for me to get back on a proper nutrition plan. Oh how I miss psyllium. Proper nutrition and sleep are primary drivers for a good immune system, and that’s going to be my focus for the next week. My body has suffered a bit in the past week or so. I can tell that my legs are not bouncing back like they should. My skin is covered with scratches, abrasions, and cuts that I’ve gotten along the way. I feel like I’ve lost a little mental clarity.

The bicycle portion of the trip has ended at the right time. Today every pedal stroke was exhausting and my mood was more foul than the weather. Between shivering episodes, my mind drifted to my morning ritual back home, sitting on the end of the couch with a great cup of coffee looking out the window at the Cascade mountains waking up to the morning sunrise, listening to lovely Robin share some recent health science research, and cuddling our cat, T'Chat. For the first time on this last day of this cycling trip, I wanted to be somewhere else. In a way, it’s the perfect ending to a great trip.

GDMBR Day 57

Start: Lake Louise Hostel

Finish: Beauty Creek Hostel, Jasper National Park

Miles: 97.5 miles

Odometer: 2,878.1 miles

Ascent: 6,100 feet

Descent: 6,000 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

I got up early because I had a 90 mile day with two huge climbs ahead. My first destination was the actual famous, picturesque Lake Louise. I mistakenly thought that the lake was on the Icefield Parkway and that I could check it out as I headed towards Jasper. I was wrong. To see Lake Louise I had to climb a pretty steep incline for a couple of miles just to get up to the lake. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Louise and it has been a primary focus while planning this trip. However, after climbing ¾ of the way up and realizing that my 90 mile ride today was in the other direction I nearly quit climbing and turned around. I knew I would regret that decision so I pushed all the way up to the lake, and it was spectacular. I was able to ride past all of the tourists in their cars waiting to park, and ride straight up to the lake side. The clouds were still sitting low on the mountains but the majesty of the mountains reflected in the lake was breathtaking. I took a few pictures and sat calmly to breathe in the magnificence, but alas the urgency of getting on the road for my 90 miles took me away. On another day I would’ve liked to spend an hour absorbing.

Today’s ride took me over two mountain passes and through some pretty nasty rainy and cold weather. The views were outstanding despite the bad weather. The aquamarine lakes reflected the menacing, giant snowcapped mountains. Stunning.

Along the Icefield Parkway in the Jasper National Park there are a limited number hotel or hostel accommodations, i.e., non-camping options. I had no reservation. I arrived exhausted at the Beauty Creek Hostel at around 6 PM hoping there was still a bed available. And there was. Relief. Otherwise, I would have another 20 miles to the next hostel.

Hostel host, Quinn, checked me in, gave me a tour, then awarded my effort with a beer. The hostel had no electricity, showers, or running water. That was fine with me; I was just happy to get out of the bad weather and have a warm bed for the night.

The hostel is very small with a limited number of beds. Tonight there were around 10 people staying there and all were gathered around the roaring fire only yards from the river with mountain peaks as the backdrop. It was a beautiful setting. The other travelers were an interesting international mix that included a couple from Australia, a couple from England, and a mix of Canadians. Everyone was drinking and the conversation was lively. I had packed some food and scarfed every bit while everyone watched. They shared their beers with me. The fire toasted my feet to the perfect temperature. The rain threatened but never came. A fine evening.

A word about the god of wind. Never curse and spit at the god of wind, for the curse and spit will most assuredly land in your face. Instead, thank the god of wind for the gentle headwind and offer sacrifice for a tailwind. I had a headwind most of the day until my second and hardest climb of the day over Sunwapta Pass, and then the god of wind bestowed on me a fierce tailwind to carry me up and over the Pass. The god of wind is a fair god.

I saw my third bear of the trip - a black bear. Multiple tourists (they are in season at the moment) stopped their vehicles to gawk at the creature, causing what is called locally as a “bear jam”. I weaved my bike in and around the bear jam and continued my journey without being harmed. They can be very dangerous. The gawking tourists, I mean.

GDMBR Day 56

Start: Mt. Engadine Lodge, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Finish: Lake Louise Hostel

Miles: 70.3 miles

Odometer: 2,780.6 miles

Ascent: 2,100 feet

Descent: 3,000 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

This morning the route took me up a gravel road and dumped me onto the 12-mile single track Goat Creek Trail. It was pretty but very soggy and muddy from continued rain. The trail dropped into Banff and I emerge from the forest looking at this beautiful old hotel that looks like a castle. Shocking contrast. I toured around Banff and stopped at the bike shop to check my tire pressure. Within a few minutes I had four of the bike shop staff around me asking about the Great Divide route. My brain tends to downplay what I have accomplished, but it’s times like this where I realize that riding this route is actually quite an accomplishment.

I left Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway and cycled to the town of Lake Louise and checked into the local hostel where I shared a small room with three other cyclists.

Did I mention I saw my second moose of the trip? He was eating about 30 feet from the parkway. Yay!

GDMBR Day 55

Start: Fernie, BC

Finish: Mt. Engadine Lodge, Peter Lougheed Provencial Park

Miles: 112 miles

Odometer: 2,710.2 miles

Ascent: 5,800 feet

Descent: 3,000 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

With no camping gear, my sleeping options are somewhat limited for the next section. I traveled paved road up to Elkhorn, British Columbia but then the route took a turn onto gravel into Height of the Rockies Provincial Park. My only option for accommodation, Mt. Engadine Lodge, was waiting for me at mile 112; however, I had to make dinner by 7 PM or risk riding over 100 miles with no dinner at the end. To be clear, the lodge is in the middle of the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and there were no towns or grocery stores around.

I pushed pretty hard and had a fair amount of climbing. I traveled in a valley with rugged mountains jutting up to my left and to my right. It was the most beautiful ride on the route to date. That’s saying something. These mountains, in my opinion, are even more beautiful than the Grand Tetons.

The rain came in the late afternoon and I arrived exhausted at the lodge at 6:30 PM, just in time to take a shower before the 7 PM dinner. While showering I discovered an embedded engorged tick in my right armpit. Removing the tick was a two person job so I asked the staff for help. The lodge chef came out and used my multi-tool but was unsuccessful in getting at the head. He had to get back to food preparation so I was left using my multitool one-handed and eventually digging the rest of the tick out of my pit. I started doxycycline prophylaxis. Normally if I have a suspicion of a tick or if it has been removed early in the process I will take a one time 200 mg dose, but in this case it where it’s been embedded for a day or two, I’ll take a longer regimen. Interestingly, I felt some pain and irritation in my right armpit all day but I thought it was just a chafing problem from being on the bike for so long. I hate to ticks!

The Mt. Engadine Lodge is the most expensive accommodation that I’ve stayed at on the route to date. All of the guests were seated promptly at 7 PM, given cocktails or wine or beer, and treated to a multicourse meal. Frankly, I was a little dazed from the long ride and mining that tick out of my pit that I sat back and listened to the conversation, a mixture of polite social status yardstick measuring. I savagely inhaled three baskets of homemade bread and butter before, during, and after the main meal, leaving no crumb behind.

GDMBR Day 54

Start: Clarence Creek Campground, Kootenai National Forest

Finish: Snow Valley Lodge, Fernie, British Columbia

Miles: 74.4 miles

Odometer: 2,598.2 miles

Ascent: 2,200 feet

Descent: 2,800 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

Today I crossed the border into Canada!

After a fun and fast descent out of the mountains I made my approach to the Canadian border. Coincidentally, just as I was arriving at the border crossing the Rocky theme song started playing on my iPhone. That was pretty awesome!

Although my goal was always to ride up through the Banff and Jasper National Parks to Jasper, Alberta, I could not help feel emotional about making it to the Canadian border and completing the route from Mexico to Canada. I was surprised by the onset of emotion since I still had another 300+ miles to cycle.

I started hearing the grinding coming out of my bottom bracket, yet again. Recall that I replaced my bottom bracket down in Colorado. Today my destination was Fernie, British Columbia where I was able to stop at a local bike shop where they replaced my bottom bracket. As usual, the bike mechanics were fascinated by my travels and anxious to put me in the front of the line so that I could get on my way.

I wanted to mention how I am getting tired of all of my favorite music. I have 2000+ songs on my five star playlist and I have listen to this playlist for so long on this trip, the songs are starting to irritate me. My first order of business when I get home is to find some new music. That’s not as easy as it sounds since I don’t care for much of the music that is being produced right now. I know this is kind of an old person thing to say, but don’t you think it’s true? I use the “discover new music” features on both Apple Music and Spotify and so many of the new songs sound the same as each other. It is no wonder that all of the “old” music that I grew up with is still so popular.

Now that I have arrived in Canada I need to start planning my return trip home. I had always intended on taking the Rocky Mountaineer train ride from Jasper to Vancouver and then hopping on an Amtrak down to Portland. However, up until now I was not able to nail down tickets because my arrival date in Jasper was undetermined. After crossing the border and looking at the train schedule I realized that the train leaves Jasper twice a week. The next train is in two days and there’s no way I can make that one. I booked a ticket leaving in four days recognizing that I would have to travel more than 85 miles on average a day to arrive in Jasper in time. This is doable but I will have to forgo some of the dirt road sections of the route in order to make time on paved roads.

So that I could travel lighter and get more miles daily I shipped my camping gear home in Eureka, Montana just before crossing the border. This will make for easier riding but I will have to carefully plan my stops without the option of camping.

GDMBR Day 53

Start: Columbia Falls, MT

Finish: Clarence Creek Campground, Kootenai National Forest

Miles: 84.0 miles

Odometer: 2,523.7 miles

Ascent: 7,100 feet

Descent: 6,200 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

It is not clear to me how I can physically eat so much food at one meal. I realize I need the calories. I must be burning nearly 10,000 cal every day. When I sit down for a proper meal I am so hungry that I just eat and eat and eat. Breakfast might include an omelette, hashbrowns, biscuit, oatmeal, and pancakes.

Today’s ride took me over two mountain passes and skirted Glacier National Park border. The weather held out for a while so that I was able to get really pretty views of the mountains in Glacier.

At the beginning of this trip, recall that I spent a couple of nights in the Toaster House Hostel in Pie Town, NM. I met a young northbound cyclist there named Thad. He was headed to Albuquerque to visit with his family before resuming his ride north to Canada. I always assumed that his young legs would catch me up and I would see him on the trail. Well as it turned out I saw him today but he decided to avoid the snow in Colorado for now and flew up to Banff to begin his southbound journey. What a coincidence to run into him again. We had a pretty good laugh about the coincidence.

While I do like a hot shower and a cozy hotel bed every once in a while, camping in my tent brings such solitude. I love it. Clarence Creek Campground was completely empty except for my tent. I went to sleep listening to the rushing water from Clarence Creek.

GDMBR Day 52

Start: Informal campsite in Flathead National Forest

Finish: Glacier Motel, Columbia Falls, MT

Miles: 81.4 miles

Odometer: 2,439.7 miles

Ascent: 5,400 feet

Descent: 5,900 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

Today I saw a grizzly bear! I was on a slow, long climb in the Flathead National Forest when I came across a grizzly bear in the middle of the dirt road. He saw me approaching and stopped and just stared at me for about 2 to 3 minutes. I grabbed my bear spray and pulled off the safety mechanism. He moseyed off the road and I waited five minutes and rode on past. I guess I’m grateful we surprised each other on an incline and that I did not surprise him flying downhill. However, when I rode past his last known location I was going ever so slow because of the grade. In the granny gear, I was pedaling as fast as my legs would spin. Despite being in a little bit of a foul mood all day, seeing a grizzly made my day.

I have not had a nice sunshiny day in quite a while. Every day has been overcast and rainy, including today. The skies opened up as I was descending out of the mountain into civilization, the town of Ferndale, MT. The temperatures were also in the mid 50s which makes for a difficult cycling combination of rain and cold. Feeling pretty miserable, I rode over to the Ferndale Market to dry out and thaw out. Like many of the small town markets, they have a little bit of everything, including pizza. I ordered a medium pizza, drank some hot coffee, dried out my stuff, charged my electronics, and re-supplied with snacks. The staff let me sit at a little table in the corner where I was able to eat my pizza and watch people come and go, mostly picking out six packs of beer. There does not appear to be a consistent beer choice.

GDMBR Day 51

Start: Ovando, MT

Finish: Informal campsite in Flathead National Forest

Miles: 86.9 miles

Odometer: 2,358.2 miles

Ascent: 7,500 feet

Descent: 8,000 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

My legs felt great today! It’s a wonder what yesterday’s easy riding day did for recovery. Today’s climb took me up to some treacherous singletrack that wound around the mountainside with a deadly steep drop off. One false move and I would’ve been a goner. That section was several miles long and beautiful. Even with the overcast clouds and fog hanging on the mountaintops, the scenery was spectacular and mystical and mysterious.

I met retired Marine Corp officer veteran, Doug Collins, racing the Tour Divide to raise awareness for veteran suicides that are occurring at a rate of 22 suicides a day. Soft spoken with a determined look in his eye, Doug left an impression. He’s blogging at patrolforward.org and please consider supporting his mission.

I was descending from the mountain and took a wrong turn. These long descents can be quite fast and intense. The dirt and gravel roads are often rutted and rocky and require careful attention. I guess I was just paying attention to the road and not my GPS because the wrong turn took me in the wrong direction requiring me to ride an extra 10 miles to get back on track.

I was not happy. I rarely fly off the handle but when I realized what I had done I began screaming at the top of my lungs, “You stupid fuck!” When I say screaming at the top of my lungs, I mean as loud as possible. I have never done that before. Usually I just murmur it to myself. And I screamed multiple times. What was that about?

Ten extra miles at the end of the day, especially when they involve climbing, can be frustrating. However, I gathered my wits and rode later than usual into the evening. I found a roadside campsite and pitched my tent. At about midnight I began hearing bloodcurdling howling that I am positive came from a nearby wolf. In Oregon I have heard many coyotes howl during the night, but this was quite different. I just knew this wolf was going to come eat me in my tent. I put on my glasses, grabbed my headlamp and put it on my chest inside my sleeping bag, and placed my right hand on my bear spray. And that’s how I fell asleep.

P.S. It was probably a coyote.

GDMBR Day 50

Start: Ranch in Lincoln, MT

Finish: Ovando, MT

Miles: 35.4 miles

Odometer: 2,271.3 miles

Ascent: 3,100 feet

Descent: 3,700 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

I woke up with dead legs. As I get closer to Canada I miss Robin and home more and more, and want to push more miles. I wonder if I’ve been pushing too much. Every day involves climbing over a mountain pass or two, plus big miles equals fatigue. It’s hard for me to take time off the bike. I imagine it takes several days of complete rest to recover from this type of physical grind.

I mentioned all this to say that I reached a popular cyclist-friendly town, Ovando, MT, after only 35 miles and stopped for the day. I’ve been hearing about Ovando for a week (from southbound riders). They say, “You’ve got to stop in Ovando. They love cyclists.” So with my dead legs needing a short day, I stopped and booked the “chuckwagon” accommodations for five dollars.

I lunched at the Stray Bullet Cafe, showered and laundered at the Blackfoot Inn, charged my electronics at the local museum, and dined at Trixie’s Saloon. Kathy at the Angler Shop came over to gather my information and take my picture for the GDMBR Facebook page.

Since this was Grand Central Station for cyclists, I had a chance to visit with a number of southbound riders.

At 7 PM I got into my chuckwagon, put in my earplugs, pulled my balaklava over my eyes, and fell fast asleep hoping the rest would rejuvenate my legs.

GDMBR Day 49

Start: Helena, MT

Finish: Ranch in Lincoln, MT

Miles: 66.2 miles

Odometer: 2,235.9 miles

Ascent: 7,200 feet

Descent: 6,600 feet

Location: https://share.garmin.com/Judice

Today was all about the kindness of strangers. A woman named Barbara built a cabin behind her house and stocks it with beer, sandwiches, and coffee for cyclists riding the GDMBR. I have been hearing about her hospitality for a couple of weeks from southbound racers and casual tourists alike. I arrived at her place around 1 PM, a little too early to shut things down for the day. I did have a chance to visit with Barbara. She is a vibrant, kind soul who enjoys meeting new people and helping others out. I thanked her for her generosity but shared that I had accommodations waiting for me over near Lincoln.

I met Cliff up at Mount Bachelor skiing this winter. We became friends. His friends, Doug and Nicole, own a ranch in Lincoln, MT. Just yesterday, Cliff texted me to find out what I was up to, and when I told him where I was he connected me with Doug and Nicole and that’s where I landed this evening. Fortuitous, wouldn’t you say? Doug and Nicole welcomed me with a first class ribeye dinner and a side order of first class conversation. Doug is a four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He’s athlete royalty in my book. I could tell that his sense of adventure and dedication has spilled over into all aspects of his life. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay with them, and especially Doug’s homemade cinnamon rolls.

Today had a couple of notable climbs. The first climb was marked by another hailstorm. I love hailstorms! They make my day! The second and final climb of the day was over Stemple Pass which gets very steep at the top. As I was cresting the top I was in a foul mood. And then I met Stinky. Stinky was an exuberant, friendly large, long-haired dog whose owner is working up at the summit to rehab an old wildfire area. I asked the owner the dogs name and he said “Winston, but I call him Stinky.” I was so tired but Stinky’s enthusiasm felt like he was celebrating my successful climb.

As I am flying down the other side of the pass I see some of the tour divide racers walking their bikes up (that’s how steep Stemple Pass was).