Tour de Montana: Days 2 and 3


SECOND DAY…A Story of Flats

We rolled out a little on the late side around 845. On the menu today was the espresso group – aka, the fast group.  Now it’s worth mentioning that I almost never go with the fast group.  The difference this year is that I actually belong in this group,  and man, it feels good.

I settled in to a strong cadence,  and after warming up gave myself over to the hum of the drive train and the up-and-down of my legs.  In the words of Louden Wainwright,  all them ponies were running together.  Body and bike in happy symbiosis.

Last night’s clouds began burning off and opened views of the still snowy Bitterroot range. After 40 miles on a bike path we had the first of 5 flats in our group. I contributed a front and a rear flat to the cause over the course of the day.  After blowing past our turn off for lunch we rode into a strong rain squall. After realizing our mistake,  we turned around and doubled our time in the rain – adding an extra 6 miles.

The bitterroot valley began to narrow by mile 70: giving us a preview of coming attractions. The hills turned to rocky canyon walls, and  the river course became increasingly restricted. We crossed it frequently as it doubled back on itself.

Today is done. 93 miles,  3100 feet gained, 19.5 miles per hour pace.

THIRD DAY…A Feast of Climbing


Oh the places you will go

In the words of Dr Seuss, there are exciting journeys ahead. Today did not disappoint.

We rolled at 730 right into a 3000 foot climb on Lost Trail pass – a beautiful stretch of pavement. I have a special fondness for truly alpine settings. In the words of a fellow rider: doesn’t it smell just like Christmas trees?

After being harassed by a driver in a pickup during the descent, I hooked up with Paul and Craig for the 35 mile run to Wisdom MT. We traded leads and averaged a rather quick 22 mph.

The second climb provided the excitement. While descending at about 40 mph I was hit with a vicious crosswind, and experienced a case of speed wobble. This sets up a cycle of vibration that makes the bike sway side to side. The cure? DECREASE SPEED AND GRIP BICYCLE BETWEEN KNEES. The other cure? Don’t ride down hill fast on windy days in rural Montana.

The final climb was a lovely dance through the forest – switchbacks having their curvaceous way up the mountain. Not all climbs are equal: some excel in beauty, and how the road unfolds. I was pulled along by an invisible string of holy wonder from one Vista to another. We laughed and chatted all the way down, celebrating the gift of a downhill tailwind.

7100 feet climbed, 119 miles. I ate dinner twice.



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