Okay so maybe we’ve been “cheating” just a little bit on our ride. Marty and I are used to planning our own routes and doing our own thing and sometimes the planned route is just not what we care for? So new plan, we do what we want! We’ve traded some of the trail for the road (no complaints here) to make up some time and avoid some nasty climbs. We’ve run into several other cyclists who have been miserable with their Great Divide adventures, either from the terrain or the miles they’re doing everyday. We set out to accomplish the entire trail, but in order to enjoy what we’re doing and not lose our jobs… we just don’t know how far we are going to make it. But we do know that doing miles just to do miles is sort of like racing, which we do not want to do. And we’re winners already, so nothing new to win :)! And more importantly we had a semi-deadline to meet my parent’s in Helena to pick up some more supplies and for the all important sleeping bag drop.
AM. So mom-dad, new plan… we’re going to take the road and trail a bit and meet you in Helena a day late.
After checking out of Bigfork, knowing we were going to do a low mileage day, we took the advice of the front desk lady on a favorite local restaurant for breakfast. The Echo Lake Cafe was wonderful (I had a big pancake), but we went 9 miles out of our way for it (so much for a down day!). We stuck to the road passing another cyclist couple complete with a trailer for their dog. Just imagining the extra weight made me tired.
PM. So mom-dad, new plan… we want to stay with Steve in Lincoln and then we’ll meet you in Helena, still a day late.
The ride was much of the same, beautiful trees, lakes on the side. We stopped at a tiny store in Swan River for a huckleberry shake and Marty decided to treat us and booked a night inside at the Standing Stone Bed Inn Breakfast (get it?! Bed “INN”.. so clever 🙂 ). Standing Stone lived up to its name. Entering their property was slightly creepy… Lots of standing stones, like a strange sort of stone bonsai/ Stone Hedge idea? No mistake of being in the right place though! It was different. But the room was clean and the breakfast was spectacular! Popovers, eggs, bacon, and oatmeal that I think was a hybrid cobbler. We even had real hot chocolate with large marshmallow. Turns out the B&B is really a photography business. They mix chemicals for dark rooms, host photography workshops, build light box frames etc. We were even sent off with the extra popovers, awesome! Once again, Marty proved his room-hunting prowess!
AM. So mom-dad, new plan… we would like for you to meet us in Lincoln and take our gear to Helena, so we can have an easier time getting over the pass… still going to be a day late.
The next day we headed out on the road again for Seeley Lake. This portion we actually had to do on the road as Adventure Cycle suggested to stay off the route due to logging. But wow! Talk about some narrow and rough shoulders! We were extremely fortunate that so many Montanan Drivers and truckers move so far around us. The first half of our morning ride was 13 miles of uphill, all of which Marty drafted off me… And we passed a second group of cyclists that we later learned were from WA state. The second portion was all downhill, thanks for leading that tough one Marty ;). We made it to town and happened to run into both the WA cyclists and the Dog totting couple. It was so pleasant hearing which routes they were going and hearing of new ones we’d like to try someday.
PM. So mom-dad, new plan… we’re going to stay on the roads skip Lincoln, we’ll meet you in Helena, still a day late.
PM. No, new plan… we’ll meet you in Ovando and can you take our gear and we’ll be in Helena still a day late.
After lunch we headed for a swim in the lake which I will say was super refreshing and maybe a bit gross. I ended up with a ring of muck around my stomach and neither one of us wanted to put our feet on the bottom. So after about 30 minutes of that excitement we ventured back on the route, into the forest about 10 miles to set up camp.
AM. So mom-dad, new plan… can you pick us up in Ovando because there’s really no where to stay on our proposed route? Then we’re in Helena a day early!
We found a spot and sat to rest for a while when nature vs. man struck Marty again. This time… the dreaded, dangerous bumble bee. Apparently we both parked our bikes against trees where the bumbles were living. Oops. After Marty retrieved his bike, I suited up in his rain jacket and slowly went over to get mine. We found another area with slightly less bees and I set up the tent while Marty continued to point out that there was still a bumble bee on his bike (eye roll). We did not have dinner that night, just some leftover fruit and popover.
The next morning we got up early in anticipation of meeting my parents in Ovando. We had a short 18 mile ride and it was absolutely one of the most enjoyable rides I think both of us has had. We started off with fresh (filtered) stream water in our camelbacks, the morning light shining through the trees and an endless parade of daisies, alpine lupine and a whole assortment of meadow flowers (hence all the bees!). It was a really nice ride and Marty got a lot of great GoPro footage I’m sure, but duh me, I accidentally erased it 😦 .
And after several, several new plans, we arrived in Ovando where we had coffee and breakfast at the Stray Bullet Cafe and mom and dad picked us up and drove us into Helena. Thank goodness. As soon as we went over to pack up our bikes, I noticed my front tire was completely flat. Worse, the weather had turned completely whack and the highway we would have been on had hardly any shoulder at all.
Marty and I really needed the day off and mom and dad came to the rescue right in time! We explored much of the older part of town with it’s old brick and stone buildings and we didn’t miss the opportunity to go to an old military base (yeah!). We started packing our bags and Marty changed the chains on the bikes. We did our laundry, poured over the maps, and prepared for a semi-early start the next day.
AM. So mom-dad, new plan… We’d like to stay another day in Helena… not quite ready to leave yet :)!
So today we enjoyed a leisurely morning of TV watching (kinda rare for us) and joined mom and dad at the State Capitol where we saw an enormous C.M. Russell painting, the State Museum, and the famous St. Helena Cathedral. And now, here we all sit at a wonderfully unique cafe typing up the blog. Marty is learning the WordPress ropes and I’m sure we’ll start having a different (possibly less accurate) account of events ;).
THANKS FOR ALL THE PATIENCE MOM AND DAD!!!
WAIT! New plan… Marty and I will take the car, you ride the bikes :)!