After two days off in Helena, starting on the road again felt like day 1. We only managed to make it about 20 miles. Most of which was uphill and I could definitely feel the altitude going up quickly, but our goal was to make it over two mountain passes to sort of put us ahead. At the intersection of final choice, we decided to just do 20 miles and rest up for what has been described as “rough road” for the next day.
We ended up camping at a great site called Park Lake. Quite a few people were there kayaking in the lake, some group filming something or other, and our particular site was awesome. Since we ended a bit early for the day, Marty cooked up one of our dehydrated meals of Pad Thai (good but spicy). I set up camp (on a slight slope that caused me to constantly fight not to roll into Marty all night), I figured out how to finally use our sleeping bag (this is the one I left in WA that Mom and Dad brought to us). The sleeping bag was/is awesome!! There’s a sleeve to keep our thermarests together and it’s just warm and super cozy!
We walked around the lake a bit, enjoying the multitude of rock sculptures and found a little man made cave. Our spirits improved and we were happy with our choice. Especially since the site had bathrooms AND well water we could pump for our water bottles.
The next day I actually felt good again. The Jitters a bit gone and ready to tackle the hill that was our challenge for the day. The flowers along the way were so pretty, we actually stopped to take some pictures. So far, things were fine, dandy even.
AND then, the “rough road”. It was definitely that, large rocks to try to either go over or around. And then washed out mud road… and definitely more exciting uphill… yeah. I remained positive, knowing it was only 2 miles of this junk. I walked and pushed my bike when needed, concentrating on building my upper body, rather than just the endless cardio workouts we’ve been doing. But then, the mosquitos came and that positive attitude, it just left me. I put my head bet on and my rain jacket and started run/chucking my bike uphill (talk about HIIT workout). The uphill ended, replaced with a nasty downhill. Ugh. Marty was awesome and walked my bike down and then ride his down (which was so impressive!). We did eventually make it out of the mountain and down into the street of Basin where we had a nice little lunch. We met a Scottish guy, Jim, doing the ride and who we met up with later as well.
After lunch in Basin, we then ride to Butte. All in all about 56 miles. So we were feeling pretty good. We camped at a KOA which was heavenly!! We got a little discount since we were doing the ride and had free showers. We even had pizza delivered and bought two beers from the little store. The next morning, Marty peddled to Safeway and bought bacon and eggs and made us a decent little scramble with his little camping stove.
We pushed off kind of late and headed out of Butte, headed for Wise River. Climbing, climbing, and more climbing.. so OVER IT! WILL WE EVER GET OUT OF MONTANA!! AGHHHH!! Miles of climbing, having to snake back and forth on the road, it’s hot. Biking is Stoopid, everything is Stoopid. Why are there so many hills? What idiot made this the route with all the Stoopid hills? This is sooo dumb. Let’s buy a truck and just drive. Ahhh, a little downhill break.. A headwind, are you kidding me? Who lives in this Stoopid state anyway? No one! No one lives here… wow, look at the deer!
Needless to say, absolute struggle. The headwinds were so fierce, without Marty in front, I think I would have stopped on the side of the road and just cried a bit. It was so bad, we decided to take the alternate route on the road which was flat and quicker, but still a battle every pedal of the way. We met a British man, Steve, who had left Banff 2 days after us. We chatted briefly about the difficulty of the route, and how he had accidently taken a two hour detour, yikes!
After a little break of stroopwaffle and lemonade, we started into the wind again. no matter which way we turned, the wind seemed to ensure that we would have the worst of it :). We started riding along the Wise River, watching some rafters and fishermen below. Marty said it reminded him of home, just with wider roads. It was so beautiful and we actually saw a hawk flying with a fish in it’s claws… cool.We finally made it into Wise River, where Marty downed a Starbucks iced mocha (no Starbucks here, just the canned stuff in the convenience store). We manage another half mile down the road and found the Wise River Club. Sat down for dinner and shortly after Steve walked in and then Scottish Jim! A reunion. Two more cyclists, one from San Diego and another from Vancouver, CA. It was a nice little group and we all ended up camping out behind the Club, only $20 for Marty and I including showers. The shower was so awesome, it included a sauna even 🙂 (picture below).
We woke up to a few drops of rain and as we waited for the cafe to open, started chatting with the other cyclists. It’s interesting, we all have similar conversation… how much mileage to do while still being able to enjoy where we are. Although… at the moment…would just love to GET OUT OF MONTANA :)!