Maybe roughly in the order of the trip, but not guaranteed. Archie takes a break on the Going-to-the-Sun road: Glacier National Park selfie: Glacier National Park view to the pass still closed by snow: Tunnel on the Going-to-the-Sun Road—why it was great to have the road only to hikers and bicyclists: Emmy in Glacier National Park: We did get across Montana. Andrew and Christopher await Lewis with the support vehicles:
Here is the video of crossing the finish line: Finish Line video link On August 18 we rode into Great Cranberry Island after a short boat ride from Southwest Harbor, Maine. It was raining and a bit chilly wearing only the “maillot jaune” (and shoes and shorts!). Fabulous ride. Great support from Emmy, Ellie, Jay, Susie and the team of Andrew and Christopher. Great to have James Dailey, and Jeff and Tricia Raikes join the ride.
Early on I passed up most bike shops. We had what we needed. Then, the quest for the perfect seat began; I needed more spare tubes and patch kits, and the great rim tape fiasco began and was resolved. Saw a lot of bike shops: White Fish, Montana Glacier Cyclery Great people. Bought electrolyte solution. Wanted more; couldn’t justify. Sportsman & Ski Haus Bought a Specialized e-bike for Emmy so she could join the ride and some tubes.
(See the other post about the two items that didn’t really work out.) Here are the items of equipment that really helped the ride be a success. Gears To get over the Rocky Mountains, the Green Mountains, and the White Mountains some low gears were necessary and helpful. The steepest grades I encountered were around 12%. The steepest sustained grades (> 4 miles of continuous climbing) were more in the 8-10% range.
Some people care a lot about equipment. I certainly like equipment. And I did ride a bike across America; but let’s not talk about that because a lot of road bikes and mountain bikes would work just as well. Let’s talk about things that worked and didn’t work to make the ride successful. First, what didn’t work: Saddles First, saddles and butt pain. I had no problems with seats for my training rides, which were mostly 30-40 miles with 3-4 50 mile rides in the final 2 weeks.
Just a quick update since last we spoke. Yes, we are more than 3/4’s done: 3165 miles from Seattle and only 797 miles to go. Kind of amazing. After the U.P.M, we rode down the Lake Huron shore of Michigan. Then we cut across southeastern Michigan to enter Canada in Sombra, Ontario. From there we rode along the Canadian shores of Lake Erie. At first, it was mostly a long straight road through farm fields.
Well, I know the buy local, eat local, be local movement is a big thing for various people. I’ve been a bit less rigorous about this–I’d like to have one of those mini-tangerine things and they don’t grow near me. Import one and I’ll have it. Now experience has now taught me that if I want something good, it pays to go to the place that is owned and run by someone in town rather than the nearest outlet of a national franchise (spoiler alert: possible exception below).
We’ve completed 2446 miles out of a projected 3936 miles or 62% of the trip. I’ve laid out the bare facts. It’s time in the next posts for a lot more photos and for some impressions, happenings, and anecdotes. It’s hard to keep up with the blog. I’m up by 6:30 and usually riding by 7:30 AM. I’m on the road about 6 to 7 hours including lunch and stops for a typical day.
That’s Upper Peninsula of Michigan for people in the know. It’s the scimitar shaped sliver of Michigan attached to Wisconsin, which touches Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. We’ve been to Iron Mountain, Escanaba, and Manistique. Next we’ll go to Trout Lake and St. Ignace–jumping off point to Mackinac Island and “lower” Michigan.
Minnesota might be the only state that can attract cyclists for tourism with over 100 miles of paved cycling trails. We did 70 miles on parts of the Heartland Trail and the Paul Bunyan Trail. And there is coffee… Minnesota claims Paul Bunyan DayTownDistanceRiding TimeElevation GainAvg. Speed31Two Inlets, MN88.8 miles6:55 hours2,373 feet12.8 mph32Walker, MN42.2 miles3:22 hours:min1,021 feet12.5 mph33Rest Day————34Nisswa, MN52.1 miles4:13 hours1,288 feet12.3 mph35Little Falls, MN57.8 miles4:34 hours988 feet12.7 mph36Milaca, MN60.
North Dakota was a surprise to our geographic bubble: not flat; not dry; not treeless (as in, there are trees). Industrial scale agriculture. Nice, fine people. Badlands in ND near Theodore Roosevelt National Park DayTownDistanceRiding TimeElevation GainAvg. Speed26Medora, ND63.5 miles5:34 hours2,586 feet11.4 mph27Bismarck, ND68 miles6:29 hours:min2,067 feet10.5 mph28Napoleon, ND68.4 miles5:18 hours2,218 feet12.9 mph29Clausen Springs, ND94.2 miles7:16 hours2,247 feet13 mph30Fargo, ND82.7 miles6:31 hours1104 feet12.7 mphTime for more full disclosure. Medora to Bismarck is actually about 128 miles.
We have had a chance to see many major rivers and ride along most of them. Here are some mighty rivers in no particular order except my misty recollections: Skykomish, Wenatchee, Okanagan, Columbia, Kootenai, McDonald, Yellowstone, Mississippi, St. Croix. And the not so mighty: Milk, Rum. It is an impressive thing to see parts of these rivers in their free-running state. It is less stirring, but still something to contemplate, to see the the vast expanse of the reservoirs behind the dams of others of them.
We’ve entered Minnesota from North Dakota. North Dakota was fascinating–not flat, more trees than Montana, very serious industrial scale agriculture, and sincerely nice and polite people everywhere. One fellow cut me off by entering the right-hand lane–where I was–making a left turn. He stopped; backed up; and profusely apologized saying that he drove that route nearly every morning and never encountered a car, let alone a bicycle, on the turn. He didn’t have to come back and apologize; he did and he meant it.
Glendive is a fine town full of the nice people we found at every stop in Montana. We had the opportunity to explore diverse viewpoints, too. Here is the Glendive Dinosaur Museum, which is dedicated to employing the various local dinosaur fossil finds to support the alternative viewpoint of creation “science.” We saw a diorama of an Aztec emperor riding a triceratops and dinosaurs lining up to get on Noah’s ark with Noah either running out of room or dinosaurs “missing the boat” so to speak.
We’ve covered another large segment of large Montana–389 miles worth. With the prior week that means we’ve traveled 796 miles by bike through Montana. We’ve got about 49 miles to go to the North Dakota border so we’ll have done 845 miles to cross the whole state. Phew! (Full Disclosure: I did leave out 49 miles of the north-south path to get to Glendive, MT because we had a guest arriving and needed to fly out of Glendive to a wedding back east.
Let’s get to know our indispensable support team, Christopher and Andrew, better! In Malta, Montana, Christopher and Andrew… Discovered a rope swing and together swung out buck naked… dumping themselves into the Milk River. Took the evening off to go Wine and Dino at the Malta Dinosaur Museum where they flirted with two Montana women twice their age. Entered the Oasis Bar and Casino around 9pm with 20$ between them and came out at around midnight with over 1000 bucks.
If ever you are in Chester, Montana for any reason at all, you must stay at the The Westland Suite. This old bank building has been converted into a wonderfully comfortable b&b. We had a found a second home for Christopher to cook a great meal, to wash away the dust of the road, and catch up on laundry. They even provide a large jar of ear plugs so that you can sleep while 10 or more trains pass by in the night not more than 200 feet away.
On our way to Rexford Bench, MT we rode along Lake Koocanusa. We were wondering what the origins of this name were. Was it…. …..? The Flat Iron Indians have a word in their language to depict a crazy person who doesn’t understand the spiritual relationship between humankind and the natural world that sustains humankind. A person who is “koocan” is the sort of person who’d kill a buffalo and not collect the the meat and hide to provide for his group.
After a day in touristy SandPoint, ID–where we enjoyed amazing coffee (current record-holder for best morning coffee on the bike trek) and pastries at Pine Street Coffee–we continued into Montana where we will spend 15 days! So far, here’s where we’ve been: the charming Amber Bear Inn in Heron; then after a stop at Kootenai Falls we were on to Libby; then to Rexford Bench on the shores of the Reservoir called Lake Koocanusa; on to the resort town of Whitefish; two days in the gem of Glacier National Park; the plains began at Cut Bank; coasted on to Chester.
After wind in the face to Cut Bank, the wind changed nearly 180 degrees to come from the west. Rode the 67 miles to Chester with 15 to 25 mph winds at my back. Sometimes I could ride 14 mph on the flats without pedaling. I had a friend pushing my bike up hills (well, up grades as there was only one legitimate hill). US Highway 2 goes across northern Montana alongside the railroad.
After the most glorious weather ever for our two days in Glacier National Park our weather luck ran out. Bad weather happens. Riding to Cut Bank, MT we got 20mph winds in the face and pounding rain. It felt more like scuba diving than biking. Main Street in Browning, the seat of the Blackfeet Nation, was flooded to add to their other much more serious woes. After the support team showed up with a complete change of togs and my complete winter cycling outfit I was drier and warmer for the balance of the 76 mile ride.
Going to the Sun Road has to be the most beautiful bike ride I have ever experienced. Emmy road her electric bike with me, mercifully never gliding effortlessly past me (in turbo mode). We arrived at the perfect time: the road hadn’t been fully cleared yet. Cars were stopped just 5 miles past our stay at Lake McDonald Lodge. We went another 11 miles up with just bikes and hikers.
The team is six days in to our trek! We left Seattle last Saturday and are currently in Kettle Falls, WA. In total, our bikers have climbed over 18,500 feet and traveled 338 miles. Everyone is feeling good and looking forward to a rest day tomorrow! Mile 0! From right to left, Andrew and Christopher, Joni (the 7 month old Dachshund), Lewis (the great adventurer), Kevin, Andrea and Wally (the slightly older Dachshund).
Day 1 was from Seattle to Skykomish with Kevin Fitzwilson and James Dailey: We rode out the Burke Gilman, onto Woodinville, Monroe, to stop for big amazing greasy spoon lunch and amazing baked goods at Sultan Bakery. We made it to Skykomish after Kevin rode more than twice as much in a single day as he’d ever done. He is showing no pain and he protected us from crazy drivers as “the big red stop sign.
Our stalwart team: Lewis: approaching 60 years old James Dailey: cyclist, enthusiast, instigator, dad, husband, friend => on the road from Seattle to Whitefish, MT Emmy: best wife, partner, and friend ever the “Scotsmen”—son Jay’s ATO fraternity brothers Andrew Peeples Christopher McDougal Drivers, dog-sitters, long-distance carryout sandwich shop operators, slack-liners, philosophers the dogs (quotation marks not required–they are actually dogs): Wally, a wired-hair dachshund of gravity and dignity, almost 10 years old Joni, cousin twice-removed of Wally, a rambunctious wired-hair dachshund puppy 7 months old
Three stalwart cyclists and the valiant support crew set off to Skykomish. From the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle we are heading to the Atlantic coast at Great Cranberry Island, Maine. All because in May of 2016 I thought I should ride across the US for my 60th birthday. I began researching and planning. Somehow, I convinced Emmy to go with me. We bought an RV to use as the support vehicle, mini-cabin, and–little did we know–cross-the-country food truck.