Monday, June 25, 2012
Bike America Day 10: POP (tire, not corn)
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Day's distance: 80.73
Average speed: 13.6
Maximum speed: 30.5
Overall distance: 566
Over the next three days, we'd be riding the 184 miles from Sandpoint, ID to Missoula, MT. The trouble was that our options for lodging in between those two towns were really limited. The current plan had us covering only 110 miles combined on Saturday and Sunday and 74 on Monday alone. I was really excited about Missoula, though, and was hoping for a short day into it so that we could spend the afternoon and evening exploring on foot. So we did some map-reading and asked our host for information on a few of the towns along the way. For Saturday, our options were to ride 60 miles to Trout Creek or 80 miles to Thompson Falls. I was determined to do the 80.
After a home-cooked breakfast of waffles and eggs, Josh and I hopped on our bikes for 23 cloudy miles along the Pen D'Oreille Lake and beyond. There seems to be a trend of cool, overcast mornings with some sprinklings of rain that turn into wonderfully sunny and hot afternoons. We enjoyed the scenery and stopped a few times for photos. A cargo train passed us and we admired it's length, comparing it to toy trains in restaurants like Clyde's. My knee, which had been hurting pretty badly over the few days prior, was feeling a little better.
In Clark Fork, the first town, we met up with my mom at a gas station. She and Josh hung around with their coffee and gatorade while I pushed on for eight quick miles into Montana. We met at the "Welcome to Montana" sign and took pictures together. It was weird to have spent eight days in our first state and then fewer than twenty-four hours in our second.
It was only noon and I had covered thirty miles in great time. But our luck was about to change. Just across the border, we entered Mountain Standard Time and lost an hour. Then, after ten miles in the state, I popped my back tube on a downhill. My mom and I spent about 20 minutes replacing the tube and then another 20 eating lunch.
We rode another 4 or 5 miles and the tire went flat again. We found a giant slit in the tire, which likely let some unwanted gravel in to puncture the tube. I was feeling frustrated and we were all worried about the likelihood that I'd complete all 80 miles. Montana wasn't proving to be too lucky so far. My mom very generously offered to leave me her bike and drive mine to a bike shop in the next town. That town, Trout Creek, was a small one and the one gas station would have to suffice as her bike shop. There was a handy man inside who fixed up my tire, replacing it with one we'd brought along that is 2mm wider than the old one. That should be more sturdy going forward.
By the time she got back to us, Josh and I had ridden 9 more miles together. His quads were screaming at him and, with 32 miles on the books, he was ready to call it quits for the day. My mom and I rode 7 miles into Trout Creek where we stopped for local huckleberry and vanilla ice cream. It was 5:15 and I had 20 more miles to cover so I set out, with a wonderful tailwind pushing me along. My mom joined me for the final 9 miles to our remote campsite next to the Clark Fork River, 3 miles north of Thompson Falls.
We ate out for the second night in a row, at Minnie's Montana Cafe in town. I was completely beat. It was the first night that I opted out of a beer or wine to wrap up the day. For dinner I had a taco salad in a shell bowl. After admiring the sunset for a little while, we all got into our tents and slept soundly through the night. I say that Montana was unlucky but I was hoping that luck would change. It had proved to be beautiful so far and I couldn't wait to see the sky get bigger and bigger.