Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2015 Tour Divide - Days 3 - 5

A long day two meant that day three started early and felt rough. After loading up at the downtown convenience store, I took off on my own with Columbia Falls as my main target for the day. I had ridden the Eureka to Ovando section of the route the previous summer with my friends Tom and Joe, so I had no issues striking out on my own while others slept in. I rode alone for most of the day other than some chance encounters with folk test riding the new Salsa Cutthroat outside of Eureka. Heading up Whitefish Divide, Sean Mailen, one of Salsa's engineers, powered by me like I was standing still. On the roads heading to Red Meadow Lake, Joe Meiser conducted an impromptu video interview with me until I had to turn back toward the mountains. After soaking my legs in the cool waters of Red Meadow Lake, I rode into Columbia Falls without incident. The ten miles of pavement between Whitefish and Columbia Falls felt a lot longer than it did the previous summer. I wasn't sure if it was due to the lack of traveling partners or because of the previous day's ride. I rode through Columbia Falls and opted to grab a room at the Glacier Inn Motel. Once I was inside, I immediately took the front end of my bike apart so I could inspect the my fork's steerer for cracks. The noise I heard on Elk Pass and a similar noise heard coming off of Whitefish Divide had me feeling nervous. A long inspection turned up nothing, so I put everything back together. As I was leaving to find food, I ran into Dan Lockery just as he arrived. I  waited for him to get his room key and then we hit The Backroom's Sunday evening buffet together. - https://www.strava.com/activities/343305329

Day four was uneventful. Dan and I stocked up on food before in Columbia Falls while we waited for Mark to arrive from Whitefish. After a lovely cruise through the Flathead valley, we stopped at the Swan Lake Cafe to load up on a real breakfast and to snag some food to go. The climb up Bug Creek road outside of Ferndale was our only big climb for the day, but the rest of the route was undulating and trended upward right until we bailed a bit off route to the Hungry Bear Steakhouse for more affordable food. We opted to camp at the USFS campground that night rather than attack Richmond Peak in the dark. As we set up camp, the wind coming off the lake was making it difficult to sleep in my bivy. After about 5 minutes of wind and noise, I carried my stuff away from the campsite and made my camp in one of the two "Montana Hiltons" at the camp site, leaving the other for regular use. - https://www.strava.com/activities/343305346

I slept well, but morning felt like it came early. I snapped some photos of a still Holland Lake as Dan and Mark finished packing up. The ride up and over Richmond Peak was quiet, other than a minor issue with my shoe cleats working loose. The roads and the weather were both decent. I hated the descent this time around as much as I did the previous summer. My timidity meant that Dan and Mark both gapped me on the descent. I wouldn't see them again until I stopped for lunch and a new pair of gloves in Ovando. After a bit of a false start leaving Ovando, I spent the rest of the afternoon riding a beautiful section of the route through the Blackfoot River valley, up and over Huckleberry Pass, to Lincoln. Dan and I grabbed a room at a motel, after enduring a thorough tongue lashing from the clerk about not cleaning our bikes with the good towels. Evidently two riders had done just that very thing the night before, and it was only after apologizing for them that we were even able to get a room. We would spend the next few days apologizing for the actions of the same pair of riders. It was disappointing to say the least. Mark showed up about 30 minutes later. After a shower, we walked down the street for a well deserved burger, tacos and a beer. - https://www.strava.com/activities/343305359

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