Today was so different from Day 35. On Day 35 I got an early start, pedaled far over a tough tough road with bad traffic.
Today I pedaled on an amazing bike path going all the
way up the Bitterroot Valley, some 60 miles of a bike
path without having to worry about traffic. I felt
like a kid in a candy store. House money from the
perspective of this defensive rider.
Missoula is an amazing town, one of my favorites, and
while it is fully discovered, it still has that same
old flare I remember from my summer of 1993 when I worked
out here. Great bike lanes, bike shops, fly shops, a
world class trout river running right through center city
(the Clark Fork), friendly folks and headquarters of the
Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). I stopped in there
and got a great tour of an amazing facility. They
chronicle some of the long bike tours the years…through
the Sahara, from Alaska to Argentina, across Mongolia.
Which brings me to Riding4Research. The ACA, on their
‘wall of fame,’ has relatively few rides for a cause. I
want to remind readers of my cause, at this halfway point
of my big ride, to support the important research by Dr. Jason Somarelli
and his colleagues at Duke, to find cures for metastasis.
To folks that have already donated to my cause, thank you! To
readers that have yet to donate, please make a donation!
Your generous support will be put to good use at one of the finest
medical research institutions in the world, and one right in
our backyard for us folks hailing from North Carolina. We are
extremely fortunate to have Duke University right around the corner.
As lovely as my stay in Missoula was, I had to get going, and
I finally did at 1 PM. Who said bike touring was cheap?!?!?
I spent $200 at the ACA – new Schwalbe tires and bike shorts to
replace my badly worn out stuff. And $80 for a 10 day Montana
fishing license, at that price it should have guarantees against
fish wiht lockjaw and days with wind! And I dropped another $50
on new fly line for my 3 weight fly reel. Plus $60 more on
groceries, coffee, you get the picture.
I had a great ride even with the scorching temps (a bank sign at
6:30 read 90F), plus horrible smoke from the massive Lolo fire.
At about 3 PM I looked down and noticed a soft back tire. What
ensued is one of the most baffling situations. On three previous
cross continental bike tours, not a single flat. Now I had a flat
AND my 2 spares (never before used) somehow had holes in them.
Plus my volcanizing rubber in my path kits had all gone bad.
So I concluded that I really got away with one on the Alaska Highway,
I was riding that whole time with no room for margin. What are the
chances of that…more than I thought!
I found myself in a saloon parking lot, gear is a heap, at 3 PM, and
hitchhiking back to Missoula, some 20 miles in the wrong direction. Enter Andrew Schwartz,
an extremely nice and helpful fellow biker that picked me up,
took me back to his house, replaced the tube, and gave me another
fresh one. Plus snacks and water. Andrew was extremely helpful and
entered my tour at exactly the right moment. I think that bike
touring for me has become somewhat of a sub-conscious quest to find
that everyday goodness that was my mother, to find that in other people. And I
certainly found it in Andrew. This cheerfulness and helpfulness
in almost all people is reality, and so different than what the same old same old news cycle would have you believe. If you, the reader, finds yourself in
need of restoring your believe in the goodness of people, go in a bike
tour. There are only two things for certain that will happen to you on your tour;
you will need help and people will be there to help you.
So I re-pedaled about 12 miles of the same bike path after saying goodbye
to Andrew. I pedaled through the pretty town of Hamilton and let dark
overtake me. The coolness today would be via a setting sun rather than
an eclipsed one. The last 15 miles were in complete darkness as I slowly
biked up a now-deserted US Highway 93 and to Lake Como campground.
My dreams of a refreshing dip in a high mountain lake were thwarted
when I got there at 11 PM. My little headlamp couldn’t make out
the lake from the Earthen dam. The water was that low. What a drought.
More importantly, what a day!