Last night I over did dinner again. Cheeseburger (Montana beef is mighty tasty) with fries, three local Belgian white beers, and tater tots stuffed with jalapeño and cheese. Suffice it to say, I did not sleep all that well.
I awoke at 5:30 to a massive muscle cramp in my left calf. It hurt so much. I told myself to breathe through the pain and it subsided. (Frankly, I think the breathing just took my mind off the pain.)
Breakfast was a massive serving of biscuits and gravy with an equally massive side of hash browns at Mel’s Diner across from the Inn. I was disappointed that the Fonz wasn’t there but the food was great.
Off I rode budding Augusta farewell. I headed south roughly parallel to the Rockies. A favorable wind allowed me to ride comfortably for 20 miles before I turned west and began THE CLIMB OF DEATH.
I road a two lane highway with minimal shoulder (thanks to rumble strips). Speed limit 70. Up, down, and around the road meandered. The ups were bigger than the downs as I slowly made my way to 4,500 feet. Then the gun began.
The climb to Rogers Gap at 5,600 feet was 8 miles into a headwind.
Of course, to make it more interesting the road became steeper near the top.
I pulled over to rest about 3 miles from the crest and my bike started to roll backwards. I had been climbing so long that I didn’t realize how steep it was.
I paced myself as I ascended. Getting to the top wasn’t particularly difficult, it just took a long time.
Then I saw the sign for the top. Continental Divide, Ma! (Sorry. Geezer cinematic reference.)
Some cars were parked on the shoulder. A woman got out of the rearmost one and offered to take my picture.
Her name was Maria. We got to talking and I mentioned that I wasn’t sure where I was staying tonight. Maria was doing field work with the Montana Native Plant Society. She invited me to stay with her group (of over 100 people) just east of Lincoln.
I begged off then took off down the mountain. Or not. The dreaded soul sucking westerly Montana headwinds were much stronger on this side of the Mountain.
Running low on food and water I realized that it was poor form to turn down such s gracious invite.
After I crossed a beautiful river, I followed Maria’s directions and ended up at their campground . It has a lodge building and shower facilities. I will be camping along a river.
I arrived around 1:30 so it’s a short day for me. Tomorrow will be a tough 80+ mile grind into the wind to Missoula and a rest day.
Total miles: 2,956.5