Bike Tour 2022 – Stuck inside Missoula with Them Lolo Blues Again

We’re taking a well deserved day off in Missoula. We ate pizza and beer for dinner. Hopefully none of us contracted Covid in the process.

Our hotel is the same one I stayed in in 2019. It’s nasty on the outside but more than adequate on the inside.

I test drove Corey’s sleeping pad on the floor last night. (It was my turn to go bedless.) It felt like a mattress despite being only about three inches thick. For four hours. My body subconsciously rebelled thereafter. This experience aside, Corey’s sleeping pad is much better than mine.

We ate a sumptuous motel breakfast. (That’s bike tour sarcasm, folks.) Afterwards, Mark and I drew up itineraries for the rest of the trip. They very nearly matched. Importantly we agreed we’d reach the finish line in Astoria, Oregon on Wednesday July 20. We expect to be met by the roar of a crowd. Actually Mark’s wife is meeting us there. I suspect she’ll emit a fierce yawn.

On the 21st, Corey and I are riding 100 miles to Portland unless we can convince Mark’s wife to rent a minivan with a roof rack (we have to give Corey someplace to sit). Another possibility is to take a bus. However, we regard such mundane motor transport as unmanly and undignified.

I managed to walk one mile yesterday and a mile and a half today without stenosis pain. I suspect weight loss is a factor. Then again modest abuse of painkillers may play a role as well.

We walked to lunch only to find the brew pub was a brewery with a woefully inadequate food truck. I mean an omelette from a truck seems gastronomically unwise, don’t you think? So we hit a supermarket deli on the way back instead.

I booked a flight home and am making arrangements to ship my bike. Corey will be taking Amtrak to Chicago. (2 days of stultifying boredom await.) He’ll have to box his bike at the station. It seems odd that Amtrak doesn’t have roll on service in one of the bikey-est cities in the country. (Corey spent all morning trying to make his reservation ultimately handing the task over to his wife Lynn who speaks fluent Choo Choo Train. Needless to say, Amtrak’s reservation software needs serious work.)

At midafternoon we are hunkered down watching Chris’s Netflix account in our room. Chris apparently stayed here recently and left his account active for all who follow. We are resisting the urge to watch objectionable programs so that Chris’s family doesn’t think he’s some sort of pervert. Then again we might get bored with Top Gear and resort to mischief.

Our chains are lubed, our tires are pumped. Tomorrow we ride over Lolo Pass and down the Lochsa River valley into Idaho. We hope to make the trip without rain or hail, because, on a 40 mph, downhill hail can ruin your whole day.

Bike Tour 2022 – Cañon City day off

As usual I slept fitfully in my tent. It was a comfortable campsite but I neglected to take any Advil PM so I never really conked out.

At 9 a.m. I called the Abbey and lined up room for Mark, Corey, and me in the dorm.

I struck camp, said goodbye to my human hosts, Dwayne and Stephanie, and their three canine overlords, Raven, Eddie, and Daisy, and rode down into Cañon City for a late breakfast. I was following Dwayne’s directions (or so I thought) when I heard my younger sister’s voice. “Are you alright?!” I had butt dialed her while riding with my cellphone in my hip pocket.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant it was closed so I went to a second restaurant that was meh. I did drink a staggering amount of coffee so there’s that.

Next was a trip to the post office to mail home some maps. I was attempting to shed weight in anticipation of the climbing ahead. Between the maps, a dead backup battery, and a punctured bike tube, I think I slashed 3/4ths of a pound.

Mark texted me that he and Corey had arrived from Colorado Springs, after fighting a fierce headwind all morning.

We checked into our dorm rooms. We split the cost three ways even though I am getting a room of my own. The cost was $53 a piece for two nights.

1950s era dorm room. Beats sleeping on the ground any day.

Next up was the urgent matter of getting food into the new arrivals. We rode to a burger place that was as acceptable despite the limp fries. The milk shake and the conversation were good.

They returned to the dorm and I rode to a sporting goods store in search of straps to hold my camping gear to my rear rack. I’ve been using a cargo net but it’s best days are long gone.

Neither the sporting goods store nor an adjacent WalMart had anything useful.

Back at the dorm Mark gave me a new set of maps so my mailing was for naught.

We walked to dinner about a half mile. My stenosis pain made me feel every step despite a cane I fashioned out of a downed tree limb. (On the return the pain was negligible. My body is a medical enigma.)

Mark had a chicken enchilada that he quite enjoyed. Corey and I had beef burritos that were pretty much inedible. My kingdom for Chipotle.

Tomorrow is a rest day for all of us. Then we begin the ride to Hoosier Pass, about 6,000 feet of climbing over the next few days. Our first stop is the eccentric mountain stop of Guffey. It will be only 33 miles or so but we’ll gain about 3,000 feet of pain. We are praying for tailwinds. There’s a chapel down the hall; maybe they will help.

Miles today: 11.5. Tour miles: 1,236.5 or 53.8 miles per day

No Name Tour: Day 42 – Rest Day in Ely

I made the right choice to take today off despite really nice weather. I expected Nevada to be broiling hot but it’s a pleasant 76 degrees albeit with strong winds.

Here’s how I’m resting:

  • Sleep nine hours
  • Walk to Mickey D’s (closest place) for breakfast
  • Stop at grocery store for provisions for tomorrow
  • Check out of the Motel 6 and roll down the hill to downtown Ely.
  • Roll through downtown at walking pace
  • Talk with flag person about the road closure situation on my route for tomorrow. (No worries. I can bike through.)
  • Stop at coffee shop for a cuppa and an excellent, buttery blueberry scone
  • Kill an hour talking to the young woman behind the counter
  • Learn that the big employers around here are mines (copper) and a maximum security state prison
  • Go to sporting good stores to use their floor pump. Browse for ten minutes. The place sells beaucoup guns. Depressing.
  • Roll back to a park with trees and shade and hang out.
  • Grab lunch (tomato bisque and a massive grilled cheese sandwich)
  • Go to Hotel Nevada where I learn that my room comes with tickets for two free beers and breakfast.
  • I’m hanging in the lobby in a massive leather comfy chair waiting for my room to be ready.
  • Tonight I’ll use my drink tix and have dinner. I might watch the debates if I get bored.
  • I hope to hit the road before 7:30 tomorrow. It’ll be a long day. 78 miles. Four summits. Lots of wind.
  • Miles today: 4
  • Tour miles: 2,387
  • Top speed: 22.4 (gliding downhill)
  • No Name Tour: Day 25 – Resting Hard

    I am staying at a motel just outside Salida. Last night the place was quiet. I slept well so I booked the room for tonight as well.

    The motel manager told me of a breakfast place down the road but I couldn’t find it. The wind was blowing hard from the east and it was 53 degrees. Not shorts weather.

    I headed into town letting the wind push me. I visited two coffee shops. Neither served a proper breakfast so I made do with coffee, a breakfast bagel (it had an egg in the middle), and a blueberry scone. After that I went to a grocery store and bought some things for tomorrow’s ride as well as a salad for lunch.

    Salida mural

    Then I went back to my hotel room and loafed. About mid afternoon I took my pulse to see if it was high from the altitude. Nope. 50. Just about right.

    I heard from Corey. He reports that Mark and he crossed 11,000+ foot Hoosier Pass this morning after camping overnight at 9,000 feet. I’ll bet they are relieved.

    I stayed in my room all day trying to avoid any more physical activity and to stay warm.

    After too much TV (I sent my book home yesterday), meditation, and failed napping, I headed out for dinner. There is a McDonalds about a mile downhill from the motel so I headed into the still blowing wind. Even with long pants and a jacket I was cold.

    I stopped short of McDonalds at 50 Burger which was about twice the cost. The food was twice as good. And I turned down a beer with dinner because I don’t need my tummy tossing all day tomorrow.

    The ride back was a breeze, literally. I didn’t notice the incline. Since temperatures in the morning will be in the high 40s, I stopped at a gas station convenience store to buy some hand and foot warmers. They were out of stock so I did what any sane person would do: I bought some Bugles and some M&Ms.

    I am trying to not get anxious about tomorrow. Just looking at the mountains is enough to freak me out. I plan on wearing March commuting gear minus the holey sweater.

    Miles today: 6.5

    Tour miles: 1,491

    Any Road Tour: Day 60 – Most peculiar, Momma

    Bike touring is strangely like having a job. You get up. Eat. Pack up your things. Ride for hours and hours. Find your bed. Go to sleep.

    Over and over again.

    It’s quite a grind but somehow you only really notice when you stop.

    I’m in Astoria. My legs, mostly my quads, are sore. I spent the morning walking around, stopping here and there for coffee.

    After a break in the hotel, I went out for lunch. The restaurant was short one cook. I ordered and waited an hour for a sandwich and fries. I didn’t care. I had no place to go. The waitress zeroed out my bill because of the wait. (I left a generous tip, of course.)

    I’m back in my room. It has four huge double hung windows. The walls and bedspread are white. It’s the perfect temperature for a nap which I sorely need.

    And I took one and it was glorious.

    I went out to dinner at the Fort George Brewery down the street. Last night I ate pizza in their upstairs taproom; this time I went into the downstairs pub. Being alone meant I could skip the half hour wait and sit at the bar.

    Conversation ensued with Julie, an artist visiting from Juneau. She wore a floppy hat and bragged about her boys, 16 and 9. As we talked I could feel my right hamstring going into and out of spasm.

    We were asked to move over one stool to make room for a couple. No problem. I stood up and my right hamstring went bonkers. A massive muscle spasm. My right leg gave way beneath me. I stifled a yell and fell hard on my butt, all the while grabbing my hamstring.

    I don’t know what hurt more, my pride, my butt cheek, or my leg.

    I felt like a complete idiot. I hadn’t even finished a pint of beer and I fell off a bar stool. If your going to fall off a bar stool, you should at least be piss drunk. I mean you should get your money’s worth for the humiliation. I was robbed!


    After Julie left, a young man sat down. He was a pharmacist. We talked about blood clots and various blood thinning medications. He told me about the clinical studies of various blood thinners and aspirin. Recent studies suggest that discontinuing certain blood thinners might cause a rebound effect, a surge in clotting. Eek! I think I’ll just take aspirin for my flight home.

    We also talked about opioids. Doctors and pharmacists in Oregon are required to tell their patients they after only five days, certain opioids can be addictive. I was on Percocet for weeks before and after back surgery. I hated the disorientation that drug caused. And I still went through withdrawal when I switched to acetaminophen.

    I walked back to the hotel without the slightest limp. I doubt my leg will cause me trouble on the bike tomorrow. The plane next week might be interesting though.

    So my last night in Astoria involved falling off a bar stool and geeking out about prescription blood thinners and opioids.

    Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed.

    Any Road Tour: Day 54 – Furthur

    Today is the third rest day of my trip. It’s hard to imagine a better place for it than Tim and Michele’s house here in Camano Island. The weather is perfect: low humidity, 70s, light breezes, clear blue skies.

    At 8 a.m. we had a FaceTime chat with a mutual old friend from our school days. Next we went out to brunch and took a motor tour of island. We walked briefly at a beach and observed an episode of HGTV’s Island Life being filmed.

    After some ice cream we came back to the house to talk and sit on the deck watching critters (including a family of raccoons) pass by. Mount Baker showed off its snowy top all day.

    Tonight we’re doing burgers on the barbee.

    Tomorrow it’s back to the bike for my ride to begin a brief (550 mile) ride to the Pacific coast and, ultimately, Portland to catch a flight home on the 26th.

    Miles: Nada

    Tour miles: 3,796

    Average daily miles while on the bike: 75.9

    Average daily miles including 3 rest days: 71.6

    Any Road Tour: Day 42 – Missoula rest day off

    Last night I laid out my wet things in my huge room at the Holiday Inn. And passed out.

    I awoke and laid about, checking on flights home from Seattle and Portland. I packed up and went next door for coffee and a breakfast burrito.

    Then I hit the bank because sometimes only cash will work in the hinterlands ahead.

    I rolled over to the mothership, the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association. A friendly young man whose name I forgot took my picture with The Mule for the legendary Adventure Cycling wall of bike tourists.

    Next I met Emma Wimmer, a former resident of DC and mutual friend of about a dozen #bikedc folks. She started by giving me routing advice for the next several days. Exactly what I needed. Then she gave me the cook’s tour of the place. I’ve been a member for at least 20 years so it was fun to see how it all works. I even met Ginny Sullivan who works on nationwide bike routes. We also have lots of mutual connections and interests.

    After over an hour I posed with Emma for a picture outside. Thank you, Emma. What a treat it was meeting you.

    Emma gave me recommendations on a camping store where I bought seam sealer for my tent. And on a restaurant (The Catalyst) where I bought lunch. Grilled cheese on vegan bread? Well, despite the dairy anomaly it tasted great.

    Next on the advice of a Twitter follower I went to the Big Dipper for some ice cream. It was chilly out so I put on my jacket while I ate.

    A block away I found Missoula Bicycle Works. They replaced my pedals (they’ve been squeaking since Minnesota) and tightened my rear hub.

    Next I rode gently to the west of town and booked a hotel room. There I sealed the seams of the rain fly of my tent. Then I went inside on an absolutely beautiful afternoon and fell sound asleep for three hours.

    I guess I was tired. They call me Mr. Excitement.

    After waking I watched an inning of the Sawx vs the Nats on TV. What ever is wrong with my Nats? I am sure that my Baseball Operations manager is working hard to fix it, aren’t you Katie Lee?

    In the evening I walked a half mile to the Old Post, Emma’s dinner suggestion. She went three for three.

    Miles: 4

    Total miles: 3,048.5

    Any Road Tour: Day 22 – Rest day in the Twin Cities

    Showered and laundered the Rootchopper express was ready for socializing. Kathy and her husband Russ took me to dinner at Surly (I am not making this up) brewery in St Paul. We had pizza and beer and it all was so good.

    The pizza restaurant was on the second floor. My cranky attitude yesterday and the Hillary step feeling of one flight of stairs convinced me to take today off and recharge my batteries.

    Today Kathy made me a breakfast of mass quantities. After hanging out and enjoying her landscaped yard we took off for the Mall of America. What a strange palace to American retail excess.

    After lunch at Nordstrom’s overlooking the airport and a gigantic IKEA, we headed to REI. Kathy bought clothes for her impending trip to Scotland and I restrung my tent poles after some instruction from REI staff.

    It’s going to be hard to break away from this wonderful hospitality but tourers gotta tour. I am back on the road tomorrow. I have decided to rejoin the Adventure Cycling route. It’s very easy to get to from Kathy’s house. I’m hoping to make North Central Lake tomorrow night.

    Big, big thanks to Kathy, Russ, and daughter Krista for much needed rest and friendship. Oh gee, I promise to seek out some cheese curds in the days ahead.

    Rest Day Adulting

    I know I am getting old when 4 consecutive bike commutes wear me out. I woke up sick this morning. Again. My autoimmune system better be banking sick days because I have been sick in one way or another since early December.

    So I took the day off from riding. Conveniently it’s actually pretty cold outside. I know because I am inside writing this with my snuggie on. (I am not making this up.)

    I woke up at 5:45. And promptly went back to sleep until 7:30. Then I started some laundry. Then I did my back exercises. (No, it’s not yoga. Okay, it involves balancing and shoulder stands and planks. But it’s not yoga.) Then I listened to a 15 minute guided meditation from the New York Times.This Dan Harris’s meditation for dummies cartoon pretty much sums it up. This is about as woo woo as I get.

    Next up was showering and breakfast. Followed by swallowing the Saturday and (most of) Sunday Washington Post because I insist on getting the dead tree edition. It sucks to spill orange juice on your tablet. You can spill all you want on the paper version. After failing at both the Sudoku and crossword yesterday, I knocked off the Sudoku, and three crossword puzzles today. This was a good omen.

    After helping put the groceries away, I replaced a flushing valve in a toilet. On the first try. It was a miracle. And I didn’t even flood the bathroom.

    Next up came filing a claim for reimbursement from my health care flexible spending account. It was my first foray of the day into the digital age.

    After wasting time online, I loaded Turbo Tax and did the taxes. I was missing a form from my brokerage so I called its 800 number and set up an electronic account. Downloaded the form and finished my taxes. In the immortal words of Dave Stoller’s dad, REFUND!  (If you’ve never watched “Breaking Away” – the movie not the TV show – stop reading and go watch it. The script won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. And, it’s the best movie ever made about bicycling. Except it’s about so much more.)

    Then I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to do my daughter’s Indiana tax return and gave up. I think they owe her $5. (Mike Pence, if the Indiana personal income tax forms are your idea of tax simplification, you’re in deep yogurt if you become 46.) It ain’t worth the time. Keep the change, Hoosiers.

    Finally, I activated a debit card that gives me free ATM withdrawals at any ATM in the US. Just the thing for my next bike tour. (I’m considering riding to Key West in the fall. Stay tuned.)

    The only thing I didn’t accomplish was to go buy some bird seed. I expect that the bird seed consumption rate should pick up in a couple of weeks. Another sign that this rather tame winter is coming to an end.

    Only 11 days until pitchers and catchers report to Nationals’ spring training.

    Die winter die.