Any Road Tour: Day 44 – I was overdue

Really mediocre spaghetti and meatballs cannot be redeemed by huckleberry pie a la mode.

That’s all I have to say about last night’s feeble attempt at carbo loading.

After a motel breakfast of Frosted Flakes and Eggos (my touring diet is totally embarrassing) I hit the road to Paradise. As any Finn Brother fan knows, Paradise is wherever you are. But not in Montana. Endless Montana. I’m beginning to think the other 49 states were nuked by our pal Rocket Man. Montana is this long so that you’ll really appreciate not spending more than 24 hours in Idaho.

The road was a downhill joy, winding along the Clark Fork River through the Lolo National Forest. Around every bend there was a wow moment like this.

Or this. (Looks a tad unstable to me.)

After 21 miles of traveling northeast I turned west on Highway 200 which I’ve been riding on since North Dakota. I’d been advised that this is a nasty stretch of road but with a steady downhill and a 10 mph tailwind in dry 70 degree weather you can run Winnebagos up my ass all day and I won’t complain,

But there was light traffic. Everyone was celebrating ‘Merica by fishing and rafting and drinking cheap beer in blue cans.

In one area the mountains to my north looked like they had just been pushed to the sky. Signs advised to look out for bighorn sheep up on the mountain. I kept looking but didn’t see any.

The town of Thompson Falls cape 10 miles later than my maps said. I stopped at the first place with sitsown food, a fried chicken shop inside a grocery store. I was hungry and, you know, ports in storms.

A mile later came the actual town with actual restaurants. My tummy didn’t care.

The post lunch cycle proceedings were harmed by warm air. Temperatures rose into the 80s for the first time in a week. People have been walking around in what passes for winter coats in DC.

There were a few logging trucks. I think they were going here:

When I rolled into Trout Creek (the town, not the waterway) I started scouting for a place to rest my head. One motel on a lake was outrageously expensive. There seemed to be some sort of public access to the forest down a long dirt road. Or a modest second motel. I chose what was behind door number three. It’s a fine little place, the kind you see all over Vermont.

I walked down the street to the grocery story for dinner and liquid refreshment.

My hotel’s TV advertising pretty much tells you the political landscape around here. I’ve never once seen a motel advertise MSNBC.

I suppose it’s the flyover version of the Confederate flag.

Miles: 77.5

Tour Miles: 3,202

Tomorrow we’ll find out if Idaho is more than a BoDeans song.

Any Road Tour: Day 43 – Downhill squeeze on I-90

Last night’s dinner at the Old Post in Missoula featured two pale ales that did a fine job of hydrating me and my dinner of a southwest burger with tater tots. Thanks again to Emma Wimmer for the dinner suggestion. Based on social media comments, Emma is missed by a whole mess of #bikedc people.

Speaking of #bikedc people, Alex Baca returned to DC today after several years living in San Francisco and Cleveland. (I think we should call her LaBron.) I can’t be at her welcome home party today but, we’ll, Welcome Home, Alex!!!!

Oh yeah, the bike tour.

I lingered over breakfast at the hotel to avoid riding in sub-50 degree weather. Did somebody say “Early April?”

I followed an informal route provided by Adventure Cycling. The ride out of Missoula included a lot of suburban ick but eventually I was on a frontage road to the very western section of the Mass Pike.

The frontage road doom turned to gravel and dirt for about ten miles. I didn’t care. I was rested and pretty much nothing would make me cranky.

Frenchtown went by in a blink and after 33 miles I rolled into Alberton. It had a general store so I parked The Mule under an extended eave and went looking for grub. It was a real challenge to find something not in a can or less than 80 proof.

As I shopped a cold rain began. I stood next to my steed eating Doritos, cookies, and a candy bar while swilling Diet Pepsi. Nutrition is my middle name.

The rain stopped so I headed out of town following my map onto the interstate. All was going well until I entered a construction zone. Traffic was one lane in each direction. I had a wide shoulder to myself until I came to two bridges which were about 150 yards long in total. No shoulder. Eek.

Fortunately the road was trending downhill and the speed limit was lowered from 80 to 55 mph. I waited uphill from the bridges and took off when I saw a big gap in traffic. I made it across with room to spare.

A mile later it happened again. This bridge was half as long but it was on an uphill section of road. I pedaled like crazy but only made it half way across before a white old man sedan rolled by me at about 30 mph. Thankfully it wasn’t a Winnebago.

I took another frontage road soon after the two squeeze plays. The views were great. The road was paved. I was following the Clark Fork River. I passed a rafting outfitter who yelled a greeting and offered me water. Nice lady.

In Superior I stopped at a funky cafe and gift shop. I ordered the peanut butter and banana panini and coffee. The sandwich came with chips, carrots, and a small piece of chocolate chip chocolate cake. And a cup full of honey for dipping.

With very happy tummy, I resumed my ride for the last 13 miles to St. Regis. This entire leg was on I-90. Once again I came to a bridge where I lost my shoulder. Once again I failed to cross the span before traffic caught up to me. I was fortunate that the first vehicle to reach me was a tractor trailer with a very patient driver. I heard him downshift as he approached. As I cleared the bridge I gave him a wave and a thumbs up.

Like yesterday today’s ride was nearly all downhill. I did only a handful of climbs of more than 50 feet. There were headwinds but they were manageable. And it rained a bit.

The best part of the day was getting to 70 miles and feeling like I could do a lot more. I didn’t. During the stop in Alberton I reserved a room at a motel in St. Regis.

Total miles: 76

Tour miles: 3,124.5

Tomorrow should be my last day in Montana.