Sitting here reflecting on the day…..Holy Shit! Two very tough climbs and I am simply worn out!
Was feeling good riding out of camp after having two dinners the night before and getting a good night’s sleep, which is ironic since I thought every rustling leaf would wake me, keeping on edge having no way to protect myself from a curious Grizzly. Knew good strong legs were on order for the day to make my intended destination. About 15 miles into today’s ride is when all hell broke loose. The map clearly indicates, “Leave river bottom climb steeply for 0.25 miles. If you have a trailer you will need to unhook and push bike and pull a trailer up separately”.
From that description, I had no clue that I would look at this section of the trail and would even think twice trying to ascend it just walking let alone push 70+ pounds of godforsaken bike up it too. This was a combination of finding good footing and bring the bike up a few inches. Find good footing for the next step, bring the bike a few inches. It did get a tad bit easier a couple hundred feet up the trail, but all in all, it was pure torture.
Once back on ‘good’ trail I now had to make the climb to Galton pass. A 2000’ elevation gain within 10 miles I did a lot of pushing up this pass too. Once I reached the top of the pass I met a family that had made it to this point in a nice new truck. The driver says to me “it’s all downhill from here”. “Best word I had heard all day” I relayed back to him. Chatted with them for a few minutes before starting my descent. The ride down was certainly no picnic. The 3,500 drop within 8 miles was absolutely crazy. Very rocky requiring a lot of attention and pulling breaks nearly the entire way. Had to stop and take a couple breaks just to rest my hands from squeezing the brakes.
The downhill fun ended at a highway that would take me to the US/Canadian border a few miles later. As I approached the border station I rode past a long string of cars waiting their turn to pass the scrutiny of the US border agents. When I reached the front of the line I looked for a sign that would indicate a ‘special’ line, door or gate for somebody like me not in a car. We,ll I quickly learned this special feature doesn’t exist at this border crossing. A little dismayed and probably looking a little distressed a group of Harley riders, who were next in line, invited me to cut in with them. Took them up on the offer wondering how many people I just pissed off.
After crossing the border into Montana I began riding the nine miles to Eureka. As luck would have it I ran out of water about 6 miles out. Figured no problem I could make it to town. That was nearly a critical mistake. The 90-degree temps and headwind just about did me in with no water. Pulled into the first convenience store and slammed down a Gatorade standing at the cooler.
Had been thinking throughout the day I would stay in a hotel just to recompose myself and do some laundry. There was a hotel right next to the convenience store where I bought the Gatorade. The store happened to be the ‘front desk’ at the hotel so I took a room and immediately went in to take a shower and get out of my riding clothes.
Feeling a little better and starving, I started to head across the street to a restaurant for some dinner. I decided instead to have Subway which was part of the convenience store/hotel front desk. About halfway through my sandwich, four guys ride up on bikes and park in front of the window near where I was sitting.
When they came into the store I introduced myself and told them I was a Great Divide rider as well. Great group of guys from Great Britain who quickly assessed the situation of the store and all ordered sandwiches too. When they sat we compared notes on the ride so far and who each of us has also meet riding.
During our conversations, one of the fellows looks down into the bottom of his empty cup and says, that was tasty. I told him, “free refills”. With a skeptical look, he says, “really?” I replied with; “gentlemen welcome to America, land of the bottomless soda cup”. With a grin, he gets up to refill his cup. Just a few moments later I told them I needed to depart to my room and lay flat on a bed for a spell. They too were staying at the hotel for the night and I bid them a farewell if they happen to depart in the morning before I was up.
As I walked to the door one of them walked with me and asked; “Is it really free refills?” “Yes sir, have at it”.