Tacoma Creek Rd to Newport WA, 72 miles, mostly sunny 50-70s

The day started with a nice 1000′ descent and then the rest of the day’s riding was welcome flat with some rolling hills on a quiet side road along the Pend Oreille River. Occasionally there are wildlife sightings, mostly mule deer. Today it was a turkey hen with her brood of at least ten chicks, not that I stopped to count. Cyclists among you know that occasionally there are close encounters with insects as you ride along. Today I had a bee fly into my open shirt. As I was madly flaying around to squash it before it could sting me, a logging truck passed me of course. Just another day in the saddle. The route briefly crossed over into Idaho and then back into WA as we are staying in a nice B&B in Newport WA. Newport is right on the border. Tomorrow we leave WA behind for good, one state down. For the week we have come 435 miles, right on schedule. The photo is our lunch spot.

Newport WA to Sandpoint ID, 35 miles, sunny and 70’s

Today’s ride was a “rest day” as we needed to recharge the batteries and take care of some chores like laundry and an oil change for the truck. Sandpoint is on Lake Pend Oreille, a large lake (reservoir). It is somewhat of a resort town and the largest town we have been in since the start, and the largest town we will see for awhile. In addition to the chores we relaxed at the town beach and then drove up to the Mt Schweitzer ski area for a view of the lake and valley. The ride itself was hilly in places with a finish on a bike trail that has seen better days.

Sandpoint ID to Cabinet Range view point on MT 56, 61 miles, sunny 70-90’s

The route today followed ID State Route 200 into Montana. Some truck traffic and narrow shoulders but most drivers are courteous and pass with a wide berth. The route is following river valleys so no major climbs, just a few hills of a 100 -200 feet at a time. I had a wonderful stop at a local bakery for a cherry turnover. We have now gained back an hour as MT is in the Mountain Time Zone. Ten miles east of the  the state line, the route turned north on MT State Route 56 along the crystal clear Bull River. It just looks like a classic MT trout stream. This is a very nice ride, light traffic, a few hills, and views of high mountains in the distance. The end of the ride was dictated by the mileage goal as there are no services of any kind along Route 56. We are staying 18 miles away from the finish of today’s ride near Noxon, MT, in a motel that is part of a convenience store operation. The only food available was in a local bar, Toby’s Tavern. What a cool place, 50+ years of memorabilia from floor to ceiling. This is the value of having a support vehicle. Thanks Sally. Note the photo of the old cars lining the edge of a quarry along RT 200. You never know what may pop up next.


Cabinet Range view point on MT 56 to Koocanusa Lodge, 61 miles, sunny 60-90’s

The route today went through just one town, Libby MT. Libby was our lunch spot at the town park. The rest of the route followed highways and back roads in fairly remote areas with no services or even many residences. Only one 500′ climb but at the end of day when it was hot. It has been in the high 80’s pushing 90 in the afternoons. (Sorry about all that rain in the ROC.) For awhile the route followed a major rail line so the occasional train provided some entertainment. Hundreds of containers from China and Korea judging by the names. Life is simple on the road.  Also we finally saw two other loaded cyclists on the route today so I am not the only one pursuing this endeavor. The last part of the route paralleled Lake Koocanusa which is a reservoir behind a dam of the Koocanusa River. The route will follow it for another 35 miles,  Luckily in this remote area there was a lodge just off the route at the right distance I wanted to cover. We are in Cabin #8 at the Lake Koocanusa Resort. And they have a restaurant! But there is no Internet so this will be posted tomorrow.

In other news, Denise from Woman Tours ( a Rochester company) is scouting the route for a future trip. She was in the group with Sally when Sally rode cross country in 2006. She knew were we riding and caught up with us today for a short chat.


Koocanusa Lodge to Fortine, MT;  60 miles, sunny with scattered afternoon thundershowers, 60-70’s

Today’s route followed MT State Route 37 for 40 miles along Lake Koocanusa to the town of Eureka and then on to the small town of Fortine. We are staying in Eureka. There were afternoon thundershowers in the area but they missed me while riding. Just a few claps of thunder in the distance. Today was an exercise of going up a few hundred feet and then going down, and repeat. I lost track of how many times. For fun I mapped the route to learn I climbed 4300 feet. Not a bad day’s work. I have been cautious on the descents. The shoulders of major highways in MT have rumble strips about a foot into the shoulder that leaves about two feet of clear shoulder. The shoulders tend to be “dirty” with small stones and chunks of wood from the logging trucks. While there is light traffic, riding in the driving lane is risky unless there is a clear sight line. So unfortunately, you can’t always let it rip.


Fortine, MT to West Glacier, MT; 69 miles, sunny, brief afternoon shower, 70’s high

The route today followed US Highway 93 for 30 miles or so to Whitefish, MT with one stretch of delightful side road through flattish range and farm land. 93 is a heavily traveled road but on a Saturday there was less traffic and no semi-trucks. The shoulder is narrow but adequate in most places. However, there was one stretch just before Whitefish that is hilly, curvy, rough, and without a shoulder. I hope this was the worst stretch of road on the trip not to be repeated. Just before West Glacier the route included 2-3 miles of gravel not suited to my skinny road bike tires. I was ferried across it. Now for you naysayers who will claim I didn’t do the whole distance, my response is that it’s my ride and I can make the rules! No different than taking a ferry across a body of water in my opinion.

After dinner, we drove as far as you can into Glacier Park and did a short hike. The Going-to-the-Sun highway is closed before Logan Pass as they are still removing snow. It makes my decision to take the alternative route over the much easier Marias Pass guilt free.

We have now met some fellow bikers. A father and his seven year old son who is riding his own bike. They started from Seattle. A solo rider from Picton, ON who is self sustained and riding as far as Minneapolis. And finally a couple from Seattle who are riding to Boston.

West Glacier, MT to East Glacier, MT; 57 miles, mostly cloudy, 50-60’s

Today’s route followed US Highway 2 over the Continental Divide at Marias Pass at 5216′. If you read yesterday’s blog post you might remember I called it easier than Logan Pass in Glacier NP. Easier turned out to be relative. While the net elevation gain was roughly 2000′, the actual climbing elevation gain over the 43 miles to the pass was 5500′. Let’s just say that I am tired tonight. RT 2 carried more traffic than I expected. I think much of it was local people returning from their weekend camping trips at the end of the weekend. Part way up was the town of Essex. We smartly met there at 9:30 and had a nice breakfast at the Izaak Walton Inn just off the route. I started at 7 after a first breakfast of a banana and those little powdered donuts you can buy at convenience stores. Not enough, so breakfast number two saved my bacon so to speak. I sometimes find it hard to eat enough while riding. Tonight we are staying in East Glacier and had dinner at the Glacier Park Lodge on the other side of the tracks. Earlier I had an Indian Taco at a local Indian run stand as a snack. It is a taco with Indian flat bread. Tomorrow is a needed zero mile rest day and we will visit Glacier NP. The mountain passes are now behind us as we begin the long trek across the great plains. It is all down hill from here!


East Glacier, MT;  0 miles, partly cloudy 60’s

Today was a rest day so we toured Glacier NP and did some short trail walks. Wildlife sightings included a moose and a herd of mountain sheep. We had dinner tonight in a great Mexican restaurant called Serrano’s just around the corner. We invited a young German woman to join us at dinner who has been hiking the Continental Divide Trail. She made it as far as Colorado before snow stopped her. She hitched up here to try going south from Canada. I think she will run into the same problem going south. Some photos from today.

East Glacier to Shelby, MT; 72 miles, sunny, tailwind, then a PM storm

Today’s weather was a tale of two extremes. The ride started in fair weather with a 10-15 mph tailwind. The route will follow US RT 2 for several days. The terrain is gently rolling plains. What a contrast to the last two weeks of forests and mountains. The road has varying width shoulders with the danged rumble strips near the traffic lane. The traffic itself is light. All and all the AM went well to arrive in Cut Bank, MT after 47 miles.  Looking back you could see the mountains disappearing in the mirror. After a quick lunch the goal was to ride another 24 miles to reach Shelby for the overnight. Scattered storms were predicted and there was one off in the distance that didn’t look too threatening. Well, said storm caught up with me about 6 miles from Shelby with no shelter of any kind for miles. Wind and rain of course, a few lightening flashes, but the worst was hail. I was pelted with hail big enough to raise welts on my back and a lump on my head as I bent over after stopping to protect myself. Fortunately a guy stopped and let me get in his car until the worst was over. We learned our lesson, the SAG driver needs to stay closer when there is threatening weather. The storms out here don’t mess around.


Shelby, MT to Kremlin, MT; 78 miles, partly cloudy, 50-70’s, strong tailwind

Wonderful tailwind all day today, this west to east thing is working out well so far (I know sooner or later there will be headwind). The ride continued east across the plains. There are some cattle ranches but now we are seeing vast wheat fields, some planted, some fallow. There are little towns about every 10 miles or so to mark progress. I saw one pronghorn antelope prance across the road in front. Very low traffic at first but it picked up after noon. Another ferry was required to get through nine miles of road construction gravel and mud. I did a lot of coasting today, as the elevation slowly drops. The small complaint I have is the shoulder width varies from wide and rideable to narrow with the ever present rumble strip. The latter is essentially unrideable so one must ride along the white line. We are staying in Havre tonight, the nearest town with any services. The ride will resume tomorrow in Kremlin, 18 miles west. The last photo was taken at our lunch spot in Chester, MT.