Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ennis to Butte

So I made it to butte.  I was pretty glad to be here.  I had gotten to a point where I didn't want to ride anymore, right up to when I actually got on the bike, and then I felt at home.  At home is not a feeling I have very often, so that was nice.  

After all those states (5) and all those miles (1,234), I finally encountered rain, and thunder, and (gasp!) lightening!  I'm very superstitious about riding a bicycle or motorcycle during lightning.  Something about the quick death...   Anyway, I pulled off the road and looked for a place to set up my tent to get out of the weather.   A place eventually turned up but by the time I planted the second (of 6) stakes in the ground, the rain was barely noticeable.  The thunder (and presumably, the lightning) was moving away.  And I was less than 15 miles from my destination.  Pack it up!  

The break while I fooled around with my tent had been enough to give me a second wind and I resumed what had been about 17 miles of uphill. Amazingly, I was less than a mile from the summit.  There I stopped to read a sign about the trails and struck up a conversation with a cool guy who was getting ready for a trip of his own.  He's going to ride the Al-Can highway with some friends as soon as he works out the logistics.  Makes me feel like a poser.  

From the summit to the end of this first half of my ride was almost entirely downhill.  An awesome finish to a tough day.  

And good timing too. The next day Butte had sun in the morning but rain after that.  And snow forecasted the following day (snowing starts as I write this).  Sure, I'm tough as nails and everything, but who really wants to ride in the snow?

Anyway, here's the stats:
1,234 miles ridden, 19 days on the bike, 6 days off, averaged 65 miles per day.  Climbed 49,387 feet uphill. 

After a break in Butte, I'll be heading back south, this time following the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. 

That'll be 2000 miles to the Mexican border. Read about it here. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Idaho Falls to Ennis, MT

Idaho is easily my favorite state.  Forget for a minute that it has every kind of geography that you can name.  I have pedaled in almost every state in the union and none match the courtesy of Idaho drivers.  What more could you want?

From Idaho Falls I made my way through Rexburg and found a nice campground near Ashton, but it wasn't open yet.  They're seasonal and I was early.   

But everybody has sympathy for a biker and I was given my choice for campsites.   

The next morning it was a short ride to breakfast and then a longer ride to a reasonable lunch break.   There I checked the weather radar and decided stopping was the best idea.  It was only noon, but, the weather.  

I fell asleep in my tent as the thunder rolled in, and woke up to bright sunshine.  It was early but I'd already sprung for the camping fee ($10) and if I rode on, I'd cover more miles but not much else.  Everything "down stream" was closed for the season.  

I found that out the next day.  As I rode north, I stopped at every restaurant I came to.  I wish one of them had been open.  I passed on a bar and grill just ten miles from my destination, it was the only place I'd seen that was open, but I was so close to Ennis.  

Ennis has quickly bumped its way to the top three of my favorite towns.  Is it the many restaurants?  The many bars?  The distillery named after me?  All of the above?  Yes, yes, and a population of 838, yes.  Seriously, if I stop blogging, look for me here first.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tremonton to Idaho Falls

Leaving Tremonton, I learned that I was quite a ways ahead of schedule.  This prompted me to have another cup of coffee at the only place in town that served breakfast.  Then back on the road, ever northward.  

I had ambitious plans for the day, plans that would get me 150 miles to Idaho Falls in just two days.  But suddenly, that plan seemed unnecessarily hard on my legs and seat.  Instead of pushing 93 miles to the next town on the map, I stopped at 50 and set up my tent at the Summit Campground in the Caribou Nat'l Forest.  

The next day seemed short, still 50 miles but telemetry revealed it was mostly flat and downhill.  In Pocatello I got a room at a motel with more gear problems.  My fancy inflatable camping mattress sprung a leak (I've slept on it less than seven times!).  Last night I woke every two hours to re-inflate it.  I found the leak using the tub in the motel room; oddly, it was in the center on top.  Not even a part that touches the ground or is exposed during storage.  

From Pocatello to Idaho Falls was another relaxing 50 mile ride.  For a while I was on the shoulder of a quiet highway, pleasant enough, but then I turned off onto backroads that roughly paralleled the highway - even better.  

I took a day off in Idaho Falls, not needing it as much as having time for it.  But then when I got ready to leave, weather.  I was faced with riding ahead of the rain, risking it catching me on the road, certainly raining on me as I camped that night, or staying another day. 

As is customary, the weather was cold and wet while I debated riding, and sunny and warm as soon as I committed to staying put.  But time is my ally. And tomorrow's weather should be nice enough to make the riding decision much easier.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wellington to Tremonton

It was early for a day off and I was ready to roll.  But I kept looking out the window, second guessing myself.  In the end, the day was cold and windy.  Staying put was the right decision.  

Then I was off, enjoying a ride uphill.  And more uphill. And still more uphill.  Ohmygoduphill.  Solider Summit, almost 7500 feet above sea level. 

The downhill should have been a hoot.  It was not. 

Headwinds, crosswinds, road shoulder that varied from reasonable to none, and lots of traffic.  Seven hours (and six minutes) got me to a destination.  I was so wiped out, it took all my effort to get some food, a chore that involved walking across a parking lot. 

But then another day, and another ride.  In this case, another 73 miles, this time through a very urban area known to the locals as Salt Lake City.  Mercifully, there was very little uphill and google maps kept me on bike paths for most of the day.  Just what I needed after the self-punishment the day before.  Welcome to Woods Cross.  

From there I continued north using a mixture of bike paths and roads.  It was interesting to see how the area became more rural as I left SLC behind.  The transition is always gradual. 

I stopped for the night (and a day off) in Tremonton.  If you're following along on a map, I'm only 21 miles from Idaho.