2019 TransAm

Day Thirteen – Missoula to Hamilton, MT

STATS
Day: 13
Day Mileage: 47.6
Total Miles: 689.8

My plan was to leave Chad’s house and Missoula closer to 8am but turns out it’s terribly difficult to drag yourself out of a real bed, with cool temperatures because it was too nice to sleep with the windows closed. I finally dragged myself out from underneath the covers and began packing my items . As I was loading up the bicycle, I had a few additional accessories that I didn’t have rolling into Missoula. At rei on my rest day, I bought things I may need in the future: an 8 speed chain, two additional tubes making my total 3, a whole other tire, a pair of pants, long sleeve wool shirt and a can of bear spray. There are additional worries through the next 1000 miles I didn’t have through Oregon. As 9am came, I was out the door and headed to Sula, 75 miles down the road. 

Leaving Missoula, I was on a paved bike path called the bitterroot trial for the entirety of the first 47 miles into Hamilton,p. As I approached victor, an older couple were out cycling and mentioned there was a park with bathrooms in town, so I pulled off with them and we chatted for 15 minutes. They had recently retired and moved back to Florence from Seattle. Grant grew up in Montana and went to the university of Montana in Missoula so he and Diane knew the area really well. After we said goodbye and they continued on their ride as I did mine, I had 10 more miles into Hamilton. 

The last 10 miles were a struggle, not entirely sure why but it was. I pulled in for lunch and looked at my schedule. Today, I was schedule to ride into Hamilton and stay … and because of the last 10 miles i decided not to push it into sula. In Hamilton, they allow cyclists to camp at the fairgrounds except this week, the fair is actually in town. So I called the office and Beth said that they can arrange for an overnighted so I rode into the fairgrounds as everyone was setting up the rides, show cows were being hauled in and trailers were setting up camp. I rode around but  anyone actually in charge so I found a plot of land close to bathrooms and pitched my tent. Was happy to have called it a day, I crawled inside my tent and fell asleep quickly even with the sounds of cows, hogs and the street I was next to. 

Day Eleven – Lochsa River Lodge to Missoula, MT

STATS
Day: 11
Day Mileage: 57.4
Total Miles: 642.2

I slept great. It was easy to since there were no dogs, I rode almost 90 miles and I was clean. It was chilly outside of the tent but I was warm inside. I got up just before 6 because that’s why I do when I go to bed at 9 having exercised for an entire day. I waited until the lodge opened at 7 where I had my fill of coffee and pancakes. This is why cyclists stay for free. I made up for it elsewhere. 

Knowing I had a smaller day today with one big climb up Lolo Pass to start, I wanted to get going but the pancakes and coffee along with the cooler temperature thanks to the elevation, it was slow going out of camp. We got on the road just after 9am and were climbing immediately. It was going to be a long climb but still not as steep or as much as previous climbs I’ve come to thus far. It was cloud cover and cool the entire climb but I was still sweating. As I approached the top of the pass, I could see “Welcome to Montana” and just like that I was into my 3rd State and back in mountain time. We took time to take pictures and bundle up for the decent into Lolo Hot Springs and finally into the town of Lolo. Stopping at the gas station for a coke and a pick-me-up before heading the final 12 miles into Missoula. 

 

James and I rode for the final time together into Missoula. We said our goodbyes with plans to meet tomorrow for a celebratory drink and I made my way to the Adventure Cycling Association offices for a photo before finding my way to WiFi as I waited for my friend Chad to pick me up. I worked with Chad in Dallas when I had my first internship in college before working together at the same company a year later at my first real job. He moved to Missoula almost 8 years ago while working remotely. Megan and I visited two and a half years ago over the winter break. He got back into town from Whitefish and we went to have dinner before heading back to his house. I met his girlfriend Olivia and we chatted for a few hours before finally crashing from the 6 days of cycling. Tomorrow is a welcomed rest day where I’ll do some bike maintenance and pick up supplies for the trip going forward. 

Day Ten – Kooskia, ID to Lochsa River Lodge

STATS
Day: 10
Day Mileage:89.4
Total Miles: 585.6

Sleeping on the river was terrific. I didn’t have the rain fly on so it was nice and cool in the tent and sleeping bag. Right around 3am dogs from across the river began barking. James and I woke up and began shining a light that way. We had convinced ourselves we were about to see a bear as we were beginning to enter bear country. We saw Two beady eyes staring back and yep, we knew it was a bear. That bear began to bark. We embarrassingly went back to sleep or at least tried. The dogs, come to find out in the daylight, at treed something and kept at it since 3am so I’m not sure what kind of night’s sleep I actually got.

I, again, had breakfast at a local cafe. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee. All of it was needed with the day I had ahead of me. The next stretch of map was what I had been anxiously awaiting. On the map, it states, “extremely limited service” for the next 89 miles. That was a bit unnerving going into knowing that I needed to carry enough water and potentially food to cover that distance. In reality, it was as daunting, but I didn’t know that really when planning. James and I set off for the ride near 8am. 

The first 50 miles were along the Lochsa River and the most picturesque ride. With a relatively flat road, little wind and fully calorie loaded, the miles ticked off quickly. St mile 50, we approached the lone campground of the stretch where we stopped and had lunch. I had two tortillas with retried beans and hot sauce. Really all I had in my pack that sounded good. Peanuts butter, ramen, and squished bread didn’t sound appetizing. I had a quick lunch and set off as James dried out his head from the sprinklers he set up in the night before. I had ~40 more miles until the day was done so I wanted to get started. 

The next 40 miles gradually climbed but was not as noticeable as other climbs as the day stretched over 90 miles and climbed roughly 2,500 ft so it was maybe 1-2% grade as opposed to the 7-8 I’ve been accustomed to on climbs. James caught me as I hit mile 80 and we both struggled over the next 10 miles to the Lochsa River Lodge. It still wasn’t much climbing but somehow that grade became noticeable as I was ready to be off the bike. One perk of the last 10 miles, I found an Oregon license plate on the side of the road that I fashioned into my front rack splash guard which is fun after 8 hours and 20 minutes on the bike, I rolled in the Lochsa River Lodge and headed directly for food before even attempting to set my tent up.

At the lodge, they allow cyclists to camp on the lawn for free which is extremely smart. They also sell showers for $5. The past 5 days I’ve had 2 river showers, 1 sprinkler shower and 1 sink shower so it was time. I happily handed over $5 and finally just hung out in the showers for way too little long. After the shower and the food, I was ready for bed. It had been a long day and my legs knew it.

Day Nine – White Bird, ID to Kooskia, ID

STATS
Day: 9
Day Mileage: 44.5
Total Miles: 495.9

I woke up ready to go. It was 645 and by the time we could get packed up and out of town, it would be nearly 8am. I crawled out of the tent to the ghost town that is white bird in the morning. Couldn’t quite figure out why the cafe, which was supposed to be open at 630 was closed shut. I was ready for coffee. And then it hit me….. I’m in the Pacific time zone. Again. I waked down to the bar that I had access to their WiFi and began to browse the internet waiting until that magical hour of 630am. I saw two men on four wheelers who had tied one on the evening before and they were out the door early. We exchanged pleasantries and finally, it was time for the bathroom, I mean coffee.

At Red’s Cafe, Biscuits and gravy were literally and figuratively on the menu. If breakfast was as easy as walking across the street each morning, I’d be hard pressed to have ramen and potatoes as I’ve had each morning that I’ve cooked at camp. I was going to take advantage of today location and early opening cafe. Having coffee on the ready was a treat that I haven’t had on the trip and after caffeinating myself properly, it was time to pack up and hit White bird Hill. 

White bird hill was one of the bigger combs I’ve come to thus far in my trip. This climb was different as it was steep and long but with switchbacks the entire time on an old highway. It could not accommodate large semis and those pulling any kind of trailer so they built a new highway within eyesight of this one. Once I began climbing, I could tell why. Almost 2 hours of climbing 3,000ft resulted in reaching the summit with a smooth decent down into Grangeville. James and I had lunch (corn dogs and root beer have become quite a thing this past week. Knowing we had a short day today, we set off for the remainder of the 24 mile to Kooskia, pronounced a Kooski.

It was rolling hills through the Nez  Perce reservation with the craziest downhill I’ve been on. My wheels were HOT by the end of that decent due to braking almost the entire time. Loose gravel and countless switchbacks made it almost unenjoyable, but I’d rather be braking than climbing it any day. Another 4 miles, and we were finished for the day. Staying in the city park tonight, I gathered my clothes and did a load of laundry taking advantage of the short day. 3 days riding in one shirt and 1 in another is about all I’m able to handle at this one. I do have some long sleeves but it’s been too warm for those. After dinner and river shower number two, I’m settling down to sleep by the river near the city park.