Henry's Lake to Lima
----------------------------------------
Lima to Polaris
----------------------------------------
Polaris to Butte
----------------------------------------
Butte to Helena
----------------------------------------
Helena to Lincoln
----------------------------------------
Lincoln to Ovando

Ovando to Seeleylake
-----------------------------------
Seeleylake to Ferndale
-----------------------------------
Ferndale to Whitefish
-----------------------------------
Whitefish to Eureka
-----------------------------------
Port of Roosvile
-----------------------------------
Going Home
Richmonts Peak, single track

3631km - 3731km
Day 61 , 28th July 2003
100km (62miles)

"My nephew is the starplayer!"

Early morning at Red Rock Pass, Idaho. The birds are singing us welcome as we get out of the tent. Breakie, pack in and fix two holes in my tube (again). We climb the last one or two kilometer and then start a moderate downhill. Soon we are following the very foothills of the mountain range forming the southern shoreline of Upper and Lower Red Rock Lake. Supposedly there are plenty of swan nesting here, but the only one we encounter is a stuffed one at the Lakeview ranger station.

Today's riding goes through flat country and is quite meditative in nature. Right before the few remaining buildings of Monida (Montana-Idaho...) a stiff climb materialises out of nothing! Short of breath we hit the crest - where a head wind makes sure to batter us the remaining 12 english miles to Lima (250). Upon arrival we enjoy a refreshening swim in the pool. We're fortunately allowed to pitch a tent right next to the school. At the gas station we learn all about the local football team - Lima Bears.



    

 

 

 

3731km - 3806km
Day 62, 29th July 2003
75km (47 miles)

"That's what they say them hoi-di-toi-di's..."

Hot in the morning, soon we're packing in and leaving for the hardware store. I leave my pocket Knife at the Exxon toilet while changing to biking pants, (diapers In common language). Two hundred meters down the road I realize I left my knife! I hit the brakes, double back in no time, and upon entering the gas station I meet a guy coming out of the restroom. No knife in the restroom and so I catch up with the guy - who tells me he didn't see the knife and so couldn't have taken it. First time something gets stolen on our trip.

After the initial 7 miles, going straight North along the valley floor, we take a left turn. All of a sudden the most impressive canyons unfold themselves. Uphill it goes, from moderate to steep. Gorgeous mountains, steep cliffs, with large areas eroded into gravel and blocks, where the few pine and juniper trees desperately try to survive. We follow Sheep Creek, than further along another gulch. Wyoming in a canyon! Basically it's a steady uphill until after 'Hanson's livestock road'. Then downhill in a serial steep rocky climbs, that takes your breath away - just staying on the road in 40km/h downhill takes an effort. In addition we try to shoot some action scenes while riding the rough road...

There is never a straight entrance road to a ranch, don't ask me why. First we pass the ranch of Pat, Donna and Trudy's with a couple of miles (all downhill), then we follow the road back to the house (uphill). Those last miles really make the difference between ending the day tired or dead tired.

We put up our tent on nice soft grass and prepare ourselves for a mega dinner, as 78 year old Pat is coming in from harvesting this years last hay. Renate as a vegetarian but doesn't dare to mention that she doesn't eat meat so she is munching away on the beautiful homecooked beef Trudy offers us for dinner. Together with a lot a vegetables, salad, home baked bread and (mmmmmmm...) mashed potatoes, ice cream and cookies! It is so good to eat when your hungry! We talk about cycling and cyclists, hunting, farming and winter. Here there is a drought the last four years, and irrigation water is scarce - reducing the hay harvested with more than two thirds. As fall is coming, bow hunters, then rifle hunters will arrive, mainly for elk hunting. Advertising and bookings is made via internet, just like the buying and selling of cattle is made on-line! Pat is 78 and is still working the fields.

Rough roads, sun and hot dry wind, a few mean up hills, strong down hills and a fantastic German style food in a welcoming sphere. We hear that Don and Daniel, the two guys we met separately on the road in Wyoming were travelling together and split up after they stayed here. We love to hear the gossip stories! In another year a couple did split up after the girl kept on falling off here bike while riding the GDT. We take advantage of the Internet opportunity and mail our family and book our tickets from Amsterdam to Stockholm.


   Long steady uphill
  

  

   Wyoming landscape
  

  

   Beautiful colors

  Donna (Pat and Trudy's daughter)
  

  

  Trudy and Pat of the Hildreth ranch



3806km - 3892km
Day 63, 30th July 2003
86km (54miles)

"Bacon & eggs."

Before leaving, we treat ourselves with a full fledged breakfast as well. Bacon & eggs, toast, pancakes with maple syrup, coffee and orange juice. From the ranch we have downhill all the way down to Grant and the highway. This road is very good and we just makle a quick pit-stop at the tent-cafe in Grant to say bye to Trudy, after which we cross the highway and continue on the gravel road across the Bannack Bench. The moderate climb takes us up, then down to a little creek where we take a swim.

Instead of going to the ghost town of Bannack, we push on all the way to Tash Lookout-point, the only place between the junction (to Bannack) and Polaris where you can put up a tent. We get very strong wind all through the night, as we are camping right on top of the steep shelf.


  To Polaris
 

  Hay, ready for the winter

You lost a wheel!

3892km - 3967km
Day 64, 31th July 2003
75km (47miles)

"I don't know if anyone has biked up that hill."

Speedily we arrive in Polaris, where we find a post office and nothing else. We mail our postcards to Holland an Sweden from Montana. As we saddle up, we chew away on the chocolate candy treat - actually all our visits to the various postoffices en-route have given us something to talk about. Isn't chocolate, then walls crammed with post boxes like in the olden days at home or unexpected all dressed up ladies or girls commuting from miles away. The climb gets gradually steeper from here, uphill but not too bad. A chopper is continously in the air, fighting the Lost Gulch Fire. The bucket look terribly small for putting out bush fires, but surely that's due to the distance in between us and the helicopter.

Just as we crest a very steep hill, we see two foxes chasing a mule deer! First the deer jumps out of the forest, across the road, a quick left and right turn and then disappears in the undergrowth, then the two foxes follow. They run bodies low over the ground, stretching out on the chase downhill. But they are in for a tuff one, even escaping death the dear looks elegant while jumping over the a 1.5 m high fence before it disappeared. A general uphill follows for us too. But the road is good, surrounded by beautiful pine tree forest with green grass in between the trees. At Elkhorn Hot Springs we eat a cookie and drink a cola and 'steal' some toilet paper before continuing. Inside the cafe/restaurant the o-so-popular local taxidermist have been busy - We're very impressed by the stuffed animals here. Without much hesitation we decided we really don't want to meet one Grizzly bear out-there! The grizzly is just enormous, standing on his hind legs mr. Mister is just a small toy! But it's good to know that only one out of ten close bear encounters actually lead to a melee. Bears are more afraid of man than you for him, and so normally walks away. If they do get surprised at close range, they usually then try to scare you, maybe even run up and stand on his hind legs thus. Just if you're that number ten... After the last bit uphill, we could sail downhill the rest of the day, a bit of a surprise but a lovely ride.

Speedily we arrive in Wise River for a stop at the shop. This must be every flyfisherman's dream, in this small community fly fishing is the game. Signs everywhere with the last, best and cheapest flies are on display, not to mention that they throw in a few handbound flies with the six pack of bud's - or is it the otherway around? - In Wise RIver you don't save airmiles, but trade points for flyfishing. The day is dazzling hot, a shy breeze from the West doesn't help much, and today we can celebrate the +4000km marker with a Bud light! We sipped the beer carefully on a bench in front of the shop while chatting with the locals. Tomorrow is the big climb! - Fleecer Ridge, as the shop owner said; 'to be realistic, I don't know if anyone really biked up that hill'. Later on we ate a lot of noodles and pumpkin and got two beers from a friendly guy cross-questioning us about makes people do such things like cycling for hours a day, day after day, week-after-week.


  
      

  To Wiseriver

  Finally some trees!

  Downhill on asphalt makes you smile
  

  Wiseriver, BBQ and a swim
 

  4000 km! Have a beer!

3967 km - 4044km
Day 65, 1th aug. 2003
77km (43miles)

"Psssssjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjst"

Today is D-day! Fleecer Ridge is not more to be avoided! Initially a bit disturbed before falling in sleep last night, when the coyotes appeared to get closer. But as suddenly as they started howling, they also quite! Fantastic stars played over our heads and so I didn't sleep extremely much. No mozzies, just a faint new moon and the occasional shooting star, with the Milkyway spanning the horizont - some nights are just made for sleeping outside.

The good gravel road gives us a fine start of the day, after the first flat our mood changes a bit. Looking closely at the problem-tire we can expect more flats coming today. The tyre is so worn out that the inner tube is pushing itself out through the hole. We continue and miss a turnoff by doing so. At lunchtime we arrive at a dead-end, while having a sandwich we take a look around, there is a scary uphill with a kind of a footpath straight up and into the sky. I check it out but we do not trust it and decide to go back. Meanwhile I've had another flat. This D-tour cost us two hours.

We find the turnoff eventually. Right in a sharp switch-back bend, the main road climbs up the hill (the wrong turn we just took), and a narrow two-track, with a sign just warning you not to have a veihicle wider than the existing track posted, is actually the road to Fleecer. While fixing the third flat, we're getting mentally ready. This is Fleecer ridge we are talking about - there is no escape, we have to do it. The tyre is repaired from inside and outside with duct-tape! We cross a creek, a first very short very steep hill, and make a wide loop around the foot of something high and steep and surprisingly green. There it is Fleecer Ridge! A steep mountain with a washout.

We don't take the time to take pictures; we are completely overwhelmed by the steepness of Fleecer and taken by our own stupidity of not taking enough water with us. We are going to sweat! When we are done with pushing up two bike and a trailer, four hours later, we sit down and drink the juice from a can of pears. We have shaky legs, aching shoulders and scratches from the sagebrush over our arms and legs. We feel tired but Great! Soon after keeping to the right on-top of Fleecer, we find a water pump at a state campsite. We drink us unthirsty and wash our faces. But we have to push for Butte, and certainly get a new tyre. Bang! - there goes my rear braking-wire. The front brake I've already had to disengage becasue of the ducttape repair. Don't panic, it's just a downhill, and you're not doing more than 25km/h... BRAKE NOW! Foot down steer clear, stay on road (puh!), stand-still. Off with the duct-tape and now hope the front tyre will make it to Butte.

At the intersection with the highway, we get asphalt to big Butte. Where Denny's is waiting for us. - Best burger event in the lower 48 states! We're probably also the dirtiest customers ever. After a full fledged meal, we put up our tent behind a Walmart as no descent camping is to be found here. Apparently there is a KOA camping somewhere, but ever since Steamboat Springs we've taken an oath not to stay at the ridiculusly priced KOA's.


 Morning climb
    

  Wrong hill...

  Fleecers ridge

 Through a dark forest...
     

  Road to Butte

  Getting late

 

4044km - 4115km
Day 66, 2th aug. 2003
71km (45miles)

"I am from Boulder, I am not familiar around here"


Renate slept like a log. Myself get less than 2 hours of sleep. As I soon find out that beside the motorhomes on the parking lot, cars are coming and going most of the night - as it is open all around the clock, 24hrs! Renate is also oblivious to the aircrafts taking off and landing right next to us, the strong spotlights making us bath in bight light and the home coming party people makinig it across the parking. At 6.30, I drag myself up, to get some basics from the store - including caffein in whatever form it comes. Fruit, yoghurt, chocolates drank, cookies and some bread, topped off with coffee. Decadent but great, this will keep us going today!

We do 9 miles until finally finding the exit onto the highway. Before that we get an update on what's going on in Butte, at the hairdressers. Evil Kanevil is in town with his motorbike/stunt show, Butte is alos home to racing cyclists and naturally much better than Helena. The sun is baking, no wind and as we have lunch, we desperately seek some shadow under some lowe growing trees. In Basin we get a softdrink inside a meeting place at the local camping. The softdrink machine is almost empty and we have to push a lot of buttons before we are getting any drinks out of it. It is going to be ginger beer this time.

It is hard to find the exact road we are looking for, the dirt road to Helena, so we ask a guy in an old car if he can help us. Boulder is only a couple of miles from where we are standing and the guy uses this as an excuse for not knowing the road to big-time Helena! Eventually we find it on ourselves, and are confronted with an incredible steep uphill on a rough surface. It is still steaming hot, slowly we are pedaling our butts to a camping spot. - A small meadow, with a tiny stream running along it's edge. But we can wash ourselves in the clear water trickling forth.

As we stand there, one foot in the stream, birds siinging and the usual suspects laughing at us (squirrels) the silence is cut through by three people on ATV's appearing out of no-where! Two fat women are having a ball, wearing nothing but a bikini, immediately followed by a skinny white man. It was such a sight seeing all the folds and wrinkles in their happy bodies shaking along, that when they have passed we start laugh out loud!


  Finally a haircut!
    

 The highway from Butte to Basin

  After Basin

4115km - 4165km
Day 67, 3th aug. 2003
50km (33miles)

"Can you stop squeaking?"

That sleep was just necessary. Though interrupted in the middle of the night when it suddenly started to rain, and we needed to set up the outer tent as well. Today I won't have to be afraid of falling asleep sitting in my saddle. Past the creek and an old mine building we go, stiff climb. A lot of forest and than a 90 degree turn onto a good track. It is tricky to keep in touch with where you are. Renate's bike is giving up, we have to keep a close eye on here rear casette, it is in for repairs in Helena. It is squeaking frantically, and having a hard time.

The lava track we then get to is a lot of fun, first some walking uphill, but then narrow, technical and downhill. From the track to the gravel road, we rush down and a moose jumps away, out of sight. We go trough a valley with neat houses and than the thunderstorm hits us. Again. We sit on the side of the road a while and look as the car-people pass us in their big 4WD on their way home, away from the rain.

When the thunder is over and the rain slowly moves away we move on. The road is sandy, heavy and slow. On the top of the continental divide we eat an apple and let us go with the flow down to Helena. We have no problem finding the motel where we want to stay. Everything is thrown under the shower so we get ride of the sand and then we follow. Time to eat! We end up at the casino where we fill up our stomach until we can't walk anymore. - Tonight We sleep in a reak bed and boy it's comfy!


  Old mine
    

 Some nice singel track roads

  Some steep climbs

 
     

  More rain is coming

 


4165km
Day 68, 4th Aug.2003
0km

"They close it off for traffic so now you have to WALK there"

We start the day with a rhubarb scones and some coffee. Then we bring the cycle to the repair shop. New chain, sprocket and cassette. The really cool guys in the shop have never seen anything this worn out, so we feel pretty cool ourselves as well. At the library we do some typing and editing of the photo's and then it is time for our daily ice-scream again.

In the evening after we picked up the bike, smooth baby, we ride to the other side of town to enjoy high quality Mexican food at Taco Bell, (joke) and see a movie - Pirates of the Caribbean. It is a lot of fun, we enjoy it mainly because we where looking forward to a movie for so many weeks now. Helena remains smaller than we thought, but this is one of the big cities of Montana, so we keep it low. Planne shopping is out anyway.


4165km - 4201km
Day 69, 5th aug.2003
36km (25miles)

"Rain is falling on my head"

What a marvelous thing a good bed is! We have slept like babies. Sunshine in the morning, but in the distance we can see the clouds building up to a thunderstorm. We start with some shopping and have lunch outside the supermarket before going of direction Lincoln. After a paved road we turn uphill on a good gravel road. We start sweating our way up when two bikers with a BOB trailer come sailing down. Than we notice the raspberries on the side of the road and we are forced to stop and pick them, really good stuff!

The dark, black clouds are slowly approaching in the afternoon and we follow them with our eyes carefully. From a distance we look at the light flashes. Thinking, it is really raining like hell over there. Then the hell hits us and we are forced to give up for the day. A bit short and we have to make that up tomorrow, but in this rain we are not going anywhere! Lightning bolts striking all around us, We put up the tent under the cover of some not too high trees, and start cooking tea to get some heat. No evening walk this time, the rain continous all through the night.


We have to stop and eat
    

   Raspberry

  The thunderstorm before it hits us   

4280km - 4351km
Day 70, 6th aug. 2003
71km (45miles)

"Are you hit?"

We continuing the unfinished climb from yesterday on a wet dirt road, parts are still slippery and some bits we have to ride along the side of the road through the grass. At the top of the mountain we met Slick63, a hiker who's a bit lost. We heard so much about the hiker walking the CDT but we never met one until now. We swap stories before continuing to the second CDT crossing of today.

We enjoy the steep winding roads through thick forest. The second crossing of today is a tuff one, it is the first one on the map coming from the north. Some hours later the plain gradually flattens out and we hit a raspberry patch again. Legs hurt, but soon we're on a steep downhill through a weird fantasy forest all the way to the bitumen.

Just before reaching Lincoln, the road becomes more flat and then the rain hits us again. While we put our rain cloths on we hear 'plof , plof', it is like somebody is throwing stones at us! No normal stones though, gigantic hailstones! We have to film this and while we are laughing and filming a car stops and the driver asks friendly if we are hit, which we are not, but thanks anyway...

The last miles to Lincoln(300) are dry. Lincoln make syou think of the Deerhunter and is much a 70's town left in the obscure and struggling on. As soon as we leave the gas station at with some warm coffee in our stomachs we stand in the drizzle again. Heavy headwinds takes the best of us, and We put up our tent just outside of Lincoln under some trees - soaked!


  It doesn't really dry up
  

  A lost hiker on the CDT
     

  

      

  Old ranch
    

  Mega hailstones

    

4351km - 4414 km
Day 71, 7th aug. 2003
63km (42miles)

"You can do the CDT in 18 days"

It rained the whole night and a bit in the morning, this is the second day we sleep like dead and wake up at 8 o clock. Very soon the sky is all blue, and the sun is drying up the road. Renate's derailleur is breaking down again! - and those cool guys in Helena are not getting any greetings, $150,- and already from Helena the rear derailleur has been on/off. Try to fix it for an hour, it finally works. We go uphill a morning until 13.00 to Cranberry Pass. The road is quite steep but we enjoy the flowers and the beautiful views too much to notice. After the top we go down and find ourselves suddenly in a total different landscape, farm country, growing grass and wide-open spaces.

In Ovlando we are met by a talkative merchandiser,we talk,we read a while and enjoy a coke. We try to find out where we are going to camp tonight and the man behind the counter is pointing us to a camping to far for our legs. As we mention that we like to camp a bit closer he answers that Samstad stayed at his place and that he did the CDT in 18 days. It is funny that these remarks always come from people who do not even own a bicycle! We said nothing, we have our own tempo.

My sister had her birthday yesterday and I try to call her again, but no answer. The farmland is swapped for national forest. Creeks with little but cold water are passed. When some drops are falling out of the sky we put on all the gear (again), and when it stops raining all the gear goes off (again). We stop at a nice quiet spot next to a river and have a swim in the ice-cold water, nice!


 
    

  Fireweed

  

  
  

  
  

  

4414km - 4472 km
Day 72, 8th aug. 2003
58km (37miles)

"So you don't you have bear bells?"

In nighttime we hear thunder rolling between the cliffs inside the forested valleys. The flashes lighten up the darkness. Today we started with a climb and just when we were with our noses in the raspberries again we met four American guys doing the CDT in bits, this time Montana. They showed us the picture they had taken the day before. It was a footprint of a grizzly - it scared the shit out of us! The footprint is three times the length of this guy's hand! They told us about the lovely stretch we were to encounter the next day, single track, high grass, and lots of bears. 'So be careful', they said, and where surprised that we didn't had any bear bells.

After the downhill to Seeley Lake it was up again. Seeley Lake has a library but that had just closed - getting desperate to confirm our flight-reservations. We cooled of in the supermarket. Again an afternoon climb, it was heavy and we really had to push ourselves to get some miles on the meter. Eventually we found a good camping spot. The nature is wild, nice flowers and steep mountains around the valley, but as you climb out of the valley the steep hillsides are not all that suitable for pitching a tent.

Our little 'after dinner walk' stopped short today. After 100 meter there was a black bear in the way. We showed r-e-s-p-e-c-t, walked backwards very slowly and had dreams al night about bears in the tent. The bear was beautiful, muscular, shiny black and so cute! Ears pointed up and when he had caught of the sight, or rather smelled, us, he jumped up the side of the road with a speed you wouldn't think it was possible of! Three big leaps, and it were gone. Food and toothpaste, creams etc. we usually store away from the tent, but after this encounter we dragged everything that could possibility attract bears far FAR away from our sleeping place.



      

  Just before Seeley Lake


  Camping

4472km - 4532km
Day 73, 9th aug. 2003
60km (45miles)

"Do you know another song?"

We continued on the same road, after one mile we hit a roadblock. From there a magnificient single track unveils itself, winding itself around Richmond's Peak. It looked exactly like the Americans told us yesterday. It was gorgeous! Wild flowers on the side of the track, a slow path with stones and branches, a huge stone wall on the other side of the valley. The silence and the insects made it all such a pretty picture.

The only thing was, we were a bit scared to cycle into a grizzly, and so we started singing. That helped and we didn't see any hairy black big animals. Then down, steep, loose gravel roads, with some sharp stones resulted in a flat of course. At the end of the day we missed another right turn, onto a narrow and barely visible track, but when we could verify that, we already had 3km of steep downhill behind us. - On to the bitumen, we go.

We refilled our bottles at a friendly place, and continued after a peanut-butter-tortilla-sandwich on the road to Elk Creek. As the afternoon glow turns more intense, we continously get to see deer rushing away as we closed in on them.


  To Ferndale
    

   The roads are exciting...

  ...and so beautiful!




4532km - 4599km
Day 74, 10th aug. 2003
67km (42miles)

"It's just a camera! - Well, mmm..."

A little more than 2km down the road, we arrive at the first Y-junction of today. We keep right and walk around a gate - this stretch is for non-motorized travel only. Gently cycling up and down through a quite young forest. Mule deer, chipmunks and blue birds will keep us company the rest of the day.

Before stopping for lunch, we steer onto open road again. Down a long, straight stretch of gravel road it goes - but here the grader must have been busy, it's a lot of loose rolling small stones and we have to do everything to keep on the track. Halfway through a right curve, we stop at a wonderful little spring, where water is coming out of a moss-clad section of the bedrock. As two 4WD's leaves us in a cloud of dust, we refresh ourselves with the clearest of water. Lunch at a small height, then, somehow, we take a left turn too much. Coming from the South, a sign says Westward Peak Road - Dead End. SO we choose the close-to vertical climb away from the Dead-End. After half an hour of cycling uphill we give in to that uncanny feeling of going the wrong direction, returns to the junction and gets onto the Dead-End road - which after all is no dead end at all!

The road has been graded, and the worst of the dips been filled up with gravel and leveled. Still it's a pleasant rollercoaster-ride, with some soft-sandy patches. This stretch is probably less exiting in wet weather... Bang it says, as we pass over a small viaduct Renate's handle-bar bag goes open and there goes the camera, swirling through the air and beyond hope. More of a thud, than a bang as it hits the ground and cracks. Amazing how much stuff a handlebar bag can carry! End of digital photography for this trip with hindsight, make sure you contact your insurance company rapidly, otherwise you might not only loose your gear, but also get backstabbed by the company your paying to help you just in case something goes wrong...)



   

  We love tables



4599km - 4659km
Day 75, 11th aug. 2003
60km (37miles)


"Extreme Fire Danger, that's like when the whole valley is covered in smoke!"

As we quietly leave our little grove in the morning, we realize that it is not only imagination making it smell of smoke. There is a BIG fire somewhere! As we climb out of the Swan Valley, we get a bird perspective on things, and large chunks of smoke are hanging in the treetops throughout the valley. This will keep us company the remainder of the trip. Later we learn about the bushfires in Glacier NP, Idaho and the many small fires around, basically making the valley misty, your eyes more or less irritated and bad news for the tourism industry.

After hitting a big rock and fixing the related flat, but just before Big Fork, we pass the part time firefighter's building - signaling for Extreme Fire Danger! Well, I guess you could have missed the message with all the smoke around here... At the North end of the Flathead Lake, the town of Big Fork is busy. Down at the marinas big boats are laying for anchor - even on the lake visibility is down to 100m. The town is bustling with small cozy cafes and art shops. Balancing towards between tacky and neat, Big Fork still is a nice break for a cappuccino on a terrace or a visit to the sculpture gallery of local artist Eric Thorsen. Renate buys a disposable camera, and is sorry for the low quality pictures that we have to show on the website from now on... (Woeha!!)

After some hesitation we still push on today, and are flagged down by a car. Keith Hammer introduces himself and we're invited to stay at his place at the eastern foothills of the Swan Valley. Happily we say yes, and later we swap stories around the barbeque. With a few acres Keith is having the most fantastic little garden, full of ripe raspberries, delicious squash, peas yet to come and pristine mountains at hands reach. Do we really have to return to busy-bustling Europe and wake up every morning not unfolding our breakfast from the supposedly bear-safe high strung-up waterproof bag


  Fairytale forest




4659km - 4709km
Day 76, 12th Aug. 2003
50km (31miles)


"Goof around..."


Waking up to bacon & eggs, with our host doing his morning Tai-chi to pumping house music we feel so much at home. Here we say good-bye to BOB. Our trailer is left here, until we return from the border with Canada. The last few days we need no five days rations, laptop or triple cameras...

Up to Columbia Falls we follow the outskirts of the forest coming down from Glacier National Park, Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Chinese Wall and further North, Canadian wilderness just waiting to be explored. Columbia Falls is an industrial town of notorious little interest, but right at the junction taking left towards Whitefish there is a small little stone and (semi)gemstone shop. If you by chance like geology, rock, minerals and that kind of thing, this is a good place to sip a coca-cola.

Cycling through the valley the whole day, the smoke takes a bit of the pleasure away. It's like a very misty day, only that the mist is smelly. In the papers we get it verified - Glacier is out of bonds, and just maybe will we be able to cycle up to the border. Fires everywhere, and what was a controlled fire days ago, the last days have had more wind that has fuelled the fires. In Whitefish we stay at the RV next to a couple cycling down from Alaska! That is I guess the natural continuation if there would have been more time left. Up North, North of the border, there is even more grizzly, moose and other wildlife, and indeed, even less people.


  A valley filled with smoke
    

    

 

4709km - 4709km
Day 77, 13th Aug. 2003
44km (28miles)


"Big Bad Bear!"

Homemade chili, tortillas and mexican beer, american cheesecake and the movie Seabiscuit, a lot of civilisation in one go. But during the night a very big and very black dog, or a very small black bear got all our left overs - I hope the chili makes him pay dearly!

At Glacier Cycling shop we get a helping hand for a good alternative route direction Canada, there is still a fire burning to the West of Glacier NP, right on our original route. The alternative is a bit shorter, but brings us into deep and scenic forest.

At Whitefish Lake we take a swim, and inhale the most beautiful mountain lake scenery one can wish for. Tonight we sleep under the stars, and can listen to the company of bouncing mule deer. A little curious thought is set off - if Glacier is in flames, where then are all the bears fleeing? Wouldn't it be logical to run to higher grounds - where the air is still fresh? or run to the other side of the mountain? or maybe stay close to a big lake, with shorelines full of raspberries?

Nah, who have ever heard about a logical thinking bear? They just act on instict and kill when they're hungry... Better watch them stars closely, we can always make a wish if one is falling! The deer bounces away and we slowly glide away into dreamlands at an altitude of 1,380 meters.


  Focus!
     


   


  Whitefish lake



4709km - 4773km
Day 78, 14th Aug. 2003
64km (40miles)

"What has a start, will almost certainly have an end."

Twelve (12) hours, we have slept. With heavy heart we pack in and have breakfast. Today we'll reach Eureka, and tomorrow will take us to Canada, the border and our final goal since we started an odd eleven weeks ago in NM. Six (6) nights in a proper bed, and not once has one of us wanted to leave the bike behind, catch a Greyhound to the beach, the city or just out of here! So what is so Eureka with that?

Now the detour back towards the main highway and the only road open to reach the border in time. Stopping here and there for raspberries, with the mountain dew quickly retreating and evaporating as the sun shines through the treetops. To travel is better than to arrive, yet all travel starts and ends somewhere, somehow and sometime - it may be unavoidable, but yet not completely regrettable.To appreciate a journey fully, you must take your time to reflect on all the sensations for the senses that are experienced - what better way than to do it at home (that is, when you're not at work).

Blue skies, lunch with feet dangling over the edge of a ravine. Then Highway 93, less trafficked than expected and Eureka, the lowest point encountered on our trip. Pit stop at Conoco. The tent, we can pitch in the town park. Here we share the park facilities with two just-out-of college ex-students doing the East-to-West on bitumen, ready to enter the races. Welcome!




  Bushgirl


  Montana gives us only blue sky




4773km - 4789km
Day 79, 15th Aug. 2003
16km (miles)


"Port of Roosville and Return."

Eureka, excpet for having a Conoco with Casino, is a small town doing it's best to keep going. With the Canadian dollar loosing ground against the US dollar, even the Canadians are scarce around here. With one sawmill to the North of the town and another to the South, it's maybe not completely surprising to find three breakfast cafes along the road through the town.

Just like yesterday we're lucky to not have too much smoke around us. At noon we do the last downhill direction borderline.Riding a straight boring road. A closed taxfree to the left an open bar to the right, we stop at the customs.

On the Canadian side a young woman doesn't really understand why we not want to have any stamps in our passports - with that you can stay another three months in the USA. We explain that we just want to round the building and go back to USA, and eventually that's cleared. No use in asking where the hamburgers are. (See New Mexico) Lining up for the US Customs officer, we just spend ten minutes looking for our passports that both are deep, deep down in the panniers, and here we don't even reflect over explaining that we last time had lunch with his collegues down in New Mexico, was three months ago.

In the bar we grab a coke and leave, the regulars are already going on their first beer...That was that, a bit of a disappointment. From Roosville we take the easy way out and manages to get ourselves back into Whitefish by hitch-hiking - without the BOB it's not posing a big problem, every second car is a pick-up. We got a hitch with a crazy vietam veteran, he was driving like a mad man, but really funny.


  A bit sleepy??  
   

  Breakfast in Eureka

  2 bikers congratulate us

  Canada on the other side

  Hitching

  Not so FAST!!

 

4789km - 4839km
Day 80 and beyond
50km (31miles)


Epilogue

While in Whitefish we got in touch with one of the cyclists we met down in New Mexico. That tuff day leaving Badger Creek behind us, we run into a group of four guys heading South. They were then on one of the last legs on the Great Divide Route, which they had been cycling in etappes the last few years. Mr. Olsen was the leader of the pack at that time, and he was kind enough to invite us to his home in WHitefish! - were we happy to meet up with him!!!

Whitefish is a fantastic little town, into mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Not only did we get a full tour of Whitefish, but we were also guided to the Moose Bar - complete with saw dust on the floor, a must see for any visitor of the Swan Valley young at heart. Further site visits included western dancing at the Blue Moon - that kind of place where you dance Eastern style or Western style, Two-steps or not at all! If you're in the last category, you can of course take a seat at the long bardesk and watch either the wild west people or some of the stuffed animals hanging out here (including big horns and bears) - just remember your sunglasses and ten-gallon hat.

Leaving Whitefish with new ideas about cycling in Africa, spurred by Olsen, we doubled back to Keith and his lovely retreat. He was kind enough to get up in the middle of the night and bring us - and all our gear - to the Glacier International Airport. Situated in the middle of the whole valley, all the people here knows how late it is when a friend phones up just before a flight to somewhere - The flight is at 06.30 and you need the two hours before to get everything sorted - and get your shoes back on again. Not to mention bringing a bike in...

We have had three absolutely incredible months of pure cycling joy. Writing this we're back in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, at the moment editing all the footage from our trip. This is it, if you ever want to do a specific mountainbike track/touring experience, this is like the black belt of them all. In a fixed time to a fixed place, on dirt roads carrying all your own food and gear, camping out, and eating out - every day!

More important is also that we did get back in time to celebrate my fathers 70 birthday, and not only that I was there, but also he. He is still hanging in here, and is a fighter far beyond the odd kilometer of cycling to be done in the rockies.

Where the next trip is likely to have to fit into the regular vacation schedules, there are still many kilometers to do. Once you've learnt how to cycle, you never forget. Ride on! Ride on.


  What a luxury, driving a car

  You're the best baby!