Brianís Cross-USA Bicycle Tour
Day 14 - Sunday, July 1, 2001
One thing I had forgotten to mention yesterday was that I had broken a spoke on the rear wheel. This is the first time I've ever broken a spoke in my life (excluding the tandem bike). Luckily the break was on a non-drive side spoke (quite unusual, actually), so it was a fairly straightforward do-it-yourself replacement on the road. (For those of you who care, it broke at the point where it starts to make the bend toward the flange.) I also tightened up a few non-drive side spokes that had loosened themselves up, and I was on my way.
I got an early start yet again, on the road at 7:15 after having breakfast. The temperature was already in the 60s. After about six miles, I passed Paradise (where I had considered staying last night), but the cafe wasn't open in the morning - so I'm glad I stayed in Plains instead.
After Paradise it was on to the Indian Reservation, which was sparsely populated. There is a dot on my AAA map called Perma, but when I passed through, it was just some guy's house with a sign that says "Perma" on it.
Then it was road construction again, the road was all dirt for 12 miles. Very early on a Sunday morning, there was little to no traffic, so I could find the smoothest spot on the road to ride - a piece of cake compared to US 2 approaching Sandpoint!
Highway 200 meets US 93 in Ravalli, where I stopped for a second breakfast. I was talking to some of the locals, and they were surprised that I had gone the 40 miles from Plains (through the construction) and was in town well before 11 AM!
I stopped to get a Gatorade in Arlee, and met up with Jerry again - he had stayed a second night in the Trout Creek campground and was driving south. There weren't as many good ghost towns to photograph as he had hoped.
US 93 is pretty busy, since it is a main north-south route through western Montana. There was a slight hill to climb, then it a nice downhill to I-90 - I was able to get up to a top speed of 46 mph without any handling problems!
Once US 93 joined I-90, I took the interstate for 5 miles (because I could) to best take advantage of the western tailwinds into Missoula. Missoula was a bigger town than I expected, and certainly the biggest I've passed through so far. Reserve Street looks like California instead of Montana, with a Costco, Best Buy, Outback Steakhouse, etc.
I'm here at the KOA Kampground in Missoula. This is kamping with the comforts of home - hot showers, spa, hot tub, etc. But something tells me I'm not going to sleep until it's pitch black outside (after 10:30 PM), since there's a lot of kids here.
There are a few other cyclists here. Dave started in Seattle six days ago, riding about 90 miles a day. We shared some route advice. He was looking to drop into Yellowstone from the north, so I told him part of the route that Lynne took for her cross USA ride. I was looking for some Wyoming info, and he had the Wyoming bike map that helped.
There are also two others from Scotland - I didn't get their names yet - they're heading in my general direction the day after tomorrow. [As I would find out later, these would be Geoff from Scotland and Phyllis from Texas.]
My original plan had me arriving in the Missoula area on June 27, while today is June 31 - four days late. [I have since figured out that there are only 30 days in June, making this day July 1! :-)] I have two places I can recover some time. From Yellowstone, I can avoid the detour to Jackson and Dubois and instead go due east to the Black Hills. That should save about 2-3 days from the original plan. If I'm still behind after that, I can go from the Black Hills to Sioux City via Nebraska instead of the long detour through Pierre, saving another 2-3 days. I'm glad I built the longer alternatives into the plan, otherwise I would always feel that I'd have to take the shortest route between point A and point B.
As for the short term plan for the next couple of days - I don't know yet. I want to find a good town to stop in for a July 4th parade. I'm going to visit the Adventure Cycling offices downtown tomorrow morning and see if they have any suggestions.