Breakfast in Whitefish, sad happy times. I got some monstrous pancakes which I cleverly devised a well in the middle of to hold maple syrup for dunking. Appetites satisfied it was ride time, this is where Flavia splits from us. I held up emotions pretty good as we hugged goodbye knowing we get to meet up again in a few weeks but as soon as we started riding I was bummed out, face like a bulldog all day long. Poor Flavvy having to go tackle all those nasty looking climbs in Washington on her lonesome, she made it this far so she can handle it for sure but I’m going to miss her company so much. People continually ask me what my favourite part of the ride has been in the US so far, I had been saying riding the Mississippi, thats changed to riding with Flavia.
Thankfully I had the best possible evening ahead to pick my spirits up. Rather ironically as I said goodbye to one riding partner today I would reunite with Cooper from the TransAm as he was driving back home to Minneapolis (remember I stayed with his sister Elsie). This also reminded me that I have revisited Wim and Joe too this summer, a good record for meeting up with friends again.
Coop met us at a bar in Poulsen with his buddy Alan, we had a great night sharing beers and pizza. Just generally catching up and laughing hard at our stories from Virginia and Kentucky, great time.
We said goodbye to Coop and Alan as they joked about the long mileage they have sitting in their car today. Me and Eal left town on a great bike path that lasted for a good 20 miles before we joined a narrow road with heavy traffic. The mountain range on our left made for an incredible view, I couldn’t help but think about the mountain bikers riding the divide along that thing, crazy.
I was hit by another flat around 15 miles before Missoula, again it was just a small sharp stone which had penetrated the rubber and kevlar, the tyre needed replacing, it was pretty worn, luckily Missoula has about 6 bike shops! Once in town we first hit the Adventure cycling office to the warmest of welcomes. We were given a full tour of the new office space, had our picture taken for the hall of fame and spoke with co-founder Greg Siple for a while who eventually weighed our bikes fully loaded on his fish hook scale. Both were almost identical at 88lbs. Greg also got us a feature on the local college radio show ‘One for the road’ on our rest day.
That evening my phone decided to melt itself in my hand so after getting our bikes booked in at a shop we walked several miles down to a cell phone repair shop that told me it was irreparable! They had a number of second hand sets though so I managed to get a decent replacement that could take my sim card. The radio show that evening was so much fun, we talked travel, our trip and got to pick some tunes! 🙂 Kevin the DJ joined us afterwards in a bar to talk some more about his travels, he has covered some ground for sure.
Missoula is a great town, Saturday morning meant farmers market too, right outside the Adventure cycling headquarters. It was time to get back on the road though with a steady but gentle climb up to Lolo pass, I knew it was gentle because this is a section I have ridden before on the TranAm and I was excited to ride it again. Initial headwinds gave way once in amongst the mountains. It was beautiful forest riding all the way up to the pass which also acts as the Idaho state line and Pacific timezone crossing. Another hour gained we plummeted down the other side for 10 super fast miles to our campspot for the evening behind the small store at the Lochsa Lodge. We were joined by a fellow Brit called Richard heading east and shared a few brews in the lodge bar after nomming down a campstove dinner.
Breakfast at the Lochsa lodge that next morning was just a great as I remembered from the last time. The view out the window was a little concerning, forest fires have been really bad in the area recently. Highway 12 which we are on all day was almost closed yesterday as the active fire came within 1/4 mile of the road.
I set out first knowing we had a gently downhill 90 mile day ahead but with very limited services. 45 miles I stopped for the first time to take a break as the smoke start to sting my eyes and I could feel it on my chest. A women told me leaving the lodge it would be bad for 15 miles then ok which is the reason I continued riding so long without stopping but It still hadn’t eased up. It wasn’t until around 25 miles before Kooskia that the air felt clear again. All my clothes smelt as though they had been hanging over a coal fire all day (better than usual?). Me an Eal eventually synced up just before Kooskia and got the tents pitched under the small park shelter. I had remembered from my last camp in the park sprinklers were hidden everywhere so grass was out of the question tonight.