Day 17: Weds 7/30, Lost and Redirected by Trail Angels, 61.5 miles

Ok the Spanish guy’s name is Jaume, not whatever I said before. Lol. We rode together for a bit earlier in the day.

This morning was so beautiful. It was a descent down some rolling hills and pasture lands with beautiful mountains behind.

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Man my butt is really sore. Lol. The Leuko tape is helping for sure, but at some point I need to take a break. I’m aiming for a hot springs which I should arrive at by tomorrow 🙂

So at some point in the afternoon, I got lost. Again. Lol! I was just spacing out and not paying attention and I missed a very important turn. OOPS. However, once again the Universe was on my side, and sent me some Angels in the form of a dirtbike riding couple. I had gone up and down the wrong mountain, and the couple rode up to me and said, “hey I think you’re going the wrong way!” They are locals to the area and they said they always see cyclists rolling through and going a different direction. They escorted me back to the junction (where I missed my turn), and pointed me in the right direction. Thanks guys!!! My heroes. 🙂 apparently, the way I was going I would have eventually dead-ended, 15 miles downhill in the wrong direction. That would have sucked SO BAD!! Thank you Universe for looking out for me! ❤

Shortly after that I went down Fleecer Ridge which is a really hyped up part of the ride. It was steep, but not bad. The dirtbike couple that helped me, insisted that I walk down it. So I heeded their advice and I did. Even then I was skidding down. Another blessing from the universe: as I was descending Fleecer Ridge, there was a thunderstorm with rain directly in front of me, and directly behind me. But the whole time I descended, it was overcast directly above me, but i stayed dry. Yay!! I later met a rider who was in front of me; he got rained on. Lucky me. ❤

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I stopped in the tiny town of Wise River for a beer. 🙂 it was a wheat beer from Missoula. Absolutely delicious! I was the only one in the bar. The bartender lady was so awesome. 🙂 It was a really cute building. Bar/cafe/motel, all in one. This is quite common in the small towns I roll through:

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I’ve learned a new lesson today. Once I hit 6,000′ elevation, I cannot have more than one beer if I plan on riding more. Oooooh man, leaving Wise River was tough! Lol! Plus it was all a continuous climb, and the first part of it was hot and exposed. Lesson learned. Check! Lol.

I rolled through more pasture lands. Some of the ranch houses are huge! Here’s a pic of one.

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I ended up stopping early today. Before 8pm. I made some food and the original plan was to keep riding a bit more. But my bum was hurting and it was getting cold. So I just threw my tent up. Lucky I did, because shortly after, it started raining. Whew!! Glad I stopped and got my tent up, otherwise I woulda been riding in the rain. And it was cold. Not a good combination!

The awesome part is, I’m only 12 miles from the hot springs!! Yippee! Im gonna wake up early tomorrow so I can arrive at the lodge there for their $7 breakfast buffet, and then go soak. Yippee!! 😀

Day 16: Tues 7/29, Nero out of Butte, 16 miles

Well I’ve decided I’m not going to zero in Butte. It’s just too expensive and I honestly don’t like the town. It has a really weird vibe. Lol. Every town I’ve been to has been absolutely awesome and vibrant, with friendly people and just fantastic energy. Butte seemed…dead. Lol. People are definitely friendly, but it seems like no one is happy living here. I don’t blame them. O.o

After I checked out, I spent all day lollygagging and doing errands and such. It’s funny, because my body just really wants to rest but at the same time, I don’t want to be here and I just want to leave, so it’s like I’m in this mental state of limbo. Lol! I decided to compromise, and just do a super easy day out, and then post up somewhere for the night. That way, I’m not in Butte anymore, and my body can rest as well.

Shortly after riding out of Butte, I was in the forest again. What a beautiful and welcome sight! I am so glad to be back amongst the trees. 🙂

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One of the first areas I rode through was a gigantic 3,500 acre recreation park jointly managed by the city/county and the US Forest Service. It has picnic areas, pit toilets, fire pits, and 35 miles of trails for mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian. Dude! That’s so awesome!! Come on Honolulu, get it together already!

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At the top of the pass (continental divide crossing #6) there was a beautiful trailhead area with a pit toilet and firepits, and I found some cyclists! Yay! I’m stoked when I see other cyclists in the woods 🙂 The guy was another Divide rider, Jamul (not sure if I got that right) from Barcelona area in Spain, and the gal is from a local MTB club. She and her friends were deflagging the trail because this past weekend they had a 100 mile MTB race.

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This area is so cool! I decided to camp up here. The Spanish guy was camping here too.

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The view from here was just so beautiful, and the sunset was absolutely divine. This is one of the reasons I love doing trips like these. I get to fall asleep in a new beautiful place every day 🙂

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Jamul made a campfire and I talked with him for quite a while. He is quite a fascinating individual. He is a high school history and religion teacher, and has cycle toured extensively through Europe and Western Asia. I told him that I would someday like to cycle tour the Camino de Santiago as well as Belgium, and he told me about his experiences doing so. This guy has also cycled (as well as ran a marathon) up the 3rd highest mountain pass in the world, somewhere in northern India/Nepal. He also lived in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery for several weeks, doing volunteer work. Super cool!! What a fascinating individual! We talked about a lot of things, including traveling, and the socio-economic impact tourism has in 3rd world countries. It was a very wonderful conversation. Yay for new friends!

The stars are amazing out here. Goodnight. 🙂

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Day 15: Mon 7/29, 2 mile push, Basin, Butte, 60 miles

Oh maaaaan I’m totally getting my butt kicked! Lol! This morning started out with a pretty steep climb, but it was ok/doable. It was quite pretty. Slightly overcast which made for good uphill weather. 🙂

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Then there was a 2 mile section towards the top of the pass that was gnarly! It was rutted out and super rough and loose, and steep! Not a good combination. Haha. I ended up pushing most of that 2 mile section which took forever! It was around noon when I got to the top of the pass, and I hadn’t even gone 15 miles yet!!But that’s ok. I am grateful it wasn’t raining cuz that woulda totally sucked! Here’s a pic of one of the nicer parts of that section.

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The last couple days felt like one gigantic continuous climb. Lol! It’s ok, i like to think it’s just toughening me out 🙂 it was a steep decent into Basin. Yay! Downhill! My brakes are squealing like crazy. I gotta call Glenn when I get into town to figure out how to remediate that. I’m pretty gross, I haven’t had a shower since Whitefish. And the streams are so cold I’m not particularly enticed to jump in. So what I do before rolling into town, so that I’m not super nasty, is I wash just my shirt in a stream, and then I take a baby-wipe and clean off my face. Get all the dirt/sweat/sunscreen/dead Mosquitos off my face. Lol

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Basin is a WEIRD town. I swear it was almost like a ghost town. It’s an old mining town from the early 1900s; at about a block long, with a post office, bar/cafe, and pizza place, and that’s about it. The really trippy part is, there was NOBODY around. It was kind of eerie. I went into the PO to pickup my box (map of next section and real rain pants) that Glenn sent me, then I went into the bar to charge my phone. Yah for cheap Montana beer! I had 2 microbrews and my tab came out to a grand total of $5.75. That is so awesome 🙂

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Oh man I was SO TIRED. My legs felt like I needed to take a meat tenderizer to em. It was only about 25 or so miles to Butte from Basin, but I was seriously wondering if I would make it. My legs just weren’t working to well and my butt hurt. Lol. But much to my delight, it was very easy riding! A gentle climb towards my next divide crossing. Yay!! I was riding next to the I-15 freeway the whole time, on an old railroad grade, so it was gentle. Plus, i got to ride through a tunnel that was built in 1911. Cool! DOUBLE YAY!! 🙂

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After a while the road turned to pavement, and as much as I generally *dont* like riding pavement, I was quite grateful because it made the riding waaaaay easier. I had about 10 miles of pavement before I had to ride on the shoulder of the I-15 freeway. But it was easy riding. Maybe I’ll make it into Butte after all! Yay! Things were looking up. Plus, I rode by a sign that had a CDT trailblaze on it, and I thought about Kyle and all my friends hiking the CDT right now. That made me happy 🙂

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Here’s my 4th continental divide crossing in the last 48 hours. That makes 5 all together (my first one was my 2nd day out, in Canada).

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Cresting the Divide, it was a gigantic downhill into Butte. There’s a gigantic white statue called “Our Lady of the Rockies” at the summit of the divide. It is a tribute to women of all race, creed, and beliefs, who helped shape the community to what I is today. Not sure if it’s visible in the pic. Reminds me of a smaller version of that huge Jesus statue in Brazil.

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Here’s a panorama of the valley Butte is in. It’s a big city, 32,000 people. Kinda overwhelming actually. Crazy tho, cuz in the early 1900 when mining was booming, the population here was about 91,000!

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I rolled into town about 7pm. Wow I made good time! Both bike shops were closed. Bummer. I was hoping to find another cyclist to split a room with. But this town is so big I don’t even know if there are other cyclists here, and if so I would have no idea where to find them. Lol. I stayed at Eddy’s Motel which was the cheapest place in town, $65. A lot more than what I wanted to pay, but I just needed somewhere to shower and situate myself and all my stuff. Plus it’s the first motel stay I’ve had this far, so I don’t feel *too* bad about splurging. The cool thing is, the motel is single-story, so I didn’t have to carry my bike up any stairs. Yay!

This town is honestly kinda weird. I dunno how to explain it. I’m considering taking a full rest day tomorrow because my body kinda needs it, but honestly I don’t really want to stay in this particular town. Lol. Oh well. I get to Skype with Glenn today yay!! 🙂

Day 14: Sun 7/27, 3 Divide Crossings!! 52 miles

Holy hell today was a tough one! I crossed over the Continental Divide 3 times!! That means, 3 climbs. Carol from Lincoln MT, thanks for those energy shots! I took one before divide crossing #3 and it totally helped get me through! 🙂

It was 90 degrees today, and most of the terrain was exposed and not shaded. Oh man, I got my butt kicked today for sure! Lol. I guess I don’t feel too bad for only doing 52 miles. I’ve been aiming for around 60 miles lately. But today that just wasn’t gonna happen. Lol! Damn it was a heck of a lot of climbing! What a beautiful day it was though. Not a cloud in the sky. 🙂

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Here’s a pic of me cresting the first of today’s Continental Divide crossings. It’s such an amazing feeling to be at the top, and knowing you have a downhill section coming up. Although the downhills never last long enough. Lol!

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This part of Montana I’m in has a huge mining history. I passed by a couple of mines today. Here’s a pic of one:

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Oh! I ran into some other Divide riders today!! A guy named Beau who says he’s seen me a couple times on trail, although I don’t remember him. I guess he camping at the same place I was in Elkford (Canada), and he arrived at the Whitefish Bike Retreat just as I was leaving for Glacier National Park. I haven’t seen a Divide rider in a while. As I rode by a small lake, I saw 2 more! A couple from Seattle area. They were really cool people. Both towing B.O.B trailers. I asked them how they liked the trailer, and the gal said she wished she had gone without. They were headed into Helena because the gal needed a new derailleur hanger, as hers was bent. Bummed I probably won’t see them, since I’m not going into Helena. I’m taking an official alternate route called the “Rimini Alternate” that bypasses Helena and is slightly shorter. I don’t want or need to go to a big town, and I definitely don’t want to do any highway riding. Hence, this alternate is ideal for me. 🙂

That’s the 2nd time I’ve met a person with a bob trailer, who had a derailleur hanger bent. I wonder if it’s a common problem? Oh! She’s riding a Salsa Fargo bike! That still keeps my ratio of about 50% of Divide riders I meet, who use that particular model of bike. Lol!

Today’s riding consisted of ranches and pasture-type grasslands. Lots of cattle and horses. Hence the lack of shade.

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Oh! I met a Trail Angel today and got some Trail Magic! It was so cool! I was coming down the first divide crossing today, and passed by a bunch of cabins and ranches. There was a lady sitting on her porch and waved me in and asked if I wanted some water. Sure! 🙂 as I was filling my bottle and bladder, a man walked out of the house and offered me a huge slab of watermelon. Wow!! That was soooooooo amazingly awesome!! 😀 we chatted for a while. He is a former Navy Seal, and was stationed in San Diego for 12 years, as well as other areas. Cool guy, he had a lot of interesting stories. 🙂

You know, when it’s hot, it gets to a point where water just doesn’t work anymore. I experienced this on my PCT hike too. You can drink as much water as you can handle, but it just doesn’t quite quench your thirst. This is were Gatorade becomes a lifesaver. Too bad I didn’t have any. I gotta remember to get some Gatorade powder at the next big town stop.

You know who also makes a fantastic electrolyte powder drink mix is Hammer. It isn’t the best tasting, but boy does it work well! In fact, Hammer makes amazing everything. Of all the sports nutrition companies out there, Hammer is my favorite. Their food bars are amazing.

A lot of people ask me where I sleep or camp. Usually, I am literally on the side of the road. Lol! I pretty much pedal til about 8:30pm, that’s the cutoff time I’ve set for myself. Any later and it gets cold/dark before I get completely situated and I don’t like that. Lol. So at around 8:30, I’ll look for the first flat spot I find and throw my tent up. Here’s my spot tonight. There’s a creek to the right of my tent. Yay water! I hope I don’t wake up with too much condensation. But it’s ok because even if I do, I air my tent out midday and it’s nice and dry again 🙂

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I have a big climb to complete in the morning, then I roll into Basin, MT to pickup a package Glenn sent me, then I have another big climb, then I drop into Butte, MT.

Why does it always seem like I’m riding uphill? Lol. Anyhow, it’s nap time!

Day 13: Sat 7/26, Ovando! Busy Roads, Lincoln, 61.5 miles

Oh boy it was a cold one this morning! It was in the 40s. Yeah… Good thing I picked up some whiskey at Seeley Lake! It is precisely for these purposes: when it’s so cold out that I don’t wanna move. I finally got going at around 8:30. The backcountry roads sure are busy this morning! That’s how I know it’s the weekend. Everyone is out camping, huckleberry picking, and riding ATVs.

I rolled into a tiny community called Ovando. It has a population of about 71. Yup. But what it lacks in residents, it makes up for in character and charm. Ovando consists of a small lodge/convenience store/gas pump, post office, museum thingy, cafe, and mini outfitter (with wifi). They are *super* cyclist friendly.

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I originally planned on just stopping in the cafe The Stray Bullet for some coffee, but I ended up staying for breakfast because I was so taken by the place. Plus, they had biscuits and gravy! Oh my gosh I looooove biscuits and gravy. I can’t really justify eating it on a normal basis because the calorie count is so ridiculous, but when I’m doing something like riding everyday, I can totally swing it. This is just a “half order”! Good thing I didn’t order a whole, I think I would have exploded!

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Oh gosh it was so good, and the people there really went out of their way to help me out. Thanks guys! What an awesome place. Plus, all their coffee mugs have their name glazed into it. It is custom made by one of the locals. So cool! I highly recommend stopping there if you happen to be in the area. It’s kind of in the middle-of-nowhere Montana off hwy 200, but it’s such a neat place! Of all the town stops I’ve been to so far, Ovando is by far my favorite.

I’m trying to limit my time in towns, because it can be quite expensive, since I’m in towns so often. It’s quite easy to end up spending a lot of money by eating out, etc. Thus far, I’ve only been in towns long enough to charge my electronics, then I’d leave. So, since I had town food here in Ovando, I will not have any in Lincoln (which I’ll hit later today). 🙂

Leaving Ovando I took a wrong turn. Doh!! Not sure how many miles I went looking for the correct road, but I’d say it took a good 45 mins to an hour. The universe does that every now and then, throws me a curve ball to keep me on my toes 🙂 Lesson learned: follow the cue sheet!! There are mileage markers on the map that tell you exactly where to go. Utilizing that along with my odometer and doing some simple math, that’s how I figure out how far I go before a turn comes, etc.

Leaving Ovando I rode through ranch land before heading up into the forest again. One farm had a bunch of horses! One of the baby horsies nodded at me as I rode by. Hi horsie! Lol!

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Everyone seems to drive a huge truck out here. I suppose there is actual practical purpose in these parts, for owning a gigantic SUV/truck. Even the mail truck is a huge SUV with a magnetic sign on the side of it that says “US Mail”. I wonder though, how do people afford gas for those vehicles? That must be so expensive.

The forest service is really serious about campfires here. There are signs everywhere alerting people to put their campfires completely out. That’s awesome. Maybe if California did this, it wouldn’t be on fire all the time…

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It was really pretty riding today. I went over one mountain pass, through some beautiful forest. There were lots of cars out and about, and people picking huckleberry. Happy weekend! 🙂

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I got into Lincoln at around 5pm. I met a really cool lady there Carol, who gave me these little energy shots that she sells. They’re like those 5 hr energy things, but all natural. Thank you Carol! I spent some time on the porch of an art gallery/coffee shop (the shop had already closed) elevating my feet and charging my phone at the outlet. It was a very nice porch 🙂 See? No town expenditures! Gotta keep myself on a budget here! 🙂

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During my time perched on the porch, a wedding party vehicle convoy drove by. Bride and groom were sitting in the back of a Classic Chevy pickup truck, with a string of cans trailing behind, and they were followed by a train of lifted jeeps, buggys, and other modified offroad vehicles with loud engines. Oh Montana…. P. That was pretty awesome. Congrats to the couple!

I rode about 12 miles out of Lincoln before stopping for the night by a little creek. Yay! I love the sound of water. 🙂 Wow there sure are some really nice looking cabins in the woods here! In all of Montana really. Dang some of these cabins are just so beautiful. A lot of them are for sale too.

Anyhow, nap time!!

Day 12: Fri 7/25, Glorious Trails! And Seely Lake 56 miles

Whoo hoo I fixed my brakes this morning!! When I called Glenn yesterday he said I could just take a flathead screwdriver and pry the brake pad open. Problem is, the flathead tool on my multi-tool is too short. But, I had my plastic brake shim! It’s the little piece that wedges between the brake pads; from when my bike was boxed up for the plane ride over. I kept that piece because I had a feeling it would come in handy. And it did! Whoo hoo! I used that shim and at rock and hammered it in between the pads and so my rotor could fit again. And it worked!! Yay I’m so stoked i have working rear brakes again!!! 😀

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Today’s riding was absolutely glorious. It was so beautiful. On one side of me, in the distance, were glacial capped mountains, and on the other side were lower yet equally beautiful mountains.

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I got a late start riding today, plus I was climbing most of the day. Which was probably why my mileage is kind of low. Well, that and I stopped in town longer than I should have. Lol! But still, every now and then I gotta stop and enjoy the scenery. The smell from all the trees and flowers are soooo amazing!

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Towards the top of my climb the trail narrowed. It was the most fun part of riding thus far! I had a mountain on my right and an absolutely amazing view of the valley on my left.

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That part of riding was so fun, and coming down from the peak was super fun too! It’s times like that I feel like I’m actually mountain biking! Lol! As opposed to, riding a gravel road. I came across a field full of my favorite flower/plant. It’s called Beargrass (I don’t know why), and when I first saw it, I thought it looked like a microphone. 🙂 it’s actually a cluster of tiny flowers, it’s really pretty.

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I rode about 4 miles off route to go to a small town called Seely Lake. I needed to replenish my tortilla supply. And call Glenn. 🙂 I finally tried some Huckleberry ice cream. Huckleberry is a big deal in these parts. It only grows above a certain elevation, and it only grows wild. And there’s tons of it out here, I see vehicles parked on the sides of the forest roads I ride; everyone is out picking huckleberry. 🙂

When I got back on route, around 8pm I saw some people picking huckleberry, and I went to pick some with them. They look just like blueberries, a little smaller, and more red. Yummy. 🙂

I rode til 9:30 today, trying to get some miles in. Tomorrow I will stop in Lincoln, MT to resupply and then I have a pretty long stretch of riding before I hit another town. Including several Continental divide crossings. That means, lots of climbing and higher elevation. Yikes! 🙂

Day 11: Thurs 7/24, Rain, Crash, Detour! 72 miles

It rained all morning. I was so grateful that it was just a light rain and not a torrential downpour. My temporary rain pants couldn’t handle that. I get my actual rain pants in Basin, MT but until then I’m using my $1 thrift store pants I found in Sparwood, which kind of work, but only for a little bit.

After noon when the rain stopped, it was so glorious and sunny! For a bit. Then it was overcast the rest of the day. It was actually pretty chilly all day today. Hence I didn’t take many pictures, because I didn’t want to stop moving. But here a pic from the cockpit, after the rain stopped and the clouds parted :

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Weather here is similar to Hawaii. It can rain/thunderstorm at any given time, and then it’ll be gone as quickly as it arrived. Or, it could rain for hours (like this morning). But unlike Hawaii, the rain is not warm. 🙂

For about 10 miles today, I wasn’t certain if I was even going the right way (I’m not carrying a GPS). The directions on the map were ambiguous in relation to what I was actually seeing. Plus, I didn’t see any bicycle tire tracks, which makes me nervous. I kept checking compass direction to my map and I was at least going in the correct general direction, so I felt ok because even if I was not on trail, eventually id hit a road and I could get back on trail.

In the midst of all that I crashed. It was so dumb too, because all I did was swerve to avoid a tree branch and I slid out. To make it worse, my back wheel fell off because I forgot to check my bike this morning, and the brake pads were clamped shut. Aaaarg!! That is such a stupid mistake on my part! Yeah, don’t forget to do a once-over on. Your bike every morning, it’s very important, and will save you from lame situations like this.

I took the brake caliper off and zip tied it to my rack. I’m not going to need brakes anytime soon (doing a 20 mile climb) and I was super tired so I’m just going to deal with this later.

I took a 10 mile detour off route so I could get some food at this little restaurant/bar. I was in a poopy mood so I figured I’d go get some town food. 🙂 I had a Huckleberry wheat ale from a local brewery around here. Gosh it was good!! Beer is pretty cheap here in Montana. At the bar it was $3.50 for a craft beer, and $3.50 for a shot of Makers Mark. Damn. That’s even better than happy hour prices in Hawaii!

I kept riding a little bit more, because I didn’t want to pay for a camp spot. They had a US Forest service campground by a lake, but I think it’s silly to pay $15 for a campsite when you can just camp anywhere for free. Lol.

Whew, 72 miles! My biggest day yet. Tomorrow I have a crappy uphill, then headed toward Seely Lake. I think I’ll go try and deal with my brakes when I get there.

Time to stretch and go nap time! Oh man my legs are gnarly sore. Wish I could soak in an Epsom salt bath. Or jump in the ocean. No ocean for miles and miles and miles around tho. 🙂