7/16/2015 Roundup to Forsyth

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My pedals spin, the chocolate earth moves beneath me.

Above me my cap skims the clouds.

It’s a wild, free and empty place

that pricks my skin, makes wolves howl,

and draws ancestors from their graves to join me.

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Tabletop

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The optimistic town of Vananda.

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I look at the cows looking at me and try to think about what they are thinking about….. 110 miles.

7/15/2015 Harlowton to Roundup MN

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Today is an easy ride with rainy wind at my back. But moving all the time is becoming tiresome. I long to stop, to linger, to soak up the beauty and peace of one place. So I stop often to breath it all in. A deep peace is washing into me.

For some reason I felt compelled to photgraph this church in a town with 4 streets, Shawmut. It seemed angry at being abandoned.

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Front lawn tractor collection in Shawmut.

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Here was the largest herd of goats I have seen since Africa. They were well guarded by two large white dogs.

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The coutryside is becoming more rugged.

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Highway 12 follows the Mussellshell river for many miles.

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Picture a 50 foot wide river three feet deep with fast flowing water. Put an island in the middle that splits the waterflow in two. Lay one hot cyclist in the water with his feet on the island as the water rushes all around him. It’s like bodysurfing a river! You can do it on your side, on your back, on your belly, as long as the water catches you straight on and doesn’t take you sideways!

7/14/2015 Helena National Forest to Harlowton

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Oh Montana, you have surprised me by capturing my heart. The wind blows perfume across wide open vistas. The puffy clouds fill the flat endless sky. The gently rolling hills nestle productive farms and ranches.

Sitting in a cafe chatting with a rancher I learn why the wheat only grows 18″ high.

“Yes, it’s true, he says, “that wheat used to be about three feet high. But this short wheat requires less water because there is less plant. Also, it can be turned under easily- the tall wheat made too much organic material to compost easily. Finally, it threshes better, doesn’t lay down like the tall stuff did.”

Highway 12 is my ride through Montana.

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Ranchers handicraft.

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A small piece of the endless sky.

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The area has a long history. Highway 12 is also called the Lewis and Clark trail.

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The steady east wind is farmed as well.

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7/13/2015 Helena to Helena National Forest picnic area

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It’s 8:00AM. I’ve eaten and packed my bike. I tap on Jerry and Lori’s door gingerly.

Knock Knock.

Jerry answers, hiding behind the door.

“We’re still in bed.”

“I’m going on” I say.

“Keep in touch” he reples.

It’s not that you go faster or further on an ebike, it’s that you are less wiped at the end of the day.

There would be no point in building an etouring bike just to go faster and further. In cycle touring the destination is the journey, each beautiful or difficult moment of it.

In fact, I realize, the danger in etouring is that you might listen to the false siren of reaching a destination quickly, and miss the journey. Today this simple adventurer rides slowly and savors each precious moment as it unrolls before him.

The prairie with wheat fields.

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The grade into the Helena Belt Mountains.

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I find a lovely camping spot and decide to stop early and relax. Sherpa dries my clothes. The creek chuckles me to sleep.
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7/12/2015 Ovinda to Helena MT.

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Jerry and Lori live half the year in Virgina Beach, half the year in the Caymen Islands, and half the year cycling. Their lives are very full and I was fortunate to be able to spend the day cycling with them. Jerry is remarkable. He is 71, had arrythmia today, and climbed a 6100 foot pass while covering 86 miles. Lori, no slouch herself, describes him as a triple type A and I can see why.

Jerry and Lori

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I was afraid that I was losing touch with what tourist cycling speeds were. I wanted to see what it would be like for an ebike and loaded tourers to ride together. It actually went really well. I rode in the rear most of the time to let Jerry and Lori set the pace. Today reminded me that in cycle touring there is no rush as the journey is the destination.

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Looking down over the Flesher Pass. This marks the continental divide, and sure enough, the waters now flow to the east.

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I am happy to stay in a hotel tonight and take a hot shower and do some stomp laundry.

7/11/2015 Alberton to Ovinda Montanna

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Once when cycle touring I camped out in a schoolyard with my two buddies, Jim and John. Late at night I was awoken by John screaming like a girl. He had placed his sleeping bag on top of a pop up rainbird and the irrigation system had kicked on. He felt the pulsing under him and his bag getting soaked and thought he was being eaten by a bear! We ran around yelling with our pots and dishes trying to cover the rainbirds.

The rainbirds ticking on awake me from my sleep. I pause a moment waiting. Surely the back deck is safe. Water lands all over the tent and me. Cursing I drag the tent and it’s contents to an unsprayed part of the deck. Later I smile remembering an old adventure.

And it is raining, enough to wear the raingear. I get cold cycling to Missoula where Adventure Cycling is headquartered. Cold is nice and different. The office is lined with bikes. The people are friendly, I get my picture taken but there is no real interest in my bike. I ride off into the rain.

Highway 200 through beautiful Montana.

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Colorful rock layers revealed by road cutting.

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The Black Foot River.

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Old Homestead.

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I have heard that there are places for cyclists to stay in Ovinda, so I head there. It is a very, very small village and I am doubtful. But wait, it has a museum- and it is open. I am told I can sleep in either the jail, the teepee, or the chuckwagon. I go for the chuckwagon. Very useful museum!

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The rain on the tin roof lulls me to sleep.

7/10/2015 PInehurst ID to Alberton Montanna

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Mullen was the last town in Idaho. I am charmed by the small town feeling.

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Mining heritage lives on.

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When I ride into Saltese Montana I meet the mayor and his wife in the convenience store. They tell me that Highway 90 is very dangerous now as there are only two lanes due to construction. They recommend I ride a mountain trail to get around the problem. En route I cross over the freeway and see that indeed there are just two lanes, but the shoulder is open. The mountain road becomes a path and that becomes a rocky trail. Sherpa is not happy. So I backtrack a couple of miles and get on the freeway. Immediately I see this sign:

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When I call a man picks me up in his van and drives me through the construction zone to a rest stop. Well, that was easy!

Later in the day it starts to rain. I spot ‘Hippopotamus Rock”

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The rain creates some dramatic lighting:

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I camp under the eaves on the back deck of the Library, Elks Club, City Hall, and Rotary building in the small town of Alberton. The owner of a local bookstore and I start talking and later she and her husband and a friend come over to visit. She gets a map and we all plan my route. Very nice!

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On to Missoula tomorrow!

7/09/2015 Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes near Pinehurst

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The “Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes is a masterpiece of the rails to trails art form. It runs 71.5 miles alomg the Coeur d’ Alene river and along the 90 freeway. It is useful not only for it’s scenic beauty but provides a safe travel corridor for ebike touring. I can’t wait to show you some pictures!

The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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The Trail of the Couer d’ Alenes.

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You’re looking at a happy camper.

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7/05 to 7/08 Ritzville WA to Spokane WA to Pinehurst ID

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Riding into Spokane.

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You never know who you are going to meet at the Spokane WalMart while you are charging an electric bike. In my case, it was Greg, who, thank my lucky stars, lived a few blocks away and was an ebike and bicycle mechanic. I convinced him that if he would let me camp in his back yard I would show him a battery like he had never seen.

Greg is like my mirror image so the bait worked. I camped in his yard for three nights while we pulled the battery apart and checked everything. We concluded the battery was working very well, but some of the supporting electronics were sending erroneous information. I replaced the back tire, Greg adjusted the rear spokes, and I put on new brakes while Lucy guarded everything. What a great team, thank you!

Greg and Lucy

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It was time to roll on. I left Spokane via the Centennial Trail which runs for about 35 miles along the Spokane river. What a great ride! This is the official start of the third leg of my journey, Washington state to Maine. The odometer has just clicked over to 5000 miles.

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Into Idaho!

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The first major city is Coeur D’ Alene. I was so impressed. What a gorgeous waterfront, and it was filled with families. I could hardly bring myself to leave, except I currently look like the kinda guy that when you me see in a parking lot you lock the car doors- so I didn’t quite fit in.

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Coeur D’ Alene

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Coeur D’ Alene

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I rode out interstate 90 to the Trail of the Coeur D’ Alenes, and camped for the night next to the river. The trail runs for 65 miles and has been highly praised. It follows the Coeur D’ Alene river. Beauty awaits again tomorow.

I did recceive another email from the ebike to Mars gal. Her communications are cryptic, but the reception on the way to Mars may not be so good! ; )

“Botta has  been re sparked, planning  next leg of my ebike journey. Ibemi has directions to the rift at Dwanalan,  beyond there is uncharted, any suggestions? ”

Is she pulling my leg or what? What is going on?

7/02/2015 Maryhill State Park

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I received several emails complaining to me that they had read Sherpa’s post and that he was right: I needed to fix his saggy bottom and keep his paint clean- that my issues with my lack of looks shouldn’t affect a handsome bike like Sherpa.

I read his post and was surprised! He is very stoic you know.

Then I received several more emails regarding my brush-with-the-law post suggesting that I am very lucky that Sherpa stuck with me after I showed such lack of moral principal.

I depend upon Sherpa and the support of my dear readers so I decided to turn over new leafs.

Leaf A: I vow not to steal electricity unless it is freely given or paid for.

Leaf B. I will keep Sherpa’s bottom from sagging and his paint wiped.

So this morning, instead of riding, I adjust and repack the saddlebags and give Sherpa a good wiping. I also give Sherpa’s batteries a balance charge. This is a full charge that balances the cells and takes half a dozen hours. Sherpa has not had a full balance charge for thousands of miles.

The electricity came from an outlet in the Maryhill State Park which I payed $12 to camp in.

Hopefully my dissapointed readers will see that I am trying and will bear with me as I attempt to become a student of moral principal.

Looking west from Maryhill Park up the Colombia river gorge towards Biggs.

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