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MARY IN THE FOREGROUND, GLACIER PARK IN THE DISTANCE

Rachel dropped us off at Roosville on the Canadian Border on Sunday morning, in the gravel parking lot of the Duty Free liquor store. We loaded all our gear on our bikes and the little trailer, said goodbye to Rachel, and pedaled down Airport Road, south, toward Eureka, Montana, all of ten miles distant.

It was a glorious morning and I felt ecstatic to finally be on the Great Divide Trail after nearly a year of anticipation. I had never actually ridden my bike with a fully loaded (50 lbs) B.O.B. trailer. I was relieved to find the bike was quite stable with its heavy appendage – although, as expected, pedaling uphill felt like I was towing a 50-lb. trailer.

We had left home literally under a cloud of smoke and doubt (see previous post); taken a calculated risk that the fire fighters and good weather would be enough to stop the wildfires raging through the countryside there. A call the previous evening to Joan Simpson, our neighbor, had informed us that the wildfire was burning within a mile of our house.

Just before we began riding, I asked Mary to shut off her phone until we reached Whitefish – 100 miles down the trail. There was nothing we could do anyway and I didn’t want to have fire updates cause us more worry. Mary agreed.

So intoxicating was the rush of being on our bikes again that I can honestly report that I scarcely gave any thought to the Chelan fires during the next two days, even though there was a definite possibility we would arrive in Whitefish to learn that our beautiful log home had burned to the ground.

Rather than worry about things beyond our control, we were exhilarated to once again be on the open road. With 2600 miles of mostly dirt and gravel roads between us and Antelope Wells, New Mexico on the Mexico border, I was 100% into the moment.

The first twenty miles yesterday were easy, flat miles. Then we started climbing. We were both pleased to learn that the trailer’s load just about evened up Mary’s and my riding pace. The B.O.B. handled well on the rough Forest Service road and we reached the remote Tuchuck Campground on Forest Service Road 114 after 41 miles.

Several other bicyclists doing the Great Divide ride were camping there, including a couple about our ages from Holland. (On the trail and at the campground we have, so far, met about ten other people riding the trail which is far more than we ever met during the same period of time on our road trips of years past.)

Today’s ride began with a ten-mile descent and then a long climb to a small lake at which our guide book suggested the day’s ride end. The call of a motel room in Whitefish proved irresistible however, and we powered on another thirty miles, much of it downhill, to get here. Mary has shown true grit on this ride (at least when a motel room beckons). Steep grades on a loaded bike can get discouraging.

To our great relief, we received an email upon arrival in Whitefish from Dan Wright informing us that the fire has not advanced any closer to our house during the two days were were frolicking in the Montana mountains. Many thanks to Dan and all the firefighters.

The next town where we will have Internet connection is Helena, which is 275 miles, so it might be quite a while until my next posting.

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OUR “BEFORE” PICTURE

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