P1030440.JPGPUSHING IS THE LOWEST GEAR

Here you see Mary and Margo and Michiel pushing their bikes up a grade too steep to pedal. The guide map described it as “extremely steep but fascinating.” It was certainly steep.

Shortly after I posted from Seeley Lake a thunderstorm moved through and killed the power in town. Fine with us. With the blog posted my work was done. All we wanted to do was go to sleep and we did just that.

It rained in the night which cleared the smoke from the air and settled the dust along the gravel road we would follow through the day. Clearing the air was like putting on a pair of glasses. For the first time we could see something other than haze.

That afternoon we passed through the hamlet of Ovando where we stopped for a hearty breakfast (at 1 PM). A group of Canadian motorcyclists were also there. One of them allowed me to download the Great Divide Trail from his device to mine. Since many of the backroads we travel on are unlabeled, it is easy to take the wrong road without guidance from above, as in the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS). Now we have a signal in the form of a purple line on the Garmin screen that represents the trail and a blue diamond that represents us. As long as we keep the blue diamond on the purple line, we’re on the Great Divide Trail – well, almost, as we found out today. That’s because the motorcycle trail isn’t always the same as the bicycle trail. Following the motorcycle purple line this afternoon we found ourselves about ten miles off course before we figured out what was up.

It’s been a tough day. Even before the GPS mixup, my bicycle chain became twisted somehow and refused to stay on the sprockets. We were twenty miles from the nearest town and on top of a mountain. It looked like I might have to push my bike to town. I got the chain working by twisting it straight with pliers and was able to pedal into Helena where we are now. The mechanics at the Big Sky Cycle shop told me the chain and sprockets are all worn out and have to be replaced ($200.)

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BIG SKY COUNTRY

It’s been a tough day but a great week overall. We’ve had good weather and pleasant scenery. I really like coming out of the forested hills into these big Montana valleys where cattle ranches with huge hay barns loom in the distance. We haven’t seen any bears but several other bicyclists tells us they have – black bears, not grizzlies.

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This is a picture of Mary blowing up her air mattress at Coopers Lake.

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This was our campsite last night between Lincoln and Helena. A ranch there encourages Divide cyclists to camp on their land. The little cabin sleeps four and has a kitchen. We chose to sleep in our tent but a family (mother, father, 2 daughters) used the cabin. It was quite a gathering. In addition to Mary and I, the Hollanders (Michiel & Margo), the family (Canadian), and two young English women camped together.

Here is a photo of Mary eating brunch at a clearing along the route. We generally stop to eat before doing a major climb. The usual three meals/day just doesn’t suffice when you’re riding hard all day.

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