29 May 2008


After yesterday's rotten finish, I spent the evening trying to dry my clothes and shoes in front of a tiny portable heater which was pretty difficult. I went to bed at half eight with the heater on full blast facing the bed on the end of which I had draped my shorts and balanced by shoes but then woke up thinking it was morning to find it was only ten pm!

I got up again at the right time of 0515 and put on different shorts and top but had to make do with soggy shoes. It was of little consequence though as it was already raining outside and I headed out prepared for another soaking. The ride began with a 1000 foot climb to the top of Lolo Pass where I crossed the border into Idaho. Apart from yesterday's antics I really liked riding through Montana. It is a pretty state not unlike parts of England but with some bigger rolling hills and you can see why they call it 'Big Sky Country'.

The top of Lolo pass was shrouded in mist and I could only see a few metres ahead of me as I headed down a 9 mile hill towards an early breakfast at Lochsa Lodge since the clocks went back an hour at the border. Here I met Bob and Lori, a couple of cyclists from Victor, Idaho who were riding the Lewis and Clark trail. For any non-US people, Lewis and Clark were the leaders of an 1804 expedition to explore the American West at the behest of Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase of huge swathes of the west from France. These guys are big names over here since their 3 year journey helped map out previously untouched parts of the US. Bob and Lori met Dave from England yesterday morning and he apparently left Lochsa yesterday morning.

The next 65 miles had no services but were slightly downhill following the course of the Lochsa River but I had constant rain beating down on me as I pedalled down one scenic but slightly monotonous road. Traffic was light with a few RVs and logging trucks blowing me around and I was glad I didnt go rafting along here. The rapids are rated as Class V which is up there with the fiercest and from the road l could see how rough the water was cutting up. After 85 miles of riding for the day I pulled into The Wilderness Inn, a surprisingly busy cafe/bar where I ordered loads of food!

Just before my food arrived I spotted another cyclist coming in so I invited her to sit at my table only to find out she was a fellow Brit! Her name was Gill Hamilton from Edinburgh and she works at the National Library of Scotland. She managed to negotiate a 4 month break from work to cycle from Washington to Maine, having previously done a mini tour in the Rockies! Gill's website is www.pedalplenty.com . It was so good to meet another Brit and we ended up chatting for about two hours and compared kit since we both have Cannondales and Arkel Panniers. It would have been good if we were going the same way but eventually we headed opposite ways down the road and I finished the last few miles to Grangeville via dinner in Kooskia but overall the end of the journey dragged a bit after my extended break!

From what I hear, Dave Fisher is making some good ground and is riding a rig about half the weight of mine so I will have to rely on the youthful energy that I am supposed to have although I am definitely catching up! It is nice to see a few more cyclists on this section of my trip and I guess it is because most riders do their touring from May and June onwards to avoid the terrible early season weather.

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