Being Saturday, Don’s signature pancakes make another appearance and they are super fluffy! I probably eat too many, but that’s the thing when you’re cycling every day, there never really is too much of anything 🙂 It has been really great spending time with Don and Jacquie, I have enjoyed the vegetarian lifestyle, I happily introduced them to an aussie brekkie favourite, avocado smash on sourdough and we gorged ourselves on some gluten free raspberry brownie I gladly put together for dessert last night with some pistachio gelato… Yes we ate really well!
Befor I started pedalling South, Don took an afternoon off work to take me to the museum in Helena. What a legend! It was great to get an understanding of the history of Montana and the story of how immigrants arrived and their interaction with the original land owners, learning about various Indian tribes and the Lewis and Clarke expedition and seeing a full size stuffed grizzly. I’m about to cross over into Idaho and then right through Wyoming so it was great to learn about the people and history of this state of which I’ve been pleasantly surprised by.
Day 25. Off-road again
Distance: 27.5mi / Elevation: 3,035ft / Finish: Beaver Dam, MT
Full ride data on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/606259145
Today I gingerly make my way to camp. Lunch break is at Highland Trail head where there is a really, really nice view. Lunch is some of the leftover raspberry brownie, oh man it’s so good!
I have a little pain when I reach camp, so I take it easy for the afternoon. It’s going to be a really cool night, possible below zero and then warm again during the day tomorrow and the next day so I hope I don’t have any trouble with chafing from sweating. It’s only seems to occur in warmer weather. I have a long afternoon to kill, so I watch a movie and listen a bunch of the audiobooks I’m working through and eat a little too much!
Day 26. Hello fleecer!
Distance: 50.1mi / Elevation: 4,171ft / Finish: Grasshopper, MT
Full ride data on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/609020338
I awake to a slightly frosty tent, that figures, I had quite a struggle sleeping. Being below zero doesn’t help! Fleecers Pass today, one of the most technically difficult sections of the divide I’m told.
It is stunning, 360 views and I’m riding most of the trail ok, but eventually it does reveal its true self, basically dropping off the side of the mountain on a triple track of very loose shale, totally rideable on the right bike! But not a loaded up 29er.
After the pass I stop and chat with some Americans who are ‘checking out’ some of the route as they will be riding some of the Montana section in a few weeks, they are really great people and I fill them in on my experiences so far to their delight. I hope to ride to the second campsite today as I’m following the Montana Scenic Byway today, which is asphalt. The byway starts off in farmland and just gets more stunning every corner.
There are beautiful meadows and parks (with less rocks!) On what I’d describe as a tableland at the height of the area, I take my time and stop occasionally for a bite to eat. I head partly down the descent and find camp that night at Grasshopper Creek, it’s a really nice campsite.
I’m also trailing a stoveless dinner system, they come by way of eating an entire talenti gelato, it’s a perfect fit for a ramen noodle pack. It seems to work pretty well. I have a thru-hiking buddy to thank for the idea ❤️ I say hello to my neighbours, they live somewhat near my direction of travel in Idaho. They insist on passing on their address and swapping numbers. I’m still amazed by the great people I’m meeting on the journey.
Day 27. Up is the word
Distance: 93.6mi / Elevation: 4,083ft / Finish: Deadwood Gulch, MT
Full ride data on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/609020504
A bit of an epic day!
Just loved riding through the sage brush hills in one of the more remote sections of the route today. Hardly any vehicles about which is nice. It’s a little breezy at times today, being amoungst steep hills and mountains makes for a swirling and changeable direction.. I decide to take refuge for a good chunk of time during the heat of the day and it is a good decision! I feel super refreshed and ready to take on the highest elevation I have the entire trip so far.
It’s really is a stunning day on the bike, totally loving the sage brush, which is everywhere! I even washed my arms and legs beside a creek at the day’s end with a sage brush 😂
Day 28. The End! 1000 miles
Dear friends. I am ending the journey at this point, what!? Yes. It has been a difficult decision to make. I have been struggling with saddle sores the past few weeks, not ideal… If you don’t follow, basically it’s a lot of pain from irritation on your thigh/bum crossover. After taking two breaks from riding and now being behind schedule, I’m not going to push on into remote areas in agony and cause a national emergency, that would be foolish. Am I disappointed? Not really. Cycling 1000 miles on dirt, mud and snow with enough vertical elevation climbed to summit Mt Everest, twice, is something I’m proud to have achieved. In particular, my favourite part of the journey though, has been crossing paths with the best people. You might be wondering why there is a photo of Rhubarb on a cutting board for this image. I made dinner and dessert tonight, for the amazing Don and Jacquie who have let me stay with them for as long as I need over the past weeks, the Rhubarb is from their garden. Staying with them has reminded me how mum was in her better days, before early on-set dementia became prevalent, how she invited strangers over to stay and share a meal. It’s something I had completely forgotten and am very glad to be reminded of. There are so many more things that I have learnt and proven to myself in this time. So thank you dear friends for your follows, likes, support, messages and donations to NeuRA. They have not gone unnoticed. For those back home, I hope to see you again real soon. Much love 👊👊💥❤️