Monday, July 5, 2010

July 2, 2010: Whitefish to Lake McDonald, MT. 42 miles

We woke up to a steady rain, knowing we had a short day, but also knowing that we had a time limit--the Going to the Sun road does not allow bikes between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. So we had to ride our 42 miles before 11:00. We were told by someone who knows (CJ) that if you are on the road on your bike after 11:00 a ranger will come pick up you and your bike and deliver you to your intended destination in Glacier National Park. I sure did not want that to happen!

Fortunately the package that caught up with me in Idaho contained some cheap rain gear that I bought 15 years ago and had never used.... I sure used it this day, and was ever so happy to have it!

We ate breakfast in the hotel at 6 AM, planning to leave at 6:30. I noticed my rear tire was a bit soft before breakfast, so I pumped it up and hoped for the best... not to be. When I came back after breakfast it was soft again so I changed it. The tire was good; the new tube I had just put in a few days previous broke out around the valve stem. I hate it when that happens!

Most everyone had left by the time I pulled out around 7, but CJ had waited for me and we rode together the whole miserable day. Our route was this: after several short jaunts on side roads we ended up on highway 40, which we took into Columbia Falls, stopping for a very wet photo opportunity. We turned left on CR486, and followed that very nice road for 9 miles. We then made a right turn on to Blankenship Rd. where I caught up with Dianne at the sag stop. She told me she was too wet and cold to ride and was sagging in (but she lied). Right after the sag we were on 3 miles of gravel road, mud road on this very wet day. You can imagine how poor the riding conditions were for a bunch of cyclists on skinny tire road bikes! It was pretty bad.

After we were back on the pavement we turned on to Lake Five Rd. which took us to US 2. It was a busy road, but had a decent paved shoulder. At 31 miles into our wet day we turned into Glacier National Park. We rode the last 10 miles, still in the rain, to McDonald Lake Lodge. I told CJ that she had made the day bearable. She said "right back at ya". Amen. Not a day to be out there all alone.

We got to the lodge at 10:45, with 15 minutes to spare! We rinsed off our bikes and put them in a locked room, then went to find the dry clothes we had set aside in the morning (knowing we would not get our rooms until 4 PM). I was quite surprised to see Dianne at a little after 11, all wet and muddy... she had ridden the whole ride after all! When she was getting ready to get in the sag car, Marti asked her if she would ride the rest of the day with her, because Laura (her riding partner to that point in the day) was sagging in, and it is NOT a good ride to do solo. So Dianne rode the rest of the way with Marti--what a pal!

We changed into dry clothes, ate a sandwich in the lodge lounge, and Dianne and I played Scrabble in the lobby until the rooms were ready. I had to buy a pair of socks in the gift shop because my feet were cold and I had not thought to put socks in my care package of dry clothes. We had a nice dinner with Marti and Sherrie in the Lodge dining room.

The sun tried to come out later on and I took a few photos around this very nice place. There is no internet and no cell phone service here. I tried to call Bill collect from 2 different phone booths, but got no answer.

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