Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 11. Lincoln, MT to Great Falls, MT

Awaking in Lincoln, MT to 49 degrees certainly started the day off crisp. I had shirt, jacket, arm warmers and vest on to start the day.  

Before hitting the road in earnest, I had breakfast at the famous Lambkins of Lincoln. My brother-in-law Gene Cummings grew up in that region and initially told me that their breakfast was great. I certainly cannot dispute that fact. I ordered eggs, hash browns (a staple since in Idaho that literally covers the plate), sausage and sourdough. It sounds rather standard until you taste the sausage that has a sweet veneer of molasses or similar that makes it incredible. I have a very filling breakfast, which I need since the next stop with food is 55+ miles. At my pace, carrying the load, that's over 5 hours away. 

As I take my leave of Lambkins, two older horsemen pull up in their trucks and trailers. As they shuffle in, the oldest asked me "which way you pointing horse, east or west". I tell him east. He asked me where I am headed and I tell him Great Falls for the day and Bar Harbor, ME is the ultimate destination. He responds, "Bar Harbor, Maine?", with a manner that seems to confirm to him the clown I must appear to be wearing yellow and black shirt, red socks, lime green vest and arm warmers. He bids me farewell with a "Well, good luck".  

This highlight of the ride was crossing the Continental Divide on a bicycle. I must admit, that felt kind of cool. I was climbing about the first 19 miles to Rogers Pass (the point that marks the Divide on the route) that got pretty steep right at the end. I stopped at the top for a few selfies of my bike and I. Took a quick break and started the descent that was indeed steep. The crosswinds on the descent were heavily striking my bags and my bike on the way down, forcing me to constantly feather the breaks to maintain stability.  

Once I cleared the steepest descent, I had hoped for a downhill ride into Great Falls. It should be, right? Well Gene had warned me there were some big rollers for about 30 miles after the summit. Oh boy, was he right. Some of the those rollers were sharp ascents that made me put in quite an effort that I was hoping to avoid. Just to add some fun, the wind was out of the ESE at 10-12 mph, gusting higher at times. On one 6% downhill run, the wind was so stiff I could only muster 26 MPH. That was a longer 30 miles than I had hoped for.  

As I made my way over the pass, the trees became immediately sparse and ultimately extinct. The land opened up to massive rolling fields that as one sign read was "prime cattle country". The distant mountains became extensions of the sky. This is Big Sky Country. There is a lot of both, sky and country. 

Ultimately the rollers end and there is a long downhill into Simms, some 55 milesfrom the start. In the distance, green pastures and trees appear to mark where the town will be and where I plan for lunch. I look forward to both, shade trees and lunch. I get half. As I pedal past the sign the says Simms, the auto parts/convenient store is closed (it is Sunday). The cafe looks like it has been closed for a while. Oh well, Fort Shaw is only 6 miles away. Nothing. Sun River is 4 miles away. Nothing. Vaughn is 12 miles away. Aha. So 75+ miles in, I feast on a lunchable at a convenient store.  

It really was not that big of an issue. I had packed four Mojo peanut bars, had some electrolytes and 3 bottles of water plus the MSR bladder full of water. I used them all, but was never out of food nor water.  

After the lunch feast, which was timed well since a rain storm passed, I took off for the last 12 miles to Great Falls. The winds shifted out of the west and I enjoyed a slight downhill ride to the finish.  

I am staying next to the fairgrounds where the Montana State Fair is going on. I plan to investigate tomorrow