77.56 Miles / 1068.72 Total Miles
1923 Ft. Elevation Gain / 50,108 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
Today, we passed the 1000 mile mark of our ride and the 50,000 feet of climbing mark. Wowza! We were on the road a little later than planned–5:28 AM, in time to watch the sunrise over the plains of Montana. Today was going to be a long day in the saddle and a race against time to avoid the heat of the day and crosswinds that were predicted to kick up in the afternoon. Spoiler: We beat the heat and the wind.
The terrain of the day was hay, cattle, and, after we did a long steep climb up the Judith Mountains, pine trees again–but thankfully, no mosquitos.
We’re out of Yeti/Big Foot country, but now it appears we are in Meth country, because here again is a Meth message.
We passed by some little towns with nothing but houses, silos, and dilapidated former houses and former storefronts.
At Moore, we stopped for our second breakfast at Eddies Corner store. I ate a big blueberry pancake and downed a bunch of water to prepare myself for the rest of the day.
Being Saturday, there was very little traffic on the roads all morning, but as the day wore on, the highway got busier and busier. Adventure Cycling map updates had warned of a 7 mile long construction zone east of Moore, and that warning was spot on. It’s never a good thing when you run into the signs and equipment below. Apparently, someone decided it was time to install dozens of culverts under the highway, on this section of road. We lost our shoulder, weathered some torn up pavement and rode through a few sections of gravel, but we were able to push through the construction zone pretty quickly and painlessly, because there was so little traffic.
When we arrived Lewistown, we were ready for a cold beverage and prepared to stop for any and all historic sites.
As you know, I’m a sucker for Veterans Memorials, and this town doubled down on them. The Veterans Memorial Park had statues from all branches of service, plus the Womens Nurses Corps, and an empty chair to honor those who did not return from combat. I included the Army and Navy statues for me and Ed.
The Veterans Memorial Walk had an unnamed ‘Apparatus’ (read the sign) that I am assuming was some form of field artillery–maybe a howitzer. On the right is a Minuteman Missile. Lewistown purchased the Statue of Liberty replica in 1950 as part of a program to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Boy Scouts. Don’t ask me what the military hardware and Statue of Liberty have to do with remembering Veterans. To me, it’s just a bunch of cool stuff.
After goofing off in Lewistown, we still had 35 miles left to ride, and it was getting hot, and (da da dah…) the wind had kicked up, and it was a tailwind! As we cruised along, I was a little surprised to see a camel hanging out with a calf all the way up here in Montana. How does he keep warm during the long cold winters?
Shortly after leaving town, we began a 5 mile climb up the Judith mountains to ‘the Divide’. A man at the Eddies Corner Store had warned us about how steep ‘the Divide’ was, but come on. He didn’t know who he was talking to. These legs of steel already crossed the Cascade Mountain Range and climbed up the Going to the Sun Road. There is NOTHING they could not do. LOL.
‘The Divide’ wasn’t steep at all and had some nice recovery sections interspersed to make it even easier on our legs. And we were being assisted by a tailwind. When we reached the top, we knew the elevation profile for the next 25 miles was a steep downhill–25 glorious, tailwind assisted miles.
Our destination for the day was the lower 40 of a little store and gas station in Grassrange, near the intersection of Highway 87 and State Route 19. We set up our tents under a couple of trees, showered inside the store’s restrooms (being extra careful to not let any of our personal items touch the floor or anything else), snacked on food from the store, then ate dinner in their little diner. The big bonus was the nice people working in this establishment and their awesome wifi.
We set up blog central in a back room of the diner, and were busy working on our blogs, when a young fella named Logan popped in to see if the bikes behind the store belonged to us. And that was the beginning of a long and entertaining conversation with this 20 year old young man who is riding the Northern Tier solo, heading westbound. What makes a youngster like him even think of doing something like this? How can he afford it? What do his parents think? Does his Mom worry about him? Does get to stay in motels like we do, or does he have to camp every night to economise? So many questions, and so little time.
Ben, the big fella to the left of Logan, in the below photo, is Logan’s uncle and used to work in this area. He knows the lay of the land, so he volunteered to be Logan’s SAG wagon and tour guide for a week or so, as he cycles through this area. Pretty awesome, eh? Logan told us that his Mom is a Warm Showers host right on the route in Minnesota, so we are going to try to work our schedule around a stop at her place, where we plan to tell her what a great young man her son is. Be safe, Logan!
There were several official historical markers, today, and wild horses could not keep us from stopping to read every single one of them. You can do that when you’re riding a bike. As I said yesterday, Montana sure does like its history. Texas was the same way. I’d love to have the job where you do nothing but write the text for these markers. Of course, first I’d have to learn how to write.
Special section for my grandson Jace Janusz: We came across a John Deere dealership, just before reaching Lewistown, and I thought he might enjoy some photos. Maybe my friend Jean can hook me and Jace up with a tractor tour, when I get home from this adventure.