Adventure Cycling Bike Tour with Judy Stoner – July 21-28, 2001
Friday & Saturday, July 21 & 22, 2001
Bad start. Arrived 7 pm, grey skies, no bikes. Northwest Airlines’ employees not reassuring. All turned out well, however, Bikes were delivered the next morning at Big Sky High School. Judy and I assembled ours in the parking lot, and then rode into downtown Missoula.
Town has a special atmosphere, sense of liberal tolerance. Young people on the street dressed like hippies from the 60s.
Adventure Cycling Headquarters with photos and artifacts from the great Bi-Centennial Ride 25 years ago.
Orientation meeting and big dinner outdoors at Fort Missoula to celebrate the quarter century. Numerous riders who participated in that ride were in attendance. They were honored.
Sunday, July 23
First day of the ride. I found it tedious. Even though the road looked flat it sloped gradually uphill and the riding was tough. We rode about 70 miles. I arrived in Sula in a bad mood, which was not improved by the caterer’s food. The chicken was not cooked nearly enough, and it was greasy. Judy seemed happier than me.
11/17/09 – My photos tell me that we camped in Darby. I have pics of our campground, the library, and a weird, dangerous-looking set-up made of lumber for kids to ride on and jump off of.
Monday, July 24
Sula to Jackson
In spite of a really exhausting 8-mile climb, to day’s ride was much more stimulating. The scenery is finally beginning to move me. Moving along the Bitterroot River we passed miles of hillside scarred by last year’s fire.
After the horrendous climb, the land opened up into a huge upland plain called Big Hole. In local parlance a “hole” is a plain surrounded by mountains. We ate lunch at the site of a famous Indian battle where our cavalry fought the Nez Perce.
After lunch we rode across the plain to the tiny town of Wisdom. Something about the remote plain, the distant mountains, the sun and the wind gave me a great sense of well being.
The last twenty miles was mostly flat with a tail wind, which lifted my spirits as it did my speed.
Jackson is only a small collection of buildings. It has a hot spring and a kind of resort where we camped on the lawns. Instead of Yellowstone Kelley’s catering, we ate a spaghetti and meat sauce buffet that was better than the food we’d had so far. Next morning’s breakfast, though, is a bust; two people trying to serve two hundred. I felt lucky to get a cup of coffee and a muffin.
Tuesday & Wednesday, July 25 & 26
Days 3 & 4: Jackson to Dillon
Today’s highlight was the lunch stop at Bannack State Park, a four-mile side trip off the highway.
The now empty town of Bannack was once a busy gold mining center and the first seat of its county government. Its structures are well preserved. The old hotel, saloon, courthouse, and even the jail are all recognizable and easy to resurrect in the imagination. Wooden sidewalks connect most of the buildings.
In Dillon, we camped once again on treeless lawns behind a junior high school on the outskirts of town. The sun beat down on the tents and us until nearly 9 pm. The only relief is to sit under the canopies where the caterers have set up metal tables. Or do as Judy and I do: ride into town and sit in a bar. The local brews are quite good and have colorful names: Trout Slayer, Moose Drool, and Fat Tire are all popular. Most buildings are not air conditioned, but even so, it’s a relief to get out of the baking sun.
Dillon is a town of bars, restaurants, a museum, and a Laundromat. There are also antique stores and art galleries. It seems nearly every little Montana town we pass through has a museum or some historical collection. They are intent on preserving the past. Besides, it’s a good commercial investment. Judy and I found a German restaurant in Dillon where we ate twice on our rest day. One meal consisted of a delicious breaded pork cutlet with a kind of hot salsa, cabbage salad, spaetzle, and homemade ice cream.
Dillon boasts a Patagonia Outlet very popular with some of the riders. I bought a light, fluorescent green shell.
11/17/09 – It was in Dillon on our rest day that some of us went to the movies. We saw Jurassic Park III.
Thursday, July 27
Day 5: Dillon to Ennis
Long day with a steep climb in the afternoon followed by a 10-mile descent into Ennis. Today’s highlights were the former mining towns of Nevada City and Virginia City. Much in these towns is preserved. Food and drink are on sale, and there are many interesting buildings.
These towns, along with the now disappeared Adobetown, were gold mining centers full of rough western life in the 1860s and 70s. The strike was along Alder Creek.
We camped for the night at the usual school field. The school was open for showers, and the shower truck, which had accompanied us the whole way, was gone.
Steak and a baked potato under the canopy. Later there was a party with live music at a local watering hole called the Claim Jumpers’ Saloon. I stayed for a time, while Judy went back to the tent and to sleep. The band was great. I was having fun got out early before I got into trouble.
Friday, July 28
Day 6: Ennis to Bozeman
A tough day. A steep climb early followed by lots of up and down rolling country. A rough road surface added to the difficulty. By the time I got to Bozeman, I was beat. The last miles were torturous with heat and traffic. The heat especially got to me in the end. We ha had nothing but hot sun the entire week.
Once we packed the bikes and got into Bozeman, Judy and I found rooms in the Lewis and Clark motel downtown. Even after a shower and a nap the heat was oppressive. At Boodles, the most upscale restaurant in town, we ate tuna steaks with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.