For this next segment of the ride, I’m travelling with Robert – who came on one of our trips in Northern India and then joined me on an epic, impromptu high altitude hike and bike – and his friend Chris, from Cambridge. Chris is a dab hand at the wheelie, so he’s promised to teach me the tricks of the trade. Maybe not fully loaded though…
Originally we’d planned to meet further south in Bozeman, but I’m running so late (what’s new, hey) that they’ve headed north instead. Which will mean I’ll have some company over the next few weeks.
Tearing ourselves away from Polebridge after one last, lingering resupply at the bakery, we began the long climb up to Red Meadow Lake. Up top was a clear pool of water and a lovely picnic site, which preceded an epic, at times rocky descent down to the well groomed resort town of Whitefish.
There, we pulled over for spares at Glacier Cyclery. Tim, sporting a blond shaved head, long sideburns and a moustache, invited us over to his place for a house party in Colombia Falls, ten miles down the road. I love tapping into these local bike cult scenes, where everyone lives and breathes two wheels. For this occasion, the required bike dress was an old, beaten up cruiser – curvy, balloon-tyred Schwinns and Konas filled the yard. After supping dubious moonshine, we leapt on our steeds and headed out to a local bar to sample the night life…
Unfortunately for Chris, who’s allergic to cats and dogs, Tim and his girlfriend Megan live with two boistrous hounds, as well as their sinister pet tarantula Cheryl. Not only that, but it seemed everyone who partied that night brought a hound too, until the place was overun with furry animals chasing each others tails. Poor Chris had to beat a hasty retreat to the garage. It wasn’t so bad though, as he got to sleep the night beside Tim’s enviable bike collection.
From Columbia Falls, we skirted round the Swan Mountains. Running parallel to the highway, our route unravelled on the other side of the river, a world away from tarmac.
Our next pass wound its way up towards Richmond Peak, skirting round the mountain side on a gravel road that spiralled ever higher in concentric circles, dwindling down to little more than a loose slice of singletrack, high above the valley floor.
Then it was back on the bikes again, head down, hearts pumping, higher and higher, riding amongst wild flowers and tufts are grass swamping the trail.
From here, Chris and Robert are heading on to Helena, while I’m taking a detour to bike-friendly Missoula, to meet the guys at the Adventure Cycling Organisation – and get myself a new tyre…
Amazing! How envious I am every time you post. What I wouldn’t give to be out there again this year! Wasn’t Richmond Peak just stellar?!
Carousel bags are on the way!
Call when you get a chance…
This looks amazing, I’m loving following the journey even if it is only a vicarious enjoyment. Brilliant and inspiring, keep on peddlin’
All the best
Hey Cass…sorry I missed your IM on Skype earlier in the week…was in NYC on business. Would love to catch up though. Drop me an email and we can try and catch up. The leaves are turning in the West Country now…off to do the Marshfield Mudlark tomorrow 10k offroad trail run into St. Catherine’s Valley.
Dreaming of Baja!
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