a Day a Night 112 miles of Emotions


I’m up before light on U.S. soil

Well sort of, I am actually on U.S. asphalt looping around the western side of the Eureka Airport. The grasslands of the Tobacco Valley are spotted with perfect farmettes. These are little country homes with a chicken coop, tool shed, and 2 goats grazing near the kitchen door. Its perfect for the start of my 24 hour grind to whitefish. By now, you’ve realized I haven’t done a plus 100 mile day on the Divide. I won’t be on my first U.S. gravel road for another two hours. First order of business this morning is … everyone now … BREAKFAST. I rolled into Eureka to a breakfast Cafe annexed by a casino or vice versa. Not sure, It’s Montana. As dividers surely agree, one cannot just order an entree, rather entrees. This is a meal of disproportions- Pig on pig, Pig on chicken, Pig on flapjacks, plus some other selections from the menu that say SIDES. Somewhere between “extra napkins please?”, I spot Bill Littmann in the corner. “Hi ya man” “burp..pardon me” and “gotta run have fun.” I’ve become socially inept in less than a week. Oh well, I’m on vacation.

Eureka has what I need food, friends, and now exactly what I need…Tiger Balm. My left Achilles is getting ready to be the thorn in my flesh for the rest of the race. After departing the drug store, I found Dave Schreiner again and so we ride off together on Tobacco road for Grave Creek. Dave pedals uphill better than I, so we ride in sight but apart until the climb to Whitefish divide. I can tell after an hour or so, that Dave is getting poured on. Interestingly, I am not and that’s how it goes on the Divide.


Near Grave Creek heading South to Whitefish Divide

The Road up to Whitefish divide is muddy and I can see that Dave had to pick a lot of lines for traction. I am happy to not be in the rain and there is kind of peace knowing someone cycling is in the vicinity. I read some signs about the Indians that lived in these parts and it made me feel rather reverent to the people before me. I guess they were Kootenai since I was in their named national forest. There are 12 montana tribes – read about them  Montana Indian Tribes . Near the top of Whitefish divide, I was stormed upon by possibly snow, definitively Dippin’ Dots. However, after the pelting, the sun came out to welcome me to Whitefish divide. I think I cried a little.


I wanted to share the view with everyone, but a picture has no breeze and a picture has no smell of the storm that had passed through. The cruisin’ down on the backside of Whitefish Divide was simply a rush. As cruising goes, its all about feeling the air, riding the winding curves of gravel through throngs of pines and blowing that whistle! My cheeks hurt from blowing that bear alarm like a referee calling unsportsmanlike conduct on a melee. Brown bears just need fair warning I thought. I did not stop blowing until well past Tuchuck campground. The road out to Ford Work Center was absolutely gorgeous and downhill. The vistas ahead and to my right of the Glacier National Park / North Fork Flathead peaks were beautiful. I kind of cried again, but that may have been leftover tears from Whitefish Divide.


I had developed an angry chain that would squeak every 3 or 4 pedal strokes. Lube would clear it up for about 30 minutes of riding, but now things were getting a bit angrier, so I stopped near Red Meadow road to work on it. Yep, I had several links with burrs. A little filing and additional lube got things a bit better. I thought it was probably 2PM by now, so I ate the last of my tuna sandwich and checked the mileage and time again. Uhh what? 930PM ! I know the sun sets late up north – yikes! Up Red Meadow Road I began to panic a little about what seemed like a short day. The feeling gave way soon once I saw the most beautiful stretch of dirt this side of paradise. The thin gradual incline I rolled along was a vanishing point of 12 miles to an unseen but highly touted Red Meadow Lake. The lake is a natural gap pool of snow and glacial convergence reflecting the peaks on both sides.  Half way up, I stopped to filter water from a deep rocky crag spilling near the road. I filled my bottles, while weeping over the free gift of sustenance.


Arriving Red Meadow Lake, it was for all knowing, twilight, and I felt a little sad that I had not seen it waters in a more glorious mood. By now, I was tired. It was an amazing kind of tired. A feeling of weariness from riding, joy from the fullness of the day’s delights, and foreboding of the approaching darkness. Snow began to fall before I donned my jacket and cold weather gloves. It was dead silent as I switched on my lights and pedaled away from Red Meadow Lake. Upon the descent into the first turn, a brown bear and easy to make out. It ran into the woods at the sight of my helmet light. Now I’m back on the whistle with all my senses engaged only to realize the beams are not long or wide enough to carry speed and safe passage into the dark world of wild animals. Next turn, another bear. Not Sure it was a grizzly, but I go with bear. I felt I needed to get to lower elevation and get below the snow line, so I sped on. Two miles further down at the 7 mile marker to Whitefish… another bear. And then my lights went totally dead. No crying man, rookie boy “get a grip”. It is something to be all alone in the woods. I walked a little to just think about the situation when I went past a roadgrader. Ah a little civilization. I was thinking perhaps I could sleep in the cab. But the door was locked. So right here I popped off my helmet, laid under my bike with a canister of bear spray in hand and a whistle in my mouth -exhausted. I woke up 2 hours later freezing and jumped into my sleeping bag and slept peacefully thinking of my wife and times we listen together for the first bird of morning. As  God himself gives rest, He gave awakening with the a bird tweet and my eyes opened to see light on the gravel at road level. I almost cried, no wait… yeah I did. You get to bomb it down to Whitefish, you’re alive, and you get BREAKFAST!


As I whizzed past the palatial gated homes along Whitefish lake, I thought to myself “I bet they slept safe and sound.” I cry a lot these days.

In Whitefish, there was indeed breakfast, there was a bikepacker, Jon Wells from Cody Wyoming. He was cycling to the TED Talks conference in Banff to speak on caloric energy efficiency of cycling verses fuel consumption of automobiles. I also met an old gentleman from San Francisco “Diamond Dave” Whitaker. Turns out this hippie was famous in the Bay Area and was friends of Bob Dylan, though I had no idea at the time.


I asked Diamond Dave “What’s your Creedo man?”

“Love to Learn, Learn to love never ends. Cast a wide net, find that common thread. Let life flourish, then don’t panic, just keep it organic. Love will take you everywhere, hate will take you nowhere.”

“so take that on your bike”


~ by mojo50 on November 16, 2016.

3 Responses to “a Day a Night 112 miles of Emotions”

  1. Great job writing up your TD recap. It brings back so many memories.

  2. modern day star TREK where few have gone before!!! (queue the star trek theme music)

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