UMy, my, what challenging first days of bike tour. I always have to remember that the first three days are the hardest, and somehow with our tours they are ESPECIALLY hard. Like our first trip we rode through the Utah desert for three days. Last year we did a crazy ride up to Hurricane Ridge and climbed 5000 feet in 17 miles. Aaaaand this year is no different-- in order to make it to a Fourth of July celebration in a small town called Troy, we have to book it 180 miles in three days. Turns out there is currently a massive heatwave in Northwestern Montana, with highs in the upper 90s and zero cloud cover.
Once we got out of Missoula the country started to open up into a wide, grassy valley flanked by tall ridges, and the road followed the Clark Fork river the whole way. We were scheduled to ride 80 miles the first day, but after 62 miles of unrelenting sun and saddle trouble, I couldn't really pay attention to the views anymore. Well, this view was pretty good.
We were able to pull off by the river to spend the night, and even though it was past 7pm, the sun doesn't set till almost 10pm, so we set up camp, went skinny dipping, hung the bear bag and fell asleep. We've decided to call this adventure the Grizzly Tour, hoping to make it seem more hardcore but hoping to not to have to use the bear spray.
Day two was very similar to day one. I stupidly bought a new saddle thinking it would remedy some of the issues I have with my Brooks saddle, but alas my problems were amplified and my ass is one paying for my hasty shopping decisions. I keep hoping that I will get used to the discomfort (pain) by day three, so me and my cheeks are praying for a miracle. I got a flat tire today as well as a sunburn, so after another 43 miles we decided to take the advice of the man at the souvenir store who suggested we stay at Thompson Falls State Park. We got another beautiful "afternoon" of river time since the sun didn't cross the ridge till 8pm.
I'd like to take the time to say that so far everyone in Montana is SO NICE. I'd venture to say they are the nicest people I've encountered in travels throughout the US. We met two teenagers named Tyler and Jason who showed us the water snake they caught while floating in the river, and told us about the best fish to catch. A man at the gas station offered his property as a campsite. That man at the souvenir store not only had four poodles in his shop for me to pet, but gave us directions to avoid traffic. Drivers have also given us plenty of room when passing us. So, Treasure State, your folks are okay in my book.