Sunday, August 28, 2016

Days 67, 68 & 69: Meat and Mead

Dillon, MT to Wisdom, MT to Darby, MT to Missoula, MT
3 Day Mileage: 67.5 + 58 + 68.9 = 194.4
Total Mileage: 4,008.4
3 Day Average Speed: 12.5 / 13.7 / 14.5
3 Day Elevation Gain: 3,573 / 1,651 / 828
I completed my first fantasy draft of the year spending almost 2 totals hours just sitting in Subway. The library was closed and Wally sat with me enjoying the free wifi. I say we earned it for having lunch and dinner there. I still get weekly deals texted to me and this was the best ever. Get any foot long with a drink, get any foot long for free. We finished with 6 feet of Subway for 27 bucks!
Day 67
Wally and I woke up freezing in Dillon, but we knew we would. The plan was the find a warm place by 6AM... That place was McDonalds. 
We spoke with a nice man from Wyoming who told of us his love for bikes. He praised us to know end and I think we inspired him to get back on the bike a few more hours a week.
Then we went to Subway for the final two feet of sandwich. They never hit redeem on my phone... So we kept cashing in.
Once the sun finally did its work and the temperature was reasonable, we rode toward the last big pass we will see on this trip. Then again, each hill after this one will be the last big hill until I am soaking my feed in the sand of the Pacific.
Like I announced in my Snapchat, it feels and smells like October 31. This is not the August weather I thought I'd be riding in.
I went as far as to pull up this picture on Instagram and daydream of beads of sweat sliding down my back into my crack. I'll take the heat any day. The cold is depressing.
Sweat baby, sweat
Luckily the two climbs heated Wally and I sufficiently for us to remove our jackets only to throw them back on for the bitter cold descents. I can deal with the cold wind if it means I'm zipping down a hill at 40 MPH.
We have heard several times about "the big hole" and how cold it gets. I had no idea what this hole was and if we were going to be in it. I hoped not. Then we reached the top of our second climb and there it was...
I guess it's going to be a cold night.
We arrived in Jackson where we planned to stay at a hot springs resort. It was still early, around 1:30, so we opted to have lunch and continue to Wisdom, MT where the maps say there is a hostel. With such a short day yesterday, we would lose our minds in this small town with so much time to kill before bed... Again, so to Wisdom we went.
Turns out Wisdom is even smaller than Jackson! Moreover, nobody in town has any idea about a hostel and kept informing us there is one in Jackson. Nope, too late to turn back. That is 18 miles the other way and we were not turning back.
I started to bar hop to ask questions. The hop consisted of a total of one short walk across the street to the second bar. Here I met an amazing family from Minnesota; the two sisters drove from Missoula where they both went to college. It would seem this is a new family tradition (this being the second year) where they meet in Wisdom and go hiking for a week.
Strike me down for not remembering a single one of their names and I know they are going to read this so please comment and remind me because you guys were awesome! They bought Wally and I a beer and shared their regular and sweet potato fries with us. All the kindness we need to make this small town feel a little bigger.
Next, our job was to motel hop. Again, just two motels. We were not sleeping in mid-20 degree temperature so this was the final option. They were both around $75 for a room and we went with the second place. We made the right choice. This place is beautiful!
Wally and I kicked our feet up, watched Step Brothers, and we're very content knowing we would be warm and of course, clean.
Elevation chart for Day 67
Day 68
The only thing in the fridge and freezer was coffee grounds. Wally made a pot and it was incredible coffee. I don't think it was the improvised McDonald's napkin filter either.
With belly's full of Poptarts, peanut butter and 6 cups of coffee, we took off toward Darby where our Warm Showers host, Curtis, awaited us.
Curtis texted me days earlier and asked if we wanted Elk steaks and sweet potatoes or trattoria style shrimp fettuccine for dinner. Are you kidding me? Both please! Only kidding, we had to go with fresh killed Elk!
10 miles out of town we stopped by the Nez-Perce Reservation where the Big Hole Battle took place. A truly devastating battle in which many lives were lost on both sides, but the US took no mercy murdering woman and children and driving the Nez-Perce out of their land leaving their loved ones unburied. Horrific stuff.
The Big Hole Battlefield
On to lighter notes, we rode up another big hill and it is the second to last continental divide pass of the trip. I think the Lolo pass will be the final after Missoula.
Now finally we get to enjoy a two day downhill to Missoula. I did not pedal once as we flew down 8 miles to Sula, MT where we stopped for snacks and a free bag of chips! The big size too!
We snuck into Idaho for a second only to slip back into Montana
It was a gorgeous ride.
We arrived in Darby, MT. A cute town not unlike most of the towns in Montana and Wyoming provided there is over 50 people inhabiting it.
Welcome to Darby, MT
Curtis was a great host. The Elk steaks that he had marinating since 8 AM were incredible and the sweet potatoes were like no sweet potatoes I have ever had. It's been a while since I have had proper potatoes and an Irish boy needs his potatoes. These hit the spot.
After dinner, as promised on the Warm Showers feedback, we got a mead tasting!
I have read all five Game of Thrones books and seen every episode more than once. I have probably heard and read the term, "meat and mead" over 100 times. I think I always assumed mead was some sort of red wine. Truly I never gave it much thought.
Mead is essentially wine, except instead of fermenting grapes, you ferment honey. Which I didn't even think was possible, but we learn something new every day.
Curtis had us try all 12 "flavors" but my favorite was the true mead. The King's Mead. This is definitely something I would keep around the apartment. I really enjoyed it.
Curtis then took us down the block to the local brewery where I had the best beer of my life. Bandit Brewing's own Golden Strong Ale. If you closed your eyes you'd think its a stout. This espresso vanilla ale came to life on my tastebuds. You can taste the espresso and vanilla separately but it also wasn't filling or too sweet. The 8.5% ABV ale is on the top of my charts and I will be hunting for a sip of this beer again.
With a strong buzz going and a nice stroll through town, Curtis has made this one of my favorite nights of the trip. Great food, great company, a brilliant new experiences with the mead and finding my new favorite beer... What could be better? 
Oh yeah... Bed, shower, laundry.
Day 69
Curtis made us scrambled eggs with pesto and bacon in the morning. It keeps getting better! After breakfast he planned to roll out with us to Hamilton, but once we were outside and ready to roll, he noticed a flat. Wally and I rode on without him and stocked up on $1 6-pack of honey buns at the dollar general. Great store.
I didn't mention this and won't get into too much detail, but Wally is now fixing up his third flat three days. We needed to stop at the Red Barn Bicycle shop just before Hamilton so he could grab a few new tubes.
Very cool little shop a mile off the route. I don't know how anyone knows this place is there.
6 person tandem!
There is a bike path all the way from Hamilton to Missoula. Wally and I hated it at first. I mean the bike path is great, but the scenery was brutal. Right up next to a highway to our right and nothing to see to our left. Between that and the rest of the way being relatively flat, it's hard to get into a good rhythm. Then again, we had tail winds so we kept our mouths mostly shut.
I'd like to say I'm changing Wally's luck with the wind direction. It was been dramatically in our favor since we left Twin Bridges. Soon he will be Tailwinds Wally!
The scenery did finally open up as we approached Missoula. Even better as we entered town, there were designated bike paths!
Those clouds
We stopped at El Diablo at the edge of town for a burrito. They were excellent. Think of an upscale Chipotle. I got white fish and Gorgonzola on my burrito, I think you get the point.
We arrived at our famous Warm Showers host, Bill Anderson. This place is basically a free hostel. I haven't seen Bill and at this point probably won't. The house is open for all to come and go as they please. He has hosted over 600 cyclist in the last three years. The living room, where we set up our air pads to sleep, is complete with a drum set, grand piano, sound proofing and recording mics. I don't typically use this term, but it's dope.
Then I spotted a plum colored Surly. I knew right away it is Marion's. I texted David and he told me he was at one of the brewery's. Then texted Colin and told him to meet us there.
It is great to see David all smiles as he was probably on beer number 6, 7 or 8 paired with one of his closest friends he made on his motorcycle trip a few years ago, Paul. 
With a planned day off on Sunday for us all, it looks like Marion, David, Colin, Wally and I will be rolling out of Missoula together. We are becoming a mega-wolfpack.
There was a free music and food festival right in downtown Missoula. We lost David, but Wally, Colin and I rocked on and then found the nearest bar for one last night cap. It was the college bar. It felt weird to be back in that setting only 4 years removed. You could feel the excitement from the students that summer was over and they were back in college. Fun times.
Wally and I continued on with our fun times as we stumbled back to Bruce's with lo mein in our fists.
Missoula is a very awesome city. I keep wanting to say town... I guess it is a "college town." There are bicycles and brewery's everywhere and everyone is so friendly. This will be a very nice day off.
So I have reached 4,000 miles and by my calculations I have about 989 to go. I'm sure with a turn here and a turn there I will reach 5,000. This is the home stretch!
Monday morning we will check out the ACA and then it's off for the final leg. I am very excited for what the last 20 days has in store for me. It has been an incredible journey thus far.
    Day 70 - Rest Day    I was going to end the blog there, but this day off was spectacular.   
That's the sunroom I'm in now
    I started off by writing this blog in the beautiful sunroom. At 11 I went to the grocery store and picked up ground beef, beans and an onion to make food for the next few meals. Not great food, but it's 3 cheap meals!   Then I made my way to the University of Montana. Very nice school with school with a beautiful quad. So I did what I would have done on the Manhattan College Quadrangle; I took my shirt off of sun tanned. I probably would have had some beer in Riverdale, but here I was enjoying rolling around in the soft grass with my tunes on. Of course, I couldn't lay still, so I completed 100 push-ups and a few handstands.   
Remember that "M" up in the mountain
  After breaking a small sweat I headed toward the river and into downtown. Here I got an Avacado Lime ice cream cone. So refreshing!  
  I found myself by the river again a little further down stream. Some dudes were surfing on the breaks so I dipped my feet in and watched them fail countless times.  
  Further back upstream I walked until I found a multitude of college kids relaxing in the water under a pedestrian bridge. I noticed a sign that said:  
  It made sense to me, the river never seemed too deep. Then I reached the middle of the bridge and there were guys and girls jumping off. Once I saw this I knew I had to do it. I also knew Colin would love it so I shot him a text. Once he showed up we took our turns leaping into the Clark Fork River. See Instagram for the jump!  
  For the final activity Colin had convinced us last night to hike up to the "M". Wally and I foolishly agreed. I was already tired from my tour around Missoula, but I wasn't backing out now.   We met in the quad at 5 and climbed up Mount Sentinel. I take back being foolish. The climb was a sweat breaker, but it was very beautiful at the top.   
View of the campus and more
View of the Stadium, River and Downtown
  I could see my entire walk earlier today from Bruce's house through campus, across the bridge, into downtown, back toward the river, where I jumped in the river and back to Bruce's. I am in love with this town. It was a perfect "rest" day. It's also nice that it finally feels like summer again.  
  It's a rest day like this where I could stay another few days, but on the other hand, it excistes me to keeping going. And keep going I will.  
Hellz YAS

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