Finishing Up Montana
This blog will have four days of travel – sorry I am a bit behind we have been putting in lots of miles and the connectivity has been pretty limited.
Also wanted to let you know – new videos have been added to the Glacier National Park- So Beautiful Blog – please take a look.
Day 21- Havre – Malta 93 miles (total miles 1157)
Weather 65 – 75 degrees – sunny and nice tail wind to push along
Today we had a great ride to Malta – the weather was nice and the tail wind pushed us along. It was a relatively flat ride and the strong tail wind allowed us to move right along and complete a potentially long day of riding fairly fast.
The majority of the ride today was on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation – our travels thru the Indian reservations have always been met with caution due to the feedback we have received from locals and other cyclists. The comments we hear are to keep moving thru the reservation and do not stay on the reservation if you can help it. The reservations have some beautiful areas but you can surely tell how poor the native Americans are and how much they are struggling. It is not uncommon for local people to see us and ask where we are going and then warn us to be careful, you can tell it is hard for them to talk about it and they do not want to appear prejudice but at the same time they do not want us to be naïve and get into trouble.
We stopped in the little town of Dodson at their convenience store (pop. 124) and spoke with the store owner, he said his business has been dying for the last several years – a combination of the fact that their are no longer small family farms( all are now 10,000 acres plus) and the oil boom has destroyed his business. He explained that he no longer has the farmers coming in every morning, for coffee and a snack and the oil boom had affected the amount of cross country cyclists coming in and also led to less people traveling his way because of all the trucking and other negative things going on because of the oil fracking. Very sad he owned the business for many years and will probably end up having to close it soon.
We continued on our way to Malta and stayed at a local campground which was right – I mean right on the railroad line. When the trains came thru which they did all night at times you thought they were going thru your tent. At the campground we had the pleasure of meeting two cross country cyclist – Kyle from Portland heading to Minneapolis and Mark from Fargo heading west to the west coast. It was nice to have a chance to chat with other cyclist and get the scoop on places to stay and things to see from Mark who was heading the opposite direction. The next morning Mark headed west and Kyle, Peter and I headed towards Glasgow or Wolf Point. Kyle was for sure going to Wolf Point and Peter and I were debating on where we wanted to end – we will see what the weather and wind are like and make our decision tomorrow. Wolf Point was a 120 plus ride and Glasgow was 70 miles – but the logistics in regard to the Indian Reservations were making it a tough decision.
Day 22 – Malta – Wolf Point 124 miles – (total miles 1281)
Weather 65 -70 degrees, sunny and a nice tail wind.
Ok we decide to go all the way to Wolf Point – it was our longest ride on the trip. We got to Glasgow stopped for lunch and looked at weather, length of ride to Wolf Point and how we felt about another 60 miles on the bike. We decided to go for it and took off after Kyle on the ride to Wolf Point.
The route had lots of long rolling hills with great views and we pretty much put our heads down and just went for it. The tail wind was great and kept us moving along. Although the last 15 miles to Wolf Point were a bit tough with the tail wind shifting to a cross wind. All the riding from Glasgow was in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The only place to stay according to our sources was Wolf Point and there was one RV Park to camp in which was in the west end of town. When we got to Wolf Point we found Kyle and biked into town to get some groceries and dinner. We had several locals come up to us and ask where we were staying and told us to not stay in the city parks it was not safe and told us to stay at the RV park. Peter even talked with a BIA officer who worked narcotics on the reservation – he also warned us to stay at the RV campground and told us the owner was a great guy and a former Native American bails bondsman and he made sure nothing bad was going on at the campground. He also said that in Wolf Point you have to look for trouble but in other parts of the reservation trouble finds you. He said we would be fine.
We stayed at the campground with Kyle and also another couple who showed up by car from Somerset, WI. They were driving across to Seattle and then the husband was going to be biking back to Somerset. They were nice to talk to and we were able to give them lots of advice about the route. Too funny again it is a small world – Andre Johnson from Somerset was a 5th grade science teacher for our youngest daughter’s college roommate – (Natalie). He of course knew Natalie and her family.
Our stay at the campground was uneventful and the next morning we headed south off the reservation towards the Town of Circle. It has been nice to be riding with Kyle – he is a nice young man and adds a bit of comic relief and smiles to our trip.
Day 23 – Wolf Point – Glendive – 108 miles (total miles 1389)
Weather – Cloudy and warm, 70 -78 degrees, cross and slight tail wind
We started early in the morning for a long ride to Glendive. We are now leaving Hwy 2 and heading south on Hwy 13 towards the town of Circle. The Adventure Cycling Maps changed their route south a few years ago after the oil fracking began in Williston, ND. This was due to the oil truck traffic on Hwy 2 and bicyclists responding that they did not feel safe on the route due to the narrow road and increased traffic.
The 53 miles to Circle was tough – it was windy and the route was mainly uphill. We were pooped when we got to Circle and relaxed over a long lunch with Kyle. After we recouped we hopped on the bikes again and began our 55 miles to Glendive. We were told by the locals that we would have an uphill climb to the continental divide – and then it was downhill for the last 30 plus miles to Glendive. We had just made it to the high point and were looking forward to the downward trip.
We had begun to head downhill at approximately twenty miles per hour when the backend of the bike started to wobble a bit and then we heard a loud bang and our back tire blew – bummer. The blowout destroyed the tube, tire and took out half of our rear brake. No worries we were able to stop safely and had all the supplies to fix the tire. Peter began to fix the flat after we removed all the bike bags and removed the tire. He got the new tire on and the new tube and was using the CO2 to fill the tube. The first one leaked and did not fill the tire, the second one jammed on the valve stem and Peter had to rip the inter tube at the stem to get it off. No worries we still had two more inter tubes. So tube number two goes on and now we have to use the emergency hand pump to fill the tube – this is very difficult and impossible to get to the full pressure of 115 lb. So along comes a van on the road and the family inside asks if we need help – they had a bicycle on the back of the van so we thought they might have a floor pump. They stopped and they did – yea. Peter pumped up the tire and then after putting everything back on the bike we were ready to go again. The family was just great they took our tent for us and told us they would reserve a room for us in town because they heard there was only two rooms left at the hotel we planned to stay at.
We continued on our ride which was all down hill (35 miles to Glendive) It was a easy ride with a nice tail wind. We still did not get in to town until about 6:00pm – we left Wolf Point at 8:00am so it was along day on the bike. Kyle who we had been riding with for the last couple of days was worried about us and waited for us at several places along the route. Luckily, again small world the family that saved us ran into Kyle at the grocery store in town and told him we were fine just had a back tire blow out. He was relieved.
We rolled into Glendive and their was a room waiting for us – last one in town. The family that rescued us just did it again. We gave them a call when we got settled in and cleaned up, they asked us to go to dinner with them – so of course we did. They were from North Carolina and Russ the father was biking across part of the country from east to west and mom and the two girls were sagging for him. We had a great dinner with them and enjoyed getting to know them. They are truly caring people and this great family is truly one to model after – they provided us with help and companionship when we most needed it and even paid for dinner.
We returned to the hotel for a good nights sleep anticipating a day off the bike the next day.
Day 24 – Glendive to Glendive – 7 miles
Weather beautiful – 65 – 75 degrees – sunny and windy
We spent the day in Glendive completing some necessary tasks – grocery shopping, laundry, lunch and a coffee break. We were headed to the grocery store and saw a familiar bicycle sitting by the local laundry mat – Kyle was inside doing his laundry – he stayed out at the state park last night. It was so good to see him and he was happy to see us. After a short visit we headed off to do our errands and Kyle headed to our hotel room for a much needed shower and then he was heading out to Medora his next stop about 60 miles away.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and getting ready to take off the next morning.