#acaNoTier Wolf Point to Circle, 52 Miles | God Bless Montana Farm Families

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Bookends.

That’s how I would describe today.

It began and ended with hearing personal stories of Montana farm families and getting a better understanding of their concerns and their day-to-day lives.

When we were checking out of our campsite at Steamboat Dry Goods we asked Alice how the Dry Goods store came to be.

One story led to another and we found out Alice and her husband farm a very large ranch 15 miles away from the store. She explained what family farming is like, the economics of it, how the Montana drought last summer affected their crops and how tariffs might affect profit margins this year. Irrigation, insurance, the machinery, bank loans, and more.

I could have listened to Alice all day, especially since these are issues I don’t know a lot about but seem pretty important. To all of us. Do you like chick peas? They may have been grown in Montana. Lentils? Montana – and the list goes on.

Let’s just say I’ve added Alice, her family and all farmers to my prayer list.

So now for the end of the night, the other bookend.

When is the last time you handed someone a hundred dollar bill to support a cause you learned about only 15 minutes before?

This happened to us last night at the Circle City Park. Tom and I had just set up camp and were beginning our evening routine when Kevin stopped by to chat. He said he was meeting his “hay crew” in a bit to bale hay that night – apparently this is the best time to bale hay in Montana.

He was curious about our bike ride and we gave him the deets. He was particularly interested in Back on My Feet and their work with veterans.

Soon after his “hay crew” showed up. It was his beautiful wife Dawn, and their five children. The eldest sons, David and Donavan were meeting dad at city park to work all night. Dawn stayed behind to play with the children at the park before returning home.

This family visited with us for some time and it’s hard for me to explain how special they are.

This family. Salt of the earth. Good solid, faith filled folks who shared their stories with us and were interested in what we were doing. Again, the intentions they shared… on the prayer list.

Haha in case anyone is interested I keep a Google spreadsheet of everyone’s request so I don’t forget.

Back to our family, Kevin and Dawn, I don’t know your last names, and I was only able to give you a quick technology lesson about accessing our blog but know that you inspired us in BIG ways. Thank you.

And your idea of charity? It’s bold. And that’s something I need to practice more of. Bold charity.

Oh and about the riding, although it was a shorter day of only 50 miles, the rollers (over 2,000 feet worth) and the steady headwind wore us down a little. However we stopped more and ate more so all was well.

There were no “hangries” today for me but I almost threw a rock at Tom when I climbed to the top of a rise and found he’d gotten got his chair out and was sitting by the side of the road catching up on email waiting for me. And that was early on at mile six!

Between that and taking my pic when I fell asleep with the phone in my hand calls for action on my part. Watch out, Tom!

We crossed the mighty Missouri River today and Tom auditioned for a new job and danced a jig (I believe that puts him at three jigs, Mikey). 😊

Shortly after our picnic lunch next to the audition location we realized we were about out of water. Every ready Tom went to scout out some water and met Aaron and Lindsey who were eager to help. Seriously these Montanans are uber nice.

After a burger and grocery shopping we called the sheriff about camping in the city park and it was no problem.

We are ready for a longer riding day tomorrow!

#acaNoTier Glasgow to Wolf Point, 61 Miles | How Things Get Done

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We’ve had some questions about how the videos are created, who does what in camp, and also concerns about riding day in and out. Soooo…. we thought it might be fun to give you an inside look at how things get done here on the road.

When camping, we usually wake up about 5:30 or 6:00 without an alarm. If there isn’t a big reason to jump up and get things going like sprinklers systems starting or rain, we lay in the tent and do a little dot-coming.

Dot.coms are checking weather, texts, news, sports, social media or blogging. Takes about 10-15 minutes.

Once out of the tent we usually both dash for a bathroom. Then Tom uncovers the bikes and lays the tarp out. Everything comes out of the tent and laid on the tarp and the tent is taken down. Tom then rolls the sleeping pads, and stuffs all the bags.

While he is doing that I’m making breakfast which is oatmeal with chopped walnuts and raisins, coffee and sometimes a bagel or breakfast bar if a second breakfast won’t be available. I finish up the blog if needed.

We get dressed in our cycling clothes, load our panniers, put them on the bikes, do push ups and planks, say our prayer and we are on our way!

Without rushing this all takes about 90 minutes but we can finish faster if we don’t cook and instead, get breakfast on the road.

Our fave time to cycle is first thing in the morning with fresh legs as we anticipate what the day will bring. We ride quietly and complete our own prayer time individually: Rosary for me and Tom says a litany of prayers daily.

At about 20 miles we plan for a second breakfast or a cup of coffee and snack at a gas station.

After that we may turn some music or a podcast on until the next stop which is never soon enough for me. I like “resties” a lot. These are when you get off your bike for 10 minutes or so.

If winds are favorable resties don’t happen quite as much. If unfavorable, they happen a little more often. If there are mosquitoes… We. Don’t. Stop.

We usually eat lunch on the road anywhere we can find a place to lean our bikes and sun (if it’s cold) or shade (if it’s hot) and always out of the wind.

Generally we know each day what our end point will be and if we will be stopping for dinner or cooking in camp. If stopping for dinner in town we do so on the way to camp.

The ACA maps are super helpful in providing mileage, services, elevation and even interesting field notes.

Sometimes we have to do a little exploring to locate the campground and if needed, we call ahead for details.

Once we arrive to our campsite, which may be a National Park, City Park, bike campground or RV/private campground we reverse the order above.

Bags off and unloaded. Both of us set up the tent (in about four minutes tops), we each get out our pads and bags and lay them out in the tent.

I like to get out of my bike shorts as quickly as possible. I usually cook up dinner and then it’s shower time if they are available. If not a spit bath works, too.

Tom looks the bikes over and every couple days cleans them and lubes the chains. Every single morning he checks air pressure in the tires.

We like to plan three or four days in advance where we think we may stay and we add up the mileage for each day. That’s one of my fave things to do, planning the upcoming days.

We’re usually in the tent reading and blogging by 9:00pm. It’s light here until about 10:00pm but we don’t have any issues getting to sleep at all.

An important part of the whole bike travel experience is keeping the devices charged – mostly the Garmin with the digital maps and our iPhones. We also have rear and front lights, Shuffles and an iPad with Tom’s books. The Garmin and the phones are prioritized for charging. Tom has a little gadget where multiple USB devices can be charged. We plug this hub in whenever we can to charge up (lunch stops, etc) . So far it hasn’t been an issue but just in case we both carry one charged portable battery pack.

As far as the blogging we both take pics and vids all day with our iPhones. After dinner Tom airdrops them to me. I then import them all into an app called VivaVideo where I can sequence the clips and add music. All the music is on my iPhone and if there is a song that fits particularly well and I don’t have it, it’s easy to buy and apply.

The vids are saved to my iPhone, and uploaded to WordPress.

After doing the video it’s pretty easy to write a blog post since the pics refresh the memory. We take turns blogging either at night or in the morning.

I snag the riding stats from Tom’s Strava account and link them at the top of the day’s post. Then we summarize the day.

The blog not only lets our friends, family and followers know what we are up to and where we are, it’s a journal for us that we will enjoy and use to plan our next bike travel adventure. The whole blogging process with video takes about an hour each day.

WordPress automatically posts to Facebook and Twitter. And it means SO much to us to get likes and comments on any and all of these platforms. We read every single one. Tom is reading them now!

Lastly folks are asking how the bodies are holding up. After all we are grands lol. And yes sometimes I affectionately call Tom “gramps”.

We feel pretty good! No soreness and we feel like we are getting stronger. And we’re going through a good amount of sunscreen now that the rainy cold weather is behind us. Fingers crossed.

We rode to Mass yesterday without bags on and the bikes felt so weird. It’s as if it was harder to steer them without the bags. So I guess it’s all what you get used to.

I struggled with energy a little yesterday but I think it had more to do with what I ate the last 24 hours than anything else. A nice big Caesar salad with grilled chicken for dinner sometimes isn’t enough. I’m still figuring that out although it hasn’t been a big issue. We miss our morning protein smoothies with greens, fruit, flax and chia seeds. Any my goji berries! I need goji berries!

Tom is riding strong and always positive! We have figured out that we say “huh” a lot to each other and might be losing some of our hearing. Can anyone else relate?

Oh and by the way, yesterday’s ride was sweet! Tom’s comment was “If I died and went to heaven this is what it would be like cycling.”

The roadside flowers kept me grinning yesterday while riding on Indian Highway – just miles and miles of wildflowers- mostly violet, some yellow, some white. All magnificent.

The place we are camping is super cool. There is an outfitter store in the front of a stone and cedar ranch. We are camping in their backyard and they are letting us use their deluxe kitchen and bathroom (yay). It’s out in the middle of the country and it is a lovely setting with horses grazing next door and an uber blue cloudless sky.

#acaNoTier Malta to Glasgow, 71 Miles | Skeeters

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There’s a little something something for all in today’s recap. Where to begin…

Maybe with animals.

Several pronghorn antelope were spotted and if you’ve never seen a herd trot away, put that on your bucket list. Seriously. They will make you smile.

And the cattle. Usually the curious cows look up and stare until we are out of site. (Yes I ring my bike bell at them.) Today we practically had an all out stampede.

And I’m very sorry to report many more deceased birds today than snakes yesterday. I don’t mind snakes but I like birds a lot better. Sorry to see so many casualties today.

But the biggest impact today was the smallest animal – the mosquitos. They were tortuous. Apparently Saco is known as mosquito central. Who knew? As we made our way east they got worse.

Montanans kept asking how we could tolerate being outside. They told us the swarms had been know to take down a horse.

When we stopped for a drink at a convenience store and talked to a woman whose Ford pickup looked like she’d been four wheelin’ she related instead – mosquitoes. Check the vid for a visual.

Who knew? Montana. Mosquitoes.

Then there is always weather. Storm clouds skirted around us all afternoon but the heavens didn’t break open until we were safely checked into the hotel.

Some tailwinds and a bit of crosswinds for good measure kept us right near our target of 70 miles a day.

Solid shoulders with moderate rumble strips today made for good riding.

Montana drivers were alert, courteous and scant.

So much of today was just big sky and long roads. Just the way we like it!

Laundry is done. Devices charged. Maps checked and Tom discovered Spotify. Life is good.

I’d say it was an awesome day for bike ridin’.

#acaNoTier Chinook to Malta, 73 Miles | Tailwind? Yes Please!

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From Tom:

We are one day closer to winter 😩. But we are enjoying the moment 😁.

We got up super early this morning in the Memorial Park in Chinook since we were told the sprinklers would come on at 5:30 am. We scrambled to get the tent down and everything loaded. We passed on brewing coffee and cooking oatmeal and delayed our pushups and planks until evening. 5:30 am came and went and no sprinklers, but the skeeters were bad enough, so we were happy to get going.

We stopped in town to grab a coffee and let the eastern sun rise up enough since we were heading east and wanted the easterly drivers to see us clearly.

Off we went with not a cloud in the sky and a tailwind of 10-14mph. After a quick 21 miles, we entered Harlem and into a ConocoPhillips gas station for a second breakfast of coffee, protein bar for Tom and a small (supersized) KitKat bar for the Debster. 😁.

We took off heading east and entered the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. We left US2 for the first time in 4 days for a 9 mile joyous ride through the reservation with zero traffic. But with tailwind that joyous ride came to and end quickly and back to US2 and our rumble strips.

We were making great time and there was talk of a century ride. That idea ended quickly with 20 miles to go and the narrowing of shoulders and major focus kicked in for the next hour. We couldn’t imagine riding like this for another 50 miles.

We entered our destination of Malta at 1:30 pm and looked for a destination for a great big burger 🍔 since Tom was starving.

Great Northern served up a deluxe cheeseburger with fries for Tom and tater tots for Deb 👍. On to our camp ground at the city park with the threat of rain coming.

With the rain here, we are blessed to have a shelter to set our tent under. We were definitely blessed today with the sun, tailwind and gentle rains to fall asleep to.

Spaghetti, fresh broccoli and bread was for dinner and a walk to the convenience store for ice cream right after.

An Irish Blessing… “May the road rise to meet you, and the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm on your face. and the rains fall softly on your fields.🍀

#acaNoTier Joplin to Chinook, 74 Miles | Spandex in Montana

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Early on in the day we caught up with fellow thru-biker, Melissa. She stopped at the city park two towns east of us. We saw her bike outside and stopped in to say “hi”.

Lucky us… they served up the best cinnamon rolls and coffee.

We’re hoping to see Melissa again as we leap frog eastbound along the Northern Tier.

We also did a little grocery shopping at the Walmart in Havre. Opposite of how we shop at home, most of our groceries came from the middle aisles whereas when shopping at home it’s all from the perimeter although we still managed a few fruits and veggies. And it was seasoned black beans and brown rice for dinner with carrots and bread. Yum!

Now about that spandex…

Ummm there aren’t a lot of men we have run into that wear spandex in small town taverns in Montana.

Ya gotta love a man who wears bike shorts and feels comfortable enough in his skin to lean his bike against a building on Main Street in Chinook, Montana, and order a beer in the local tavern.

Such was the case tonight when we rolled into town thinking we would dodge a thunderstorm before setting up our tent in the city park.

Gotta admit, it was a little tense when we entered, Tom in spandex, most others in cowboy hats and jeans. Many of our friends, family and followers know the feeling, even if you don’t wear spandex in Montana. Yep we may have even overheard a couple comments.

Can’t blame folks. Sometimes cyclists can be a pain in the arse on the road. And then there’s the bike shorts thing.

We get it.

Two sisters saw us riding into town and either out of kindness (or maybe pity, lol) walked over to give us a couple of free pint tokens.

Then a gentleman named Greg who Tom spoke to outdoors when checking on the weather shared with us that he was a veteran and served in the Vietnam War. Soon after, he and his wife Mary came over to chat.

We shared more about Back on My Feet and its mission and they had so many questions about BoMF and the bike ride. Greg wanted to donate on the spot!

Instead we asked for his prayers for a safe journey, wide shoulders on the side of the road and alert drivers.

Long neck Buds started appearing on our table as folks warmed up to us. It ended with us reciprocating and a buying a round for all before we left to set up camp.

The point is… look for the good and assume the best in people. Put love where there is no love, and then there will be love. What if we would have turned around and walked out?

And it sure doesn’t hurt for two sweet sisters to get the ball rolling.

#acaNoTier Cardston, Alberta to Cut Bank, MT, 73 miles | 1,000 Miles Completed!

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Nice, nice ride today and that wasn’t what we were expecting – not that we are Debbie Downers but it was that forecast we kept checking…

Tailwinds, downhills and very little traffic – most everything a cyclist could ask for. And lots of wide open spaces.

We encountered only about 10 raindrops all day and that’s when we walked out the door. Yay!

After making oatmeal with walnuts and craisins at the hotel we chomped down bagels slathered with peanut butter for breakfast and of course lots of coffee. Push ups, planks and prayers and we were on our way.

We didn’t eat again until we rolled into Cut Bank a little over 70 miles later. Well there was that bag of Tootsie rolls that jumped in my bag at the little market in Del Bonita and the peanuts Tom snacked on. We need to do better on that today.

We were ready for food when we finished at Cut Bank having completed our first 1,000 miles. Cut Bank is known as the place where the Rockies meet the plains.

Coincidentally the Cut Bank Brewery was on the way to our camp spot in an RV Park and the food truck was just pulling in so problem solved.

We are finding that averaging 70 miles a day works well for us but we are hoping for some higher mileage days if we get some westerly winds to carry us.

Also trying to eat only one meal out and cooking two in camp is working well. We will see how the next couple weeks go.

My day began with a missed opportunity to love though, and it’s been on my mind all day.

We had just read through the gospel and darned if I didn’t miss an opportunity.

Within 100 yards of leaving the hotel we were approached by a native named Jim, in need of quite a bit of dental work, and wearing a Brett Farve Jersey. He asked for money and although we didn’t have any Canadian money, I did have a Payday in my bike bag. He probably would have been thrilled had I handed it over.

I just couldn’t get Jim off my mind all day. Usually when there is a missed opportunity to concretely love someone, there is another chance shortly after. None today but maybe there will be tomorrow. It would have been just so easy to think a little longer about what he needed than thinking of my fast response.

Tom is fast asleep after cleaning the bikes, lubing the chains and showering up. The cows are lowing, the trains are rolling by. Out of one side of the tent there is a tepee and the other side, the sunset. Oh and did I mention there is WiFi?

What a charmed life we are living. #grateful

#acaNoTier Babb to Cardston, Alberta, 63 miles | Oh Canada

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Oh Canada, why do you choose to be besties with Montana? We understand the climbs but the rain, fog and cold temps don’t make for easy cycling. Be nice!

Let’s just say after the high life “up on the mountain” yesterday, we very much felt like we traveled to the valley today.

First we watered down at a 123 year old market that’s been owned and operated by five generations. Very cool store – it’s seen a lot of history.

After the first 10 miles, very few pics because… it rained. All. Day. Long.

Where we expected to get pics at the Canadian border, her mountains and lakes entering the Waterton area and the countryside, there was so much fog and rain, our phones stayed safely tucked away in waterproof bags.

And we were NOT expecting Crusher Hill this morning and that was just the beginning of nearly 3,500 feet of elevation.

And the unexpected ride in the midst of free roaming curious cattle and horses was a little like cycling among the bison back in Yellowstone a few years back. #coexist

The US border agent rolled his eyes as we pulled up soaked to the core and thought to ask, “Didn’t you check the forecast before heading out?” Why yes sir we we did. When we explained what we were doing he just shook his head and said, “Just a couple of bada$$es”

Lol. Just a couple of grands out for a long bike ride. #bucketlist

The whole day we found something to smile about whether it was the generous shoulders the Canadian highways provide, the smooth pavement, or sailing down the other side of long hills. There is ALWAYS something for which to be grateful.

Although there was no second breakfast, Mountain View at about 45 miles greeted us with poutine, walking tacos, sweet potato fries and a burger. We were wet, cold and ravenous.

Finally to Cardston where we opted for a hotel to dry out our clothes, tent and cook a simple meal. And then there were those Blizzards from DQ.

Oh and the old timer in the vid is Russ from Idaho. Check out is 1947 Ford. Sweet!

Weather forecast is the same tomorrow with a little warmer temps however there are no services on the 73 mile ride.

Although we have plenty of food in our bike bags, no services means there will be no second breakfast or lunch stops like Mountain View to take shelter in and warm up. Wahhhh

We decided to go big or go home, keep smiling and pedal on instead of laying up in Cardston.

And… the extended weather forecast looks a little more optimistic! That’s something I can really smile about.

#acaNoTier Avalanche to Babb via Logan Pass, 40 Miles | Logan Strong

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Today took us up and OVER Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road. In the most fortunate series of events our friends Karl and Finn gave us a ride to Avalanche (the point at which cars are not permitted to travel up the pass).

As you may recall we rode toward Logan Pass as far as we could to the Loop a couple days ago on a rainy, cold day.

Just yesterday because we chose to ride toward Polebridge we learned the Pass was open to cyclists all the way and were encouraged to make the trek.

It was an unforgettable ride that despite some clouds went remarkably well.

Sometimes the things you think are going to be the hardest to do, don’t end up that way. That’s the way it was for us. #noprobs

Tom and I stayed close together all the way up. And we were awed by the incredible views.

Thanks to Karl and Finn for shuttling us up over roads we already covered.

We were unable to get pics or vids of a herd of big horn sheep on the way down the pass. Seeing them was also a high point.

Tonight we are camping in Babb, MT and wouldn’t you know it, we met another neighbor, Geoff, who is here for a Sprinter rally. What a fun guy to chat with. He gave us a deluxe tour of his Sprinter. Might be a home on the road for us someday after bicycle touring! Who knows?

 

#acaNoTier Glacier National Park to Hungry Horse, 13 Miles | Huckleberry Happy at Meyer-Finn Warm Shower

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From Tom:

Today we head to Hungry Horse, MT for a short ride to visit our Indy buds, John (Finn) Karl Meyer and his wife Barb.

Little did we know our ride back tracking on US2 was basically all downhill to town, which meant all up hill to get back to our campsite the next day to continue our ride over Logan Pass 😔.

We started off with our two day camping neighbor, Jay. He was heading to Whitefish.

We had our goodbye hugs a couple miles as he turned off. Of course a few miles later we had to duck in to The Trap Line cafe for a second breakfast and avoid a rain shower. Of course the rain continued and the waitress wouldn’t let us leave and kept topping off our coffee.

On the back of the menu it described doing The Trap Line in the 1940s. Back then the valley had 30 some saloons. You had to have a drink in every Saloon to do “The Trap Line”.

Finally on to our destination to a beautiful house on the Flat Head River. We got a well needed hot shower as well as laundered our clothes. A little bike maintenance on the covered back porch and we were ready for Finn to arrive from Indy via Kalispell Airport. After a wonderful visit we were off to visit the surroundings: Hungry Horse Dam, outpost shopping, etc.

This was our first “riding in a car” for over two weeks. Then on to dinner for a tasty meal at BackSlope Brewery in Columbia Falls. After filling our bellies with Aussie Burgers it was time to head back to the homestead.

Deb and I got our things ready for departure the next day while Barb got a toasty fire going in the backyard fire pit overlooking the river. Just imagine our evening ending sitting around the campfire eating warmed up Huckleberry Bearclaws with a scoop of ice cream on top amidst the best of friends. Need I say any more!!!!

Finn, finally we have your song request. 😊

#acaNoTier Glacier National Park, 24 Miles | The Sound of Sunshine

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Thanks to Tom doing his sundance jig first thing today the sun was shining all day long and we enjoyed a spectacular day. Thanks Montana! Thanks Tom!

Our friends Karl and Barb Meyer stopped by this morning to firm up our rendezvous in Hungry Horse tomorrow when Finn Dog gets here. THESE peeps are true outdoor folk and could be river or equestrian guides at any outfitter. Can’t wait to hear more of their stories tomorrow night when Finn get here.

First stop was the post office to see if our package arrived and indeed it did. Front panniers, warm gloves and a care package (daughter to parents instead of the other way around). Thanks Anne, Gordon and John! We especially love the chocolate covered Oreos.

Once the bags were on, we pit stopped for some more coffee, bagels, oatmeal and peanut butter. #biketravelstaples

Then off to ride toward Polebridge. We’ve been there before by car and knew we wouldn’t make it all the way since the last 14 miles are gravel. Nevertheless we opted for a short ride with a few hills to keep us honest.

Oh and we got a “pass”. Logan Pass that is. It is OPEN to thru bikers. So up and over we will go on Sunday, weather permitting to Canada.

We picnicked by Lake McDonald planned our border crossing then went back to our campsite to get organized to leave tomorrow for Hungry Horse and make dinner.

We will return to GNP on Sunday to hit Logan Pass.

And BTW we just heard the weather forecast for tomorrow. Another sundance is needed. 🤣