Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Check back here daily to read about our progress in our cross-country bicycle tour to benefit the FFB.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Day 73: Hamilton, MT to Missoula, MT (50 miles, 3423 total)

Well, today we arrived into the heart of American bicycle touring. Missoula is home to the Adventure Cycling Association which is a non-profit orgainization that promotes and supports bicycle touring in the US. They produce the maps we use, orgainize tours, and document every rider to cross the country by bike on the TransAm and other trails.

We woke up at 6, packed up, and the three of us were pedalling by 7:30AM. We quickly rode through Woodside 2 miles later and arrived in the town of Victor after 10 miles. In Victor we stopped for a quick breakfast at a cafe (no pigs in a blanket), and got back on the road to ride into another headwind.

Luckily, the headwind was not too strong and we had no major hills to conquer. When we arrived in Florence, we rode on a bike path all the way to the town of Lolo.

Out of Lolo, we had to ride a rather busy road into Missoula. At one point, I scored my fifth flat of the trip (11 total now). I pulled over to fix it, and I guess I pulled over too far as AK never saw me! With the roar of the traffic, AK never heard me yelling to get her attention. Oh well, I fixed the flat and met up with them (Dale and AK) just in town.

With a population of 57,000, Missoula is one of the biggest cities we have ridden into in a long time. The streets were busy and it seemed to take forever to get to the Adventure Cycling office. When we finally arrived, we had free ice cream and soda and browsed the cycling related items in the cyclists' lounge. By the way, the door pulls for the front door are drop handlebars complete with bar tape. Anyway, on our way out they snapped a polaroid of us to add to their wall of cyclists that have ridden through this summer. It was fun to look over all the photos of our fellow riders that visited before us. We spotted the photo of Dave and Patty and realized that it was dated today!

Anyway, from the ACA, we headed over to a local bike shop called Missoula Bicycle Works. Bicycle chains stretch with use; if neglected, an extremely worn chain will require the drivetrain to be totally replaced in order to get the bike to shift properly. Buying a chain is much cheaper than a complete drivetrain, so we opted for the preventive maintenance.

For good reason, most bike shops really don't appreciate people walking in and asking work to be done that instant. We are on a tight schedule, and needed the work done immediately. Knowing that requiring so much of a busy mechanic is frowned upon, I offered to do the work myself if I could use their tools. "No problem," they said and even let me use a repair stand. In the end, we were in and out of the shop with shiney new chains in less than an hour. The shop is definately top-shelf, and I'd recommend any cyclists headed through town to use them (even if you can't do the work yourself, their mechanics seemed very well informed). Check them out:

Missoula Bicycle Works
521 South Higgins,
Missoula, MT
(406) 721-6525

AK's has been having a bit of a problem with her right hand feeling numb from the pressure of the handlebars. So we've been looking for a shorter stem with a rise in it to help her sit more upright and off her hands. All of the shops we have passed through have not quite had what she needs (it is an odd shape and size, so even the best shops would likely have to special order it). By chance (and with some luck), another bike shop next to our lunch stop had what she needed. While we ate some awesome burritos from Tacos del Sol, the guys at the Bike Doctor put on AK's new stem. I think she'll be a lot more comfortable now. (Note from AK - I just want feeling in my fingers again!)

Then we were off to find a place to stay for the night. With such a large town, camping seemed like a bad idea, so we opted to hunt for a cheap hotel. Not far from Adventure Cycling, Dale, AK and I found the Royal Hotel. A storm was brewing and rain was starting to fall, so we didn't have much time to pick and choose. The place had a room with two twins (not a good option for 3), and a suite with 3 queens. The price wasn't bad, so we went with the suite.

As we were loading the bikes into the room, Dave and Patty spotted us. It turned out they are in the hotel nextdoor. Dale finally had the chance to meet the couple he had heard about from so many other riders. As it rained outside, we all sat around sharing stories in the room for about an hour and a half. It was great to catch up and hear what Dave and Patty have been up to since KY.

Then it was time to shower before dinner. While I was in the shower, Dale spotted two more cyclits headed for the office of the motel. Wanting to help reduce our costs, Dale chased them down to offer up the extra room in our "suite". Mark and Kim are biking from Portland here and then up into Glacier National Park. They were happy to save themselves a few bucks and took the extra room, and we are happy to have them. The best part, Kim is riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker like mine.

AK and I took off for the laundromat while Kim and Mark showered up. Upon returning, all five of us headed out for Thai food to celebrate Mark's birthday. It turns out they are familar with the town and took us out to a great place; the curries were fabulous.

Now we are all back in the room and Mark and Kim have just showed up with a chocolate cake and ice cream to celebrate more birthday fun. It smells great and we are gonna chow down right now...



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