It was a mark of how tired I’ve been that I managed to sleep in until 07.00 this morning. It felt particularly good not to have to get out of bed straight away, but it lost it’s appeal fairly quickly and I decided to go for a walk and have a look around Missoula. Missoula is university city, and so has a virtue uncommon in America – it’s not necessary to own a car! The shops and ammenities are close enough together to be within comforatable walking distance, and it was great to stroll pass small local shops and cafés, without seeing a single Mcdonald’s. It rained all day today, a sort of steady drizzel that never developed into anything more threatening, and after I got fed up of being wet I stopped and had breakfast at a great local diner.
I took my bike over to a local bike shop this morning and had them take a look at it to make sure that nothing was about to give up. I was pleased to be told that nothing major needed doing, and that the chain and rear casette were still going strong. They gave it a tune-up and replaced the rear brake cable and rear tyre, both of which were worn out. I then wondered over to the headquaters of the Adventure Cycling Association. The ACA grew from the organization of ‘Bikecentennial’ – a tour across the US in 1976, to commemorate the bicentennial of America’s Declaration of Independence. The route they took then is now the Transam Trail. Since 1976 the ACA has grown both in size and responsibily and has created a growing network of bike routes spanning the US. It was great to talk to the guys there, including Greg Siple, one of the founders. I talked to them about the last leg of the trip, and am going to follow their advice on an alternate finish to the route. Instead of going down into central Oregon and then up the coast, I’m going to cut north into Washington, and then follow the Columbia river valley to Astoria, where the Columbia reaches the sea. This route has the advantages of being relatively flat, more direct, and taking in some awesome scenery. They rely on cyclists for a lot of there information, so I was able to I’ve them some advice on bits that have worked well, and bots that haven’t – I raised the section through Jeffrey City in Wyoming, and apparently they are developing an alternate route as they get a lot of complaints about the current one.
I met a couple from Costa Rica while I was there – they are cycling across country from West to East and have taken the same alternative that I’m taking, so could tell me about the route ahead. It was funny to hear them talk about the climb up to Lolo Pass that I’ve got to takle tomorrow – for them it was there first big climb and they had evidently been worried about it, but for me it’s the last mountain pass on route and is nothing compared to any of the big climbs I’ve done so far (on paper at least). Before I left the ACA, I signed their guest book and had my picture taken for their magizine (to which I get a free years subscription for making it this far).
Over the last few days my gloves and overshoes have been leaking, leading to cold hands and feet making for some pretty miserable cycling. So I set out this afternoon to find some replacements – this proved to be a challenge, as none of the numerous outdoors and cycling shops carried much of a selection – I found this strange for a city this far north woth a strong reputation for outdoor persuits. Eventually I managed to track down both, so should now be more comforatble over the next week or so.
I am heading out into the wilderness for the last time tomorrow, and so have a relatively short day – after 60 miles there is a strech of 70 miles with no human presence at all, so that dictates how far I’ll be going over the next couple of days.