Day 10 – Wednesday, June 23rd

Lolo, Montana, to St. Ignatius, Montana

We got going earlier this morning (9:20 AM), knowing we would have two significant climbs on this day.

Leaving our motel in Lolo

We lost our paved bicycle path, but the scenery was excellent, and the road shoulders wide.

Rivers seen on our way from Lolo to Missoula

There were some climbs in this section, but no big deal.

Entering Missoula

We entered Missoula heading east-north-east, turning north on Reserve Street. We ate at a Subway sandwich shop soon after turning onto Reserve Street. We also purchased the sandwiches we would eat for lunch, since it didn't look like there were any eating places at where we would be at lunch-time.

We went north a long way on this street. I was not seeing the landmarks I was looking for to indicate where to turn west, so I inquired inside a bank to find out where we would need to turn.

We turned west on Broadway street, which became the frontage road (south of Interstate 90). We followed this road past one freeway entrance, then about 9 miles to the next freeway entrance/overpass, where we rejoined our old friend, highway 93.

But before heading north, we took a break at the freeway truck stop, in preparation for the climb.

Profile of the terrain from Missoula (on the right) to Saint Ignatius (on the left)

The truck-stop was at about mile 32.5. The first (biggest) climb (Evaro Hill) would be 800 feet vertical ascent, so it wasn't much in comparison with Lost Trail Pass, or even Willow Creek Summit, but it was significant.

The second climb (Ravalli Hill) would be even steeper, but at 500 feet vertical, not as high. It would be at the end of the day when we would be tired.

It started out not being very steep, so we thought the hill would be no big deal. But then it got steeper, and even I (who try to avoid walking) had to get off and push much of the way.

Climbing Evaro Hill, in many places too steep to cycle with our fully loaded bicycles

At long last, we made it to the top. Near the top, I saw a sign in what looked like English letters, but with many diacritical marks, which made it look like Polish. About then, the Evaro Bar came into view, where we might be able to get a cold drink (I could use one just now)...

The Evaro Bar, at the top of Evaro Hill

We ate our lunch here, and did get some cold drinks. I asked a person in the bar about the sign that appeared to be in Polish. He said it was in a language called Salish, which is spoken by the three tribes inhabiting the Flathead Indian Reservation.

After a well-earned rest, we continued on our way. It was now downhill for a very long way. We soon entered the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Entering the reservation – note the Salish language script on the bottom line of the sign

Some distance down the road, we encountered an interesting structure. It was a wide bridge, enabling animals to cross over the meat-grinder-of-a-highway.

The “Animals' Bridge” - note the Salish language writing

About 7 miles farther down the road (downhill), we reached the town of Arlee, and took a break at a store.

At the store in Arlee

We enjoyed a cool drink. Later one of the horses wanted to sniff my hand, which brought memories of growing up on a farm.

After a short rest, we were again underway. It was in this section that Malcolm got his one flat tire of the trip. He was really annoyed at having to fix a flat, since he scrupulously avoids leaving pavement (where one may encounter puncture-vines), and even carries the bicycle over such places.

I guess having a flat is like your health. You can do everything you can to stay healthy, yet you can still be unlucky and get health problems. We removed the load from the bicycle, fixed the flat, and re-packed the load. Such is life.

[Malcolm – Let Aere think that these things just happen by chance. I know what is really going on, I know that I did everything right, it's just that Someone Up There Does Not Like Me! I know it, You know it, the Lord knows it, so admit it dammit! It is really the result of deeply hidden sins. God stopped taking care of the universe that day, just to give me a flat, and a character building lesson! It could have been when I said a cuss word the day before..... maybe it was a bad thought in 7th grade that finally caught up with me. I do hate flats, and do a lot to prevent them. It is really a 'righteousness vs. not-worthy' kind of cause and effect.]

Again, we had the problem where the hand-pumps we had would not inflate the tires to the proper high pressure needed by the tire, no matter how hard you tried. This was problematic, since it appeared the flat happened when he accidentally rolled over a rumble strip, and it pinched the tube because the tire was not sufficiently inflated to prevent pinching the tube.

Miles down the road, at the bottom of the hill, was the town of Ravalli. There was a used-car place here, and they were kind enough to let us use their compressed air to fully inflate the high-pressure tire. Again (as with mine), just a few quick bursts brought it up to pressure.

We were nearly to our planned stopping place, so we didn't eat here. But before we got to where we would stop and eat, we had to climb the one final hill: Ravalli Hill. This one was very steep, and a 500 foot vertical ascent.

We started up the hill, and it quickly got very steep. I don't like having to get off and push because I walk slower than Malcolm. I tried everything I knew to avoid having to get off and push.

First, in the slowest gear, I slowed down to the minimum to reduce the rate of climb (requiring less energy). That wasn't going to be enough. I tried un-weighting the rising leg, which helped, but not quite enough. To get a little more power, I started pulling up against the toe-clips on the up-stroke.

That made a big difference. My speed went from 2.8 miles per hour up to 3.3 miles per hour without even thinking about it. But I doubted I could keep it up for long. To my surprise, I could. Maybe I was getting stronger from all the climbing we had done.

To avoid getting to far ahead of Malcolm, I stopped and waited for him, but I could have kept going. Although Malcolm doesn't hesitate to get off an push if it's too steep, he walks (even uphill) at 3.2 to 3.6 miles per hour. When I do the same, my speed is only 2.4 to 2.6 miles per hour.

Malcolm, tired at the end of the day, pushing his bicycle up Ravalli Hill

When he caught up, I told him what I had learned. I then resumed cycling again, making it all the way to the top, where he took the victory-shot when he caught up.

We made it up Ravalli Hill – the last significant climb of the trip!

I was elated to have finished this last significant climb, and happy that I had been able to cycle all the way up it with only one rest stop – despite its steepness.

From here, it was about 3 and a half miles down-hill to the town of Saint Ignatius. This town grew up around a Jesuit Mission on the reservation.

At the first motel on the west side of the highway, there was no vacancy. But at the Sunset Motel (on the east side of the highway) we got a room for the night.

Our motel in Saint ignatius

We ate supper at a malt-shop in town, with early-60's music playing. There I indulged myself in having a caramel malt with extra malt, and a hamburger. Both are pushing-it with my diet, but considering the exercise we were getting day after day, it probably didn't matter much.

On this day, we traveled 50.8 miles – in spite of two significant climbs, with an average speed of 8.2 miles per hour.

Next Day

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