Day 9 – Tuesday, June 22nd

Darby, Montana, to Lolo, Montana

We ate breakfast the next morning at a cafè recommended by the motel owners. The food was good, and we talked awhile to a person who was interested in our bicycle trip. He said that with the crash of the housing bubble, the town was hurting because houses were no longer being built, and there was nowhere to sell the lumber that was much of the income of the area.

We left Darby fairly late this day – it was 11:20 AM. This late start almost left us insufficient daylight to reach our planned stopping point of Lolo.

Heading north toward Hamilton

Although there were storms around (as you can see in the picture), we didn't get rained-on this day. It seems that summer had finally arrived, a long time coming!

We had heard from various people (including the bicyclists at North Fork) that there was road construction north of Hamilton, and were apprehensive of how to get around it.

We had also heard there was a bicycle shop in Hamilton, so we might be able to replace my uncomfortable handlebar grips.

Entering Hamilton, Montana

At last, freedom from the pain – not from medical marijuana on the left, but from the bicycle shop on the right!

It turned out that the bicycle shop indeed had the better (and cheaper) handlebar grips, so I was finally to get some relief from the pain in my hands. In fact, they had more of the padded, tubular grips, so we installed them on the bar-end grips as well. We were now both better equipped for a long, cross-country trip. It's too bad we spent the money on the more-expensive (but bad for long trips) grips in the first place.

Bad Handlebar Grips - What you need to know.

The bicycle shop also had good information about precisely where the road construction was (and how to get around it), as well as a good place for lunch. The construction didn't start until the town of Victor, and we could turn east there to get to the east side highway (which had narrow shoulders), and hopefully we would cycle it before rush hour.

We ate at a brewery/bar nearby, that was playing music from the 60's. Somehow the ambiance seem to hit the spot for us. The food was great. Unfortunately, by the time we left, we knew we wouldn't be cycling the east-side road entirely before rush hour.

We made it to the town of Victor, and turned east for about two miles, then turned north on the east side highway. It had hardly any shoulders at all. Worrying about the traffic, we didn't get any pictures in this section. We finally made it to Stevensville, where we picked up a paved bicycle path, which we made use of after a short break in the town.

When we rejoined highway 93, we were past the construction, and the bicycle path continued on the west side of the road.

On the bicycle path, heading north toward Lolo, in the late afternoon sun

We ate in the town of Florence, and continued on our way.

We met a bicyclist on the path, who was preparing for a race. He talked for us for awhile, being interested in our trek. He also offered to put us up for the night in a bunkhouse a short distance back down the bike path, as he often did for cross-country cyclists.

Mostly concerned about meeting our planned stops for the remainder of the trip, I declined his kind offer, wanting to be at least as far north as Lolo before we stopped.

We got some troubling news on talking to him, that our chosen route through Flathead Valley to the north was “all uphill”, and it would be hard for us to make it. This information did not fit with the research I had done, so I was dubious about it. In retrospect, I think what he was saying was that he had done it in the past, and his memory of it was that much of it was up-hill. Given the large amount of up-and-down going around the west side of Flathead Lake, that impression was correct.

He said good-bye to us, continuing his training ride to the north. However, to help us out, on reaching Lolo, he had stopped at the motel and told them to hold a room for us, which was very kind.

We made it to Lolo at 9:35 PM, which was the closest to dark we were cycling during the whole trip. This time we stayed in a chain motel (because it was the only motel in Lolo), and it was more expensive, but there was plenty of room for our bicycles in the room.

On this day, we traveled 56.7 miles, at an average speed of 9.3 miles per hour.

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