Supposedly we only lost 1,300 feet of elevation from Lincoln to Missoula but it seemed like it was downhill all the way. Good thing, too. We averaged 13.7 mph which means we had some kind of help. Today it was gravity. We were following rivers, mostly the Blackfoot (known because of "A river runs through it.")
We had rain twice so I get to show you some pictures of sky that do not look like postcards.
At 27 miles we stopped at Trixi's Antler Bar in Ovando, ostensibly to use the bathroom. She had homemade blueberry-cherry pie, so we each had a slice.
After lunch we hooked up with a Californian who was riding from his family vacation place at nearby Seely Lake, to Missoula, where he would meet his family at a fair of some type. He and I both got the memo about being visible.
The only negative about the route was the heavy, high speed traffic. There was a wide shoulder so it wasn't unsafe, it was just noisy, nerve-wracking and unpleasant. The scenery was great, and going downhill was also great. It wasn't all downhill but probably 80% was.
By this time the sky had cleared, as you can see. However, shortly thereafter, the skies opened and rain started. When Marie and I stopped to put on our rain gear, our riding companion Mark carried on and we lost him. Then the rain really started coming down, with some lightning. We were looking for a place to shelter, which took maybe 5 or 10 minutes for us to find any structures. We found this school a little ways off the road and waited out the rest of the storm.
Once we got on the road again, we saw that there was a gas station/convenience store/bar just a little further, so we stopped to see if possibly Mark had taken shelter there. No sign of Mark, but they did have pie, so what the heck, might as well have a piece...this time apple, my favorite. While we were chatting up the bartender (see below)
she checked with her daughter in Missoula and she said "go now, and you'll just beat the next storm." So we hustled out of there, and knocked off the last 16 miles under darkening skies, arriving at the Comfort Inn at 5 pm, half an hour before the rain.
We had a delicious dinner at Scotty's Table. When we walked in, we realized that we had had a fantastic meal here 2 years ago, when we hiked Glacier National Park.
After dinner we saw a crowd in the park with food vendors and what sounded like Johnny Cash performing, so we thought this must be the event that ark was heading to, let's see if we can find him and make sure he got here OK. There were several hundred people there, and I muttered something about a needle in a haystack, but Marie spotted him in about 10 seconds. We met his whole family, it was a great reunion, and we are so relieved that he made it to Missoula OK. He didn't think the rain was going to be as hard or as long lasting as it turned out to be, and as a result he got well and truly wet and cold. It's a relief to know that he's safe, so we'll sleep well tonight.
Tomorrow we visit the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters, presumably get our pictures taken and our bikes weighed, and then we'll head 39 miles to Lolo Hot Springs, at the Montana-Idaho border. We are not out of Montana yet, but I feel like we have withstood everything Montana has thrown at us so far. The locals say, well you haven't seen our winter yet.
Here is the Cold Hard Cash show, a Johnny Cash tribute band. The drummer and bassist are both from Missoula, and the singer/guitarist is from Great Falls. He sounds uncannily like Johnny Cash.