Lay Over in Helena, MT
December 21st, 2014
On 8-18-14 the ride out of Lincoln began on a dusty gravel road that led 15 miles to Stemple Pass. The road, Sleepy Hallow (sic) Ave./Stemple Pass Rd. leads pass Ted Kaczynski’s former residence. In fact, I stopped to talk to a rancher who was spraying weeds between his property and the road. He pointed to a knoll where Ted’s “cabin” was located. He remembers Ted passing his ranch, as the Unabomber walked to and from Lincoln, always keeping to himself.
I was able to ride almost 14 miles before the road became too steep and I had to push the bike to the top. I included a photo at the top which has benches for cross country skiers. The top wasn’t the end of pushing the bike for there was more pushing on the road I turned left on. I rode for quite a while on a ridge with a view of the forest as far as the eye could see.
I missed a turn, need to follow the map much closer, and ended going on this, at least ten miles, hang on to the seat of you pants, downhill “run”. The road left the forest and exited into this wide valley. I had no idea where I was, but felt relieved when the road I was on, ended at a T and there was this sign that read Helena 28 miles. All I that to do was turn left and go South. It was around 3:30 and I thought I had a chance of making it to Helena before nighttime. This was a wide gravel road that cut through ranch land. There were these big tracker like combines that were gathering the cut hay into these huge rolls(1500 pounds each) to store for feeding their cattle during the winter.
I was cranking on the pedals, but at times had to slow down, because the wash board became so jarring that I was afraid of loosing control of the handlebars. Finally, I spotted a store, Canyon Creek, that was around 1/4 of a mile after where the gravel road turned to pavement. Was I in luck, the store also had an area for camping and camping on thick soft grass, not the hard gravel that I was used to. See photo of camp ground. The first thing the owner of the store asked “are you doing the Divide?”. She said she gets a few of them time to time. It was a tough day, for I climbed 2890′. I don’t think I would have made Helena.
On 8-19-14 I rode into Helena and rented a room. My plan was to have a lay over day, i.e., spend two nights here. I spent my time in Helena taking care of business, such as, buying supplies, cleaning my bike chain and lubing it, eating at Panda Express and MacDonald’s. It’s weird seeing all these familiar stores, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, etc. It’s like you haven’t left home.
My big concern is the weather. There’s a storm predicted, with T-storms on Thursday and “regular” rain for Friday. I don’t want to spend any more time in a motel room. Need to hit the road. By the way, I spotted quite a few of these roadside memorials, young people, how sad.