7/7/17 Day 20. St. Mary’s Campground to Dupuyer
Miles: 69.9 Total Miles: 955.6
Elevation Gain: 3386 Elevation Total: 28,956.6
Break Camp: 6:33am Make Hotel: 5:30pm
This was, by far, our hardest day yet....
It is cold this morning! 50 degrees. Up at 5am and packed quickly - had a backpacker dehydrated breakfast bag of “eggs, sausage, and potatos” (again, just add water) and it was ok. Hot breakfast was good because it was chilly - Doug made a GREAT cup of coffee too. On the road at 6:33 am - we left the same time as Brendan who was going for a cuppa coffee in “town” (at the hotel coffee bar), then in the opposite direction from us, west over Logan pass.
We were immediately climbing 1500 feet over 6.8 miles which was a slow slug, but the views to the Rockies were still impressive. We had a huge fun downhill that went through some wooded areas near a river and it felt like we were riding through a refrigerator in the shadows.
It warmed up soon enough, we rode up and down, and 30 miles passed quickly.
We took the Star School road to get us off HWY 89 and it was great - plus we skipped some climbs. As we approached the town of Browning, we rode through an impoverished area with loose dogs who gave us a hearty chase. We have been on the Blackfeet Reservation and we reached the town of Browning at about 9:30am. The area seemed a little rough and we had advice to stay with the bikes while one of us went shopping for groceries. So I did the shopping, we packed up, and took care of some messages via text since this was the first time we’d had cell service for 4 days.
After Browining, the riding got hard. Our map profile did not indicate the giant roller coaster of a road, straight for as far as the eye could see. Over each hill there was another valley and a hill. AND HEADWIND for the entire day. AND 90-95 degrees. It was like riding in a blasting furnace. We struggled to keep a positive attitude on the daunting long uphill grades (going 4.5-7 mph) and having no relief because we had to pedal hard down the hills into the wind (pushing 17mph was tough). It was hard to take your hand off the handlebar to grab your water for a drink because the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to steer.I used all the positive mental attitude tricks that I could muster and was still beat down by the wind, heat, and not quite enough water. At the top of what seemed like the last ridge, we sat in some rather pokey grasses on the side of the highway to eat lunch (bagel, turkey, avocado).
Lunch by the side of the road 95+ degrees
I was disheartened that the big downhill required so much effort having to pedal into the wind.
Now leaving the Blackfeet Nation
The road flattened out some. At about 45 miles into the ride we are dog-tired, heads hanging, and we pulled over at Badger Creek where we had to cross some downed barbed wire and scramble down the rocks to dunk our heads, dip our helmets, and rinse our shirts in the cool water. Ah - that brought our body temperatures down a little...for about 10 minutes before we were dried out in the furnace winds again.
Nap time in the tall grass when it's too hot to go on.
With 9 miles to go...it was too hot to go. We pulled over to a road that led to a big farm and had tall grasses between the HWY and the road. Plus there was a small stream where Doug could filter water as we were nearly out. We were both showing some signs of heat exhaustion so we hunkered in the the tall grass for a nap in the shade of some trees. After about an hour of napping, preparing water, and snacking, we hit the road again (now 4:30pm).
Furnace winds on HWY 89 to Depuyer
The last 9 miles were expensive. I was thinking of words of my high school running coach (Brock Hogle) had given me all those years ago about going into the wind and running up hill (“lift your knees”. “Keep your eyes on the crest of the hill” “ lean into the wind” "pump your arms"), I thought of my mentor Todd Durkin’s reminder (“Get your mind right”), and I gave myself my own pep talk (“You are stronger than you think you are and can do more than you think you can). I threw it all at that last 9 miles. We finally had a descent into the town of Dupuyer.
Best burger on our trip, nicest people ever.
At 5:30pm, we are wiped out and walk into the Buffalo Joe's Saloon and decide right there to have dinner - best decision all day. We EACH had 2 Glasses of water, 1 Gatorade, 2 diet-cokes, a beer, and the best mushroom-Swiss burger I’ve had in ages. We ask about camping in the park and Ron comes on over to our table saying that camping is fine, but we might feel safer pitching our tent at his place because of the grizzly bears. WHAT??? We quickly say yes.
Half-way through eating our dinner, I get massive hamstring cramps in both legs at the same time. If you've ever had these kind of leg cramps, you know how hard it is not not to howl in pain - but I'm in the Saloon so I try to keep my writhing to a minimum.
Ron sees what's going on and comes on over to our table and asks instead if we'd like to stay in his (rental) cabin and we concur. A bed sounds good for these tired muscles. After dinner, we decide to hang out and have a beer - Ron came back to tell us that the water isn't working at his cabin. That's ok, we realize that there is a motel run by the saloon and so we decide to stay there. The Buffalo Wallow Motel is the 2nd best decision all day. The saloon and the motel are super cute - the motel seems new and has great furnishings. Too tired to write more...Goodnight!
Dupuyer - the best motel ever.
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