Friends for three days

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Jane came, and Jane went; exactly as you imagine. You’d think there are healthy, like-minded people riding bicycles all over the countryside. There aren’t. It’s a big country and a lonely planet, with no shortage of roadways on which to ride, and hide.

There are, however, half a dozen towns around the country that are temporary destinations to cyclists en route, typically ACA routes. Whitefish is one such town; on the Great Divide, Northern Tier, and Great Parks routes. Within moments of meeting, the talk was of Townes and Texas; salsa, horchata, burritos; and Glacier. We both dismissed the idea of biking to Glacier, despite being ” this close”. The next morning over coffee, I said, “I’ll go if you go”. Deal. And that afternoon, we left. That is, after noon, we ate maple-bacon ice cream, drank local beers by the river, and swam through the heat of the day; we left, finally, at 5 PM.

We entered the park via the secret cyclist’s entrance and made camp for the night. A soon-to-be typical late start the next morning forced an afternoon of riverside relaxation; road closures to cyclists in the park necessitate a logistical tango. There is no loss in swimming and sleeping for five of the best hours of the day– thanks Sam.

The road goes up, and the road goes down. Pie is eaten in St. Mary at dinner and at breakfast, and the road is ridden in reverse to our start. Ascending, descending; ascending, descending, descending, descending. Palindromic Glacier days. O sunny Glacier days.

As quickly as we met, we part: “See ya, have a good ride”. We will have good rides, and we will see each other again. That’s how these things work. Two constantly changing trajectories may never meet, but they may also meet many times. Straight lines only have one meeting, unless they run parallel and never meet. You miss a lot of things going straight.

Of colliding trajectories: I’m headed to Missoula to meet some runners that I met in the Copper Canyon, Mexico. They said to visit if/when in Missoula; here I am, less than six months later. The world is getting smaller.

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Road closures force swimming

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Sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are closed to cyclists between 11AM and 4PM, to preserve to flow of traffic and “to protect cyclists from high-traffic volumes, and the precipitous cliff along the roadside”. What about the precipitous cliff of inactivity, heart disease, mental stagnation? My lips are sealed, but the National Parks have inflamed me more than once in the last few weeks. They may be “America’s best idea”, but they are not without flaw or fault– drive from afar, to then drive a scenic mountain road through a national treasure of wildness? Ed Abbey rolls in his grave; Jane and I count a lot of grumpy looking motorists.

Due to road closure, we swim, sunburn ourselves and launder our clothing in Glacier’s waters. Riverside– a few cups of coffee a nap make a day in Glacier.

A complete report upon returning to Whitefish.

The Park Cafe in St. Mary’s– on the park’s eastern edge– serves up home-cooked meals from an upbeat college aged staff in a dimly lit, screened in setting– Montana ambience and hospitality. Every meal ends in a slice of pie with rich Montana ice cream; the cafe logo proclaims, “pie for strength”. Agreed, with a slice of pie for breakfast.

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Going to the Sun

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Jane rolled into town at 10PM last night. I hunt touring cyclists for sport, and I quickly spotted her Miyata 210/BOB trailer amidst the urban thicket of downtown Whitefish. I arranged a roof and a gaggle of cyclists talked until all hours. A cup of coffee and a change of plans this morning; Jane and I are headed into Glacier NP–sans BOB, the literal third wheel. The most alluring road name I have heard, we ride the road named Going-to-the-Sun.

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