Tour Divide – Day 5

Adventure, Adventure by Bike, El Mariachi Ti, Endurance Racing, GDMBR, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Magic Cycles, Michigan, Montana, Montana Backcountry, Mountain Biking

Day 5 – Seeley Lake to Helena

I awoke feeling like I’d be hit by a truck.  The funny thing was I was beginning to get used to this feeling.  It was becoming the norm.  We left Seeley Lake pretty early and did the nice mellow 2 hour ride into Ovando.  Ovando was possibly one of my favorite towns along the route.  The Stray Bullet, a little cafe in town had some amazing breakfast and since this was my first proper Tour Divide breakfast, I was psyched!  The waitress came up to me when I entered the cafe and asked, “are you Ryan?”  They followed the blue dots on Trackleaders and took pictures of all the riders who stopped in and posted them on www.bikepacking.net.  They kept track of who was going to be passing through each day and had the grill fired up and ready.  It was nice to chat with the other riders and sip coffee in this unique little town.

The ride out of Ovando was through a pretty wide open valley with lots of cattle land.  After riding  for a while the next mountain chain came into view.  It felt good to be on my own for a while and take in the wide open scenery.  I was starting to find my rhythm.

Once back in the mountains the climb started out quick and before I knew it I was back up at elevation. It’s crazy how fast the scenery can change, even when riding a bike.  I was feeling good, spending a lot of time out of the saddle just plugging along.  I started thinking about my training rides on the gravel roads in Pisgah Forest outside Boone.  Of course I felt like I had not trained enough for this big of a ride but at this point I started feeling like maybe I had done enough and that if everything goes right, maybe I can pull this off!

After a long climb in the hot sun a few clouds rolled in and it began to look like it was going to storm again.  After the event on Richmond Peak I was much more in tune with what the weather was doing and where.  Eventually I ended up meeting up with Kevin again and we rolled into Lincoln together. He stopped at the post office to ship some stuff home and I found a place to get some food.  We hit the gas station up and then we were off to the next climb.

There was a lot of logging going on in this area of Montana and it seemed a lot of the land was being used in one way or another.  We even ended up passing some old mines later in the day.

Some logging and winding road below.
Halfway up the climb out of Lincoln a storm started rolling in and I basically kicked in into high gear even though the climb was getting steeper.  I found myself climbing out of the saddle for over a mile just trying to get to the top and down off of this thing before it turned into another Richmond Peak episode!  I looked back and Kevin was nowhere to be seen.  I finally made it to the top and away from where the lightning was cracking down, snapped a couple photos, passed a couple four-wheelers and then started down.
You can see the small fire tower which was where the lightning was cracking down!

On the descent, it started to rain.

About to get wet on the descent.

After a few more climbs, a little rain and lots of cows we reached Helena.  It was getting late so we figured we would try and find a place to eat.  The Pizza Hut was still open but when we went in they didn’t seem very excited about serving us since they were closing in 10 minutes.  So we rode on down the road and found this Brew House with a huge food menu.  I quickly ordered a water, coke and a beer, the first one of the trip so far!  Followed with chicken fingers, french fries and a pizza.  That beer tasted sooooo good!

1st beer of the trip!
We rode into town and found ourselves surrounded by expensive looking hotels.  We asked someone about where a good place to stay that was inexpensive was and were pointed in the right direction. Well I guess you could say it was the right direction because it was a place to sleep but it was pretty much a dive, to say the least!  I was pretty beat so it didn’t really matter. As long as there was a bed.
Brushing my teeth for the first time on the Divide