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Into Montana and riding the Rockies

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

The last 6-7 miles to cross Lolo Pass and enter Montana were almost straight up. People must have thought that I looked bad doing it because I had 3 people stop to ask if I was OK. “Yes, I just need to make it to the top,” was my reply. More than a day of climbing over the weekend paid off with most of the ride today downhill and only a gentle uphill grade as I have already begun to start up the first Montana mountain.

I am spending the night in Hamilton, Mont., and listening to the raining on a tin awning in the motel. My supper tonight has already been an order of breadsticks the size of a small pizza, a quart of yogurt and there will be more to come. I have bananas and power bars ready to go. My feet are tired, I don’t smell the best, and I am watching rodeos on TV. Hard to beat that mix.

I am in the Bitterroot mountain range, part of the Rockies. The Flathead Indians once included this region as their territory. Lewis and Clark were given credit for being the first white men in the valley. All of the Bitterroot Valley was once part of a giant lake.

My day included 84 total riding miles, harder in the morning and very fast with a tailwind this afternoon.

Tomorrow, I will climb Gibbons Pass. This will be the tallest mountain so far at 6,951 feet, though I will go slightly over 7,000 feet twice later in the week. Gibbons Pass will be the hardest climb because the starting point is lower at 4,000 feet. The others will be starting at more than 5,000 feet.

My goal tomorrow is to make it to Wisdom, Mont., to spend the night. Elevation there is at 6,200 feet. At this point, I anticipate 4 more days in Montana.

Time for a shower and more to eat.

Freelance writer David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

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