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David Freeze: On the best day yet, mountain scenery and smooth cycling make the challenge worthwhile

Editor’s note: Salisbury native David Freeze is cycling from Anacortes, Washington, to Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Post is chronicling each day of his ride. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

On just about every one of these journeys, I start off a little slow and gradually get my legs going and everything else clicking over the first week or two.

I remember the specific day, about 10 days from the start, that everything came together for my first ride from Oregon to Myrtle Beach in 2013. Monday was that day for this adventure. Bad things are still going to happen and there will be physical struggles no doubt, but today was the reason that I love this challenge.

Here’s what happened.

I started out of Clark Fork, Idaho, at 5 a.m. after a wonderful night at Clark Fork Lodge. It was eight miles until I crossed into Montana. I still didn’t have the cyclometer measuring miles, but I used the mileposts along the way.

It began with 18 miles along the Cabinet River on State Road 200 with some good ups and downs, but it was very scenic and peaceful. My maps did not show a store along the way but I saw the sign for Big Sky Pantry, and it ended up as the best stop of the day.

I met Beth Morkert, who runs the store with a twinkle in her eye. I was really hungry after those 18 miles and only regret that I didn’t buy more. But a cinnamon roll, a large oatmeal cookie and two fudge brownies were my purchases.

Beth told me that the store is almost 20 years old and has all kinds of baked goods and a deli. She said a cyclist once bought a pie and ate the whole thing out front before leaving. Beth also told me that the road I was getting ready to turn on is not hilly except in a couple of places.

I kept sampling the food as I turned left on State Road 56 knowing that I had 35 more miles until I would turn right on State Road 2. Those 35 miles were not only the most scenic and enjoyable miles of this trip but one of the best days ever. Mountain scenery was amazing, and so was plenty of Bull River scenery.

I kept expecting the big hills to come but everything was manageable and my legs felt great. I saw signs to watch for bighorn sheep but didn’t see any.

I did have an encounter with a large deer. The deer came out of the woods as I rode by. It stopped and I did too, about 50 yards ahead of the deer. I took a couple of pictures and the deer started trotting toward me. A truck came up from behind and it ran back in the woods. Had the truck not come along, I might have had to share those brownies.

Several more things happened to show how special the ride was. I passed Bull Lake, which must feed the river of the same name. Huge mountains made a fantastic backdrop.

Later, I noticed that there was a thump every time the wheels came around. That is usually the sign of a nail in the tire. This time, I stopped and ran the wheels around and found a piece of sticky asphalt on the tire and just peeled it off. No nail, this time.

I always play games with myself, hoping to make it to a certain point by a certain time. I said, “No way will I make the intersection of SR 2 in 22 minutes.” The asphalt was from the first new pavement I had ridden on this trip and with the new pavement and some good downhill, I made the last four miles to the intersection in 17 minutes.

Feeling strong all the time on this day of no towns in 72 miles of riding, I turned on State Road 2 that would take me to Libby, where I would spend Monday night in the Country Inn. On the way into town, I stopped to see Kootenai Falls, where a rushing Kootenai River does its own smaller version of Niagara Falls. I also met Sharon Falls and Barb Woolsey, who almost sold me on staying at their campground. Next time.

I planned to work on the cyclometer Monday night.

Today, I will head east to Eureka, another of those 70-mile plus rides without supply points. I just hope it goes as good as Monday went.

In the lesson learned category, the other day coming out of Colville, I had to change the tube in my front tire because of a flat. I broke one of the little plastic tools that are used to separate the tire from the rim and then reposition it. It takes two to do the job, so I was stuck with one and no bike shop anytime soon.

Later that day, I saw a spoon beside the road and thought later that I should have picked it up. The upper end would work as one of the tools. Still no bike shop for at least a couple of more days made me concerned about having another flat.

Later Monday afternoon, I got to thinking that God put that spoon there for me and I didn’t take it. The thought struck me if that was the case, then he will probably do it again. Not five miles later, I saw a fork beside the road. I have it and am ready to change the next flat. Didn’t need to be a spoon after all.

Two more sponsors are back again for another year. Gear for Races of Raleigh supplies all the race T-shirts that the local races and many other organizations use. Vac and Dash of Albemarle prints all those shirts. Both organizations do a great job. Thank you, Luis and Peter.

I found out Monday that I missed the Yaak Sasquatch Festival by just two days here in Montana. There is still plenty more fun to come. I am glad that you are following along. See you Wednesday


See more from David Freeze

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