David Freeze: The legs are worn out, but it’s all worth it

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 23, 2017

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.

Several people had told me how Thursday’s riding was going to be a real test, partly due to the final mountain pass but also from the roads and traffic.

I tried to plan everything but still had some uncertainty when I got on the bike at 5:45 a.m. in Columbia Falls, Montana.

It was cold again, with one thermometer reading 44 degrees. The sun came up as I was riding through Hungry Horse, an interesting little town. There is a wrecking ball almost as tall as me in a place of notoriety right beside State Road 2 which also serves as Main Street.

The huge wrecking ball was used to clear brush and was suspended between two large tractors. Not sure how it worked, but the ball is now on display for everyone to see.

I found a new bike path right beside the highway and rode on it till it stopped and then went back to the road.

This guy stopped me and warned me about riding on State Road 2. He said, “The police will give you at ticket unless you ride on the the bike path.” I didn’t say a word and rode on the highway the rest of the day.

I got to West Glacier, the official entrance to Glacier Park, about 8 a.m. Two pricey egg, cheese and tomato biscuits might have been the best I have had.

After the biscuits and waiting a few minutes to watch the Amtrak train arrive (right at the entrance to the park), I headed east. The train was an hour behind schedule, and I saw it later.

State Road 2 was in really bad shape for about the first 10 miles with broken and missing shoulders and poor pavement. The high traffic volume made it real spooky for quite a while.

Thursday’s riding in general made me remember how much I disliked riding through Yellowstone in 2013. Wide RVs and tourists in a big hurry were the constant.

The pace was slow all day, and the morning didn’t have much besides the wrecking ball. Then things started to happen.

I began to ride beside the Middle Flathead Fork River and was amazed at some of the snow-covered peaks behind the beautiful river. By the way, Montana’s blue sky and green water are both so fantastic to me. A group of rapid riders waved at me from their raft.

Next, I saw Jack Day riding toward me. Jack had a four-bag setup on his bike and had the look of an experienced long-distance cyclist.

Jack is traveling from Hilton Head to San Francisco and is 74 years old. He has cycled in 49 states, missing only Vermont. I thought it odd that the states I have not done also include Vermont.

Jack says he is allowed to use an electric assist on his bike. “Just wait till you are 74,” he said. “You’ll see. If dogs get after me, I just pull away from them.”

Shortly after that, I saw four mountain goats that were coming from a salt lick area. Other tourists had stopped to take their pictures too.

All afternoon, a series of what seemed like hundreds of top-quality older cars keep heading west. It was amazing to see them all running so well and sounding good too.

A beautiful waterfall was on the right as I headed toward the final major climb of this ride, up and over the Marias Pass, which is also part of the Continental Divide.

By the time I got to the top of the pass, it was cold again and remained that way into East Glacier Park, where I would spend the night after 74 miles of rugged riding.

I was in a place called Jacobson’s, which has a bunch of well-furnished little cabins. There is a nice tourist area and a separate town about a half mile away.

The area is part of Blackfeet Indian Country. Most of the available rooms were sold out because of a half-marathon here today.

Yet another cyclist rode into town from Ohio just as I did. We talked briefly and had different things we needed to get done.

Mike Anderson stopped by and got us both headed in the right direction. I went to find something good to eat and plan how to proceed from here.

The mountain climbing is done.

By the way, I found another spoon beside the road, so now I have a matching pair with the previously found fork. Jenny Hubbard summed it nicely: “When you find a fork in the road, take it.”

See more from David Freeze