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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Northern Transcon Day 8 - Missoula to Butte MT

Today was the longest so far - 136 miles with over 5000 feet of climbing.  The crew moved the morning routine (breakfast, loading of gear bags) up half an hour due to the longer distance we had to cover.  I rolled out with Jack and a couple of others at 7 under beautiful clear skies along with low 50s temperatures.  We were in the shade for about an hour, and were grateful when we got into some sunshine.

We saw some of the most beautiful scenery in western Montana today.  Some areas I remembered from camping trips in the 60s and 70s, but a lot of it was new.  Names such as Drummond, Anaconda, Phillipsburg, and Ramsay were familiar, but I had never actually been to these places - just saw the signs for them as I was driving on I-90 in years past.  You really get to experience more of America when touring on a bike.

There were a couple of sections that we actually got on I-90 for several miles using the shoulder (no other road was available).  Montana's interstate speed limit is 80 (70 for trucks), but with a wide shoulder and a relatively low volume of traffic (compared to I-40 in NC), we felt safe, much safer than on some two lane highways with minimal shoulder.  Overall, drivers have been patient and courteous.  This is a popular state for cross country bike tourists, so I suppose drivers are getting used to seeing them.

The toughest section today was a 4 mile climb near Phillipsburg (in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest) that came a few minutes after the lunch stop.  I still had two unused lower gears, and they will likely be necessary on the Big Horn Mountains coming up in Wyoming in a few days.

Along Montana Rt. 1 south of Drummond
Montana is known as the Big Sky Country for good reason
Another peaceful scene in western Montana
Looking back on the climb up Rt. 1 to the Deerlodge Campground
Barry pulled over to this turnout.  Usually he is faster but today finished with Jack and I
Rock wall on one side of the climb
Still have about 2 miles to go on the climb from this point

The water in Silver Lake is a very deep blue
Silver Lake


  1. Bringing back memories for me, too. Glad things are going well so far

  2. Bob, you have many of us along for your ride ! Enjoying it with you and Deab.