Down in the valleys

Ride lightly in the saddle of life

Anonymous Wyoming cowboy

Nice stay in elkford last pm .  6 of us managed 3 large pizzas and two salads after finishing off three pitchers of beer.  Love this riding, eat anything and lose weight.  

Had breakfast back at pizza place as the only restaurant in town and had a few medical questions we needed answered so did not depart until 9:30.  

Today nearly all pavement starting with a 2.5 mile (4 km) 8% grade and looking forward to seeing the coal facilities in farther valley and river canyon but a pickup truck stops us and asked if we are riding the divide.  He informed us the canyon had washed out 3 years ago in the big rain storms then.  (Made national news). The road has not been repaired since.  The van was ahead of us, as I had informed them that route was far more scenic than the main highway.  Joe(the fellow in the pickup) gave us directions to some mountain bike trails back down the mountain but were somewhat complicated and we felt better just returning and informing the two other groups who had not left elkford as yet.  So we returned at high speed back to elkford, informed those groups, then took off down the highway, which had a shoulder and not much traffic.  Never did see  James and Jeanne pass us, and we wondered if we had been mislead, for some unknown reason.  

Then someone remembered when they had bought the updated maps for the great divide they came with addendum.  Very first one was the road down fording river is washed out and one must ride the highway.  Now we read the addendum as well as check the updated maps.  

Continued a great ride and entered a section off the main road and road pavement along farms, houses and pastures.  Delightful.  Then Dave and I began a pace line and just cruised alternating lead and I had a great time 17.6-17.9 mph and pretty much a steady 86 rpm.  Then another biker obviously touring and I had to stop and talk.  Story of my life going great and I get distracted.

He was from Toronto about our age and riding from Victoria to the Canadian divide and up to banff then the ice field highway and back.  Said there were a couple from anchorage about 2 days ahead of us.  

Met up with James and Nancy at Tim Hortons in sparwood after 25 delightful miles.  Jeanne had made some calls so I ended up calling att to see if we could predate our Canada phone, data and text which was easily done. 

James did some local research to see if he could get sprinter to the next wilderness area.  If not we would have to take the alternate route down the busy highway to the border.  Answer was yes and we made a plan.  Shortened my ride of 5 years ago to camp before flathead pass then meet tomorrow near wigwam campground, but that seemed too far for us so will be somewhere before that.  

Then off again back to the highway 10 km of busy highway all pretty much together (4 of us, Jeanne in van) then a turn for 22 km to Corbin a mining dot of a village without services.  Temp was 33 Celsius (91 F). But I felt good and just began spinning finishing about 20 minutes before the others.  First in class of anyone over 65 years old.  Went for a bit far a dip in water coming out of coal mine and the others arrived and we proceeded on to this incredibly delightful “bush” camp. Grassy with lots of colorful flowers and babbling brook. Incredible forest rising on the valley wall opposite and trees behind us blocking view of coal mining removing the mountain.  

Beer plus finished off the gin and tonic,  hamburgers for dinner and now delightful sleep. Thus ends day 4.

Into the flathead valley.  

Left our wondrous bush camp and climbed flathead pass, dropping into the flathead valley.  As the map states it is rocky and stream tends to run down the road.  As opposed to 4 years ago it is now washed out and impassable by vehicle unless strict 4 wheel with a lot of work.  We walked a fair bit.  Took us nearly 4 hours for first 15 miles.  Beautiful valley and road improved.  Sun was beginning to perform its job and temperatures rose into the low 90s (30s C).  Jeannes front tire began the same delamination process the rear tire did a few days ago, but caught it before the aneurysm began with a snickers bar wrapper and inner tube..  Lasted to camp another 20 miles before blowing out.  


A great camp on and beside the road.  Left Jeanne to go with James to Fernie for new tires and off we road up cabin pass. A superb ride through the forest and into a canyon, turning to go up wigwam valley.  Beautiful rolling closed logging road, but temperatures very hot, all of us going through much water. 

Reached the connector between the closed logging road of wigwam valley and the closed logging road from galvin pass.  About a kilometer of true single track, then the climb of a couple hundred meters.  Dave and I got our bikes then returned for nancy and Constance bikes.  Took three of us to each bike.  A fellow traveler heavily loaded did three trips for his stuff.  Another lightweight rider did it in one.  Whew.


Galvin pass was tiring and I had noticed a developing wobble in fork with head tube.  Remember back at spray lake I mentioned I had trouble with connectors and would have it looked at when reached a bike shop.  Well I believe that rough single track and climb banged it around a bit much.  So I must stop asap and get it fixed.  

Galvin pass we half roads half walked changing up the muscle groups from the steady 10% slope.  Adjusted and checked all brakes as map says descent is extreme and it was some being 15%.  I had locked my front shock hoping to easy the pressures and using only rear brake to keep as much weight as possible off the front end.  Ok but then my rear brake gave out.  Nothing there and had to use front.  But rear returned in about 30 seconds.  Weird, but scary.  Happened three times on 9 mile descent.  

Arrived at van, at bottom where James and Jeanne parked and James rode about half way up to meet us.  All of us were beat having ridden 46 miles of gravel and two passes.  But nancy, Jeanne and myself rode to customs easily clearing it, and ten mile into town on a delightful back road.  Motel and all extremely exhausted.  One restaurant nearby and the briscit was highly recommended but several separate local sources.  It was horrible and James and Constance congratulated themselves on ordering hamburgers.  


So now all have left and I await a pickup from my sisters who agreed to come get me, taking me to a bike shop in whitefish or Kalispell.  But being Sunday all shops closed, we found out.  Weird in a tourist town, but then I do not think in terms of weekends. 

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