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  • Writer's pictureCrystal

GDMBR day 15 and 16 7/17/21

Miles ridden: About 38

Elevation gained: 2,700 ish

Segment: Helena, MT to Boulder, MT

After an incredible and unexpected zero day in Helena, and a jovial night spent with new friends -warm showers hosts Dawn and Scott, we were back in the saddle early this morning. Yesterday was bliss- Dawn let us borrow a Volvo station wagon to get around for errands and sightseeing. It was a little jarring being in a car on busy streets again, but I was infinitely grateful not to have to ride my bike all over Helena with my tired sore legs.

We went to the local Natural Grocers, and I was like a kid in a candy store, but sort of the opposite because I was so excited for all the healthy packable food and snacks options available there. Food is a pretty big deal for me, and one of the biggest challenges on this type of adventure is healthy eating. Most dehydrated or shelf stable foods are filled with not so good stuff. After a couple weeks, I don’t feel so great with the trail diet, and an opportunity to fill the food bag with healthy nutritious meals and snacks was most welcome!

The remainder of the afternoon was swimming and napping by a lake at a nearby state park. The evening with Dawn and Scott was the highlight of the day: Dawn invited me to cook dinner with a bounty of fresh, delicious ingredients including lettuce and tomatoes, garlic scapes, garlic, peppers and cilantro for salsa and salad picked fresh from her garden. Dawn was amazing with the kids. She spent hours talking with them, showing them the cool nooks and crannies of their unique architect built old farm house, and bringing them into the garden to harvest dinner ingredients. We feasted on grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, garden salad, fresh salsa, and best of all- Dawn’s home made rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream. The kids were happy for a taste of “moms cooking” which gave me a little glow too.

After talking, sharing stories and learning about one another into the twilight hours (which is quite late up here in Montana!) We set off to put the kids to bed in the camper. The high from the wonderful evening was dampened when Dawn came out to give me the bad news that Park Lake campground, our planned destination for today, was just closed due to a fire.

Tom and I were up late into the night pouring over the maps, Cycling app and google maps trying to figure out what to do. There is an official alternate route, but it still includes riding on Grizzly Gulch road which is not only being heavily used by fire crews, but also includes a heinous climb around Lava mountain. It seemed just plain masochistic to make everyone do that climb, potentially get tangled up in fire operations and be at possible safety risk ourselves. Fortunately, Tom realized we could get the same I15 frontage road right from Helena, avoid Lava mountain, and join up with the official Bolder alternate. So that’s what we did.

All of us were pretty nervous that we’d be on 35 miles of white knuckle highway riding all day. The relatively quiet frontage roads were easy riding, and the weather never became too hot. After a little uncertain way finding a d a surprise short but steep climb, we found ourselves rolling into Boulder, MT just in time for lunch.

It felt great getting those miles behind us, and we pedaled over to the Bike Barn - a biker only camp area at the fairgrounds. The camp was constructed in memorial of a biker whose life was taken by a careless driver. A sober reminder of both the fragility of life, and a warning to maintain heightened awareness when pedaling, always.

The afternoon was spent playing spades, relaxing on the grass under the shade trees and reading. As we languidly whiled away the afternoon, we observed a wedding party come in, take photos, the ceremony and then a raging party late into the night. It sounded like quite a celebration! Even though it kept me awake into the wee hours, I didn’t feel angry or resentful, sleepy yes, but more so glad to see life getting back to normal and a young couple celebrating their love and future life together.

I feel like the opportunity to take these adventures is a major way in which Tom and I celebrate our own lives together, and isn’t it ironic that tonight is the eve of our 19th wedding anniversary ♥️


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