GDT Day 4
Segment: Whitefish,MT to Big Fork, Montana
Distance traveled today: 44.4 miles total
Total trail miles: 122 miles
We headed out of our very expensive cheap motel room around 7:45 am to have breakfast at Lola’s before hitting the trail. We were eager to get riding to beat the heat, and we were antsy when the service started out slow. Tom chose this cafe because it opened early. Lots of places are closed for the 4th and to observe on the 5th, so choices were limited. The expense and businesses of this area have been somewhat shocking. Although I expected 4th of July to be busy, I expected things to calm down after that. Restaurant service has been surprisingly slow, and we were worried it would be late and starting to get hot by the time we got out of there. Thankfully, it turned around quickly and started looking up when the kids were served beautiful chai lattes. I had the pure joy of indulging in a perfect cappuccino. The food was fantastic, and we all left with happy bellies, well fueled and ready for the 40+ mile day ahead of us.
Riding out of town was efficient, but when we turned onto Edgewood ln, the road leading out of town, we were met by a fairly strong headwind. I grew increasingly concerned that we were either in for a major suffer fest, or not be able to make it to our hotel reservation in Big Fork at all. Sara was struggling to keep up a 5 mph pace against the wind, and it looked bleak. We pedaled like that for a while, when I noticed Sara’s seat looked a low. Tom raised it a bit and that was a game changer - we were in business!
The terrain was rolling hills through lovely farms and fields full of yellow flowers. We rode towards the mountains, but other than the rolling hills and a climb of about 300 feet, it was smooth valley riding. Our pace picked up and we made it to the village of Swan River about 12:30 - about 35 miles into the day. We hoped to eat lunch at the one cafe in town, but it was packed with an hour wait. Picnicking in the shady grass behind the restaurant was more appealing. Tom was able to purchase cold drinks, which were absolutely heaven in the heat. We had hard Italian sausage, aged cheddar and wheat thins with a few remaining crumbs of Milano’s.
We met a few other bike packers while we sat and ate. One man, who we discovered is also from Colorado- Larry, is riding for charity - The Village Well Ride https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/thevillagewellproject. His kind and patient wife, Sarah was running vehicle support, and his nephew was out to ride with him for two weeks. I was inspired by the altruism and desire to give through doing this ride. He plans to ride all the way to Antelope Wells - the southern terminus. I sure hope he makes it. I think he will, especially having such stellar support.
As we were leaving the cafe lawn, another GDT rider pulled in. Tom and the kids chatted with him a bit. I didn’t catch his name. He asked the kids what they think about this adventure: Andrew reported loving it, especially the cycling trail culture. Sara said it’s hard. I appreciated it when the man told her it’s supposed to be hard, but that he’s sure one day she will fully appreciate this experience. I think she does appreciate it even now, and even though it’s difficult.
We pulled into Big Fork, a charming western mountain town on the Swan River, at 2:00. I’m so proud of the kids - this was our longest day yet, and after the rough start, it wasn’t obvious how the day would go. But once we worked through the kiks, they hit a stride and did amazing. Tonight we are at another overpriced motel, but much better than the place last night. We swam in the pool while housekeeping finished cleaning our room, then enjoyed the fabulously cool air conditioning.
Dinner was at an open air Monday Market. A sweet outdoor affair with local crafts people selling their wares, farm fresh produce, a couple food trucks/stalls and live Celtic music. Tom, Sara and I had organic beet and quinoa salad, spring rolls and a pad thai salad from the organic farm to table stall. Andrew balanced out the healthy plant based choices with Russian Piroski - hand meat pies. Two cold beers, a delicious meal In the grass listening to live music made it a perfect way to end the day. The kids took one last dip in the pool before settling into one more night of soft beds and AC before the tough stretch ahead of us the next few days.