Day 19 – Mosquitoes! Or Not

We’d been hearing about them for days from passing bikers.  Saco is the dreaded town where the swarms of nasty skeeters will ride along on our panniers then jump up for some fresh blood, returning to their perch to digest their meal before making another attack. Our morning diner waitress, when we were still a safe 20 miles west exclaimed to Olivia “honey, they’re gonna eat you up you cute little thing!” One of the local ranchers in the diner even gave us a bottle of deet (the real deal) and wished us luck.

Olivia was ready for battle. She’d read up on what to eat to ward them off (garlic, vanilla), what color clothing to wear (not dark), and had a plan for how she would juggle the spray cans of repellent while swatting them off.

Olivia getting a final dose of repellent prior to “battle”

At 10 miles west of Saco the skeeters hadn’t shown themselves yet so we stopped at a historic site for one last rest and spray down because our plan was to ride fast to clear the mosquito area as quickly as possible (despite a nasty headwind that had come up).

Montana’s roadside historic sites always make a nice pit stop

To make a long story short (another future post), we suddenly had a bent rear derailleur hangar which delayed us an hour for repairs. It was getting hot, and late so off we went to Saco. As we rode through town the nasty skeeters still hadn’t materialized. Had they been warned of Olivia’s battle plans? More likely, as one local surmised, “they are all breeding since we just had rain. A few days from now will be unbearable”. Hmm, okay.

 

The thriving town of Saco

Every town out here has a water tower

Well, we never encountered the mosquitoes. Thank goodness because the headwinds had become so strong we were only making 10 mph. We’d have been destroyed! Instead we pedalled on, finally completing our 89 mile day at 6:30pm. In the end, we’d been defeated by wind and hills, not mosquitoes.

John

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Day 18 – A Day of Firsts

We rode our first Century, 108 miles from Hingham to Dodson. The tailwinds helped but it was a long day in the saddle. 

Our first real dog scare occurred about a mile out of Havre. He had run up a big bank from a trailer home and was on us without warning, barking incessantly and lunging at us. Olivia has become a pro at pulling out the pepper spray quickly, thanks to other encounters with slightly friendlier canines. Fortunately the owner called for the angry dog and he was sparred a dose of pepper spray. 

Olivia at the ready with pepper spray

Have I mentioned it’s been HOT? Every day since Seattle it’s been well over 90 degrees. Well this was the first day it did not reach 90. In fact it was “only” 85. What a treat!

And finally, we’d had our first thunderstorm overnight so had mud and puddles to start the day. It quickly warmed and was sunny but we raced a rainstorm our last 20 miles of the day. The rain finally caught us though, which was a welcome relief. 

Oh, and it was my birthday! What a great way to spend the day 😉

John

Day 17 – The Plains

We left St. Mary yesterday with the view of Glacier Park’s magnificent peaks in the rear view mirror. A brief sadness overcame me as I realized I wouldn’t see mountains like this for weeks. But we conquered them and now we’re in prime shape to rack up the miles on the plains, with the prevailing winds at our backs. There were three minor hills as we made our way to Browning, official seat for the Blackfeet Nation where “Indian Days” was taking place (more on that later). We took advantage of the last hill to set a new speed record at 45mph as we could see the road stretch for miles. 

The Reservation didn’t offer the typical diners we’ve become accustomed to for breakfast but Taco John’s offered enough sustenance to power us on to Cut Bank, “Where the Rockies Meet the Plains”. 

This morning (Monday) we woke to the warmest morning temperature yet, 68 degrees versus the typical low 50’s of recent weeks. And the wind was blowing from the West just as it had all night. 

We set a new average speed record of 18.4mph on the route to Shelby (US2 East) and found the perfect diner to make my stoker happy, which is VERY important. 

Refueled, we mounted up again and enjoyed mile after mile of 25-30mph cruising. That certainly helped as we set a new distance record of 96 miles. 

The Stoker is now resting in her bunk, enjoying ice cream while the Captain and Rig Driver enjoy the local bar at our RV “park” in Hingham, MT. 

Captain Juan

Day 11 to Kookanusa Lake

Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇸

It was a year ago today that I sat in the backyard with my family and said “Hey I’ve been thinking, we should ride our tandem across the country”. With little convincing, Olivia soon said “okay I’m in”. One year later, she may be second guessing that decision, having just completed our first 80 mile day. 

As usual we started early with temperature dropping to 48 degrees in the shadows. 

Temperatures rose though as we peddled along, stopping at Kootrnai Falls for a roadside breakfast courtesy of our excellent support crew.

No Internet at this remote campground and marina on the east side of Kookanusa Lake. That’s a rare situation these days! The girls somehow managed, and enjoyed the lake instead. 

Day 9 to Priest River

Easy 37 ride to Priest River where we loaded the bike and drive north to Priest Lake to visit my aunt Karen, cousin Scott, and his daughter Sophia. Olivia tried biscuits and gravy at our usual diner stop and decided it wasn’t her favorite. 

We entered a new state!
Second cousins enjoyed the lake. 


To bed early for the next day’s 68 mile ride into Montana. 

John