Steep hills and good food in southern Montana

It is not all about food but we quite often plan our days to camp 15-20 miles out of a town then ride in for a big cooked breakfast at a small diner. At the rate we are travelling this happens every second of third day.

From our lovely campsite near the historic town Banack we started biking at 6 and enjoyed a great b’fast near Polaris. Then it was up and over a pass and a beautiful forested downhill to the small town of Wise River. Within an hour we had met the tall, skinny Slovakian carrying way too much gear on a bike with a third wheel attached, a lovely US couple using a BOB trailer and 3 guys bike-packing their gear. The slovakian didn’t seem interested in cutting down on his load but the couple with the trailer envied the bike packing setup. Typically the European tourers are the more loaded up and using panniers.

The Wise River Club was a fun place to hang out for a late lunch, ice cream, dinner and breakfast the next morning. The ex-californian chef put together great meals and we camped out the back of the building.

The skies were black the next morning when we set out for Fleecer Ridge – a section often bypassed on an alternate route because of the steepness. Except for brave riders – it is a push in either direction because it is so steep. The storm was imminent when we got to the bottom of the 200m climb. We rearranged my load so most of the weight was on my back, otherwise I would have needed to double load it, Alan was able to push his loaded bike. We had to zig zag our way up alongside the gravel track for the steepest section and we had a coolling rain/hail storm as we climbed.

The sun was out by the time we got to the top and we enjoyed a sweet descent to a lunch under the shade of the interstate, before the very hot steep climb back up to alpine meadows. We had a second rainstorm come through after dinner and then a lovely sunset as the sun dropped below the clouds.

It was a sweet ride into the large city of Butte (30,000 – used to be 3 times as big in it’s heyday). It was the biggest producer of copper in it’s time when copper became the new gold because of it’s versatility and usefulness. The hill behind town is called the Richest Hill on Earth because of the wealth of minerals that were extracted.

Tomorrow we get picked up by Ellen and Drew for a break from the trail in Bozeman. We are lucky with our timing as it is the weekend of the 4th of July celebrations so a good time to be with friends.