Bannack to Wise River

July 02, 2010 – 58 miles

Before continuing on route, we visited the historic Bannack ghost town, an old gold mining town. I would have loved to go to a river and spend a day panning. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of prospecting. Just ask my grandmother – she’ll tell you that my 6 year old self wanted to be a “mountain digger.”

Bannack, MT

Bananck, MT

Today we’d be riding entirely on pavement – that lessened my fear of flat tires. Regardless, 10 minutes into the day’s ride, my tire went flat. I decided to patch it on the spot instead of replace the tube. I wanted to have at least one good spare tube to avoid having to patch one later in the rain.

Though I was riding on pavement and going downhill at a time, headwinds made it a slow struggle. After 20 miles, I saw Mathieu’s bike parked at the first restaurant en-route. He was inside talking with a Canadian named Michael who was riding southbound on the Great Divide in a leisurely manner. I joined them and ordered some food.

After lunch, just as we started a 7 mile climb, it started dumping cold rain. Will it be a quick shower or a long downpour? To don the rain pants or just a jacket? Decisions…decisions, but there is no right answer. If I put the rain pants off, I’ll get soaked in sweat. But if I leave it off, I’m going to be cold and wet.


At the top of the climb, it stopped raining and the sun came out. This was great – 35 miles of pavement down 2000 feet from here to Wise River.

Along the way, I had the urge to have a squat. I couldn’t find a suitable place, though. I was in the middle of the woods, but I couldn’t find anywhere where I wouldn’t have to walk a half mile from the road to not be seen. When I eventually stopped, I found out bare ass in the Montana woods is prime target for hungry mosquitoes. Believe me when I say they love their white meat.

After feeding half of the state’s mosquito population, I continued onward to Wise River. A strong headwind picked up for the last few miles. A threat of rain gave me an energy boost to get to the shelter of the town ASAP. Timed perfectly, I arrived within a minute of it starting to rain.

We ate dinner in the Wise River Club and rented a cabin for the night – it looked like rain and cold were blowing in overnight.

Better get a good rest tonight. Tomorrow we conquer the infamous Fleecer Ridge.

Distance: 56 miles
Ascent: 3183 ft
Descent: 3298 ft

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