July 10, 2010 – 70 miles
I woke up feeling great this morning. We rolled out of camp after cooking breakfast on the bunk’s porch and eating cinnamon rolls & coffee with our hosts.
There would only be one climb today, and it started just a few miles into the day. I was feeling great and found the Zone. I made it up the 1800 foot ascent without pause. The backside was a rewarding smooth descent that allowed us to enjoy considerable speeds. The road turned into pavement, and that was the last we saw of gravel for the day.
We continued on rolling hills into Swan River, where we ate lunch at a crowded restaurant. Afterwards, the route had us follow a tedious sequence of roads on a tetris-like grid. We decided we’d make it to Columbia Falls by our own route-finding. The directions were too difficult to decipher in reverse.
I convinced Mathieu that we should ride down certain low-traffic road to get to Columbia Falls quickly. We did, but the road type unfortunately was mislabeled (it was not a county road, like I expected). The road was narrow and the traffic was fast and dense. Mathieu plowed ahead, though. At one intersection, we were given opportunity to rejoin the official route (which I assume was lower traffic), but Mathieu passed it without noticing. I wanted to return to the route, but we’d probably end up separated. So I continued on the busy road to catch up to Mathieu.
Columbia Falls was looked gray and rundown so we rode through without stop. Only a few more miles to Whitefish.
Whitefish turned out to be larger than I expected. It was a ski resort town right on a lake. With such venues comes tourists and expensive hotels. We searched for a place with vacancy for over an hour until finally finding something. We moved into the Whitefish Hotel for the next two nights. It was a dump but without a proportional price.