After last nights drama I awoke to a perfecctly calm and clear morning and all I could think was ‘get me outta here’. I did not even make coffee, I just started cleaning the gear that needed it and packing the bike. I love dealing with a wet tent in the morning. But, at least I had a tent; the people at Marmot get my endorsement for their gear. It was in the low 40s and I figured it would warm up and I would be alright in light base layers, wrong. I froze my buns off for about 30 miles into McCall Idaho. Right away I spotted the ‘Pancake and Santa House’.
I am not a big pancake fan but pancakes also mean coffee and eggs and bacon and… The Santa part of the operation was an attached Christmas gift shop. To my surprise this place had buckwheat pancakes, which I like a lot and have not had any in at least ten years. In California I have asked for buckwheat pancakes many times and I get looked at like I am a martian. While in there I took the time to put the BMW comfort liners in my pants and jacket, they work. The rest of the morning I was warm and only got too warm when stopped and in the sun.
Tens miles later I left the 55 and was back on US 95 going north from New Meadows along the Little Salmon river. It did not look little, the snow melt is on and all of the rivers are gushing bank-to-bank. At Riggins Idaho the river converges with the big Salmon river and it is really big. The cold, brown water is making a mad dash to wherever it goes and it was filled with a lot of tree trunks and branches; I saw no salmon. Roads along rivers are always fun on a motorcycle because the turns match the rythm of the river bends and riding briskly, but smooth, feels a lot like the flow of water. A day or two before I was reminded of the fun of “tar snakes” on the road. These are the tar applied to the cracks in the tarmac so that the road does not break up more rapidly. In the sun these snakes get soft and even can melt. Hitting a tar snake while heeled over at speed can give one quite a thrill. I was making time in a left hand bend when my front slide ever so slightly and knocked me off line and a bit wide, a momentary jolt of adrenaline. Be wary of tar snakes.
Once I reached Lowell the ride became epic. From Lowell to the Lolo Pass is one of the great roads in the world. It goes along the Clearwater River (if I recall correctly) for 77 miles. The speed limit is 55 but the ride is best at 65, most of the time, with a need to slow down once in a while. Riding for this long at 7\10s requires non-stop concentration and is a great test of ones skills. I don’t feel this pace is too risky and it really made for an epic ride. I had my GoPro mounted one the side of the helmet and tried to capture the road and beautiful river but I have not reviewed the video yet. At some places there were river rafts, kayaks and even one guy who appeared to be on an oversized boogie board using fins.
At Lolo Pass there was a rest area and I needed it. I had been riding hard for the last two hundred miles and needed to get rid of the morning coffee. The rest rooms were closed for a broken pipe and the ranger lady said I had to ride another seven miles to Lolo Hot Springs. Lady, I can’t make it another seven miles. Oh look, there is an endless forest of trees right over there and a little path into the woods, I think I will check it out. Mission accomplished.
At Lolo Pass you enter Montana. My first impression of Montana was good. They put this great road with endless sweeping turns down the mountain and posted it at 70mph. A lot of the turns were most comfortable below the speed limit. What a state, I can have great fun and be on the right side of the law. I made it to Missoula and gassed up, I had 100 miles to go to Lakeside. The ride there was a series of speed up to 70 and slow down through little towns and it took two hours.
I like going through little towns but used to get annoyed by the 25 mph speed limits, strictly enforced. Now I realize that they are there so that one can have time to look around and try to get a feel for how these people live. I always wonder if I could live in a small town after a lifetime of large cities. More importantly, could I hypnotize my wife into living in a small town. One thing about small towns is that there always seems to be a lot of old shit laying around. Rusty shit, broken shit, abandoned shit. I suppose that once this shit enters a small town it just never can leave. There is also a mix of thriving and abandoned establishments. Someone’s dreams are coming to fruition and someone else’s turned to dust sometime in the past.
My destination for the next two nights was my friend Jed’s house right on Flathead Lake. What a beautiful place it is with a grassy lawn down to the lake. A nice bit of rest and comfort here before venturing into the exotic land of Canada. I hope they have not built a wall.
Day 4 was a total of 390 miles.