Day 8: Kalispell, MT – Browning, MT
Distance: 101 miles
Vertical: 4,403 feet
Biking Time: 6:40
What a day today has been, we are finally over the Rocky Mountains and onto the Great Plains. Before I divulge into the details of our ride, though, let me first focus on the morning drive to Kalispell. Now in most people’s lives they will end up in some sort of automobile accident, no matter how careful they are. But after watching Bean drive for the last couple days, I think I can safely say I don’t think he will ever get into one, or at least one that will cause any damage (that’d require you to drive a little faster than 5 MPH). To give you a perspective on how he drives imagine an old lady going down the road causing a major traffic jam because of how slow they’re driving. Got that image, good, now put her on a motorized scooter that tops off at 20 and add in the fact that she’s lost and ladies and gentleman we have Bean’s driving!! I honestly don’t know what’s slower, Matt getting ready or Bean driving it would definitely be a toss up.
Now onto the ride itself! Today marked the first day we traveled 100 miles, well not entirely true I accidentally went 100 miles the other day due to my inability to have any sense of direction. We began in Kalispell Montana and made our way down Highway 35 and turned onto Mountain Highway 206 towards West Glacier. On this mountain highway Matt and I got to observe the beautiful wild life that Montana has to offer! From squirrels, chipmunks to skunk and even a few deer. The one weird thing I noticed was they all seemed to be napping on the side of the road, weird place to sleep if you ask me. The only negative side of the animals was the skunks smelt terrible, I would say it smelt as bad as Bean's shoes, but lets be real nothing is THAT bad.
Not only was the wild life awesome, but the roads we got to ride on towards West Glacier were fantastic! They gave us a whole tires width of shoulder to ride on and even put in bumps along most of it to massage our sore butts from all the riding we’ve been doing, thanks Montana!
We biked so fast that we ended up beating the support vehicle to West Glacier, but then again Bean was driving. After leaving West Glacier we made our way into Glacier National Park, which was stunning to say the least, and we didn’t even go through the main part of the park. The serene views paired quite nicely with the blaring EDM I had playing from my headphones, don’t worry mom not too loud I’m not gonna lose my hearing and have to say “WHAT?” and “HUHHHHH?" every time someone talks to me like you’re always warning me about.
While in the park we were met with hills after hills after hills, but finally we seemed to be getting a break about halfway through. We hit a patch of flat terrain and even had a tailwind, I know exciting stuff I couldn’t believe it either. I began to think “You know what this ride isn’t so bad I can do this!!” and I turned the corner full of energy and hope and… was met with a blast of wind to the face and another hill looming in the distance. Life’s no fairy tale kids… to say that was disheartening is an understatement. But we tried our best to keep a Josh Bean state of mind and stay positive and keep pushing through the wind, heat and hills.
Finally the heat reached a point where we couldn’t bear it any longer and Matt and I agreed to stop at the first creek, lake, or any body of water we could find to dunk our heads and cool down a bit. As we rounded the next corner we saw a creek and to our relief the car and Bean lounging around and trying to correct the terrible tan lines we had all gotten from biking day after day. After around 30 minutes of well-needed rest we continued our trek up to the Continental Divide and thus began the hardest few miles I have ever experienced since 2 days ago. I literally sang I will survive to myself just to keep myself moving and trying to distract myself from the excruciating pain shooting up from my legs. By the time I reached the top my whole body ached, my calves, my hamstrings, my abs, my arms, hell even my hands hurt (is this a sign that I’ve been eating to much quinoa?! Oh god I’m turning into Bean, the next thing you know I’ll be bragging about how much quinoa I eat while comparing slack lines with someone…). When I saw that sign, though, that said “Marias Pass Continental Divide” I literally almost cried tears of joy.
On a quick serious side not, while at this peak of happiness, I really came to love this journey I have embarked on and couldn’t have imagined going on it with anyone else. Without Matt’s sassy, witty remarks (as annoying as they may get) and Bean’s unfaltering positivity (literally don’t understand how he does it) I would have never been able to push myself to where I am now, so thank you guys.
After the Continental Divide, we thought things would be smooth sailing, but we were yet again met by hill after hill. Finally, when we crested what seemed to be the millionth hill we were met by the immensity of the Great Plains. It was quite a sight to see the Rocky’s transform into miles upon miles of flatness. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this flatness if going to be the only view we get to see for the next couple days and I was done soaking it in after 20 minutes.
From there on it was smooth sailing to Browning, well besides the semi-truck that came within six inches of my arm and almost pancaked me between it and the guard rail (DON’T SHOW THIS TO MOM DAD) and was probably the most terrifying moment of my life, but yeaaaa like I was saying smooth sailing. With that our day was concluded and we got an awesome place to stay with Harold Clark, huge thank you to Sarah McClure for setting us up here and Harold for having us.
Oh God, I don’t think the animals were actually sleeping,