Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 3

A long day on the slabs today, making rapid progress on the I-90 Super Slab towards the city of Missoula, Montana, our destination for the night.

We elected to ride together and stay on I-90 as it had been described as "scenic" by  I will admit to it being somewhat scenic,with distant views of mountain ranges.  However, we were moving at a "brisk" pace and the views just didn't rate a stop.  There was also the plan to ride Lolo Pass after dropping the family off at the hotel, I figured the shots for the day would come from that ride.

358 miles later, we arrived at Missoula, MT and got settled into the hotel.  After resting for a bit, I rode out by myself and eventually found my way to Lolo Pass on MT State Rd 12.  I say eventually because I missed the turn on southbound US 93 for State Rd 12 and ended up with a 34 mile detour before heading in the right direction!

This should have been my omen that the motorcycling gods had decided to not provide scenery for pictures today.  Sure, there was plenty of nicely curving roads, bordered closely by thickly forested lands.  Sure, the weather was pretty nice in the forested areas, with a cool wind blowing nicely as one gained altitude.

And yet, I rode right through the pass before even realizing it.  Lolo Pass is located at the border with the state of Idaho.  I probably should have known better, after all the pass is at 5233 ft above sea level, my house in Centennial is at 5880 ft!  It's a two laned paved road, surrounded on both sides by hills covered in trees.  Not a view of mountain peaks to be had.  I rode into Idaho a couple of miles, saw a sign warning: "Winding roads next 99 miles".

So, it was this way I discovered why Lolo Pass is favored by motorcyclists.  Not for the views one usually associates with mountain passes, but with a long length of twisting roads.  I should have done my research and now paid for this failure.

I didn't have time, inclination or the right motorcycle for these 99 twisting miles and so I disappointedly took the pictures of the signs and headed the 47 miles back to the hotel.  In all, it added 129 miles to the 358 already ridden for the day.  487 miles = a long day in the saddle, with no good pics to show for it.

 For whatever reasons, Montana doesn't post signs on its mountain passes.
So if you're westbound on MT 12, here's your sign that you're there.

There was a small visitor center nearby, with the closest thing one can use
as the requisite Pass Sign.

Once back at the hotel, I set about oiling my drive chain for the first time since the start of the trip.  Here's where I learned one should check the chain more often when doing a lot of high speed highway riding!  It was quite loose!  I tightened it down by one graduation mark on each side and then lubed it up.  I'm going to be checking that chain more often, I can tell you that!

Still, other than my failure to check more often, Vikki continues to do great on this trip!  Her mileage, since the winds were not bad at all today, was in the low to mid 30s today.  That's pretty good considering I held her at at least 70 mph most of the way with bursts to 80s.

Though disappointed at the hoped for views of Lolo Pass, it was still a good day of riding, and everyone remains safe....can't really ask for much more huh?

Tomorrow, we'll ride about three hours to the outskirts of Martin City, our home base for the next five days or so.  Looking forward to rendezvous with my father-in-law, Richard and his Norwegian friend Jan.  Also looking forward to meeting in person Bobskoot and Bluekat along with Bluekat's husband.  Ride safe my fellow moto-bloggers.


Gary France said...

487 miles in one day is a long way!

Charlie6 said...

Gary, I topped it later on...728 in 18 hrs...woof.