Day 15
From the Diamond T it is only a few miles to Montana and a few more miles to another single lane bridge that crosses back over what is now Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. After six miles on highway 200, the AC route heads north on Highway 56. Highway 200 is a bit too much of a main route, but still good bicycling. Highway 56 is a great bicycling road. Plus it was a real relief to get off of rough Idaho back roads! I stopped for a second breakfast at a bar before the intersection of 200 and 56, my first of many bar stops in Montana. Actually this was an excellent breakfast (all you can eat for $5) fixed for me by a very nice woman. Most of my Montana bar food was not so good.

Highway 56 heads north towards the Cabinet Mountains and then cuts west around them. The only service on this ride are at Bull Lake which is about 20 miles from the 56-200 intersection. Another bar, but again with decent food, for lunch. Then, another 20 miles on, 56 intersects highway 2. This 40 miles is hilly (scenic?) and the first 10 miles or so has some great views of the Cabinet Mountains. I really enjoyed riding highway 56.

Highway 2 is 4 lanes and lots of traffic, but with a good shoulder. Not fun, but also not bad. The worst aspect of riding the 12 miles from near Troy to Libby was that the first part of it appeared to be a good downhill, but was actually uphill. The hills around the valley get higher going east, but so does the valley floor and the hills rise much faster, so it looks like the valley floor is heading down. Your brain says downhill and your legs say uphill, so you look for a flat tire or a rubbing brake pad or some explanation of why you have to pedal hard 'down' this hill. I was glad that I had an altimeter to tell me that I was actually going slightly uphill.

This ride is one of those where you can do X miles (in this case 65 miles to Libby ) or 2X miles (in this case another 65 miles to Eureka), but nothing much in between. This meant that I had easy day, but I was still tired from the past 5 days of riding. I visited with a disabled former cowboy at a local tastee freeze for quite a while before heading into town. He had ridden many 10s of thousands of miles on horses before his health failed. His wife had recently had a stroke and he is trying to care for her and their youngest daughter whom I met. He wasn't complaining, but he did wish he could still ride.

My cowboy friend told me of a good, inexpensive, motel so I rode on into town and checked in there. On the way I saw a sign for a PCUSA Presbyterian church, the first I'd seen in long time. When I was checking into my room I saw a flyer saying that public internet access was available at the library. It was Friday night, my legs were tired, I had a cheap room in a town with lots of services, I could get on the net on Saturday, and I could go to church on Sunday and still easily do the 65 miles to Eureka after lunch. I decide it was a good place for a rest day.

I had a good time in Libby. It wasn't as exciting as Winthrop, but it did have lots of services. I restocked and stocked up for the, serviceless, ride to Eureka. I got on the net and answered and sent email. I ate lunch. I wrote and mailed postcards. I spent some time in a local bookstore. Then I took a nap. Ahhh...

For supper I walked to a good (well, decent) restaurant and sat, out of habit, looking out the front onto highway 2. Midway through my meal two familiar recumbents rode by. I finished the meal and headed back towards Libby's free campground. I knew Kathy and Justin wouldn't be able to resist that bargain and I found them easily. I invited them back to my motel room for a hot shower and then we went back to the restaurant where I had supper. They had supper while I had desert. I found out that they had spent the previous night at Diamond T (and loved it) and that they had, the day before, ridden highway 2 into Sandpoint. Kathy was actually brushed by an RV (it hit her rear bags) as they neared the city. She was shaken by the experience. Bad road, or really, bad driver.

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