Sixty: College Town (Hamilton to Missoula)

by davidharries

Miles: 54
Total: 3,806

I had a great morning visiting with Terry. She worked last night till 10 p.m., so we caught up the over delicious pancakes (with a colleague’s fresh raspberries) and eggs she kindly made. One of her sons did a cross-country trip in 2009 and they host cyclists in part to repay some of the good turns folks did him.

There’s a bike path between Hamilton and Lolo. It’s separate and about 15′ from 93, so you don’t have to fight with traffic along the busy corridor. Probably ACA-influenced, I enjoyed it tremendously.

In Lolo, Highways 12 and 93 run together, which makes for a lot of traffic. The bike lane ends here, so the final dozen miles into Missoula are on the shoulder.

I spent most of my afternoon at Missoula’s busy library. This town of 66,000 people is the biggest I’ll see till for several hundred miles, and it was high time to camel-up on quality coffee, beer and ice cream (as if you need a reason). I had dinner at Bridge Pizza (right on the Clark Fork River), where two huge slices of fantastic NY-style pie and a beer set me back $6.50.

Home tonight is Warm Showers host Bruce Anderson’s 1931 home, built by an oil and gas salesman at the height of the Great Depression. The bath/shower controls have five knobs — you could probably pilot this tub to the moon. I’m sleeping in the sunroom. He and his housemates put up more than 130 cyclists last year. He’s got it down to a science, including a quirky guidebook to the house. The home serves as an unofficial Missoula community center. It’s a cool place to be. His grade-school son, Ben, was scootering around all night. Bruce helped him swap the bearings on his scooter, but we never did get the mystery noise resolved.

After settling in, I rode downtown for ice cream at the Big Dipper and then over to Caras Park to scope out a 1991-built carousel. It features 38 hand-carved horses on a 1918 frame. And it spins way faster than what I would call reasonable and prudent! The park’s along the Clark Fork River (A fork of what, I have no idea. It seems to be its own entity), and the city’s installed a concrete wave-forming structure that challenges surfers and kayakers.

I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to visit ACA HQ — it’s closed Sunday.