Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Great Divide - Roosville, Whitefish, Big Fork, Cedar Creek CG, MT

From: Mary
Sent: Wednesday, 7/23/03
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Port of Roosville, MT to Cedar Creek Campground, MT

July 21 – Port of Roosville to Whitefish

Jim and Mary at Canadian borderOn Monday morning Jim & I did a U-turn around the Port of Entry in Roosville, Montana to start our bike trip in Canada.  I had that lump-in-my-throat feeling that comes at the start of a long-awaited dream.  The first twenty miles were powered by smiles.  I couldn't believe it was finally happening!

Some of the dirt roads we were supposed to ride for the first three days were closed due to a large forest fire near Polebridge on the western edge of Glacier National Park.  As a result, we had to modify our route, taking Highway 93 into Whitefish.  If we've ever had a 30-second conversation about biking, you know I hate, hate, HATE riding on paved roads.  It's not that I don't appreciate how much easier the tires roll over a smooth surface; it's that logging trucks and 35-foot motorhomes whizzing by me at 70 miles per hour make me nervous.  The modification in our route required us to ride over 40 miles on a busy highway.  The heavy traffic and the 104-degree temperature took its toll.  It was a harder first day than we anticipated (65 miles and 3600 feet of climbing), but we made it.  The best part of that detour was that we eliminated some mileage and at the end of the first day, we were at the third night's destination.  Not bad, gaining two days on day one!

July 22 – Whitefish to Big Fork

When I do a pain inventory of my body, I can find a few things to whine about: my butt is tired of being in the saddle, I have some sore muscles, and a one-inch strip of sunburn on my back that my sunscreen missed, but nothing that you wouldn't expect.  I am very happy to report, however, that my hands are pain-free for the first time in over 3 years.  When I decided to do this trip in November, my biggest concern was my arthritic hands. Some mornings I had trouble holding a toothbrush to brush my teeth.  I made every effort to get rid of the pain: I quit eating wheat, sugar, and potatoes on January 3, which probably reduced my pain by 50%.  I started taking Celebrex every day, which got rid of another 25%.  I went to physical therapy, which didn't help at all.  We upgraded the shifters and drivetrain on my bike so it would be easier on my wrist and thumb, and I love the new equipment.  But the silver bullet was two Harbor at Big Forkcortisone shots in my wrist and thumb last week.  It's a miracle!  After two days of hard riding, my hands don't hurt at all.

Vern and Jarla came with us to drive the motorhome for the first ten days.  It's been an absolute blessing for us, and it's been fun for them too -- lots of great conversation and laughter.  Vern's been fly-fishing and Jarla has enjoyed time to read, relax and enjoy the beauty of Montana.

July 23 – Big Fork to Cedar Creek Campground

At the border, we met up with Evan, a man I found on Adventure Cycling's website.  He wanted to do the trip, but his wife didn't want him to do it alone.  Via email, we agreed to start at the same time, forming a "loose association" until we find out how this blind date works out.  I was intimidated even before I met him.  He competes in triathlons and wins.  A few weeks ago, he expressed his concern that my "training seems a bit short of optimum for such a long trek."  Yesterday after I assured him I preferred riding at my own pace, he dropped us after about the first 15 miles.  He joined us for dinner last night, and that's the last I've seen of him.  He pushes ahead to beat the heat and to get in some fly-fishing; we poke along to take pictures, cool off in the river, and talk to the locals. Our loose association is working out just fine.

It was during one of our breaks to talk to the locals that received an insult that we are still laughing about.  Jim and I were melting from the 98-degree temperature and stopped to get a cold drink at a convenience store.  There was an elderly man sitting on the front porch drinking a beer.  Although Jim said he was willing to trade his bicycle for one of his cold beers, he settled for a Gatorade.  We talked to him for a while and told him what we were up to.  After a while, he said, "You look kind of old to be doing this.  What did you do, lose a bet or something?"

Happy trails,

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