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August 25th 2015
Published: August 25th 2015
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Today was the rest day, coinciding with the county fair.
It started with a parade of marching girls/boys and band, political party slogans and volunteers, business man of the year, chief of the year, police cars, fire trucks, dance groups, kindergarten groups, big trucks. Not like the Toowoomba parade, but interesting. Later heard they have 5 parades per year, all similar- Christmas, Easter, St Patricks Day, County Fair, July 4. They must get worn out by them!
Rode the bike around the streets near the centre, some appealing old homes, and parks. Looks to be the commercial city of northern Montana. Montana state has a population of about 1 million people.
Afterwards wandered down to the fairground, first collecting a US Sim, as for some unknown reason my existing sim stopped allowing me to send texts!
The fair ground was on the city perimeter. All the usual types of machine rides, pick up truck raffles and displays, animals inc. Llamas, Draft Horses, Cattle, Shooting Galleries and Pig Wrestling pit, the main event i walked to see. The pigs ranged in size determined by the size of the wrestlers. The idea was for a team of 4, to wrestle a pig into a barrel, hind feet first. This meant picking up the pig. Not as easy as it might sound, haha, the pig was firstly greased up, and the arena was wet and muddy and slippery under foot. The first team was 4 boys aged 5 and 6. The pig was bigger than them. The idea is to barrel the big within 1minute. They missed out, but it was a comical effort. Then there was 8 teams of girls ( 4 per team). They were high school. Most achieved the goal, one team in 8 seconds. It was a messy event, which bought much cheering. The winners shared $50 prize money. They were also told that they couldn't clean up in the public toilets!! The smell i presume. Cant imagine high school girls at home participating in such an event. Very few male teams!!!
Walked back to town, about 7 kms, the last 1 km in showers and strong wind. We are seeing all weather conditions. Not far south of Kalispell bush fires are raging. We head that way tomorrow, to put them out by our arrival, haha.

KALISPELL to LAKE ALVA. Section 4 ROAD TO THE SUN (haha) end part1 STAGE 38 Distance Kms 128.84 kms; Total Dist to Date 4072 kms; Road Condition: good Weather: cool at start then great weather. Time in Saddle: 5.47 hrs Speed: av 22.2 kph Max speed 48.6 kph Av Cadence 49? rpm Elevation: 1100 up; Total up to Date 38,980 m ; 750 down; down to date 33,019m

Today was a pleasant ride. The scenery not as impressive as the past few weeks, but still attractive. Plenty of coke/coffee shops on route. Some of the diners have some history, shown through old photos. It looked like life was tough up here pre 1945. Snow was thick on the ground in some photos. Speaking of snow, Banff had 5 inches of snow after we left. Summer in North America has not to date resembled any summer i have previously experienced.

The camp tonight is a govt. camp, so limited facilities, but very treed and pretty. It is on the banks of Lake Alva. A smaller lake stocked with a variety of trout. A few canoe fishermen were out trying their hands. Amazed by how many mountain lakes i have seen in the past 4 weeks. Most look appealing.

LAKE ALVA to LINCOLN. Section 4 ROAD TO THE SUN (haha) end part1 STAGE 39 Distance Kms 125.96 kms; Total Dist to Date 4198 kms; Road Condition: good Weather: FREEZING ( -2c) at lunchtime had warmed to 15c Blue sky. Time in Saddle: 5.28 hrs Speed: av 23. kph Max speed 44 kph Av Cadence STOPPED WORKING rpm Elevation: 1020m up; Total up to Date 40,000 m ; 850m down; down to date 33,869m.

Same basic distance as yesterday. I unfortunately added 10km extra due to a mistaken tag reading. It was along a pretty river reach, so in itself not so bad, but could have done without the extra kms!

It was a freezing start on the bike. Not so in the tent, so everyone was unprepared for the arctic wind and the late rising sun. First stop was at 18km mark and my fingers, despite being in full gloves were frozen. Feet not much better, and breathing in cold air hurt! One of the Canadian French, so far, EFI,( a curse,I reckon, seeing I lost out on Day3!!), developed symptoms of hyperthermia- vomiting, disorientation,exceptionally cold. She was rescued by the support truck but has lost her EFI. As She is riding to Mexico and then on to do the Ruta Maya in Central America, She is a little disappointed to say the least.

Everyone was frozen so we stayed at the cafe/gallery for 90 minutes. They had an exceptional morning and were very accommodative of 20 frozen people. And this is still summer!! Apparently last week(!) it was hot every day. Hard to believe. Seems much better this afternoon.

The remainder of the ride was uneventful. Nice countryside. Feel exhausted tonight. At the pig wrestling the other day, i slipped on the stadium steps, getting out of the way of a hugely obese woman. Fell heavily on my left knee. Heavily bruised my knee. Now swollen, and is not good on hills. The coming rest day will be appreciated. Now popping Voltaren and Panadol.

Camp site is another without facilities. Very tired of the crappy facilities.TDA must pay very little. Am feeling ripped off. Now feeling pleased about leaving early, other than for the lost monies paid to the Bs. The tour crew is great, i must say.

LINCOLN to HELENA Section 4 ROAD TO THE SUN (haha) end part1 STAGE 40 Distance Kms 85.77 kms; Total Dist to Date 4283 kms; Road Condition: good Weather: Cool start but warmed rapidly, 92F in Helena at 5pm and Blue sky. Time in Saddle: 3.53 hrs Speed: av 22.1 kph Max speed 55 kph Av Cadence 76 rpm Elevation: 790m up; Total up to Date 40,790 m ; 1000m down; down to date 34,869m.

Today was a reasonable day, again crossed the Continental Divide at 6151 feet. It seems like an everyday occurrence!

Travelled mainly backroads which was pleasant, with few vehicles. Again passed many local churches and halls. It seems that every town has its own individual church and faith, although i believe the faith to be Christian of the Bible thumping variety. Came upon one named 'The Last Chance Church' with an interesting cowgirl scene and cross. There are equally as many casinos, which i believe are poker machine dens, they are everywhere. Someone on tour had read that the Bible states had the worst record for sex and domestic violence offences.

Prior to arrival in Helena, stopped at a crossing to allow a very long freight train to pass, very slow and seemed to be 2 km long, carrying double stacked containers. Arrived in Helena about midday. Helena is the capital, (50,000) the seat of the Montana govt., and like most towns has plenty of malls, that are unappealing. Many of the big stores like JC PENNY,SAFEWAYS,WALGREENS, have their own separate buildings. The style and fitouts are very old and daggy!

Downtown is 3 km away so will investigate tomorrow. Around here is very average food. Ate a GYROS, nothing like Athens, and a PASTY ( US spelling), which tasted ok, but looked unappealing on a plate and 4ozs of "slaw", which i am sure was 2 oz of mayonnaise! Thank God, Yannis cooks most meals as otherwise i would weigh a lot less than i do now.

Figure i have lost about 8kgs, but no scale to weigh myself. All upper body muscle(haha), seems to have wasted away.

I don't seem to sleep well in a bed anymore, as i had a very ordinary night. I have become used to rolling off a one inch thermarest and lying on the tent floor resting on the cold earth! At least breakfast of bacon, toast and eggs was enjoyable.

Walked downtown, about 3kms. Took the back streets which were interesting, many homes have the stars and stripes waving. All seem very patriotic. Past a defence forces recruitment agency. I can imagine they would get many applicants from these sleepy country and remote towns.

Visited the Montana state capitol building. Most impressive, decorated internally with frescos of cattle, cowboy and indian scenes and statues of state notables. Interior decorated in French renaissance style, so the information board said.

From there wandered down to Last Chance Gulch ( it seems to be a theme), this is the old part of town with character, and totally devoid of people. It seemed that shops opened from 10-4 only. No idea how an income is earned. The streets are exceptionally quiet everywhere, you would think they had turned out the lights and escaped to LA!

The city has a large cathedral with impressive stained glass windows. Also a civic centre designed in the style of a mosque, with minaret and madrassa. I walked up to this, initially thinking it was a mosque wondering how it was, that it was in redneck cowboy country. I asked a staff member who informed that whilst it was built to a mosque plan it had never been used as such. Very strange. The madrassa turned out to be the home of the fire department.

I couldn't live here in Montana. Whilst the scenery is beautiful, reminiscent of Australian country scenes, the weather is diabolical,-40f in winter, 93f today at midday! Also i cant find any decent cafe food. The supermarkets and fruit and veg look like home, but as I have discovered elsewhere, whilst the shop product might look good, what is done with it by cafes,etc is woeful.Will go on the food hunt again later. Beer, 24 oz cold cans are plentiful at garage service stations, but not sold in liquor stores, only hard booze sold there!!

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