Helena to Butte – Lava Mountain

The Boring Bits-     Distances , So……. from Ovander to Lincoln was 27miles by road, followed by 54miles offroad/gravel to get me to the pass at Helena leaving a downhill into town in the morning. I started this day at 9.30am. In Lincoln I caught the parade for a hour or so. I was finished by around 8-8.30pm. 81miles without pushing myself too hard, nice breaks through the day

Helena To Butte

54 off road with some rough terrain after Park Lake going up Lava Mountain followed by 30miles on an Interstate sprinting to Butte for fireworks, this did miss a section of trail by taking the Inter Alternate but C’mon!!! Fireworks!!!!. I started this day at about noon or just after (i was waiting for route maps to download, as good as the maps are, they require a odometer for getting the right turnings, which upto Helena, i did not have). By 4pm and through baking 90 degree heat i reached Park lake and chucked myself straight in. I am currently sat in Starbucks probably smelling like bad lake water, can’t smell how bad i smell so not too concerned. lol. Lava mountain was hard , steep and rocky, a couple of northbound cyclists I met at the lake said it was the hardest section for them. My skimpy 40mm gravel tyres were skittering about, struggling for traction, but it was brilliant fun. I did have to push the bike up a few gruelling sections towards the top which reminded me just how heavy the loaded panniers are. The reward of the downhill was immense though, all fear of buckling the wheels out the window, this was too much fun; it seemed to last hours, I passed a few more divide riders heading north, with proper mountain bikes. Pfffff, I though; who needs that setup, then I came across a 50meter steep rock garden; this humbled me, I got off the bike and wimped my way around this before remounting. It was hard enough walking down, never mind riding. The single track widened and soon became a gravel road, which i hurtled down  . At 7 pm I emerged at the interstate. 30 miles to cover by 9 pm when it would start to get dark, I have no bike lights so it was kind of a make or break thing, I plunged onto the interstate boldly; to be greeted with a head wind and a gentle but punishing climb.  Reaching a sign saying ‘snow chain area 1/2 mile ahead’ the road kept climbing. I was committed, pushing as hard as I could, my legs building lactic fast. The sun disappeared behind the ridge to my right, I was running out of time and staring at the map couldn’t work out how far i had come but felt there were about 6miles to go. Time was up. I came to the continental divide crossing and the view over the other side was glorious, Butte still shining in the sun. I flew downhill to a layby I could see cars backing up into; I realised they were setting up for the fire work display. I made it. Being the showboating idiot I sometimes am I locked the back wheel and skidded to a halt. I felt like Lance armstrong for a second (before we all found out he cheated).

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The view from the layby just over the Divide, Butte in the foreground too dark to see
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Interstate riding
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the slow climb up that was killing me
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Lava Mountain, this steep continuous climb also killed me
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My bath for the day, Park Lake, a relief after the heat of the afternoon

 

 

 

 

helena to butte

127-171 44mile

30 by road

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