5 days in and still going strong. It was a tough 1,300 ft, 6 mile climb out of Mullan this morning, followed by downhill and flat all of the way to Missoula. We crossed into Montana at around 9, after leaving Mullan at 8. We also had our first time zone change into mountain time, losing an hour. We stopped for lunch at Subway in St. Regis, where they also don't give points on Subway cards. The information center there also had Montana maps as well as internet access, so I was able to get some things straightened out with my visa for China.
As usual, the afternoon was a struggle as the mile markers slowly creep up to whatever target we are looking for. It was made more of a struggle by Travis' tire going flat twice. The owner of his bike shop had said that he'd only get two flats the entire trip using the Armadillo tires, but his was defective and a loose wire was puncturing the tubes, causing three flats over as many days. So he switched to the spare tire.
While we were staying with Kate in Spokane, she had a friend who had ridden across the country e-mail us with suggestions. The subject of her e-mail was "ICE CREAM ICE CREAM ICE CREAM!!!" We hadn't really thought ice cream before, and set a goal of reaching Alberton to get some there. Drumsticks at the local market were only $0.65, so I got two plus a packet of lunch meat. The ice cream was exceedingly refreshing, and we weren't really concerned about what we were eating, figuring we'd burn whatever we stuffed our faces with. The market's bulletin board was a hot spot for local advertisers, including one entrepreneur who offered:
After our break in Alberton, we still had thirty miles to Missoula and it was getting a little late. We finally hit Missoula at around 7:30 after holding an average of about 16 mph through easy terrain. Our search for a place to camp took a while and through a number of false leads, which brought us to the boyhood home of the author of "A River Runs Through It," but sadly we couldn't stay there. Eventually we were directed to a Greek Orthodox church nearby. Just outside the church, I fell over twice within about 20 ft after being too tired to unclip from my pedals. It was decidedly embarrassing. The pastor of the church was playing chess with the next door neighbor and was fine with us pitching our tent in the church yard. Before setting up camp, we shared a delightfully satisfying pizza from Pizza Pipeline, and headed to the local market. I made Ramen with an egg, and saved a few eggs for scrambled eggs in the morning.
Travis has a friend in Big Timber, 263 miles from Missoula and we decided to try to get there in three days. So tomorrow will be short at 80-90 miles. The mosquitos here are annoying, but we probably won't be out of their territory for a while. It's also predicted to be a scorcher tomorrow, so I'll have to remember to ice my water bottles when we refill. America sure is a big country.