To the Sun
You know, that energized feeling you get when you spend a weekend with women that you admire? The conversation couldn’t be better, belly laughing, sometimes crying, and your face hurts from smiling so much. Women take care of one another, it is rejuvenating and such an important part of my life, building one another up. And, you know that super-powered feeling you get when you do something challenging? Maybe you feel like your body isn’t cut out for the task at hand, but it really is, and you know because you just did it. When these two feelings collide, the adventure couldn’t possibly be better.
I didn’t really think I was a biker, I mean, I’m not. I’m fueled by wildflowers and victory wine in a can. Hiking takes me to those flowers, but not as quickly.
I did go on an epic bike-packing trip nearly two years ago, in the fall, mapped with inspiration from The Big Burn by Timothy Egan. I go into these epic trips blindly, and find that is the best way to cope and succeed. I have a couple of bold women in my life who are bike goddesses, so they get ALL of the credit for mapping that big burn ride and really motivating the rest of us to go that distance. The fires of 1910 and history filled our heads while we pedaled through 3/4 crush into the unknown. People had been there before, history was made there, we could do it. By the time I was home I had ridden a titch over 100 miles in 3 days.
This recent Glacier adventure, I called Going to the Sun for 41. If you haven’t been on this scenic road, add it to your list. The road is closed to automobiles (from the Avalanche Lake trailhead) at the beginning of the season, but flush with bikers, walkers, bear, deer, and marmots. As you can see from my photos, the snow was abundant at Logan Pass. The visitor’s center was 1/2 buried, and the plows had only cleared the road completely the week we rode up. We lucked out.
The final stretch was like this for me…
Meet my bike. It is older than my kids, and my marriage.
I bought it with my high school graduation money, 23+ years ago. My high school boyfriend had it on a rooftop rack on his car and drove it into the parking garage and horked the fork. So, it doesn’t have shocks, because it was replaced with a cheap fork, it still got me to class. It has always been reliable. There was a stint 14 years back when I sold it at a yard sale. I got a flat tire, I was over it, I was in my 20s, I had a car and a brand new baby, so I decided it was too hard to take that purple Gary Fischer in for a tune up and replace the tube. Somebody bought it from the yard sale, fixed it, rode it back to the sale and sold it back to me. Now we’re just at this ridiculous place, where I get with many things in my life, where sheer sentiment won’t let me upgrade. It took me to the sun.
Relive ‘To the Sun for 41’
This phone app is one of my favorites. I don’t remember riding onto Lake MacDonald, but the rest is pretty fresh. We all took turns preparing meals for the weekend and the ladies that packed our ride lunch, were on point. It is safe to say I’m also pretty motivated by food.
I polished off the last of my lunch snacks on a bench after our ride, fed a few to a jay, laid on my back to dry out in the wee bit of sunshine remaining that day, and waited for our friends to show up.
We had missed the last shuttle of the day, but serendipitously my friend Sarah knew a sweet woman at the base who happily shuttled two ladies back to our little Apgar cabin.
We had previously made a reservation for dinner at the Belton Chalet, which we missed by nearly two hours, so we were hustlin’. The shuttlers showed up with our dresses and shoes, we threw our bikes in the trucks and headed straight to dinner. We peeled our sopping wet clothes and shoes/socks off in the parking lot (the fast descent from the sun is cold and wet – so be prepared for that) and replaced them with less sweaty upgrades. Do yourself a favor, and add a meal at the Belton Chalet to your list too. It made the ‘top 10 best meals of my life’ list.
We spent the next day setting out from our little village on a couple of boats we rented from the Apgar Village for $25/hour. We had the entire lake to ourselves, it was a dream.
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