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Leaving Montana: A Cautionary Tale of Bicycle Neglect
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Leaving Montana: A Cautionary Tale of Bicycle Neglect

Leaving Montana: A Cautionary Tale of Bicycle Neglect

Post by Adam:

So, I'm going to skip over our exploits in western Montana and leave them for Tiff to discuss when she has a library session not taken up with personal stuff. I'll pick up the tale on the day we left Missoula, travelling over Lolo pass and into Idaho.

We began the morning by meeting Tiffany's friend from the PCT, Rafiki, for breakfast on our way out of town. It meant a late start to our day, but we weren't concerned because we only had about 60 miles to do to get to our campsite.

After breakfast, I hopped over to the bike shop across the street to ask about an issue I'd been having with my derailleur pulley; turns out the top and bottom pulleys had been switched, but that's not the point. After inspecting my bike, the mechanic emerged from the back of the shop and told me that he wanted to replace all of my cables and housing in order to get the bike to shift properly, as well as overhaul my freehub because it wasn't working as smoothly as it should. I told him "no thanks" and he fixed the switched pulleys and sent me on my way. Poor decision, but I'll get to that.

So, we head out of town and into Lolo Pass, which was pretty great, although the shoulder was basically non-existent. Traffic wasn't too heavy though, so it was an alright ride. Once we hit the top of the pass, the descent was pretty incredible, with tall canyons covered in fir trees for enough miles for me to get thoroughly sick of the sight.

We made it to Wendover campground the first night, which is near Powell ID (it's not really a town, just a ranger station and lodge). The campground was just a few feet from the Lochsa river which we'd been riding next to since the top of the pass, and which was absolutely gorgeous. Tiffany and I both had been wishing it was hotter so we could go swimming.

The next day we continued riding through tall, fir tree lined canyons (Lewis and Clark almost starved here trying to find their way out of what they frustratedly described as "an endless sea of mountains"). We visited Weir hotsprings located just a short 1/4 mile hike off of highway 12, and stopped for lunch at the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station, where Tiff made friends with a butterfly.

The next portion of the story I'll preface by pointing out that when we started this trip, my bike wasn't in the best condition. It was a long way from troubling, but there were several things that I was worried about, but just didn't have the motivation (or money) to deal with. Of course, with my bike having been ridden almost every day since I got it 8 years ago, and then putting over 3,000 fully loaded miles on it, I expected some trouble, but nothing out of the ordinary; a broken spoke, a few flats and maybe a broken shift/brake cable.

What I didn't expect was for the housing of my front derailleur cable to completely explode. While this latest mechanical failure did leave my shift cable intact, it meant that I basically could only use one chainring without getting off the bike and shifting by hand. Luckily we only had 30 miles of rolling downhill to get through to our next campground. Less fortunately, from there to the nearest bike shop was over 90 miles and it included some sizable hills.

So, we slept on it, and in the morning decided to thumb a ride to Lewiston. We originally intended to hitch back to Lowell and make up the lost miles, but Tiffany got uncharacteristically car sick on the ride to Lewiston; But 90 missed miles on a trip of over 3,600 isn't too bad.

So, the moral of the story is that if you're concerned about something with your bike, and someone tells you should probably fix it, JUST FIX IT! Cause it's not worth the trouble later on.

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