Thursday, June 24, 2004
Melrose, Montana to Pocatello, Idaho
We departed Melrose this morning after another all day breakfast. BJ followed us to Bannic via Highway 278 through Dillon. Originally we had planned to go through Wise River and Elkhorn to there but because of the hotel situation the day before we had to come in fromt eh east.
Bannic is an abandoned gold rush town, once the state capitol, which has been preserved as a state historic site. Even after 70 years of abandonment the buildings are in surprisingly good shape.
Around noon we departed the ghost town, Jonathan and I riding south and BJ driving east to Mack’s Inn, Idaho where we planned to meet that night. The gravel road was smooth so Jonathan, who was leading, and I rode fast. Sometimes we went as fast as 55 miles an hour, which is fast for a motorcycle on a gravel road. Our comfort level on gravel roads had become a lot better than at the beginning of the trip. We saw our first pronghorn sheep and numerous herds of cattle that blocked our road. Unlike some of the Colorado cattle who didn’t spook when we rode near them, the Montana cattle would run off in any direction, sometimes directly in front of us. We had to ride very slowly past them as we never knew what direction they would decide to run.
The landscape we were riding through was high desert with no trees and only rolling hills covered with low vegetation. The vistas were breathtaking as we could see snow capped mountains in the distance. We were the only traffic on the road for several hours. As we approached Lima we road past three bicyclists riding the same route we were.
An observation: As we approached civilization we passed several locals in pickup trucks. Our waves were returned grudgingly with no smile. I think the locals don’t care for outsiders. We gassed up in Lima, very near the Idaho border and started our final 84 mile push east to Mack’s Inn. Thirteen miles into our ride, at the western end of the Lima Reservoir, I hit a rock with my front tire and split the casting. We tried to inflate the tire with my CO2 repair kit but all the air immediately leaked out. We limped back to Lima where Jonathan left me for harrowing 170 mile ride on hard rocks through a thunderstorm or two and gusting winds to get BJ and the trailer.
During Jonathan’s four hour absence I called all over Montana and Idaho trying to find a front tire for my VStrom. I finally found a Suzuki dealer in Pocatello, Idaho who agreed to sell me the front tire off his personal VStrom. In that generous gentleman hadn’t done what he did our trip would have been over in Lima. All we had to do was drive the 150 miles to Pocatello and be there by 9 am the next morning.
Jonathan and BJ arrived in Lima around 9 pm. We loaded the VStrom on the trailer and then ate at a restaurant whose advertising stated that they had “Good Grub”. They did! We then drove to Pocatello arriving around 11:30 pm. It was a long day and thank God BJ was nearby in the trailer.