|Karel had a flat 5 miles from the finish-but got it fixed in a jiffy|
When we last did this route in 2011, I wrote that it featured the best piece of infrastructure in Montana, The Bitterroot Bicycle Trail. Well since then, the trail has gotten even better. It has been extended all the way to Hamilton. So I modified the 2011 route to stay on the trail instead of using the highway on the east side of the Bitterroot River. The result was over 70 miles of bike path riding, and not having to deal with intolerant Ravalli County drivers-who proved in 2011 to be pretty hostile.
Karel Stroethoff and I were honored to be joined by Mike Biggle from Great Falls on a breezy chilly morning in Missoula. We set out at 7AM and were blessed with a nice tailwind to Frenchtown. Then we made our way across the Missoula Valley in heavier than usual traffic. Something was going on. Eventually we came across the staging area for some sort of huge running event. There were people everywhere. The traffic remained heavy for a few miles, but most were going the opposite way and didn't cause us any problems.
We eventually joined the aforementioned Bitterroot Bicycle Trail in Lolo and flew to Hamilton with a 15 mph wind at our backs. Our first 100K was done in just over 4 hours and life was easy. Unfortunately, we had to return from were we came and the ally wind was now our adversary for the next 40 or so miles. Mike spun on ahead, the wind causing him little resistance while Karel and I chugged along behind. Karel got a flat right at the Missoula city limits sign when he ran over a staple, but he had it changed in short order and we cruised through residential Missoula and the University of Montana to the finish.
The weather forecast called for highs in the mid-60's, but I don't think we reached that until about 10 miles from being done. I kept my arm and leg warmers on the whole way. But it wasn't a bad day, considering the awful spring weather we've been having. The 15 mph winds were a mere breeze compared to the record setting gales from last weekend. So it was a successful 200K and a good start to the brevet season. Congrats to Mike for completing his first randonneuring event in fine fashion-I'm so happy to have another Montana randonneur in the fold. Our next one, the 300K, is June 15 out of Belgrade. Should be fun!