Nick on the bike 2005: Oregon to Virginia
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Day 16: Lincoln to Simms via Augusta
July 30, 2005, 5:19 PM
Where am I now: Simms, Montana (47.49466N by 111.93481W at 3581 ft.)
Today's distance: 81 miles

This has been a day of great contrasts. Started out chilly at sunrise amid ponderosa pines in Lincoln, ended up hot & treeless at a crossroads in mesa country vastness east of the continental divide. I'm embarking on a great journey across the great fruited plain of middle America, but so far it's a bit short on fruit or trees to bear fruit.

But the scenery has been gorgeous. The ascent up to Rogers Pass on the continental divide was ho-hum postcard stuff--more pine trees, trout habitat & headwater wetlands with a few good road cuts thrown in.

On the other side of the pass, the descent took me quickly into treeless rolling grassland foothills (which I made quick work of with some help from my buddy from the west who started cooking along at about 20mph....makes this all sound like a piece of cake, doesn't it? Well it ain't. Just for the record.)

Met a group of west bounders out of Great Falls on a 5 day trip. They were complaining about the hills & wind, and hadn't yet gotten to the climb up to the divide....

I got off 200 & took a longer jog through the town of Augusta, as recommended by the ACA folks. I was treated to no traffic, and wonderful vistas of the Montana front range, or whatever they call these mountains.

Stopped at the general store in Augusta & debated whether to spend the night or press on. The cyclists I had met told me Great Falls is a zoo this weekend with the state fair. I figured I'd stay some place on this side & ride through the city in the relative calm of Sunday morning. I was about 60 miles into the ride, it was about 2PM, and the ACA map showed camping at a place called Simms in about another 20 miles. I pressed on.

It wasn't much of a press. Down hill for the most part, 15-20mph tail winds, no traffic.


I stopped several times for photographs: I have documented a weed control board sign, a bee keeping operation (I've seen a lot of hives on this trip, I suspect the low humidity makes the hives less prone to the diseases that have made bee-keeping so difficult in Virginia).

This brings me to Curtiss Service Center in Simms, Montana. This is about the only game in town, and the main event is an auto/truck repair facility. They let people park their RV's behind the garage. And they let me pitch my paltry tent on the grass off to the side. There's also a clean dispenser of potable water, a cafe/bar, and the people are nice. I'm not complaining. But this is not campsite beautiful as in west of Lolo Pass. I have a first generation Ford Bronco in my front yard. Looks like it has a 302 V8, 3 on the tree, multiple gas tanks, and it hasn't moved for a while. Photo documentation will be forthcoming.

I've just learned that a group of west bound cyclists (with sag vehicle) are also here, they have just done the ACA Lewis & Clark trail from St. Louis, which I'm about to do in the other direction. Should make for good conversation at dinner.