Day 61 – Not-so-lolo

(58 miles)

The maps of the route we are following are produced and published by the Adventure Cycling Association, or ACA. The ACA have their headquarters in Missoula which is why the TransAm takes a MASSIVE detour up north on it’s way across the States – just to pass by the office! So we figured it would be rude not to at least pop in and say hi. We got our photo taken (it’s now on the Wall of Fame), grabbed a free ice-cream and soda (yes, this was at breakfast time) and picked up some maps for the Lewis and Clark trail. ‘Er…the what trail?’ I hear you ask. Well, let me back-track a bit…

As I said, the TransAm takes a big detour up to Missoula and then heads south-west through Idaho and then through Oregon to the coast. It’s windy, hilly and the shorter version of it ends up in Florence – which although pretty, isn’t very convenient for any sort of onwards journey. On the otherhand, the Lewis and Clark trail (which kind of follows in the footsteps of the great pioneers themselves) takes a much more direct route to the coast which also happens to be flatter and ends in Astoria (where the longer of the TransAm routes finishes too) – much more convenient for getting back to Portland and then onwards! We discussed it as a group and all agreed that we’d set out to cross America rather than to stick religiously to the TransAmerica route. So we’re hopping on the Lewis and Clark trail in a couple of days time when it diverges from the TransAm and we’re sprinting for the coast!

Funky handlebar door handles at the Adventure Cycling Association offices

First things first though – in this case the ironically named Lolo Pass which also marked a) our entry into Idaho, state number 9 and b) the start of Pacific Time, our fourth (and last – we’re giving Alaska and Hawaii a miss) time zone of the trip.

State number 9 - and Pacific time

The descent down from Lolo Pass was a bit special. Coasting down long sweeping curves, with a gushing river on one side and all around a dense forest of tall thin pine trees.

We stopped just 13 miles down from the pass at Lochsa Lodge as there are no more services for the next 65 miles after that. They let you camp behind the store for free and we were able to hang out in the lodge all afternoon using the WiFi etc before demolishing some more burgers for dinner.

Also at the lodge was Sarah who was cycling on her own with no real set destination, other than ‘east’. She was extremely chatty and keen to hang out with us. I ended up feeling a bit sorry for her – she struck me as someone who’s been let down and side-lined a lot in her past and is just looking for her place in the world. And I think she’s lonely. I hope she finds the right people and place to call home. You meet a lot of other cyclists on the road, far too many to mention them all in this blog. Most are in groups of at least two or more. But I always feel like the ones on their own are desperate for companionship, even if perhaps they don’t realise it themselves.

The beautiful Lochsa valley

Pat cruises down Lochsa valley


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