The featured attraction of this morning’s truck ride was viewing one of my favorite towns, Butte, from the highway. Flanked by the gaping maw of the Berkley Pit, the mountainside town looks uneven, slanted even, as it is perched on the side of a mountain.
By 11AM Andy was at the wheel making time on route 200 toward Whitefish when the thermometer dropped into the forties, the skies darkened, and cold rain dashed against the windshield. Lincoln was riding in the back seat of the pickup, and it rained hard enough that he opened the back window, and hauled all of Andy’s gear into the back seat.
At some point, we left I-90 and struck due north through increasingly wooded and sharply elevated mountains, stopping for a quick sandwich at Seely Lakes.
Some 7 hours later, we arrived at Whitefish, the final destination for the beer truck, some 60 miles south of the Canada border. Andy tracked down his childhood best friend, Mike Fitzgerald, who lives there.
Andy will be staying with Mike for two days. Andy shed another layer of protection and familiarity when he left the comfort of his beloved truck, handed over the keys, and said goodbye to his last Maine connection- me. I had to make our goodby quick. I started to tear up. I so much respect and support what he’s going to do. Andy’s been my neighbor and friend for 33 years, and I consider myself privileged to haven ridden bikes together and to have played my part in this most unique adventure.
I have come to believe that Andy’s plan on coming out here early is a masterful decision, one that is rooted in wisdom, shrewd tactics, and a brave heart. He’s going to be better acclimated to the increased altitude in the mountains, and will start the race on hundreds of miles of familiar terrain.
On May 31, Andy catches a ride from Mike, who will drive him to Rooseville, on the Canada border, when he peels off the last layer of safety and connection, clicks into his pedals, and faces a solo adventure of some 270 miles into wilderness Canada as he advances on an uncharted, likely snow-covered, trail to the Tour Divide’s start in Banff. None of the other 100 plus riders are adding additional
Miles on the course, but Andy is.
Andy’s representing High Street, Lincolnville, Maine, and all of New England when he pushes off at the start line on June 8 at high noon.