Daughter Linda wanted to ride the sidecar as a practice session for the Iron Butt Association 48x10 ride we have planned for August 8, 2016.
The 48x10 will be a nearly 8,000 mile ride touching all of the lower 48 states in 10 days or less.
It should be a fantastic ride and this will be our first practice run with Linda riding the side car and taking care of the navigation, log books, gas receipts and photography.
With banjo and guitar stored in the Mini Mate trailer we headed out on a 45 degree morning for the ride which would take us first to Missoula on I-94 and then north on US 93 to Whitefish.
It's a fantastic ride anytime of the year but particularly this sunshine filled day with a few clouds overhead adding to the beauty of the ride.
This BLOG post will be primarily photos since Linda captured every nuance of the trip with her new camera equipment and her sharp eye for detail.
It was an 8:15AM start and the ride through MacDonald Pass was on the cool side but bright sunlight foretold of a warm ride.
The rig was running and handling well and we made good time on US12 from Helena to Garrison where we came to a red light stopping traffic.
This was something new, Montana having very view stop lights on major highways.
By coincidence, the light stopped us at the entrance road to the Bar SL ranch where Linda's daughter Lorna and Rosario, her Disney Fantasy Staff officer husband live when they aren't residing on the cruise ship.
From the big hill on the Bar SL Saro and Lorna have a fantastic view of the mountains.
The short wait we expected lasted for 15 minutes before the Pilot truck brought a row of vehicles through from the west and made a quick U turn to lead us west bounders through.
The road construction turned out to be new entrance ramps to east bound I-94 and as the pilot car pulled off we entered the west bound ramp ready for the Interstate run to Missoula.
This is always a great ride running through some beautiful Montana mountains and crossing the Clark Fork river several times as it winds it's way through the hills.
A quick stop for gas a visit to McDonald's for a cup of coffee and to update the Facebook page "Where In The World Is Grandpa" and we were ready for the ride north on US93.
This is real Montana country with sweeping mountain vistas and a place where they actually build "Animal Bridges" to keep wildlife off the highways.
What could be more Montana than that.
From here on the ride carried us through the Mission Mountains and the Blackfoot Reservation where the road signs are in English and in the Blackfoot language.
The mission Mountains in the background and I proudly display my Iron Butt Association Saddlesore 1000 patch on the sleeve of my jacket.
For those new to the sport of Long Distance riding, the Iron Butt Association is the sanctioning body for the sport. The first requirement for membership is a ride of one thousand miles or more in 24 hours or less. To receive this patch is a much anticipated honor and with the license plate backer which proclaims the rider to be one of "The Worlds Toughest Motorcycle Riders," is proudly displayed.
Many times as we ride across the country another biker will pull along side and can be heard shouting, "I'm Iron Butt too."
Linda won her Iron Butt patch and certificate on an 1100 hundred mile sidecar ride from Helena to Provo, Utah and back in under 20 hours.
Mission Mountains are close up and beautiful in the bright morning sun.
It's spring and the countryside is green even though we haven't had as much rain as is needed to keep everything growing and to prevent wildfires.
The Oil Patch fires just to the north in Alberta Canada have brought clouds of smoke into the Helena valley and with the smoke reminders of what can happen if the rains don't come in May and June.
Linda's camera was working overtime as she captures the riders with face plates up and catching some fresh air.
As we move through some of the small towns we see small town living with all it's peace and quiet.
In Polson the camera captures some unusual pictures, including a site which should be included on the Tour of Honor motorcycle rides, the American Doughboy monument.
The Tour of Honor web site provides full information about the tours which take riders to monuments across the country. http://www.tourofhonor.com/
Also in Polson, an unusual way to advertise your outfitting business, by using cowboys hanging from the side of your store. A sure fire attention getter.
She even managed to get a shot of me and the Colonel.
Mountain rides are always fun, no matter where in America you are traveling.
There is always a road that is unusual and challenging.
Bikers love to share stories about these rides as they stand around in groups, kicking tires and sharing at a national biker gathering. Here are a couple of good mountain highway pictures.
There are many stories to be told about falling rocks and how riders have found roads blocked or impeded by rocks large and small which have come down from the mountainside to startle an unsuspecting biker.
The two lane twisties always add a measure of excitement to the ride and also add to the fun of the next story telling opportunity.
On this particular ride, with a sidecar hanging off one side of the bike the twisting roadway meant more work driving the three wheeler up and down the winding, hilly highways.
A great ride all the same and brought us more practise for that August adventure across America.
Linda did want to show off her new biker jacket with the fancy embroidery down one sleeve. She is ready for the adventure.
The plane in this picture shows part of the fun of the ride.
As one rider explained it, "When you ride down the highway in a car it's like watching a movie, when you ride down the highway on a motorcycle you are IN the movie. At Whitefish we had a fun time playing banjo and guitar and singing some of the great old songs. Even had some of the residents singing along with us.
The Springs assisted Living Center is in a beautiful setting with views of the Glacier National Park mountains for a background.
I have enjoyed doing the free music programs at Senior Centers as I travel across the country and have several scheduled already for this summer.
Now, with the program over we head for Helena and home.
The ride has been a great practice session for the 48x10 and a great picture taking opportunity for Linda.
We will have a few more practice rides coming up and will post a
few more pictures as the adventure continues. Next week I will be in Bozeman, then Butte, Billings, Great Falls, Missoula and Sidney. Busy weeks ahead and some great rides to look forward to. Watch for us, we'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist