The Wine Cyclist

Misty Mountain Tops

by on Aug.11, 2009, under Cycling, Wine

IMG_0746Wow. OK. So I know I have a lot of catching up to do. My last two posts were far from complete. I’ll see how much ground I can cover tonight before it gets too late. (This picture here is one of many I took on the side trip up to Glacier National Park, but more on that later).

As you may have gathered from the last post, I successfully survived my trip over the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, despite some rather insane gravel roads. The gravel actually spoiled what would have otherwise been a really nice downhill, but alas, I had to ride the brakes hard not to lose it on the dirt road there. Silly skinny road tires. This would be an awesome pass for mountain biking I think. No worries, though. I came across many other wonderful downhills.

The Bitterroots
IMG_0656The next day even, when I went over Lost Trail Pass and came down a marvelous mountain into the Bitterroot Valley, making my way up US 93. Just in case you thought Montana might be running out of beauty with all that I’ve seen on this trip, the Bitterroots do not disappoint in supplying more. Fantastic, no?

I ended up crashing for several nights with a friend of mine near Lolo, MT. In that time, I was able to go on a couple of very nice hikes in the Bitterroot Mountains (among other things, but again, more on that later), including this hike up to Bass Lake on a very treacherous and stormy Friday.

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The Beer Cyclist?

I haven’t had the chance to check out too much wine, yet — I tried a couple bottles of Montana wine, which were less than impressive, and a bottle of Idaho wine, which was not too shabby, especially given the pricetag — but I have been sampling quite a few microbrews in the area.

A popular one in Montana is a brown ale called Moose Drool (I may have mentioned it before, I can’t recall). It’s quite tasty, and more importantly, cheap and everywhere. So while Montana wine may be nothing special, the beer here is really quite good.

I dropped in for lunch at a Brewery in Hamilton, MT called Bitterroot Brewing. Sampled several of their beers. Being a fan of the darker side of ales, I preferred their porter and their stouts to their pale fare, but everything I tried was good, so their beer seems to suite all palates and preferences.

My favorite of the Montana beers that I’ve tried has to be a scotch ale from Madison River Brewing in Belgrade, MT called the Copper John Scotch Ale. It was just so deliciously smoky and rich — this is what a scotch ale should be. Excellent.

So, as I said, I did get to sample some wine over this past week. There’s a winery in Missoula called Ten Spoon. They try to be very organic in their operation. I tried both their saint pepin (from Montana-grown grapes no less; it’s a hybrid grape that can survive the Montana winters) and their pinot noir (from Oregon-grown grapes). The saint pepin was ok. It had some nice fruit flavors to it, but was not terribly complex. The pinot was a complete disappointment. I don’t really know how you get Oregon-grown pinot to taste like that, but they did. I’d avoid that one if I were you.

More recently, on my travels in Idaho, I picked up a bottle of Ste Chapelle Winery’s dry gewurztraminer. At $7 a bottle, it’s quite the nice bargain. It’s also quite tasty. I wouldn’t say there’s anything especially unique about it, but it’s a wonderful example of exactly what a dry gewurztraminer should taste like. At that price, definitely a real bargain. I don’t know how available it it outside of Idaho, however.

Glacier National Park

Another highlight of my time spent goofing off and not cycling in the Bitterroots was the overnight trip up to Glacier National Park (between this and Yellowstone, I’ve already covered $50 of the $80 annual pass cost — a couple more parks and I’ll really be making out).

There’s no better way to put it: Glacier is absolutely stunning. I took so many pictures it’s going to take me a really long time to get them all sorted out. So, I won’t be posting the full gallery for a while, I think, but here are a few pictures to give you a taste (in addition to the picture at the top of the post).

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Oh boy. Too many good pictures for me to put up right now. So, keep your eyes peeled for a posting of pictures dedicated to Glacier at some point in time, methinks. I just need to spend some more time sorting through them.

We weren’t able to do much hiking in Glacier, unfortunately. So, I still need to go spend some more time there (just like Yellowstone) with a proper backpack and really explore the backcountry of Glacier someday. We did rent a canoe, however, and we spent some time on one of the lakes up by Many Glacier. A few of those pictures were taken from the boat even. It was good times, no doubt; I just wasn’t able to spend as much time there as I would’ve liked.

Famous Potatoes

IMG_0838I’ve spent the last few days coming across Idaho. Saturday, I rolled over Lolo Pass, cross the border again, and today I update from the town of Lewiston, ID, on the border with Washington. Today, I’ll be crossing that border.

There’s been some incredibly wonderful scenery in Idaho. Coming down US 12 I was in national forest most of the time. The first night I camped out near a wonderful hot spring (which was absolutely great to soak in) that’s kind of tucked away back in the woods. Some locals were hanging out when I got there. There was actually a decent crowd. In the interest of preventing larger crowds, I won’t post publicly where the springs are located, but you can certainly ask me.

Yesterday was a bit of a haul. I had a nice climb first thing in the morning. Of course, with that was a nice downhill. And I mean really nice. A wonderfully windy, steep road led me down into the valley near Lewiston. That brought me here. Amazingly enough, I think that may bring us up to date. Except…

Lewis and Clark Caverns

I do remember wanting to talk about this a little bit. This is a throwback to two posts ago. After leaving West Yellowstone I spent a night at the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana. In the morning, I took the cavern tour and had a grand old time with it.

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And now, crossing into Washington, I really start getting into wine country. Your patience has been appreciated, and now we get to dive into the wine side of wine cycling. Stay tuned!

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4 comments for this entry:
  1. Ben

    hey i have been watching your travels !
    glad to hear all is going well…

  2. The Wine Cyclist

    Hey hey Ben!

    Awesome to hear from you. How are things holding up for you in Cleveland?

    You gotta bring your bike out here sometime. The cycling is fantastic.

  3. Margie Flock

    Jim…. This adventure is FANTASTIC! My Jim told us of your journey west. We are VERY proud of you. I will look for Moose Drool for Andrew”l”… I might even take a swig!

    Jim’s mom, Margie

  4. Tommy Laing

    Jim:

    Welcome to Washington. You entry into WA at the heart of wine country was obviously a planned event. I know that you will have a good time sipping your way to the coast. We have a lot of good wines in WA and when you go to OR the Willamet Valley Pino Noir’s are some of the world’s best.

    Best wishes for a continued safe trip.

    Tommy

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