I am not talking about 100 huckleberries. Nor am I baking 100 huckleberry pies. Yes, boys and girls, it is Fall in the Flathead Valley of Montana. It is time for the famous Huckleberry 100 bicycle race in the backyard to Glacier National Park. It is the premier summer cycling event in the northwest of Montana.
Much like our previous trips here, we are staying at the fabulous Candlewycke Inn in Bigfork. We spent the first few days up in Alberta, Canada at Waterton National Park, sort of the northern cousin of Glacier National Park in Montana. This is our fourth trip up here since we first met Megan, the gracious proprietress of Candlewycke.
Famous huckleberry pie
Though the “race” is scheduled for the entire Huckleberry 100, shorter rides of 25 miles, 50 miles, and a family ride are tailored to one’s skill and stamina. Since I am a visitor from out-of-town, on a rental bicycle, and not sure of the route, I may opt for one of the shorter 25 or 50 mile routes.
Best of all, it is a fully supported ride, with lunch (including huckleberry ice cream), and aid stations along the course. The race starts in downtown Kalispell, and heads south into my favorite little town of Bigfork, on the shores of Flathead Lake. From here, we head back north toward the uber-tourist town of Whitefish.
So, I rented a Trek road bike from Wheaton’s in Kalispell for $35 a day. I picked it up on Friday afternoon before the Saturday race for a little practice. I want to make sure I do not end up in the river or Flathead Lake by accident.
The delight of the Flathead Valley
The real question is why come all the way to Montana to ride in this race. Well, why not? I will not know anyone, and will be under absolutely zero pressure to pedal fast. And I can stop whenever I want!!! Try it sometime, it is good for the soul, and much easier on the soles (of your feet)!
So, instead of carbo loading, I opted for some fabulous lobster raviolis at “When in Rome”. He is quite a skilled craftsman of a chef, particularly for this part of the world. Megan, our hostess, is also highly skilled, and hires herself out as a gourmet chef when she heads to warmer climates during their brutally cold and snowy winters.
And dessert at Dairy Queen. We never go to DQ until we are here! But after I had another bison burger for lunch on the way here. Please try some bison meat when you can. Safeway has ground bison, and Sprouts carries some bison steaks. Driving around the countryside here, some commercial herds can be seen grazing alone or with cattle.
As far as animal sightings, we saw some black bears up at Glacier, along with hundreds of deer. The park rangers warned of foxes on the roads yesterday, but we never did get to see any. Megan has several deer families that frequent her back yard. And I may have told you they had quite a bear problem this past spring and early summer.
Wish me luck!
Of course, the most famous huckleberry of all time, at least in my opinion, is Huckleberry Hound, a fictional blue dog that speaks in a southern drawl. Some of you may wonder why I did not mention the equally famous Huckleberry Finn, the fictional character created by Mark Twain. The story, set in 1834, revolves around the more famous Tom Sawyer. Huck is the son of the town drunk. Maybe he found a way to ferment the berries into some homemade beer or wine?