Many years ago I worked for the National Park Service as a summer historian on a HABS/HAER project in New York City. When we were finished, the project leader gave me a signed copy of America’s National Park Roads and Parkways: Drawings from the Historic American Engineering Record (Timothy Davis, Todd A. Croteau, Christopher H. Marston, and Eric DeLony). It is a beautiful book, full of detailed drawings and plans for some of the most amazing engineering projects anywhere in America. Over the years, DH would lift the book out every now and then and peruse the drawings. Someday, we would visit Glacier National Park, and in particular, go on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (his bucket list). I always assumed it would be in a car.
A week ago, on the last day of our seven-day Tandem Bicycle Tour of Glacier National Park, we rode 43 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Bucket list indeed! We were on the road by 7:30 AM on a cool clear morning, and 2.5 hours later (it was uphill and we are slow!) we made it to Logan Pass. The parking lot was packed, and a very friendly motorcyclist took us under his wings and offered to let us park the tandem by his motorcycle, on the theory that the only difference between our two wheels and his two wheels was the engine :-)) But then we spotted the bike racks, so we didn’t need him to keep an eye on the Chipmunkmobile after all. After the requisite Logan Pass/Continental Divide photographs, we began the spectacular 45-minute descent. I do not have a head for heights at the best of times, and I was gripping the handlebars so tightly my fingers were cramping. But the scenery!! A couple of drivers ignored the 25 MPH speed limit on a very narrow and twisty road and passed us; one did it so that he could zip over to the very next lookout point, a couple of hundred yards down the road, to take that Special Picture . . . .
I don’t think I can tour the Going-to-the-Sun Road in a car, ever. I saw it from a bike, the ride was a challenge, and it was perfect.
And now, I have bike jersey envy: