Ovando, Montana has a population of 71. The Adventure Cycling map says “all services” for Ovando. “Huh.” We both start to chuckle. Rstaurant, lodging, tenting, groceries, internet and landromat? Must be a big convenience store sitting next to a park.
We were planning our next day’s bike ride. How far to ride is a decision that has to factor in what will be there when we do stop. How much climbing on the ride will there be? What kind of surface? How much single track? How much food do we have on the bike?
We are trying to average around 60-plus miles each day. Some longer and some shorter. If we stop in Ovando the mileage will be close to 70. Two big climbs in that effort. The next town would add another 30 miles. Too far.
We pulled into Ovando around 5 o’clock that afternoon. Dusty, sweaty and just plumb tired. Our first stop is to get some type of soft drink and just chug it. Then another. Slowly we become human again. We found our drinks in an old general store. They also have a few rooms for guests. We had heard that cyclists can camp on the lawn next to the Museum and by the “HooseGow” (jail). The old gentleman who owned the place pointed across the street. “You can sleep in one of the two cells in the jail or just put up your tents in the yard. It’s free for cyclists.” Help yourselves.
We did so. There was a 69-year old woman in one of the cells. She is on her third attempt to cycle the Great Divide. She started on the Mexican border this time and headed North. Just had to get to Banff from here. Karen told us about the $10 showers at the general store. Also the washers and dryers in the room next to the showers. Five bucks a load to wash and dry. Trixies just up the street a half mile serves food and beer. The restaurant across the street will have breakfast.
Showers were awesome for us dust-encrusted souls. Clean clothes! What a blessing that was. And full tummies plus a couple of cold ones.
Old fashioned hospitality in a little old-fashioned town. All with a genuine generous spirit. No strings attached.
The following morning we had breakfast with Karen. After wishing her her well, we got on our bikes to head for our next rest. About 60 miles down the Trail. We sure hope it will be as good as this one has been.