A Guest Blog By Bradley Palmer
In 2008, I met someone that opened my eyes to Glacier National Park – with a 27 hour drive it was likely never to happen. When my wife and I got married a few years later, we fell in love with hiking during our honeymoon at Mt. Rainier, going much further down the wonderland trail than prudent for under-geared amateurs. After starting our family, it was challenging to balance our new responsibilities with family appropriate outdoor adventures.
The purchase of a 17-feet travel trailer left me with the dead-set intention of dragging my family to overnight camping adventures and we eventually made it to Colorado, Utah and Glacier National Park as a young family.
Dedicated for us to return the coming year – empowered with more knowledge and committed to carrying my daughter in a child carrier this time – I lost 42 pounds that spring to insure that ability. We hiked 50 miles that year including summiting Piegan Pass on July 4th. Other trips followed in the coming years, but I was insistent on returning to Glacier some day.
Dream, Test Ride & Go
Back to 2015 and the first time I saw a Yuba Spicy Curry. I dreamed about owning one for my wife to ride to school with our daughter. I also read an article about riding bikes on Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road when it’s closed to cars early summertime and thought how cool it would be to ride and maybe have a spare battery for an extended overnight trip. This was 5 years ago.
My wife and I talked about buying an electric assist cargo bike and found a local Yuba dealer to test ride the Spicy Curry. Obviously, this was what I wanted. As soon as the dealer got his hands on the Spicy Curry V3 with Bosch’s 500Wh battery and the Kiox display, we were sold and ordered it including some Add-Ons right away. We were surprised when the shop called us to pick it up on June 5th, two weeks earlier than expected!
Meanwhile under COVID-19 lockdown for months, me not going anywhere or having any adventures while transitioning employers, I was getting upset about not having fun when it seems I could otherwise. I had been monitoring the plan for weeks to open Glacier National Park and it seemed they would not under the direction of Montana’s governor. We had resigned the summer to limited local bike rides and one day on a whim as I sat in this very chair on the front porch, I happened to check Montana’s communication website and read a small blurb about plans to open Glacier on a very limited basis effectively immediately.
Everything I Had Hoped It Would Be
With myself working in logistics, I got an effective plan together within a day. I was going to Glacier by myself to ride this brand new Spicy Curry over the Going-to-the-Sun Road during the only 10 car-free days of the year, at the only time in 6 years I’ve had between jobs during a global pandemic.
I drove the 27 hours up there over 2 days. The first thing I did at morning light was drive over to the park thinking I would just scope it out and develop a plan for getting up there over the next few days. I was overwhelmed as I drove up to the road to a closed gate at Lake McDonald Lodge realizing I was there for the next few days and with nothing to do but what I set out to do. It was the first time I had accomplished such a selfish dream for myself and I knew there was nothing but clarity in front of me, the act of seizing those moments over the next few days.
It was everything I had hoped it would be. The first day was awful compared to the next 4 days, it was 45 degrees starting out and dropped below freezing at elevation, rain all day including driving sleet and small hail past the loop. I only made it to Apgar creek because I had not prepared to be up there that morning: I was wearing jeans because it didn’t occur to me that I was going to go anywhere consequential.
I rode 31 miles over 4 hours that day and came back to my cabin to make dinner and reflect on the day. I still needed to get up to Logan Pass and try to get as far as the road crews had cleared the snow off the road to feel satisfied.The next morning I drove to Kalispell to find Gore-Tex pants. That afternoon, I geared up for 44 miles over 5 hours and summited Logan Pass for the first time. It was everything I hoped it would be and I was the only one up there.
I summited Logan Pass with the Spicy Curry two more times riding over 140 miles. I had a cross bike with me on the trip but never used it, although I did bring its battery to swap if needed. I also had a full hiking pack, trekking poles, camp chair, winter gear in a waterproof bag, and a beer cooler. Gear and bike total weighed about 135lbs (*the Spicy Curry’s payload is 440lbs) . The last 2 days I spent about 14 hours in the park on the bike knowing I could take my time and access wherever I wanted with my setup including starting at trails that had not been hiked yet. I had lunch and dinner those days out there. I would stop at a spot where I could sit in the comfy chair and relax with a cold beer. If I got hungry, I’d make a meal. If I got cold, I would pull the winter gear out. If I needed more battery, I’d swap it.
I saw more wildlife than people. Coming down from the pass one day, the summary said I hit 45.4mph. I didn’t know while riding and I never felt like it was that fast, the bike is confident like a motorcycle.
That trip was everything to do with being blessed with a very unique set of circumstances that came together in a rare window, even down to the 12-year-old SUV I drive that accommodates the bike perfectly with the back seat removed. Needless to say I am very grateful.
The cool part is, my wife who has taught kindergarten for 8 years will ride this bike every morning with our only daughter who just started kindergarten this fall.