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2021 FJR
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
June 9, 2021

Since I had to cut my last ride to this area short due to the time of day, I headed out to do it again and go farther today. I left Billings, heading west on Interstate-90, and rode to Columbus. While the two lane roads I took the last time are preferable I still feel that interstate riding requires a skill set and practice so I do take them sometimes.

Somewhere just before Columbus I got one of those reminders as to why wearing a face shield is desirable as a big bug met its end in the middle of mine creating a splat that was difficult to see around. Luckily I was able to stop on Main Street and get it cleaned off.

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Once rolling again it was a quick drive to Absarokee, about 15 miles, 65 MPH on an excellent two-lane with sweeping curves past farms and ranches. I passed through that little town and continued south until I turned right onto Highway 419.

I had been down this road quite a few times in the past but I am guessing that it had been 20-years so it was new to me and certainly the first time I’d done it on two wheels. Let’s just say that it’s fantastic! Hills and curves all the way as you get deeper into the mountains.

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I passed through Fishtail which has a 90-degree turn as you enter the 2-block long village noted for the Cowboy Bar and and the Fishtail General Store and then more riding before that last town, Nye. Not much is there but a great photo opportunity.

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The next section of the ride dives deeper into the mountains as it follows the Stillwater River. The scenery just gets better and better.

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Up ahead is the Stillwater Mine, a massive industrial complex where palladium and platinum are dug from the earth and processed. While the mine is underground, the processing is not and there is quite a bit of heavy truck crossings.

Once past that, the road enters the national forest and becomes narrower with no lane striping but lined with pine trees on each side. At one point I was up on the foot pegs as I negotiated a minefield of chuckholes in the road, a few of which were unavoidable. Not far after that the road splits with the branch on the left going across a bridge to the Woodbine Campground and the one on the right going to the Sioux Charley Lake trailhead. I went to the right and rode the loop around the parking area. There were about a dozen cars there and some people enjoying what looked like post-hike picnics. I haven’t done that hike myself but it is on my bucket list.

I went back up the road and toured through the campground. I’ve camped there in the past with the family but that was long ago. The highlight is the trail from there to Woodbine Falls, a waterfall that was visible from the road on the way in. Most of the occupied campsites were taken my RVs of all types. I saw no one tenting there.

I stopped on the bridge on the way out for a photo.

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The ride back was just as pleasant as the ride in. When I got back to Hwy 78, just south of Absarokee, I turned right and headed to Red Lodge. The two-lane ride is very hilly and has lots of curves BUT the wind picked up making the leans in the curves somewhat disconcerting. Add to that, there really isn’t anywhere to pull over so there are no photos and I couldn’t encourage the truck that insisted on tailgating me to pass. Thinking back I should have just slowed down to a stop and made him do it.

When I got to Red Lodge I needed a break and pulled in to Sam’s Tap Room at Red Lodge Ales for an IPA. It was their New England Style. It was OK.

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The ride back to home was uneventful and I was glad it was a weekday since there was so little traffic, not that traffic is ever an issue in this part of Montana.

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212 miles and arrived home safely. A good day.
 

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Great way to enjoy life, I agree, nothing beats riding during weekdays, when everybody else is working (y) ;) ...no traffic, everybody is more relaxed, less busy stores, gas stations, restaurants and way less "waving" to hundreds of bikes, like on the weekends :)
 
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