Thursday, September 20, 2012

THE MOUNTAINS (in more detail)

As I have already mentioned in the short post prior to this, in the few days since I left GREAT FALLS, I have covered a decent amount of ground; entered AND exited the LITTLE BELT MOUNTAIN RANGE, met wonderful people and had experiences that will stay with me for a life time. Let me indulge you:

The day I left Great Falls (18/9) was to turn out to be the best day of the adventure so far, but it was to begin and end in a somewhat sketchy fashion.

I got off to a bit of a late start (AGAIN), after having a terrible nights sleep. By 8:30 I was headed south on highway 89. The highway had absolutely no shoulders and there were plenty of semis' passing faster and closer than I would have ever liked. ( A flashback to my first morning comes into my head)... only this time there was a wind factor. There was a cross wind coming in strong gusts making it very hard to keep my bike on or close to the non-existent shoulder. I carried on this way for a few hours or so before I stopped to have a cigarette to relieve my frustrations and anxieties (no, cycling almost 800km has not kicked my habit yet... you win dad, so far!). After not 2 minutes of being stopped a lovely biker man( in a truck at the time with his bike in a trailer), stopped and informed me he was going to give me a ride off the plateau and out of the winds. It wasn't an option it was a fact, "if his trailer has blowing then I must be in hell and it just aint safe". After about a 15mile ride; full of advice on the area and sharing of travel stories we were off the plateau and we said our goodbyes (me, my thank-yous') at the beginning of the incline that would be the first of the mountain passes I would conquer in the upcoming days.

The hill, though steep, did not seem as bad as I had been imagining in the days leading up to the task. I stopped often for various reasons; out of complete exhaustion, to take a photo or just absorb the absolute beauty of the scenery surrounding me, and even stopped for a swim in the mountain creek I had been filling my water bottles in that ran along side the road.

Not only was the scenery BREATHTAKINGLY AMAZING in this area but SO WERE THE PEOPLE. After coasting down the long hill that lead into the village of MONARCH, I stopped at LAZY DOE'S (a recommendation from my new biker friend). I paid $7 for a soup(wonderful) and a beer, and left with over $17 in donations towards the trip from both the management and the patrons of this wonderful stop.... If passing through this section of highway 89, LAZY DOE'S is a MUST.

I then continued on pedalling the slow incline into the next town of NEIHART, where I stopped a little bar that advertised the only wifi on the road ( I need to take advantage of Internet whenever possible to get the blog updated and upload pictures, without a story... there are no donations). However, the internet there seemed to be about the same quality as everywhere else I have been, and after a few minutes of typing and a few pictures loaded, my connection was lost. But by this time I had made some new friends who were quite happy to sit and chat about the ride and buy me some beers. By the time I finally was able to sneak away I had had a beer or two more than I should,considering the sun was setting and I had not found a place to lay my head for the night. But, I was assured there was a campsite just a couple miles out of town and it would be no problem. While leaving town I noticed that the General store was open ( I was told it wouldn't be... after all IT IS A TUESDAY IN NEIHART???). Well, of course the lovely ladies at the shop wanted to chat about where I was coming from, where I was going and all of that fun stuff. and after a bit of a chat they gave me the loaf of bread I was planning on purchasing, with hope that I will send them a letter when I reach my goal or close. (there information is in my "important" drysac and I have every intention of staying true to my word.)

WELL, now upon leaving the shop it was complete darkness and I still had a few miles of highway to cover. I turned on my lights and thought nothing of it, but as I got further from town I began to get nervous... maybe because it was my first night in the mountains and I was on winding roads in the darkness OR MAYBE it was because I had had my first beers in a while. Regardless of the reason, I was nervous and I was sure I had gone more than the 3 miles to the promised campsite. My solution.... flash an SOS signal at a passing car to ask when they last passed a campsite.The lovely young couple could not remember but offered to turn around and drive back up the hill to see.BLESS.... I had NOT passed it, it was 3/4 mile up the hill. I arrived safe and sound, but vowed to have no more than 2 beer BEFORE reaching my destination for the night. (with all the stops and beer and other delays, I still managed to pedal over 95km through the mountains that day!)

The next morning (19th), I was on the road by 7:30 where I was promptly greeted by a 6% incline that seemed to go on forever. I spent most of my time up until 12 walking my bike(partially because of the incline and partially because of the non-existent shoulders of a winding mountain road). By the time I reached to top of KING'S HILL, I had traveled only about 14 horizontal km but over 3 vertical km!!

When I finally did reach the summit, I was rewarded with a nice LONG 6% decline, with my hands on the break and one eye in my rearview mirror I coasted for AGES, taking in my beautiful surroundings.
The rest of the day was rather uneventful, mostly a slight decline with easy pedaling..the occasional hill as I said good-bye to the LITTLE BELT MOUNTAINS.

I managed to make it about 120km that day, where I slept on an approach at the side of the road... to be awoken by some good looking hunters that needed the gate I had placed my tent in front of.... But that story my friends, will have to wait until the next set, as my computer is about to die, and it is time for me to go to bed.

Tomorrow should be the mark of the entering into YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK and the end of my time in MONTANA, andthe beginning of new experiences in the state of WYOMING. ( I will be taking it slow for a few days to see the park... I don't want to be the only one to benefit from this but I DO want some benefit.....aside of course from the rock hard buns and legs, and greatly reduced body fat percentage I am creating with each passing day)


1 comment:

  1. Good luck and keep pedaling.
    I've done some long rides and would like to offer the following. Ibuprofen and naproxen can be taken together in small doses. One is for pain and the other is for inflamation. Every day.
    If you haven't peed today, you're dehydrated.
    Stop at a farm supply store and get some bag balm for sores.