Wanna Take You Higher

We awoke to 46 degrees and a strong breeze in Townsend, MT. Staying warm while packing up was the first order of business.

Breakfast was at the same bar as dinner last night. I missed the sign for the “Gun raffle of the month”. Charles got a picture of it.

We left town slightly underdressed (tights and jacket, but not arm warmers). A paper towel from the bar’s bathroom added a layer of insulation under the jersey.

The wind had shifted but was just as strong. I left town at 13 mph, after entering it at 24.

It stayed chilly for the first couple of hours but I was eventually able to shed the extra layers. There was a mid-morning stop at a famous bakery. Lesson learned: when your route planner recommends the bear claw, don’t order a croissant, especially in Montana. It was crescent-shaped but that’s as close as it got. The espresso was OK, though not up to Tim’s standards.

Lunch featured a slice of fresh tomato topped with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, along with risotto. Today’s lunch cook usually plays symphonic music, but today started with metal; playlist by the mechanic.

Today featured a couple of long climbs. We rode with the snowy slopes of the Tobacco Root Mountains looming in the distance. Eventually we passed those and the Bridger and Gallatin ranges loomed.C044A210-24EE-4BDF-AD7E-890B6DDB7524

I took my chances with one photo after saving and updating. Worked so far!

The last climb featured interesting winds as we topped Bozeman Pass. We had to pedal down the 7% grade due to the headwind.

The last ten miles of flats after the descent (Kevin later told me we were actually going up, despite appearances – Garmin never lies) were among the hardest miles I have ridden.

I like climbing mountains. I’m not a fan of headwinds. I probably said this before, but as you go up a mountain, the scenery changes. As you ride into a headwind, you’re going slowly and working hard, but nothing seems to change except the distance traveled; tenths of a mile take forever.

We rolled into Ennis and set up camp.

A word about roads, left out of yesterday’s post, though it was in the original. We are routinely riding on the sort of roads I studiously avoid at home.

Today featured varying shoulders (wide with rumble strips down the middle, 6-12 inches to the right of the fog line, fog line painted right on the edge of the pavement) all with 70 mph speed limits.

The wider the shoulder, the more ubiquitous the debris. Hence more flat tires in the first 9 days than in the last 9 years of recreational riding – I do get occasional flats while commuting.

Going up continues – 9000 feet awaits. Tomorrow – West Yellowstone.

B&B Redux

Lesson learned: no Wi-Fi + 2 bars of cell service = don’t try to upload pictures or it will freeze the system and trash your whole post.

Don’t look for any photos today. Back to what we tried to say yesterday.

The rhythm of the road is affected by the obvious extrinsic factors: wind, heat, cold, rain, traffic, road conditions; bike-related factors (like my fifth flat tire Tuesday despite a new sturdier tire); but the big factors are intrinsic: B&B.

We think of hydration as a process of putting stuff in – water, maybe electrolytes. On a short ride, it’s sort of like a savings account – you make regular deposits, and later you make a big withdrawal for a special occasion.

On a long ride, it’s more like a checking account – fluids are constantly going in and out throughout the day. As nurses know, I’s and O’s need to be equal (for your shift, or for the day) or something is wrong.

We really just borrow fluids when we hydrate – they have to be returned. (Okay, I know the metaphor just switched from saving to borrowing. I could rework the previous paragraphs, but it would get ugly.)

Returning them – aye, there’s the rub. In the great expanses of Big Sky Country, there isn’t a bathroom whenever you need one. Gas stations may be dozens, scores, or hundreds of miles apart. Towns don’t appear every ten miles.

Add an unfamiliar diet and hours in the saddle each day, and the other B comes into play. For those not medically inclined, I should now point out, if it hasn’t become obvious, that B&B refers to “Bowel and Bladder” in my world.

Add aging into the mix and it becomes more interesting. Sometimes we must prostrate ourselves before the great god prostate. Here, on another day, I might insert a link to Tom Lehrer’s “The Vatican Rag”: “First you get down on your knees/Fiddle with your rosaries/Bow your head with great respect and/genuflect, genuflect, genuflect.”

I would also be remiss if I failed to mention that our stopover Monday night into Tuesday – Lincoln, MT – was the home of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. I’m not even trying links today – I‘m a little gunshy, and hitting “save” all the time.

We rode out of Lincoln with a ten mile easy warm up, then started up toward the pass.

The road turned steep and, in a bit of cruelty, our first switchback led us into the teeth of a 20 mph wind. There was a great lookout point a mile short of the summit – here, imagine a picture of a road far below you with a tiny dot that represents a rider. Squint and maybe you can make it out.

The summit came sooner than anticipated, and we were blown up the last stretch by what was now a tailwind. Imagine here a picture of me before a sign reading “Continental Divide”.

There was a long, fast, and chilly descent to a great little country store with his and hers outhouses in back. Now, I’ve seen (and dug) two-holers in my day, but I’ve never seen separate men’s and women’s outhouses.

Insert here photos of a bunch of riders in front of a country store and a close-up of Victor Allen’s Keurig coffee pods. (If you’re not from Madison you may not get the significance of Victor Allen’s coffee way out here.) After a cup of coffee, an Almond Joy, and a visit to the outhouse, I was on my way.

We crossed the Missouri River into Townsend, MT, propelled at 24 mph by a strong tailwind. Keep that in mind for tomorrow’s post.

We arrived at the school where we were staying, only to find that an impromptu football camp was about to start. We were told to kill some time, so I went to a town park and dictated the previous incarnation of this post, since my keyboard was inaccessible. There were some great dictation anomalies that you won’t get to read.

After a dinner that couldn’t be beat, I went to sleep before dark, and that’s where I’ll leave you. This will go online immediately and today’s post will follow at midnight per the usual routine.