Monthly Archives: August 2012

Day 22: Friday night lights

I decided last night that a rest day was definitely needed, it was the first time that my body was desperate for a rest, jerry and Vicky very kindly offered to let me stay another night. After the best breakfast so far on the trip, we headed into town to see some of the local sights. We picked up some fresh vegetables and then headed to a very unique store owned by a man named Frank. Frank sold everything in his store, paintings furs, everything really.

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We then went to a sports shop, which included a pretty extensive guns counter.

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After lunch, jerry and i headed back to their plot to see if there had been any progress. It seemed that there wasn’t so we went on a short drive around town which included the nine mile, mostly uphill route that i will start on tomorrow. We then went back home, we fixed the handle bar bag on my bike which was a bit loose and then decided to pump up my tires. Shortly after, the front tire exploded. That dam front tire. With no spare tubes, we headed to a local guys house who operates a bike store out of his garage. We was very nice and i left with three new tubes. Tires fixed, we headed inside for dinner. Another excellent feed and now we were off to watch some high school football under the Friday night lights. The game started with an excellent solo performance of the national anthem on the trumpet, then it was time for kickoff. The home team were initially outclassed, and then more outclassed with a brief period of restbite when the home team scored. The touchdown was met with fireworks and a showering of sweets for the home fans.

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Unfortunately that was to be the one and only home score that we saw. We left a little early with the home team well behind. It was back home for some more cobbler and then off to bed after a very enjoyable day. But only after jerry had put his surgical sewing skills to the test with my shorts( my only off bike shorts have been spectacularly ripped since day one in Seattle), he passed the test. Tomorrow starts with the hill that we drove earlier followed by what should be a long down hill.

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Day 21: Deja vu, Lewistown take two.

Today’s target was the familiarly named Lewistown, although this was to be the Montana version. Last time, Lewistown produced some bad memories, the unsuccessful hill climb to find the phone store and it was the starting point for probably the toughest day yet. But still, this was a new state, new town and hopefully new experience. After probably the worst sleep so far due to the uncomfortable ground, i headed back to the only cafe for some breakfast. Today was to be a relatively short day, mileage wise. But almost immediately after starting i was feeling sluggish. For the first time in the trip, my legs felt really tired, dead. I plodded on, but it was tough. It wasn’t especially hot or hilly but it was a struggle.

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The last couple of miles into town were as difficult as any other on the trip but soon enough, i was there. I searched for some wifi and soon found a cafe. I was just about to head inside, when i got chatting to a local man. His name was Jerry, he was very interested about my trip. By now, i give off a bit of a homeless appearance, Jerry obviously noticed this and very kindly offered to let me stay at his place for the night. I gratefully accepted. Later in the afternoon, Jerry returned with his wife Vicky and we headed to their home. Jerry and Vicky have just moved to town, at the moment they are renting an apartment while they build their own house just out of town. Once i had settled, we all headed to a neighbours house to pick some cherries for dinner.

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Once we had filled our bags, we headed back to the house. A nice cool beer later, Jerry and i headed to the plot where they are building their house. The building is in the early stages but it is clear that its gonna look pretty good once its finished.

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By the time we returned to the house, Vicky had put the cherries we picked to good use with a cobbler, but first there was a touring bikers perfect meal of rice and chicken with loads of veg. The cobbler was excellent, with the added challenge of avoiding the pips that had earlier evaded Jerry and the piter.

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Well fed, i was ready for bed. Lewistown Montana was already erasing the memories of its namesake in Idaho.

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Day 20: Blowing in the wind

Was still dark when i arose this morning, which takes my lifetime total of waking before the sun to 12. It was a strange morning, usually at around 7am, its starting to get pretty light, but today it was muggy and still quite dark. I waited a bit longer and then headed off. It was a strange morning, riding was easy, the sun was out but it was still not too hot. I passed through Geraldine and square butte. It wasn’t until i stopped at a view point (no picture cause there was no view) that i realised that i was riding with quite a strong tail wind. The next bit of riding was nice, i took a video to illustrate how little scenery there was and to explain my lack of photos today, the video doesn’t require sound, probably just wind anyway. Bit of a problem with the video, will try rectify asap, for now there is no video.

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Riding continued to be easy until i took a sharp turn and started heading east again. The wind was still strong but now it was a cross wind. Its amazing how such a heavy bike can feel so light, acting almost like a sail in the wind. The next five miles, although flat, were very tough. It was like going straight up hill. And what followed this five miles was a period of straight up hill. The hill gained about 600 feet but was only a little over a mile long. It seemed to take forever but once i was at the top, i changed direction and once again the wind was at my back. The last few miles into Denton were fine, nice and flat and i arrived into the small town at around midday. After getting some lunch, i headed to the campsite(city park). The park was right next to the towns (American) football fields and before long, the local junior team had started practising.

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Now this rag tag team of misfits may not have looked like professionals but sometimes looks can be deceiving. However, in this case they weren’t. The plan always seemed to fall apart and ended with the plan of give it to the big fat kid, who will run straight and score cause everyone else was afraid to tackle him, pretty effective. Once practise was over i headed back to the only cafe in town for some dinner. Well fed, i headed back to my camp for bed. Immediately after getting into the tent i realised that the ground was very uncomfortable. Too lazy to move the whole tent, i decided to stay as i was. Tomorrow’s target is Lewistown.

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Day 19: Attacking the fort

Getting an early start is always more challenging when staying in a motel, today was no different. But with 38° temperatures expected by 2pm, i needed to get an early start to complete the 55 miles to fort Benton. Up and away, i could see that today would be mostly flat with two climbs mixed in. As i climbed a little out of the city, i could see in the distance a mountain range, i assumed that this would be the second climb of the day. The temperature was still cool and riding was fast. I reached the first climb in good time and set on up it. The climb was going fine, nice and steady with motivating music blasting into my ears. It was interrupted slightly when Snow Patrols ‘you could be happy’ came on. Now i like this song normally, but for those who don’t know it, to put into perspective, the song usually sits at second last on my sleep play list and i am not usually awake by the last song. Give it a listen and then decide if its an appropriate song. Despite this, the first climb was soon out of the way and once again riding was fast.

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A nice down hill was to be followed by the second climb. As i approached the second hill, i could see that there was roadworks ahead. A car was sitting in the middle of the road that read ‘follow me through works’. I stopped behind the car and the driver got out. He started to explain the situation. I could see where he was going, so before he had even finished, my bike was in the back of the truck and i was belted up in the front. He did explain that the road was not suitable for bikes and that he would give me a lift. I reluctantly agreed and we were off. The drive was only about 1.5 miles but it was pretty much all uphill and the road was pretty bad. He dropped me off near the top of the hill, leaving me just a short climb to the top. On the drive, i did see my first bear of the trip, but don’t worry, it was a stuffed bear that is used for target practise. The rest of the day was once again fast riding. Arriving in fort Benton at around midday.

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I headed to the campsite, it was a nice one. I sat for a bit before heading off to get some lunch. By now the temperature had reached the promised 38 and it was hot!! Walking 200 metres to lunch was as tough as the days riding. On my way to lunch i got a massive scare when i local dog took exception to me walking past, however, i calmed down when i saw its size, it was a miniature version of pebbles. After lunch, i headed to the fort museum, to stay out of the heat more than any cultural reasons.

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Wondering round the museum a bit, i started talking to the tour guide. I talked with Bruce( named after Robert the Bruce) for about an hour, learning about the history of the fort and about the town. Due to its vastness, this part of the world was a popular place for fugitives and criminals back in the day. Jesse James, butch cassidy and others being regular visitors. From the outside, the fort looks fairly weak, but once you’re locked inside, which i briefly was, it starts to resemble a fortress a bit more. Leaving the fort, i wandered up the road to get some dinner, the walk along the river is very nice and there was also a statue of Lewis and Clark.

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Fort Benton seems like a really nice place, everyone is very friendly, everyone waves as they pass. But by now, i was tired, so i headed back to the campsite, set up and headed for bed. Denton is the aim for tomorrow.

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Day 18: Flat day (the good kind).

Was a wee bit chilly in the tent last night, so my long sleeve underarmour made its long awaited debut. Set off nice and early again and decided to leave the underarmour on. After about ten minutes riding and one minor hill, the underarmour was off and normal service resumed. Today’s elevation profile was looking pretty flat, if even a little downhill. The destination, the relatively big city of great falls. I left around 8.30 and arrived in great falls, 54 miles away, at around 12.

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In fact, riding was so good and fast that i don’t really have any pictures or stories. I arrived in great falls, and for lack of a better option, i checked into a motel. Probably the best motel so far. Phone call home, followed by an inspirational phone call with Jon, who suggested epidrine, to make them long days a bit easier:) Then i watched a little tv before heading back into the heat in search of Sun tan lotion(i ran out yesterday). I headed for the closest big supermarket which was 1.5 miles away, still thinking in bike terms, this doesn’t seem so bad, but no foot, it took a while. After leaving the supermarket, the sky’s darkened. Was there rain in the air?? Sure enough, the first glorious drop hit me, after complaining about the rain all summer, its amazing how fast you grow to miss it. The rain kept falling for about 10 minutes, still hot though, then back to sunshine.

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I got back to the motel, watched tv, had a very forgettable Chinese dinner, did some blog, planned tomorrow and off to sleep in the biggest bed yet.

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Day 17: Taking the high road

On the route today stood the imposing figure of rogers pass, standing at 5,600 feet, this should signal kid highest point of my trip( baring any unpleasant surprises on the east coast). Unsurprisingly, going was slow, it took about 2 hours of mostly climbing to reach the summit but then there it was, just passed Americas coldest ever spot, the very unspectacular rogers pass.

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A long down hill then followed, only slightly interrupted by another flat tyre, no problem though Im pretty fast at fixing them now. The next bit was rolling hills, with more uphills than i expected and cared for. About 20 miles from my destination of Augusta, i planned a food stop at a restaurant on my map. It was clear from quite far away that the cafe was very closed and had been for a while. So i had a banana and carried on. Surprisingly, the final 20 miles of the day, usually the hardest, went really nicely, riding was mostly flat, so i put my music in and flew along the road. Before long i was in Augusta, had some pre dinner and headed to the camp ground. The campsite was nice, only the second camp so far that i could get my tent pegs in the ground. With a backdrop of the rocky mountains that i just travelled through. Then i headed back into town, (30 seconds walk) to get some dinner. They even had the panthers on the tv, gotta love them panthers. I headed back to camp and settled in, great falls is the aim for tomorrow.

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Day 16: On the road again

Last nights full house did bring some sleeping problems, what can only be described as relentlessly powerful snoring. Fortunately other guests put stop to it by throwing items at the offender until he stopped. Before long, i was on the road again. This was to be a long day of mostly uphill. The day started nicely and i was making good progress, the next few days i will be following the blackfoot and sun rivers.

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I soon left the river and the heat once more increased. Riding was pretty tough, consistently uphill, very little shade and high temperatures. After stopping for a refuel, i was on my way again. Finally i rolled into Lincoln after a really long day. I headed for a steak house and had a great dinner. The plan was to camp but the waiter suggested that i try a hostel that is designed for cyclists. I headed over, not wanting a repeat of last night, i made sure that the room had no other guests, it didn’t so i gratefully went for it. Four beds to myself, looking forward to a good sleep after a long day.

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