6/30/2021 – Cutbank to Conrad, MT

52.32 Miles / 863.16

Total Miles

1775 Ft. Elevation Gain / 44,064 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

We were on the road, today, at 7:15 AM. After backtracking a mile, we turned left to head south on some very quiet and very smooth roads. We are managing our days and start times based on the weather forecast, and are starting early enough to avoid the heat and the headwinds that seem to increase and change direction during the day. Within that construct, we spent the entire day cycling along wheat and canola fields and a little bit of barren wasteland. I didn’t realize that canola was something you grow. Just thought it was man made from corn oil and other ingredients, or genetically engineered in a vat somewhere.

A few miles from town was the Cutbank International Airport and a nearby sign promoting the War on Weeds. I’m very familiar with the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs, and am concerned about the potential civil war in Afghanistan, but a war on weeds? That was a new one for me, though I have battled Bermuda grass several times and lost.

We passed a couple of historic markers, while continuing through the Blackfeet reservation. This one remembering Camp Disappointment reminded me of Cape Disappointment in southwest Washington, where another early explorer mistook the mouth of the Columbia River for a bay. I guess the early explorers experienced a lot of disappointment.

We try to stop every 2 hours for a rest and snack break, but we held off till we reached the one and only town on today’s route: Valier. There, we sat inside a convenience store/gas station and guzzled our beverages of choice, which for me is always either chocolate or strawberry milk. I drink so much watery liquid on the bike, that something with a little more substance feels good going down, every once on a while. What would feel even better would be a nice thick milk shake, but opportunities for them have sadly been VERY limited.

Canola
More Canola
Ed stopped to thank a Sheriff deputy for his service. Side note: Ed volunteers with the Eldorado County Sheriff’s Department

We saw something I’ve never seen before, today. On one long section of road, instead driving one of those tractor drawn mowers down the side of the road to cut the grass, they had a bailer cutting and bailing the grass. Ed was concerned about garbage being packed in the bail, but for the most part, we haven’t really seen any garbage along the sides of the roads up here.

When we arrived in Conrad, it was 12:30 and only 89 degrees outside. Success! We avoided the heat. The owner of the Northgate Motel was a saint. He let us check in early, so we could get out of the sun, for which we thanked him profusely. We showered, then headed down to a diner to grab some lunch. I picked up some beverages and snacks at the grocery store, while Ed visited the barber shop, then we spent the rest of the day napping and being lazy, aka recovering from our ride. We need to spend more time recovering.

Tomorrow, we are going to push my limits on early wake up calls. I thought those were over when I retired from the Army, but not on this ride.

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