68.39 Miles / 1236.8 Total Miles
2841 Ft. Elevation Gain / 55,869 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
After a good night of rest at the Garfield Motel, we stopped for breakfast, then hit the road around 7 AM for a breezy little 68 mile ride. The weather prediction was cooler temperatures, but 12 mph headwinds all day long. In addition to the wind, we were also facing 52 miles of non-stop steep rollers, followed by what looked like a nice downhill. Oh, and on top of that, Adventure Cycling had provided an update on an 8 mile section of road construction, with a suggestion to get a truck to transport your bikes through it. Yeah, right. We’ll get right on that, next time we come through these parts.
The wind was a killer, from the moment we got on the bikes. We started drafting in one mile or one roller pulls and kept it up till the wind mysteriously died down and it started drizzling. Hmmm. There wasn’t any rain forecasted, so where was the water coming from? When we looked back, the sky was very dark behind us. But the wind was moving toward Jordan and the dark sky, and we were moving away from Jordan and the dark sky, so the rain would never get to us, right? Wrong.
As I mentioned previously, it is never a good thing, when you cycle up to a sign like the one below. We were now in a land of unknown construction, in drizzling rain. After about 3 miles of getting wet a little bit at a time, we stopped in a line of traffic to wait for a pilot vehicle to lead us through whatever was ahead. And that’s when the drizzle turned into a downpour. We jumped off our bikes and quickly donned our wet weather gear, and I wish I could show a photo of what that looked like, but from that moment on, things became a little hectic. The pilot vehicle arrived, the traffic started moving, and we had to jump on at the back of the stream of cars and trucks.
About a half mile down the road, the pavement turned to muddy gravel and sometimes, just mud. What a mess. A couple of times, I slipped on the mud and almost fell, but somehow didn’t. As in the past, we couldn’t keep up with the pilot vehicle, because he and the cars behind him were going 35 mph, so he made it to the other end and turned around with another string of cars coming right back at us. All of them splattered us with mud and and water from the road and puddles. The pilot vehicle had time to lead yet another stream of cars by us, before we got back onto pavement, so by the time we found pavement again, we were a wet, muddy mess, and our bikes and gear were coated with mud.
A mile or so past the end of the gravel/mud construction zone, we arrived at one of those high end Montana rest areas and basically occupied the place. We spread wet clothes out to dry, ate our lunch and decided to wait for the rain to stop before getting back on the road. I took my socks and leggings off and washed the mud out of them, in a bathroom sink, then used the hand dryer to attempt to dry them. Oh, and my water bottles–I had to clean them, because they were completely coated with mud splatter. Then I washed the important parts of my bike (chain, gears, brakes, etc.) off with multiple refills of an empty water bottle
When the rain stopped, we felt a lot better getting back on the road, but now the road had no shoulder–just a white fog line. Now some of the big RVs pulling trailers, as well as some of the semis pulling double loads, were having amnesia over how they pass bicycles on a road. A couple of times, they nearly hit us with their trailers, which was really scary, but that was nothing, compared to our near miss with a couple of semis that were suddenly barreling toward us from the opposite direction.
Here we are riding along, minding our own business, already battered, wet and cold from the mud and puddle splatter, just an hour or so ago, and up ahead maybe a half mile away, a semi with a double load of rocks, was trying to pass another semi with the same load. And they were neck and neck with each other, going probably 65 mph, and neither one of them was going to let off the gas to let the other move out front, so the one in the lane we were riding in could move over. A few seconds before they smashed us both to smithereens, Ed and I both bailed off the road and down an embankment into brush and who knows what else. And for the rest of the day, we were both in a daze–wondering what goes through the mind of someone who drives like those two drivers did. Did they even care that they almost ran us over? Or do they just assume the road is theirs, because they are the biggest thing on it? What if that had been their parents, wife or children on a bike? We were both disturbed over the whole incident.
Back when I rode horses, if a horse was acting up, we rode it in a tight circle till it forgot what was making it misbehave. Sometimes we only had to circle it one time, and it straightened right out and was good. So circling around back to the bike ride (see how I just rearranged my brain?)….we of course, got back on our bikes and started peddling again. The rollers and the headwind were an awful combination that sucked whatever wind we had left in us out. Cycling 16 miles of mostly downhill at a the end of the day’s ride was just what the doctor ordered for our tired bodies.
When we arrived Circle, we stopped to check out the County Museum, swapped our RV park stay for a room at the one and only motel in town (our worst dive yet), hosed our bikes down, cleaned all of our gear, hung wet cloths to dry, cleaned and lubed our chains, and THEN did our normal post ride routine, except there was no time for a nap. We still needed to pick up some groceries and get some dinner. For some reason, when I sat down to work on the blog, I fell asleep. It happens.