52.21 Miles / 1289.01 Total Miles
1102 Ft. Elevation Gain / 56,971 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
Great news! Today there were no close calls. And in case you’ve been wondering, the lady killed by the grizzly bear, yesterday, was not me.
After 14 days of cycling through Montana, this was going to be our last full day here, before moving on to North Dakota tomorrow. Montana was breathtaking, in the beginning, and the farmland and livestock in the middle of the state were fetching, but all the sagebrush and monotone coloured terrain and the rollers and headwinds have worn me down. Stick a fork in me–I’m ready for another state. .
Today, we started out with more rolling hills and the worst headwinds we’ve had yet. If we hadn’t had someone to take turns drafting with, we would have died. When we reached the top of the day’s big climb, we were treated to a 1% descent that lasted the rest of the day, which sounds dreamy, but that descent came with a headwind, so it wasn’t as much fun as it sounded. I took note of the scenery, one last time. It was mostly rolling hills covered with hay, grain, cattle and horses, but there were increasingly more small mountains and volcanic features
We ran into 3 westbound cyclists. The first, a gentleman riding solo, made sure we had the lowdown on the great lodging stops ahead–we already had them in our itinerary. The second was actually a couple from Glens Falls, NY, riding a Co-Motion tandem–Margaret and John Sawyer. She had ordered matching jerseys for them, but now wished she had long sleeves, like mine, and sun legs. She’s a nurse and he’s a doctor, so they spend most of their life indoors and probably don’t worry about getting too much sun very often. That tandem bike sure looked fun. I’ll put that on my list of things that would be easier to do an epic bike ride on–right up there with an electric bike.
We passed several miles of train cars that haul grain. The cars were separated and a break left for every road and driveway that crossed the tracks. I thought the cars were a lined up to pick up and transport all the wheat and other grains from all the silos we’ve been passing, but I was wrong.
In our entire 50 mile day, our maps only indicated one stop with services, and that was the Prairie Ag Co-op, in Lindsay. We had been looking forward to picking up a bite to eat, so were disappointed to find just a handful of beverages, ice cream bars and candy bars. The store was mainly a farm/ranch parts supply, so food was not their thing. And the fella behind the counter was not only not friendly, but he was also not helpful. How do people like him get and keep their jobs?
While we were drinking soft drinks outside, a big blue Ram truck pulled up, with the biggest chrome bumper I’ve ever seen. A rancher named Jim jumped out and started up a conversation with us. And we had a chance to ask him about the things we’d been wondering about, like what were all those train cars we just passed lined up for? He told us that they are just mothball/surplus cars. A couple of years ago, BNSF ‘stacked up’ so many grain cars on the same ‘dead’ track, that they stretched 24 miles to the next town. Another interesting detail, from him, was that the Keystone Pipeline would have come through the area we had just been riding through. He explained a puzzling parcel of land we passed yesterday, that looked like a cross between a dirt airplane runway and a large piece of land cleared and graded for a new subdivision. The land was going to be one of several ‘man camps’ near the pipeline, where up to 500 construction workers would have lived in travel trailers, mobile homes and other temporary housing. Facinating stuff.
When we arrived Glendive, we were both exhausted. Margaret and Jim had recommended a stop at the Makoshika State Park dinosaur exhibit, and I wanted to see it, but it was 2-3 miles off route. I knew that if I went to our motel and showered, I would never get back out the door to see it. So Ed and I parted ways, and I headed to the State Park.
When I arrived at the state park, there was no explanation anywhere for its name, so I had to look it up. Makoshika is a Lakota Indian word, meaning, ‘bad land’ or ‘land of bad spirits’. Back in the 1930s, the State of Montana tried to get the federal government to designate the land where the park is as Badlands National Park, to bring tourists to the Glendive area, but the federal government didn’t fall for it. So the state designated the land a state park. Around 1991, parts of a triceratops and another less common dinosaur were found in the park. So now Makoshika is a combination Badlands of Montana and a (very) little dinosaur museum. By the time I arrived the park, it was too hot to ride my bike to to see more of the Badlands, but I did spend some time in the tiny dinosaur museum. And I learned some facts I’d never heard of before. For example: When did the K-T boundary become a concept? If it existed when I was in school, no teacher or textbook ever mentioned it. What planet have I been living on?