Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Continental Divide and Then Some

Somewhere in Montana.
It’s been two weeks since my last post but I feel safe in saying that we have made a great pace through the northwest. After the horrible windy day on June 1, we made up for it (and then some) in two days. With a slight tailwind, and the determination to get back on schedule, I knocked out 120 miles to get us all the way to Selby, SD. The next day proved to be even better, with a much stronger tailwind pushing me to 140 miles on the day. It was amazing. Before the wind died down, I was actually pretty close to doing a 5-hour century. But the wind did die down, and since we gained an hour that day (crossing the Missouri river and into Mountain Time), I just kept going. We stayed in Hettinger, ND that night.

The day after that was another hard day. It was pretty much the same story as the horrible 60 mile day, except colder and wetter. We envisioned our first leg that day being 25 miles, and then when it took me more than two hours, twenty minutes, Jack turned back and met up with me at mile 20. Since at that point, we only had to average 71 miles a day to get to Seattle, we decided to do short legs of 12 or 13 miles to finish a day with 70.

Some pretty normal days followed, doing 93 miles (and into Montana) on June 5, then 106 mile day, followed by an 87 mile ride that barely got us into Lewistown, MT. Lewistown was awesome because it reminded me of my hometown of Annapolis with its small size and older brick buildings. We picked up more Metagenics chocolate Progain and more batteries for my Harmony (CI) at the Lewistown police department who had been good enough to let my dad ship supplies to them.

We slowed down for four days because of a TV interview scheduled in Missoula. The ride to  Missoula was amazing and I recommend it to anyone who is ever in the area--beautiful country. The day before we got into Missoula, we began in Vaughn (just northwest of Great Falls), and rode 75 miles. A lot of climbing, followed by more climbing. I could definitely tell I was on a mountain. After a stop at mile 50, I thought it was really weird that I was going so slow on seemingly flat ground. When I was able to see the road in the distance, I realized that I was still actually pedaling uphill. Then I passed a sign that said “Point of Interest: Continental Divide.” After that it was all downhill for 25 miles. We stayed in Lincoln that night.

Riding into Missoula, I thought with mountains all around me I would be climbing a lot before descending into Missoula. But I was wrong. There were a few short climbs, but the entire 75 mile ride to Missoula was downhill. I didn't know a downhill could last that long. We followed the Blackfoot River the whole way, just weaving through valleys, mountains all around. It was amazing. Plus, the weather was beautiful. Just warm enough for cycling shorts and a t-shirt with no danger of overheating.

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