Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bike America Day 13: 30MPH Winds

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day's distance: 66.97
Average speed: 11.6
Maximum speed: 30.0
Overall distance: 735

My dad was back from his side trip to Phoenix and ready to spin his legs like a crazy person. It was cloudy in Missoula and he overheard someone in the bathroom say there was a storm coming and that it may hail. There was no hail, or even rain, in sight so we set out and hoped for the best. We went about eight miles before we got out of town. It wasn’t very pretty at first as we rode alongside and under I-90 and then by some gas stations and fast food stops. Around mile 10, we rode into a more deserted terrain, with cliffs on either side of us and warnings for big horned sheep. After Josh’s warning on Saturday to “guard [myself] with my bike if need be” I was keeping a close eye. My dad told me a story of when he was in the air force and a major flew him down into a canyon in Utah in search of big horn sheep. The major claimed that the sheep stand right on the side of cliffs but he and my dad never saw any. So we were actively looking for them along our route but were, again, disappointed. About fifteen miles in, the wind picked up. I played games to see how far I could go without pedaling because I could literally feel the gusts pushing me along. 

A few miles later Josh and my mom pulled up and we rested for a few minutes to fill up our water and snack on trail mix. We were five miles from the first town so we agreed to keep going and meet there. The sky behind us was dark and stormy and the wind pick up heavily. We later learned that it was gusting at speeds of 30mph. We hurried along to get to the town as quickly as possible. A mile and a half later, as a rode in a wide shoulder along a guard rail, a gust of wind caught me and my lightweight bike and blew us the hell over. I skinned my knee and elbow and bruised my elbow and hip. The rain was starting and it helped stream the blood down my leg. My dad was a little ways in front of me so I had to yell a few times before he heard and stopped. I was scared but I was fine. In retrospect, I was glad to have fallen the way I did because we all learned to be more conscious of the wind and what it can do. Obviously, it wasn't too bad because the first thing I did before cleaning it was grab my phone and take some pictures!

When my mom and Josh pulled up, we ran for the car to clean my cuts and to sit somewhere protected from the rain that was beginning to come down hard. When it stopped, my dad and I set out on the final 5.5 miles into town. The wind had died down significantly but I was spooked and spent the entire way unclipped from my pedals and stopping frequently at the feeling of gusts.

All I wanted to do was sit in a cozy, dry place and sip hot tea. The one cafĂ© in PotomacMT had lost power in the storm but they were still open for business and as hospitable as you could imagine. Their grill and deep fryer were working so we ordered sandwiches, tea and coffee. It was cozy and comfortable and I wasn’t really in the mood to go for a bike ride afterward. But I had a mission to accomplish and I had to keep pedaling in order to accomplish it.

My dad and I carried on for another 12 miles and, around mile 33, he and my mom switched so she and I could ride together for a while. The sun was back out and the terrain was beautiful. We chugged along pretty slowly, as I continued to be scared of sidewinds. 

We came upon a rest stop, the first we’ve seen on these back-country roads of our trip, and pulled over so I could use the bathroom. When I came out, they sky had changed dramatically. It was dark and another storm was clearly on its way. We sat under a picnic table awning to let the storm pass and got back on our ride. We had to stop and stand a few times because the winds picked up and I was a wuss. Again, though, the sun peaked it's way through the clouds and we were in awe of our surroundings. We were riding in the high plains and the contrast of the green grass and trees, blue skies and black mountains was incredible.

Eventually, we got to the end point, a fishing pull-in at the corner of highways 200 and 141 where my dad and Josh were waiting with the car. We were staying 20 miles off route for the night in LincolnMT because we were in pretty deserted country with no other options for lodging. We were in the heart of grizzly country and heard a tale of the third largest grizzly ever recorded in Montana being hit by a pick up truck in “downtown” Lincoln a few years earlier. We drove around the city park, where we could pitch our tents but it was overgrown, in the woods, and without showers. We decided to fork over the money for a motel room where walls would protect us from grizzlies and a shower would effectively clean out my battle wounds.

The rest of the night was low-key. We ate junky frozen dinners from the local grocery and took advantage of the free wifi. Again, because of the internet, we didn’t get enough sleep. But it didn’t matter- I was in for quite a surprise the next day…

1 comment:

  1. Ouch!! Hope you are healing up quickly!
    I don't blame you for staying in a motel. The only bear I've ever seen was in Montana! :)