Saturday, June 30, 2012
Day's distance: 48.13
Average speed: 12.0
Max speed: 26.8
Overall distance: 1026
After completing my first 100+ mile ride on Friday, I was excited for a short day. But my real motivation for finishing early on Saturday was to maximize my hang-out time with Joshua before he flew home the next morning. So we woke up early and my dad and I rolled bout by 8am. Just before we left, a big truck pulled up in front of the park where we spent the night. It was the support vehicle for the American Lung Association's "Big Ride Across America" which we'd run into several times over the past few days. Our routes overlapped for a short distance and they would also be riding into Billings, but from Harlowton, on Saturday. He was there waiting with refreshments for the first of the group to come through. We talked to him for a few minutes and learned that this was the 15th annual Big Ride Across America. In 1998, they had 750 participants but they've cut it down significantly to the more manageable 40 that they have this year. Riders fundraise for the association and then all of the planning and meals are taken care of for them. He and his wife have been working on the ride for the past three years.
We said our goodbyes and wished him luck. Four miles later, Josh dropped my mom off to join us. I was wearing my new Keane sandals for the first time on our trip and the second time ever. The clips felt off so I stopped to adjust them while my parents rode ahead. When I caught up, we rode together for a few miles before my mom's back tire popped. Like we had done two days before, my dad and I left her to wait for Josh who'd help her change the tube and rode on.
The scenery on this ride was a little boring. The terrain was somewhat hilly and we were surrounded by very much of nothing. Open space forever with some occasional mountain peaks in the distance. At mile 21, I hit the 1,000 mile mark and my dad and I did a quick cheer. How quickly that happened! And how sad and relieving that I was almost a third of the way through the overall distance!
As we rode on, my right Achilles tendon started to bother me. I adjusted my clips again, tightened my shoes and wiggled my foot around but it only got worse. I should have stopped riding sooner but I kept pushing it and it kept hurting. When Josh and my mom caught up, around mile 30, with my mom's fixed tire, I ripped off the sandals, swallowed some aleve and put on my other bike shoes. The foot continued to hurt but there was nothing I could do but clip in and continue pedaling.
At mile 42, we came upon the outskirts of Billings. Josh was waiting for us on a rocky cliff with an awesome view of the entire city and a sign warning us to beware of rattlesnakes. I hobbled down on my bum foot and my mom and I got nervous as Josh and my dad hovered too close to the edge.
Josh rode the final (mostly downhill) miles with my mom and I through town and into our camground. At our site we ate lunch of peanut butter and jelly, oranges and nutella while I iced my tendon. It was feeling hard to walk and I was scared about making it worse over the next few days. I talked to my uncle Tony, a physical therapist, and he assured me that I wouldn't permanently damage it. He told me to ice it a few times a day for five minutes at a time so that's what I did.
Josh and I hung out in the pool for a while and the cool water helped my foot a lot. Then we walked down to the yellowstone river and put our feet in. We showered and went to dinner in downtown Billings. My mom asked if we wanted to split up and grab dinner alone but we all wanted to try the Montana Brewing Company and we had a great time eating as a foursome. We all seemed to be feeling glutinous and ordered an absurd amount of food for the table. We had warm brie and roasted garlic, fries loaded with bacon, cheese and chives, potato soup, a boiled eggplant and other veggies for appetizers. Dinner was a greek white pizza for me, a beef burger with buffalo and bacon on a pretzel bun for josh, artichoke and mushroom pasta for my mom and a greek flatbread for my dad. Josh and I tried the strawberry wheat ale, our third Montana-brewed beer. It was a good way to send Josh back to the east coast: full and happy.
After dinner, I laid in our tent feeling very sleepy from my two beers and plentiful dinner. Josh poked his head in and said that we should go back down to the river as we'd earlier discussed. I said fine but I wanted it to just be us, no cameras allowed. We walked around on the rocky shore for a while, eventually taking our shoes off to put our feet in the river. The sun was low in the sky and it's reflection off the yellow stone cliffs (no wonder it's called the yellowstone!) across from us was delightful. The color of the sky and the sun and moon changed a lot while we stood there and we talked about how it would make for some lovely photographs. But, as two people who often have our cameras handy and love to capture every special moment on film, it was nice to have these moments just to ourselves for once. Josh did pull his phone out of his pocket (cheater!) and we snapped a quick photo of our feet in this famous water.
The ten days with Josh seemed to go by in a flash and I was sad to see him go. Especially since it would put an end to our quick four days of post-engagement honeymooning. I made him tell me the story of how he proposed as if I was a friend who hadn't heard it. It was cute to hear the little details about his being nervous and trying to prevent me from finding the ring. I also told him how much it meant to me, proposal or not, to have him here experiencing a part of this adventure with my parents and I. As much as I try, with these postings every day, I don't think it's something I could ever accurately describe to a person. And it was really important to me that he understand and feel the experience as it is.
As the sun set, we got in our tent and went to sleep, with an alarm set for 5AM the next day. A little chapter of my cross-country bike trip story was coming to an end that night but I was optimistic that there was much more adventure and excitement to look forward to!