Day 28, Glasgow, MT to Vida, MT: 73 miles, 2,023 ft. elevation gain, 13 mph average speed.
Trip Totals: 1,345.8 miles (61.2 daily average), 67,081 ft. elevation gain, 11.5 mph overall average.
Four days behind schedule.
Hey! Guess what! We have a waterproof tent!
Tanja had warned us that there was a pretty fierce storm rolling in, and it landed sometime in the middle of the night. Rain, lightning, and lots and lots of wind. The wind repeatedly blew our tent over to a 45 degree angle before the tent snapped back into place.
It was a bit frightening, but not enough to keep me awake after fighting through that headwind all day. But then–and here’s the exciting part–we woke up in the morning and we were dry! All of us! And all of our stuff! Happy day!
We were terrified of having to fight that headwind again, so the alarm went off at 4:30a and we were on the road by 5:20a. We spent most of the intervening time being eaten by mosquitoes. If these early morning mosquitoes stay this bad, we might have to toss this all natural, cruelty-free repellent and get some DEET. I’m tired of being breakfast before I eat breakfast.
Anyway, we got on the road and pedaled with the all of the strength of our fear of another headwind. Also biking fast keeps the mosquitoes away, so that was an extra motivator. We made it 30 miles by 7:30a before we stopped to eat first breakfast. We were on track to make it to Wolf Point (50 miles) before 9:00a, but then a shattered beer bottle introduced itself to my rear tire, and the interaction didn’t go too well.
I changed the tire in 20 or so minutes and we were back on our bikes and into Wolf Point at 9:31a (so close!), and we headed straight for McDonald’s.
I hope we’re not forming long lasting bad habits, but 1) McGriddles are delicious, and 2) since we were stupid enough to make this trip with T-Mobile, we are reliant on WiFi to plan, etc.
Here’s where our days typically fall apart. We have a great start to the morning and decide to congratulate ourselves with hot breakfast food, and then we sit. And sit. And talk about how we need to get going, but without making any effort to stop sitting. It ruins us.
After close to an hour and a half, we finally got ourselves out of McDonald’s and swung by the grocery store on our way out of town, where we found our favorite chocolate milk (Darigold Old Fashioned) probably for the last time.
Aside: Apparently we are now in TruMoo country, and I wouldn’t even wish that sorry excuse for chocolate milk on someone who decides to ship their house on a shoulderless two-lane highway.
We headed out of Wolf Point, leaving Rt. 2 behind after over 300 miles and we joined Rt. 13 south to take us to Circle.
Let’s talk a little about expectations here. I’ve seen a lot of people complain on the Internet about the hills coming out of Wolf Point after crossing the Missouri River (oh yeah, we did that), and I think it’s because they take people by surprise. The Adventure Cycling Association maps included an elevation profile for the first two sections, but not for the third section. I think people see this and assume that the whole ride is mostly flat. Then they ride for the first 300 miles of the section and it IS mostly flat. Then they cross the Missouri, and WHAM!
There are hills there. Lots and lots of hills. Hills that are rolling, but rolling consistently upward. I can see how these hills could be a bit demoralizing if you were expecting a flat ride, but we had the elevation profile on the route we uploaded to Ride With GPS, and I had been dreading these hills for days.
From that perspective, they really weren’t that bad. They weren’t the best thing ever, especially when a mostly headwind picked up around 12:00p, but they weren’t all that bad. And the country was just lovely. A little terrain variation can go a long way, aesthetically. And when we paused to recover from climbing into the wind, we noticed how cool that same wind looked moving through the fields. That “amber waves of grain” thing again, I guess.
Round about 1:45, we made it to the tiny town of Vida, 22 miles of rolling hills out of Wolf Point.
So. Vida. Not much there. A post office with limited hours (8:00-8:45 on Saturday), a community church, and a bar. The ACA map doesn’t even record it having a population. What it does have though is a wonderful shade tree standing over a wonderful bench that is wonderfully protected from the wind. It was wonderful.
We sat on the bench (and laid on the ground next to it), and ate peanut butter Oreos, Philly cheesesteak-flavored cured meat sticks, jalapeño potato chips, and pop tarts. A well-balanced lunch, in other words.
And then we fell victim to our sitting weakness. We had gone 72 miles and we were tired. And the wind was getting stronger. And the tree was so nice.
But there wasn’t any place to camp in Vida, so we had to move on. We packed our bags and were about to take off when nature started calling me. Loudly. The type of call that can’t be answered on the side of the road.
This was decidedly inconvenient, because there are three buildings in Vida and the bar and post office were definitely closed. So, with fingers crossed, I waddled up the hill to the church.
It was open! And there was a bathroom right next to the front door! Sweet relief!
Then, as I was leaving the church, I heard a shout from a group of people hanging out around two RVs behind the church. It was Cycling 4 Change!
Turns out they received permission from the pastor to spend the night at the church. They again piled us with gifts–sports drinks, chocolate milk, and leftover breakfast–and we got to chatting (and sitting, which I mentioned we love). We hadn’t met everyone the first time, but they were all here then: Sanoosh, Raj, Arool, Zuli, Hannah, Nitha, Lydia, Sarah, Josh, Daniel, Noah, Zachary, Julian, and Daniel (another one). I hope I spelled everyone’s name right!
We hung out for a while, listening to the kids play music and sing songs. Josh plays violin, guitar, and piano, which he taught himself, and is great at all of them. It was beautiful to hear them all sing together. What a talented, adorable family!
By that time it was even later AND even windier, and we really didn’t want to leave. So we asked if we could set up our tent behind the church and they said yes. We passed the rest of the evening talking and playing with the kids. They invited us to join them for dinner (pork chops, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, spicy rice and beans, and Israeli couscous salad), and everything was delicious.
After dinner we washed the dishes, and then we headed to bed.
I’m glad I had to poop!