Montana 2014 Part 2 – Day 96 – Cut Bank – Shelby: Migratory cyclists

Saturday August 23, 2014, 26 miles (42 km) – Total so far: 4,154 miles (6,686 km)

I leave the motel in the late morning decked out in rain pants and rain coat. My goal is just to get down the road a little ways to set me up for a longer ride tomorrow. The weather is not ideal. But the initial little climb out of Cut Bank gets me warmed up and the ride is not too bad. Plains stretch out in all directions, the landscape is vast but gentle. The temperature is 42F, the windchill is 36F. The rain is light but constant. The wind is 18 mph out of the north. This means the wind blows the rain sideways a bit, making my right side stay drier than my left. I marvel at how cold it is today, when it was not so long ago we were baking in smoky air at 103F. I contemplate temperatures and climatic regions, and glaciers and soil properties, in the couple of hours it takes to ride to Shelby.

I go into Subway in town. There is a line. I stand there, starting to get cold. I leave a series of small puddles on the floor in each place I stand as the line moves forward. I have never had a Subway sub toasted before. It is so cold,though, that today becomes a first for a toasted sub.

Afterwards I cross the street to the supermarket to get a choc milk and some snacks for the road tomorrow. As I am standing outside the supermarket drinking the milk in the blustery wind, four different people make comments like “what a day for a bike ride”, as they hurry in and out of the store. Then, a short, stocky guy with gorgeous green eyes, a gun belt and a sheriff/SWAT team shirt stops and says, “Wet enough for you”?

I reply, “Actually I’m not complaining. The forecast said heavy rain and it’s been pretty light. I’m wet, but not soaked.”

“Where you headed?”

“Havre by Monday.”

“You need to start heading south. This is just the first of these types of fronts. Head south. How far have you come anyway?”

“A bit over 4,000 miles.”

“4,000? FOUR…THOUSAND!!!!!???”

“Yeah, I started in May in Illinois and have been wandering around Montana and Idaho since mid-June.”

“Four. Thousand. Some birds don’t even migrate that far. Good luck to you but get south soon.”

He heads to his car, shaking his head the whole way, and I can hear him muttering ‘4,000. 4,000 f**king miles’. It’s funny how 3,000 impressed people but was understandable. 4,000, for some reason, is less comprehensible. I’m getting lots of head shakes now. And I think I might actually hit 5,000 this trip….

But there are no more miles today. Let’s go get warmed up.

This sorta sums up today. Dark grey and wet. It is 42F. The windchill is 36F. The left side of me is wetter than the right, but none of me is very happy. So we call it a short day and go get dry and warm.

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