Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 45 – Billings: Wasting time

Thursday July 3, 2014, 13 miles (22 km) – Total so far: 1,998 miles (3,216 km)

It’s a hot day today, so I spend some time at the local history museum trying to stay out of the sun. The museum is associated with the Smithsonian, and the newer exhibits are well-done, but it is a tiny place and not worth the admission fee. So far, Billings has not impressed me. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 46 – Billings – Columbus: The confrontation

Friday July 4, 2014, 39 miles (63 km) – Total so far: 2,038 miles (3,279 km)

I pull into the campground in Columbus at 10.45 am. My goal for this 4th of July was to get out of Billings and off the road as soon as possible. So I left quite early and was rolling through Laurel (where the biggest fireworks show in the state is held) while they were still flipping pancakes at the picnic breakfast. Lawn chairs all along the road were already set out to mark territories in anticipation of the morning parade. Several people yelled out “Love your hat” or “Love your sparklers”. My attempt at patriotism has not gone unnoticed. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 47 – Columbus – Big Timber: Friendly folks

Saturday July 5, 2014, 52 miles (83 km) – Total so far: 2,089 miles (3,363 km)

Yesterday I broke my ‘worst day ever’ record. This morning I break my ‘fastest pack up’ record. Normally, it takes me about 40 minutes to go from sleeping bag to pedalling. This morning I’m on the road in 24 minutes flat. I pack in the dark, brush my teeth in the dark, and hit the road just as first light appears. I’ll be 10 miles down the road before the sun rises. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 49 – Livingston – White Sulphur Springs: The day the tour got its groove

Monday July 7, 2014, 73 miles (117 km) – Total so far: 2,205 miles (3,548 km)

Some days on tour will stick in your memory forever. It is not because the day was perfect. It is not because it was horrible. It is not the day you climbed a massive pass or were awestruck by incredible grandeur. It sticks in your memory because it was the day that you knew you were meant to be there on that road, on that bike, under that sky and riding into that wind. Today was that day for me. It happens on every tour, and that is when you know that you are fully in the groove. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 48 – Big Timber – Livingston: Further into friendliness

Sunday July 6, 2014, 43 miles (68 km) – Total so far: 2,132 miles (3,431 km)

Shhh, be vwery, vwery quiet…. (Say it in your best Bugs Bunny voice). There are people sleeping. I pack up and roll out in the early dawn. My tires crunch through the gravel and past all of the massive RV trailers. No one stirs. No dogs yip, yap or bark. I’m climbing the gravel hill to the road just as the sky starts to take on an orange hue. The sun’s ascent over the hills begins as I head north on the road down the Boulder River. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 50 – White Sulphur Springs – Great Falls: Throwin’ down the miles – Kings Hill Scenic Byway

Tuesday July 8, 2014, 115 miles (184 km) – Total so far: 2,319 miles (3,733 km)

My little thermometer says 37F degrees. The moderately high elevation here in White Sulphur Springs at 5041 feet lends itself to cold mornings even in July. I rustle through my pannier to find my long cotton gloves to go over my riding gloves.

I’m rolling down the main street just a bit before first light. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 51 – Great Falls: An exploration of town

Wednesday July 9, 2014, 27 miles (43 km) – Total so far: 2,346 miles (3,776 km)

In 1880, a merchant named Paris Gibson from Ft Benton decided he’d go have a look at the waterfalls not too far upstream that he’d been reading about in the journals of Lewis and Clark. Gibson was suitably impressed by their grandeur. But he was a businessman, so he also saw dollars flowing over the falls. He returned in 1883 with some others and platted a town. He wanted to exploit the water’s energy and build hydroelectric plants to power the town and industry. He hoped to build the Minneapolis (where he was from originally) of the West. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 53 – Helena: Releasing the nerd

Friday July 11, 2014

Helena is one of those towns whose downtown oozes history. The chaotic street layout that began as the old paths to prospecting holes and mineral loads tells a story of luck and chance. This is not a planned city like Great Falls with its grid streets. This is a town that sprung up from fortune seekers that had one very lucky day. Read more

Montana 2014 Part 1 – Day 54 – Helena – Three Forks: The rant and the rave

Saturday July 12, 2014, 85 miles (137 km) – Total so far: 2,523 miles (4,061 km)

Today happens in two parts.

PART I: The Rant

Okay, the next paragraph will read a little like an algebra story problem, but it is not, so please don’t abandon me yet (however, if you like algebra story problems, please add times, distances and vehicles as you see fit, e.g. if a car travelling 80 mph heading north on 287 meets a truck travelling 55 mph heading south, and a touring cyclist travelling 12 mph is in between….). But I digress…. Read more