Thursday, October 4, 2007

Post-Bike Trip Travelling

Well, if anyone is still reading, my trip is officially finished. For my own benefit, and for anyone who is interested in still reading, I’ve decided to briefly catalogue my last 4 weeks here, and even perhaps keep posting from time to time. It seems that I do a fair amount of traveling in my life, and maybe some people are interested in reading about it…

The trip to LA

So we got into Portland on September 1st, and on September 5th I left Portland via train, heading down to LA to see a high school friend who I’ve never had the opportunity to visit in her new setting. The train ride was beautiful, and so fast compared to my bicycle. That being said though, it was a LONG trip AND on the train they don’t look kindly upon one singing as loud as possible or screaming at the top of their lungs-go figure. I left Portland at 2:00 in the afternoon, and after 3 transfers, from train, to bus, to train, to bus again, I arrived in LA at 4pm the next afternoon. I turned 27 on the train alone, but I felt okay about that. It’s sort of nice, sort of empowering to see your birthday come in alone.

LA provided me with a slow onset of culture shock. I could go on and on, in great detail about my time there, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Some highlights included my shocking $12 salad lunch. You really need to watch out for those help yourself salad bars. Apparently they are quite costly. Other highlights included a trip down south to Newport and Laguna Beach, towns where so many of our popular television shows, and reality television shows are filmed today. Try to imagine me in these cookie cutter places, where the towns are just as manicured as the people. Me in my wrap skirts, Gap jeans, navy green maryjane crocs, which I have been wearing non-stop since early July, non-manicured hands with bike glove tan lines, frizzy hair with a middle part, and, of course, my awesome bike short tan lines. Let me just say right now-I blended.

Not only did I physically fit in with the people down there, but ideologically we also seemed to be on the same wavelength. I could really relate to the disgust people seem to feel toward the “fat” models that teen magazines are now portraying. When someone made this comment, my only response, always being the voice of reason, was that they just can’t seem to get it right. They used to be too thin, and now they’re too fat-when will our society learn moderation? Luckily, the new hobo chic look, that we can thank Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for pioneering, apparently hides all these “fat” girls behind frumpy clothing.

Okay, okay. All that sarcasm aside, there were actually some really nice highlights of the LA trip. It was great getting to see Dia, and hang out with her, and after the bike trip I REALLY appreciated the birthday massage Dia and I had on Saturday morning. All of her friends were really friendly, welcoming, and generous. They bought me amazing dinners and drinks, were curious to hear about my bike trip, and shared great gossipy details of their life with me-I really do love the gossip. I also got to finally meet Dia’s 4-year-old nephew and 6-year-old niece, and see her brother and sister-in-law, who I hadn’t seen in ages. And did I mention that Dia’s company’s driver took me to the airport on Monday morning? Along with the culture shock, I also got a good degree of pampering while I was down there. All in all, a great trip, in a beautiful place, with lots of ridiculous stories.

On to San Fran

After feeling slightly out of place in LA, I was so happy to move on to San Francisco. I have been to San Francisco enough times now to feel pretty at home there. Dan and Caedmon, the friend I was staying with and his girlfriend, lived right in the Mission, just blocks away from the place in the Castro where I stayed a few years ago when I was in San Fran. It felt nice to be in familiar surroundings. Dan and Caedmon were great hosts, and have done a fair amount of bicycle touring themselves, most recently biking from Seattle to San Francisco earlier this summer ( So there was lots of great conversation about biking, and some slightly uncomfortable conversation about the problem of homelessness in our society. Always the liberal, I did my best to tow my line of compassion, empathy, and the right to housing, but as strongly as I feel about these issues, I really do not enjoy discussing them over a casual dinner setting with someone I’ve just met. Luckily we were able to get past this, and my time in San Francisco was really enjoyable. I did a lot of wandering, and got to catch up with a college friend who is at Berkeley. Politically and socially Dave and I had no disagreements, but he does tend to be a Negative Nancy when it comes to the energy crisis-yep, we had some real uplifting conversations regarding the energy crisis, and food production. My goodness, can’t I be happy anywhere? Clearly staying in one location for more than a day, actually engaging in lengthy dialogue with people and not being on my bike was not agreeing with me…Ross, Armin and I were too tired for lengthy dialogue. Is it time to get back on my bike yet?

Definitely time to get back on my bike

I got back to Portland 9 days after I left, caught up with a few friends I hadn’t seen at the beginning of my stay, and got ready to get back on my bike, including shipping my sleeping bag and tent home-I was through with camping for awhile. Oh, and I also saw HP5, and I got to watch the MTV video music awards with Nicole over a glass of wine. Poor Britney! God, I hope I’m never humiliated on national television like that.

On Saturday, September 15th, I left Portland and did a relatively easy 100-mile day up to Centralia, WA. In Centralia, I got dinner at Shari’s and cookie dough at Safeway, which I enjoyed while watching bad television in my cozy room at Motel 6. Life really couldn’t have been better at this point (ok, the tv choices on a Saturday night actually could be better, but overall I was pretty happy). I got up on Sunday and biked another 50 miles or so up to Shelton, WA, on the Olympic Peninsuala, where my friend Sam was living for the summer, and whom I hadn’t seen in at least 4 years. The ride was a little cold, a little wet, and I got a few bad directions, but it was all worth it once I got to Sam’s. He was renting this magical little place, built by an architect professor back in the 1960s. Sam had created a little garden there, and a drum set made out of various buckets, and had a record player, and projector to boot. It was really amazing. After I took a refreshing bath-there was no shower-we wandered abandoned houses, ate good food, watched some bad, silent, black and whites, and even squeezed in some canoeing the next morning before I left for Tacoma. And finally, I had conversations that left me with nothing to complain about!

Around noon I left Sam’s for Ryan’s house in Tacoma, to encounter my last major crisis of the trip. Once I got to Tacoma, after having texted Ryan all day with updates on my status and ETA, I found out that I had been sending messages to Ryan’s old phone number! I put out distress calls to the 4 people I could think of who would have Ryan’s number and no one answered! Luckily, one of my distress calls called back in 10 minutes, and I was able to get into contact with Ryan. We had a great night, catching up on life in general, and about bike trips in particular, as I got to hear a lot more details about Ryan’s dirt-road cross country trip back in ’01. Apparently he cried too on his tripJ

Ryan’s apartment was in a great location, and in the morning I just had to bike a half mile to jump on the ferry to Vashon Island (thanks for the suggestion friendly bike guys at Revolver Bicycles in Portland). The ride up Vashon Island was about 14 miles, and then I hopped on another ferry bringing me into West Seattle. After some “careful” navigation of the Seattle streets, some stops for directions, and some realization of the importance of Ross’ navigation skills over the past 2 months, I successfully made it to Eric and Sara’s, the friend’s house where my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew were staying. Man does Seattle have some hills!

I folded my bike clothes then, and spent the rest of the week being a Seattle tourist with my sister and her family, and dealing with the hassle of shipping one’s bicycle cross country. I also got to see a friend from graduate school, and see some relatives that live outside Seattle. We had a fantastic time, even weathering some airport scheduling issues pretty bravely. We got into Burlington at midnight on Sunday, 14 hours after we were supposed to, and I have been settling into life here ever since at my other sister’s condo. Settling in has included buying a car (a hybrid in case you were interested. I just couldn’t get a gas-guzzler after the bike trip), getting a job interview, and getting my dog back! I forgot just how cute he was. I’m so happy to have him back.

So, now my biggest challenge is to construct a life here that is slightly less crazy than my life was before I left and to really start my dissertation. In comparison, I think I wish I were biking cross country still. It sounds a hell of a lot easier...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Portland, OR-The End of the Line

We're here! But most of you already know that by now. We rolled into Ryan and Nicole's driveway (Ross' brother and sister-in-law, who have been our gracious Portland hosts) Saturday afternoon about 1pm, and since then I have been relaxing, enjoying Portland, and catching up with people via phone. I have not been blogging, but my fans are clamoring (who are you mattw?) for a wrap up, so here goes...

We finally left Sheila and Harold's house in Paterson at 11am Thursday morning to start on a final, "easy" 3 days. It was our latest start of the trip by far, but we were only going 60 miles...

Our first 30 miles were hot and windy, and fairly uneventful, except for the windmill transport that kept passing us on the highway. I was pretty excited as these huge "wide load" and "long load" trucks kept passing, with huge propeller like objects on them. When we got to our first check in point of the day, about 30 miles in, all the windmill trucks were in the parking lot, and I finally realized that those propellers were actually the blades of the windmill. It was pretty cool. Along the ridge of eastern Washington we had already seen quite a few windmills, and after talking to some of the drivers I found out this one was destined for the same fate. If you can't tell, I am really fascinated and excited about this technology. After constantly hearing about the energy crisis, and then spending all summer biking through the US, seeing some of the countries amazing environmental wonders, utilizing wind power just seems to make so much sense...

Anyway, back to biking. We checked in with one another about 30 miles in, and we all agreed we were feeling lazy, but could make it another 30 miles down the road to Maryhill State park. It would be an earlyish day-at least compared to the night before, and we could set up camp and cook in daylight and maybe even swim in the Columbia! Somehow though, this plan never materialized. We left our rest stop about 3 or 3:30, and the wind turned strongly against us, with some fairly large hills looming ahead of us. Nine miles from our destination, for the first time of the trip, I stopped at a farm house to ask for water, that's how hot and slow the afternoon was going, and the woman I talked to there described the day as if we were "living in a hair dryer." Very pleasant.

Fully watered up, I kept biking, and it kept getting later, and later, and later, and I seemed to be very far from any large signs of civiliazation, but very close to huge highway intersections and crossroads. I finally turned on my rear and front lights, briefly worried about Armin and Ross running out of water, then had my closest run-in with a semi, and turned my mind back to biking and getting to our destination. I followed signs to the state park, rode down a 2 mile hill, and met Ross at the entrance to the state park, right as you could officially say it turned dark. It was really the most scary day of biking I'd encountered yet on the trip. And of course it was the Thursday of Labor Day Weekend, so the campground was completely full. Luckily, Ross had arrived at the park just as the ranger was leaving, and the ranger took pity on us, letting us stay in the vacant group campground free of charge. We got to sleep in a really nice pavilion, and I didn't even have to set up my tent. I just set my sleeping bag right on the concrete. Armin had a less than ideal night though, as it got too dark for him to keep going, and he slept at the top of a pass about 3 or 4 miles from the campground. You'll have to check with him for the details...So much for our easy day.

In the morning Ross and I climbed the hill back up to route 14 and met up with Armin. It was a bit less windy than the day before, and the barren brown wasteland look of eastern Washington slowly began to fade as the pines began to spring up on the side of the road. The wind was much kinder to us, and we were also heading a bit more inland, so the gusts of the gorge couldn't get to us. But we did have to go through 7 tunnels, that really make me fully appreciate the definition of the phrase "wind tunnel." Before entering these short tunnels, we would push a button that turned on a flashing light, alerting drivers that bikers were in the shoulderless tunnels. This was fortunate indeed, as the winds in the last tunnel were so strong that they ground me to a near halt before pushing my front tire about 3 feet to the left. It was a bit scary, and definitely got my adrenaline pumping. But the three of us made it through, and met up in Stevenson WA before dark, found a place to camp on someone's property, and actually got to spend our last night all camping together.

On Saturday morning, Armin left at 6 and Ross and I left at 7, catching up with Armin on the road. We were about 55 miles from Portland. Ross and I stopped at Ross' mom's house in Vancouver, WA, where I had sent a backpack of clothes, and where Ross also had clothes to pick up. Since Armin was down EIGHT spokes at this point, he waited for us in a park, rather than putting any extra miles/strain on his wheels. Ross and I biked the last 5 miles from Vancouver to Portland with backpacks on, always a nice way to end a cross-country bike trip, and a sure way to really aggravate my carpel tunnel. But we made it! We got to Ryan and Nicole's about 1pm. We cracked a beer, did the official weigh-in, showered, and finally made it to Old Country Buffet (Ryan drove us, and was shocked and awed by our massive consumption. Oh, and I could probably add disgusted to that list of adjectives as well). The rest of the day was spent napping, and watching television, before gearing up for going out Saturday night. Nicole and Ryan followed our Saturday night celebrations with a great barbecue on Sunday, with friends and neighbors stopping by, who were more than willing to listen to our stories from the road.

Of course, more than once over the course of the barbecue, we heard the question, "well, what's next?" Well, I am taking a nice, long relaxing train ride to LA on Wednesday, to spend some time with a good friend from high school. Then I'm taking a cheap flight to San Francisco to see a good friend from college, and then I'll be back in Portland by the end of next week. From Portland I think I am going to bike up to Seattle, where my sister and her family will be on vacation. I'll spend a few days with them, and we will visit some relatives who live out there, before all flying back to Vermont on a red-eye September 22nd. I'm looking forward to the next two weeks of traveling, but I can't wait to get back east, just in time for the New England foliage, and to finally really buckle down and focus on my dissertation (I am making a public announcement of that here so that someone will hold me to it !). Ross is staying in Portland, and Armin is still not quite sure of his plans.

So after 3376 miles on the road, this blog is coming to an end. With a generic title like Platonic and Gin, I may continue to post from time to time, but for the most part, I think my foray into the blogging world may be just about complete. I will check for any additional posts though. If there are any questions I failed to answer, or questions about bike trip prep, or anything else, I will do what I can to answer them. I also have a long train ride ahead of me in the next couple days, so I may be inspired to write one more post on bike trip reflections ...

If not though, thanks for reading and posting. Your comments often helped keep the trip exciting and my spirits up-the posts reminded me that what I found monotonous at times was still pretty exciting in the grander scheme of the trip. Also, thanks again to everyone who hosted us along the way. And a special thanks to Ryan and Nicole who have been letting us continue to stay here, fulfilling my Portland whims of Burgerville blackberry milkshakes, and driving me past my old Portland stomping grounds. You guys have been really terrific.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 43, Paterson, WA

We're almost there! We are approximately 190 miles from Portland, and ready to be there. Since I last checked in from Idaho, we have been through a lot. After Lewiston, we had a huge pass to get through, which was much lower than the passes in the Rockies, but seemed so much more difficult. I think that can most likely be attributed to our exhaustion from our 120 mile day before, to the hot sun beating down on us, and to the flat tire I got somewhere along the hill. I have no idea how long I was riding on it before I realized it was flat, but after I changed it, the ride got much smoother. But by that point I was so exhausted that I truly felt full of rage, and I finally began to swear. A friend had asked me if I swore while biking out of frustration, and the answer is generally no, but that day not only did i swear, but I did it in spoken word. It was my first foray into spoken word (I must admit that I stole heavily from Ani's verse patterns), and let me tell you, it is amazingly cathartic while barrelling down a hill at 25 mph. But don't worry, I got all the rage out, and then started to do rational spoken word, where I reasoned out why I was upset instead of just blindly blaming.

After my bout of spoken word, the day was fairly uneventful, until we got to Dodge...we were about 55 miles from Lewiston, at our next check point, and Ross and I waited, and waited, and waited, but no Armin. Finally we left a note at the rest area at 7pm, all ready to head on to Dayton for the night, when Ross got a flat. We decided that with the flat, and the light fading, we would just set up behind the rest stop for the night. We made a pretty good go of dinner, even without Armin's pot, and then were able to get in touch with Armin, to find that he was already in Dayton, not having seen us at the rest stop. As Armin had stated back in July that he might leave the group, I thought perhaps the time had come. But we decided that we would meet up the next day, Ross and I catching up to Armin along the way.

The plan was going smoothly to meet Armin, as Ross and I left camp unusually early at 6:30. But before I could even get to the 1000 foot climb we had to ascend before Dayton, I had two flat tires. While changing the rear tire for the second time, another biker on his way to St. Louis stopped and chatted with me, helping pass the time. I got on the road again, but by the time I got to Dayton Ross had already been waiting for an hour and a half, and had moved on to try to catch Armin. Thus began my 130 mile day of biking alone. On the phone Ross told me that he was going to make it to his friend's house in Paterson that night, which was news to me since I thought we had decided to take two more days to get there, as it was 120+ miles, and none of us thought we were up for that again. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it, and as we had already lost Armin, I spent the day with visions of finishing the trip alone. I kept debating if I would press on quickly , or stop and smell the roses, so to speak. It was a long hot day of biking, with the sun beating heavily, and the skin gods showing their wrath once again upon my wrists (why skin gods, why? what have i done to anger you?). But the roads were fast.

At about 7:30 I made it to Ross' friend Sheila's house in Paterson, where Ross had been for about an hour, and where Armin had just arrived. Ross' friend Carey also biked (motorcycle that is) down from Spokane to hang out with us for the night, and I actually ran into him on the road and gave him directions. Given that he has a desk job, he has followed all of our blogs religiously. It's a strange feeling to talk to someone you've never met before but who knows so much about you already from your own descriptions. It puts so much more pressure on you knowing that strangers you might meet one day are reading your words...

Anyway, as usual I digress. Sheila and Harold fed us a great dinner, followed with cheesecake AND ice cream, which was so much more sweet for having just biked for 9 and a half hours. After some lively conversation we headed to bed, where sleep just enveloped me. Sheila made us eggs and fresh muffins for breakfast, which were delicious, and we are starting to think about heading out soon. We are about 190 miles from Portland, which we could easily do in two days, but we may decide to take three, so that we can actually finish biking before sunset, which we haven't done since before Missoula, and so that we can enjoy our last few days on the bike. So most likely at this point you'll be hearing from me in Portland.

A Few Follow up Thoughts on Idaho
There were just a few things I forgot to mention about Idaho before:

-Your shoulders suck, and your drivers are rude. Your logging trucks are the worst of all, but it's so hard to hate them as they smell of delicious pine, making Christmas memories the strongest as your life passes before your eyes every time a truck passes.
-Lewison is an ugly, ugly city, but the people are really friendly.
-Old Country Buffet is a fortress. It is on a hill, on top of a hill. (I know this, because I passed it on my enormous climb up to the library).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 41, Lewiston, ID

Just a short update today, as time is really short. But first, thanks to everyone for emails and comments. I will post pictures soon, because we will be in Portland soon, and then I will have time to sift through all my photos and see which turned out halfway decent. After leaving Missoula we did our last pass through the Rockies, and came through Lolo Pass into Idaho. The scenery during this bit of the trip was just gorgeous, although I'm not sure my pics can do it justice. On top of being gorgeous, after climbing up to the top of the pass, we had essentially 100 miles of downhill, all paralleling the Lochse River. Like I said-gorgeous and hopefully I was able to capture some of it in photos. I was so torn between just enjoying the downhill and getting some good pictures.

After our first night through the pass, we were determined to make it to Lewiston, ID, where the fore mentioned OCB waited for us. So we woke up yesterday morning, after putting in 100 miles the day before, and embarked on a 120 mile quest for the OCB
(the whole time the voices of my parents' were going through my head-my dad saying, oh you can make it before dark, you know you can, think of all that good dessert, and my mom saying, well, this is just ridiculous, why kill yourself for bad, cheap food?) . Let me just say right now that we failed. We pulled into Lewiston about 8:00, and called OCB to find out that they closed at 8:30! After 13 hours on the road, and 9 hours of actual riding we failed! Well, my butt hurt, and we were all hungry, but we held it together. We got directions to a place to camp, which turned out to be illegal, but we did it anyway, too tired to move on. The ground was so dry that I couldn't really stake in my tent (I'll have to put a picture of this up, because it looks ridiculous), and when I stepped out of my shoes onto the ground, and then into my pants, I got dry grass/hay stuck to the inside of my running tights, making everything very itchy indeed. Oh, and did I mention we were right across from a paper factory, with the smell of pulp strong in the air? Oh, what a way to end a 120 mile day. I probably don't even have to mention that we all slept VERY soundly nevertheless. And now that we're out of the mountains, I would venture to say that it is almost warm in the mornings.

Right now, surprise, surprise, Armin is at the bike shop, and Ross is with him, getting something fixed on his bike. After a stop at the grocery store, where I bought too much food as usual, and a stop at the post office, I climbed a MASSIVE hill, for about 3 miles to get to the library, just so I could update you all. But it's time to go back down the hill now and head on to Washington. Either tomorrow night or the next we are staying with a friend of Ross', and then on to Portland. I think we should be there by the weekend!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chilling in Missoula

Well, it's clear that all I have to do is mention a little crying and everyone reaches out and posts on my blog. I am going to milk this for all it's worth... Well, actually things have been going really well. We made it through our first pass of the Rockies, and I've got admit that so far it really hasn't been that bad. The grades seem less challenging than the grades of the PA mountains, but maybe I'm just in better shape. After making Roger's Pass, we spent the night at a primitive campground along the Blackfoot River. You want to talk about cold in the morning...brrr. It must've been 35 degrees, but I kept everything together, sort of kept my hands warm, and amazingly DIDN'T cry! As I warmed up we got closer and closer to Missoula, and after Ross stopped at a local bike shop to get a broken spoke fixed, we headed over to the Adventure Cycling Headquarters, located in the heart of Missoula. They took our pictures there, gave us ice cream and free drinks, and provided us with internet access! I even met a man from Winooski, VT there who is on his 10th cross country trip. This time he left the east coast on August 2nd, and is already in Missoula! Turns out he also knows my sister's work partner, and her husband...small world.

The only thing the people at Adventure Cycling couldn't tell us was where to camp. Apparently finding a place to stay here is difficult. So, I went to, where I had become a member about a week ago, and found about 5 different people in the Missoula area who were willing to host touring cyclists. I got in touch with Maryann, and she agreed to let us camp on her lawn. So we spent last night at Maryann's, where she told us about her own cycling adventures, and about life in Missoula, and we will spend tonight there as well, as we took the day off today to rest and do some laundry. Missoula is really a great city. If you haven't been here before, you really should check it out. There are beautiful parks, friendly people, LOTS of folks on bikes, and a great farmers market that we meandered around this morning. We also found some good night life last night, with a few local bands.

So nothing else too exciting right now. Life is good but calm, and we're back on the road tomorrow morning, with about 8 or 10 days before we hit Portland. We are also really looking forward to eating at the Old Country Buffet in Lewiston, ID. Mmm. Sometimes at night as we are eating our mac and cheese, I make Armin tell me about the splendors of OCB, and I just get so excited thinking about all the all you can eat food, especially that dessert bar. Only during a cross country bike trip could something that would normally make me feel so sick make me feel so happy. I'll let you know how it goes. Off to do laundry now, and to find a nice coffee shop...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 36 Great Falls, MT

Well, it's official. Montana has become the first state to make me cry. After battling two days of intense 20-30 mph headwinds, we woke up this morning to some of the coldest weather we'd seen yet. I got on the road and after a little under 2 miles of biking, I pulled over at the top of a slight incline and just started blubbering. My hands were so numb that it was impossible to shift, and I was sure that they would never be warm again. So, I got off my bike, stuck my hands in my armpits, and quickly pulled myself together, not really sure how Ross would handle the situation if he came upon me crying. But overall I figure crying means I'm truly hard core-you can make me cry Montana, but I'll keep on keepin' on, and I won't even dislike you for it. Let's face it, the rest of the morning was great-a little chilly, no winds, and averaging 14mph! I even saw a doe and fawn hopping along the side of the road, over a fence and off into the grasslands. After a stop at the local Target, where I bought way too much food, I'm feeling 100% again, and ready to battle our first pass of the Rocky's tomorrow. Montana really is an incredible state.

We are currently in Great Falls, taking a few hours off as Armin heads to the local bike shop. "What's this?" you say. "Armin's having bike problems?" Oh, well apparently you haven't been paying attention. After a detour to Williston, ND, where Armin got his rear wheel fixed and his rear deraileur cable reattached, and incidentally where we ran into a great number of other cross country cyclists since Williston is on the Adventure Cycling Association's maps, we headed on to Montana. We went out to dinner in Richey at the local VFW (we eat out every fourth night), and then we headed across the street to the other bar in the small town of 200, where we indulged in free chili dog happy hour, and where the locals started buying the entire bar rounds of drinks. I was on my way to being pretty drunk two Ranier beers in (no, not Ranier Ice, don't worry JVC folks), when Armin, Ross, and I started chatting with the locals. Man on man! There are about a thousand dissertation questions waiting to be answered in Richey, from the gender dynamics (I did receive one marriage proposal that night), to the farming and railroad industry issues, to the apparent marshall law in a town where we were told driving drunk was the norm. I could go on and on speculating about that town. I would've loved to have spent a few more days there observing, but the next morning it was time to move on, so that Armin could break a few spokes and we could have our first day of truly battling winds.

After our next night in Winnett, MT, Ross and I had breakfast out at the local cafe (which the locals seems to pronounce more like cufe), since it's pancakes had been written up in gourmet magazine. The owner of the cafe, Buck Wood, was just as surly and ornery as any stereotype would suggest of an old Montanan, but I think he kind of liked us (as Armin points out, probably all men like me here because there are just so few women), and his pancakes were awesome. Ross and I caught up with Armin, who had left early because of his wheel problems, and after 7 hours of riding, were able to make it the 57 miles to Lewistown that night. Armin got his wheel repaired by a really cool man named Marc, who ran a side business out of his garage. Armin met up with us at our campground, where Linda, a nice woman whose camper was parked at the camp ground, had been giving Ross and I cake and ice cream, and all other sorts of food to carry with us on our trip. By the time Armin got to us it was about 9pm, and dark, but we pulled our act together, boiled up some mac and cheese, and set out on the road the next morning nearly refreshed, and ready to face more wind. We made it to Geyser last night, with no bike problems, but with some minimal hills that scared the crap out of me because the wind kept trying to blow me backwards as I climbed them. As I was climbing them I realized there was no other choice but to keep pedaling, because if I stopped i would surely fall over. This was later proven to me when I stopped at the bottom of a hill, and then was blown over trying to get back on my bike, after my left cleat was already clicked in. Oh the drama! No major injuries though, and Armin and I even tried out drafting off of one another for the first time yesterday, which definitely helped a couple miles go by more easily.

After a good, but uneventful dinner out in Geyser last night, we are back on the road today, warmed up finally, and I think Armin's bike might even be ready now. If i'm not mistaken, he bought himself a BOB trailer so that his rear wheel won't be strapped down with so much weight. I'll check in from Missoula and let you know how that's working out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 34 (?) Lewistown, MT

We're in Montana! We've been here fore 3 days or so now, and there is so much to tell, but the library closes in 5 minutes, so just a quick hello to let you know that we are safe and sound, and battling intense headwinds. After 6 hours and 45 minutes of riding time today we officially rode 55 miles, at an average of 8 miles per hour. Yes that's right. EIGHT. Man am I beat. Montana is officially trying to kick my ass, but you know how I love a challenge...

For those of you following our route, we're on route 200 in Montana, right through the middle of the state until we hit Missoula. Hopefully there I'll have more time to update on all the crazy and interesting folks we've met and things we've seen.