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.