My daughters bday is today. My wife Jane and son Jesse are in St Louis to celebrate with her, husband Andrew and son Caden.
Yes, I miss them and miss missing this event. This is a big sacrifice for a bike ride. Maybe too big.
Everyone is so kind and they FaceTime so I’m included. I also missed my wife’s bday and will miss our anniversary date in few weeks (number 36).
I want them to know I truly miss them and appreciate their support!
So this leads me to discuss the grittier side of bike touring. I have watched many YouTube videos from touring pros that ultimately address how to pack panniers, how to pitch your tent, and evaluate bikes — complete with clips of them blissfully riding thru incredible scenery.
I have discovered some great nature from wild horses, coyotes, bald eagles and antelope.
The Tougher Side of Touring
But I’m trying to deal with the tougher side of this touring that I never see addressed.
- How do you handle 3 or 4 straight days of rain.
- How do you survive in 40 mph winds across the high prairie.
- What do you do when you can’t find any place to pitch your tent at night because everything is closed due to Covid (in all fairness this is new, so how can anyone address this yet)
- I’ve been biking 4 weeks now and still have saddle sore and chafing issues…is this normal?
- My hands and arms hurt from wrestling with bike all day in heavy winds.
- Lips are still swollen and hurts when I smile or eat.
Maybe I have had some bad luck? Maybe I still need to toughen up.
The grittier side of the ride is where the lessons are found. I sure ride a lot of dusty miles for the scenery.
Seems to me that the greatest commodity ever sold has to be barbed wire. Every interstate, road, farm and field is surrounded by barbed wire. Millions and billions of miles of barbed wire. I think this says something about us Americans…
Cars pass you all day. They drive as hard and fast as they can. Most can’t bear to slow down for a cyclist, so seconds must be precious. Some drivers wave in support which I appreciate, and I respond with smile and like wave. Many will drive into opposite lane so they don’t have to touch their brakes and run oncoming traffic off the road. No one has stopped to offer a drink or assistance.
I don’t expect them to either. I’m a vehicle driver as well. I spent a career in sales, so I likely drive more than the average gringo does each year. I didn’t stop either. Sometimes I would see someone and think I should stop but would roll on. I had quotas to meet after all.
I guess I see another side and hope this changes my behavior going forward.
So Why Am I So Depressing Tonight?
Yesterday was hard and I’m still recovering. Biked 55 miles today from Glendive to Circle MT. Today was fairly easy ride compared to yesterday’s challenge. As I rode along one of the most desolate roads in N America, a lady in a SUV began sounding her horn off 1 mile before she had to pass me and continued as she past. Kinda of scary and I got the message….she didn’t want me on her road. No other vehicle was approaching. I was on the edge of the road. No car had passed me in the last 20 minutes. There is only 1 town for 55 miles. I would sure of loved it if she would of stopped to have a conversation for sure.
When I arrived in Circle city, there wasn’t any place to camp. Many places in MT are still not open due to the virus. Circle is small dusty town with many shops boarded up or closed. One hotel called Travellers Inn and I’m the only guest at time of check in. I walked to the only store 1 mile down the road for some suntan lotion as tomorrow is going to be in mid 90’s…. Closed. Good grief is anything open?
Honestly, I’m a bit of a mess. Body is ruined, the town is dusty and closed, and I encountered a rude driver.
None of this going to deter me. Tomorrow I will head to Wolf Point and I know it will be a better day.