Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Friday, July 18, 2008
As expected, no internet or phone connection tonight, and tomorrow will be the same. Hopefully, we'll be able to upload everything Sunday night in Jordan. Today was an almost perfect day for riding. It had rained a little yesterday afternoon; this morning was sunny with some wispy clouds and a nice 61 degrees. There were enough clouds to keep the sun from beating down on us most of the day. We left Lewistown at 7:35 and started off with a long, fairly gradual climb out of town - we like to get the big climbs over with as early as possible - so it was slow going for the first 8 miles or so. It turned out we were going over the Judith Mountains, and once we got to the top, it was pretty much downhill for the rest of the day! Most of the time is was very gradual so that we did have to pedal but it was pretty easy going. There was no wind to speak of for most of the day. The breeze we generated was enough to keep the bugs off us, except when we stopped for a rest or had a bit of an uphill, but even then they weren't too bad today.
The terrain today was remarkably flat once we got past the Judith Mountains. We have been at about 3500 feet generally for a while now, with the occasional dip, such as at Fort Benton and Lewistown. Our morning climb got us back up to 3500 at first, and then to about 4700 feet when we crested the Judiths. Then it was downhill into a wide valley with short hills off to the sides. All along the road today there were pastures and crop fields, mostly growing hay. There were pine trees on the hills in places, and some sage brush, as well as a creek that followed along the road most of the way after we crossed the mountains. We ended up at about 3000 feet at Winnett. There was only one town along the road today, at about mile 30, where we could have stopped for lunch. We chose not to stop there though, mainly because it was about a mile off route. We had stocked up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas and cinnamon rolls in Lewistown, and that seemed to do us pretty well for the day's ride. We'll probably do the same tomorrow, which will be a shorter but hillier day.
We were making great time and having a very pleasant ride when, around noon or so, the wind started to pick up (no, not a tail wind). We had also noticed there were some bigger clouds coming up to our right. They were white and puffy to start, but soon turned ominous. We pondered whether to get out the plastic bags and cover up our unprotected stuff, but decided to wait and see what developed. The clouds stayed to our right and we could see rain coming out of them onto the distant hills (as well as some lightning). Still hoping it would all stay off to the side, we picked up our pace to try and get to our destination before the rain drifted our way. Finally, with one mile to go, we figured we had it made, but of course the turn into Winnett, our destination, was to the right and soon after we made that turn the big drops started to hit us. We made a dash for the first place with an awning, which was the Kozy Korner Cafe, a restaurant that had been recommended to us by our friend Terry from Tempe. We asked a woman who was going into the cafe where the hotel was and she pointed us down the road a block or so and said it was another block to the left. The rain was already letting up by now, so we headed out for the hotel. We arrived there at 1 pm and were settled in shortly thereafter. Nothing had gotten very wet so we went back to the Kozy Korner for some lunch. We met a couple of guys at the cafe that had passed us earlier in the day. They were driving a wide-load pilot car and were now on their way back to Lewistown. We told them we had noticed an unusual amount of wide-load traffic in Montana and they verified that Hwy. 200 which we were on today and have been on through a lot of Montana, was a wide-load corridor. They asked if we had seen any loads that looked like big white pipes, which we had, and they told us they were the base of windmills. We have also seen some propellors being transported - they are also really huge.
Counting the mile round-trip for lunch, we ended with just over 55 miles in slightly under 4-1/2 hours of bike time. We spent only 5-1/2 hours on the road today, a lot shorter rest time than our usual, partly because of not having a long lunch stop and partly because of trying to outrace the storm.