I slept nine hours last night, probably recovery from whatever made my head spin.
Breakfast was late so I didn’t hit the road until 9. Into a headwind. But I didn’t care. I was rested and fed and I’ve ridden 2,700+ miles and I’m getting used to wind abuse.
The landscape was greener and less spectacular than yesterday. Field. Grain. Cattle. Butte. Repeat.
I confess to talking to the livestock as I ride by. I swear they understand English. Good morning! How’s it going? Wanna run?!
They said the cattle of central Montana are a lot less interactive than the ones in North Dakota.
I’ve seen some deer now and then. They bound like cartoon animals. You can almost hear the BOING BOING BOING.
After 20 miles I could see cliffs off in the distance. The Missouri Breaks. Here the Missouri, which I crossed back in Bismarck, cuts s deep gash in the land.
At 25 miles the road corkscrews steeply downward to the river at Fort Benton. Yowza!
The town has some historic buildings and an old river boat but I came for the French Dip and the tater tots, or gems, at the Club House sports bar.
What goes down must go up, but the way to Great Falls turns to the south. I had a tailwind for the first time in days. I still had to bring in granny for the climb but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.
About 15 miles later I did another steep descent. My top speed was 39.9, feathering my brakes. The wind had become a cross wind and nothing says “wet your pants” quite like a side blast as your approaching 40 miles per hour in a runaway mule.
It’s a very zen thing. If you think about what might happen you’ll lock your arms and bad things will happen. If you just stay loose, pay attention to this specific instant, and breathe, you’ll turn fear into excitement.
But you may still wet your pants.
The 50+ miles from Fort Benton to Great Falls was pleasant but unremarkable. The last few miles were on a divided highway with strange rumble strips. They were on the edge of the paved shoulder instead of next to the white line. I ran over a few of them and they barely rumbled. Or maybe my ass was numb from so many miles.
I turned off the highway and stopped at the first gas station I saw. I asked to use the bathroom and the clerk laughs and handed me the key. I must have looked like a maniac doing the pee pee dance.
I followed my map to the river edge trail. The Missouri looked angry and muddy. The trail was well designed and seemed interconnect with neighborhoods and other trails. Wayfinding signs made it easy for me to navigate.
Water blasted through the dam near town. It was an impressive site.
After 82 miles I pulled into the Holiday Inn. It looks like an old Embassy Suites hotel with an atrium that appears to be stolen from a Cabelas.
It was a long hard day. I got my money’s worth. Tomorrow I ride to the mountains.
Tour miles: 2,832.5