New Blogs I Follow

Along the side of my posts is a list of blogs I follow. Some I follow more closely than others. Some have gone the way of the Monte Python parrot.

I’m pretty excited about two new blogs. Both are about travel. Neither involve bikes (but there is always hope).

Still a Tourist is written by my daughter Lily who seems hell bent on visiting everything and everywhere. Canada, England, Scotland, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Balkans, the Baltics, and Scandinavia. She’s currently finishing grad school in London.

It’s Not about the Destination, It’s about the Journey is the brand new travel blog from my friend and former co-worker Jessica. Like Lily she attended grad school in Europe and traveled extensively there. She recently quit her job, sold all her stuff, and took off to teach English in the Chilean desert. Although I know other people who have done this sort of thing, I am stunned every time someone I know does such a thing.

The Hardest Part

Each time I do a bike tour I get asked, “What was the hardest part?” I suppose they expect me to say something like the hills in Washington or the rain in Iowa or the mud in Maryland. Sorry to disappoint.

The hardest part is leaving home.

I am a creature of routine. I eat breakfast. Read the paper. Do the crossword. Take a shower. Go for a ride. Do other stuff. Eat dinner. Watch a baseball game or read a book or watch a movie. Take a shower. Go to sleep. (You’ll notice that one of my favorite things is taking a shower. I don’t take long ones though. Just long enough to press the clean re-boot button.)

My at-home routine provides a comfortable rhythm to my life. So it is not surprising that it takes several days to get into the rhythm of the road. And I don’t welcome the transition. It took me about a week to get into the rhythm of the road on my ride to the Pacific northwest. By the time I got to Montana it was clockwork.

Another reason why leaving is so hard is the fact that I am looking at the tour as one thing. Holy crap, my destination is so far away and I’ve never been there or most of the places in between! This could go wrong. That could go wrong. I’m an idiot for doing this! No way!!!

Somebody once said fear is excitement without breathing.

Then, of course, I take a deep breath and say

Yes way!!!!

And all those worries, all those unknowns become experiences and stories and adventures. The Meth Man on the Gap. Impossibly intense thunderstorms on the UP. Incredible piles of hurricane debris in the Florida Keys. Thrill ride descents on the other side of mountain passes.

And so many interesting new people and conversations. The brother and sister from Yorkshire riding all 50 states. Countless other bike tourists on the side of the road. A Swiss tourist in a beekeeper’s house. Plant nerds! An Alaskan rolfer/artist in a broad brimmed hat. Pretty good for an introvert, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve done eight bike tours.

Soon I’ll be leaving again.

The hardest part awaits.

 

 

The Mule Comes Home

In Portland I dropped The Mule off at West End Bikes. They packed it in a box and, using BikeFlights.com, I had it shipped via FedEx to my local bike shop. (I’d mention them by name but their normal policy is not to accept these kinds of bike shipments. Given the fact that I’ve been a loyal customer for well over a decade, they agreed to accept the shipment.) The bike shop did a quick assessment and sent me a proposal listing work to be done on the bike.

After some discussion we replaced two chain rings, the cassette, the chain, the rear wheel, and the handlebar tape. They turned the work around in two days. So today, I took my baby for a shakedown cruise.

After 62 days and 4,300 miles of daily riding, my body and The Mule’s geometry fit like hand in glove. With no panniers or tent, The Mule took off at a gallop. I had it in my head to go really long. So I rode to the town of Purcellville, just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The cool thing about this ride is the fact that it was done almost entirely on trails. Welcome to BikeDC. Dang.

Purcellville is 57 miles by bike from home. The fact that I’d even consider doing this ride on a muggy day with storms in the forecast shows what bike tours will do to your mindset. My legs were flying. I felt completely at home on The Mule. My brain went to its happy place. For hours. So good to be back there.

The ride is gradually uphill with a few short rollers at about the 30 mile mark. Unlike before the tour, I was passing people on racing bikes. Ding. Mule on your left. Whoosh.

My quads and my knees were burning after 40 miles. I’d back off long before this point under normal circumstances but not today. So what if I get tired; I’ve got all day and all night if I need it.

I had no food with me – a mistake for sure. I made it 35 miles to Leesburg before I realized that my tummy was lonely. Rather than stop there, forged ahead to Purcellville. The gradual uphill can eat away at your confidence. Not today.

In Purcellville I noticed that many of the shops were not where they had once been. A bike shop was now a bakery. And, more importantly, Haute Dogs and Fries, a hot dog shop, was no longer in business. I headed to the bakery hoping to buy a sandwich but they only sold pastries. I inhaled an eclair. They make pretty awesome eclairs.

Then it was back on the trail, now trending downhill. In Leesburg I went to a gas station for fuel. A refrigerated sandwich, a candy bar, and cookies were all I could find. (The apples looked rather beat up so I passed on the fruit.)

With sammie in mouth, I was back on the trail. Then it started to rain. To avoid sammie sogginess I ate fast. With some fuel in my furnace, my speed increased. So did the rain.

After another ten miles I finished off my rolling repast. The rain intensified a bit. Lightning flashed. Thunder thundered. We’re havin’ fun now.

As the miles went by, my legs started to tire. My knees hurt. My lower back started to ache. My arms and shoulders were barking at me. Bear down, dude. The Mule didn’t care.

I made my way to the Mount Vernon Trail along the river. The storm seemed to increase in intensity. By this point I was already soaked. Once you’re wet, you’re wet.

Near home I decided to get off the trail out of concern about falling trees, because the ground here is saturated from so many days of rain. I chose a short, steep hill on a street rather than the gradual one on the trail. I deliberately opted not to use my granny gear just to see how my legs would react. They felt a bit like the top of Rogers Pass in Montana. Been there. Done that.

Ten minutes later we were home. 114 1/2 miles.  No major problems for The Mule or me.

I have a month until the 50 States Ride. I think I’ll be ready.

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Any Road Tour – Afterglowing

This bike tour, far more than any other that I have done, has left me with after effects that I truly wish I could hold onto.

The Physical Afterglow

Despite eating and drinking an appalling amount of unhealthy things, I managed to lose weight just about everywhere except my legs. The upper body muscle weight that I gained from lifting weights all winter is gone. My belly, although still very much in evidence, is smaller too. Mrs. Rootchopper said that the roll of fat around my waist in the back is gone. I can tell because my pants fall off.

Of course, the upside to this physical change is my body is much, much more efficient on a bike. My pedaling goes more round and round than up and down. I am a few miles per hour faster, which is not surprising, I suppose. I can stand when I climb, something that normally tires me out, and find an extra gear in the process. I noticed near the end of the tour that walking up stairs or up a hill was a snap.

I stopped doing my daily stretching and physical therapy routines for the first time in ages during the tour. It was a complete shock to me that I was much more flexible in my tent than I have ever been.

One thing that didn’t change, and may have been worse than before, is the cramping in my legs and feet. When I was putting my sandals on in the tent, I’d have cramps in my feet. My feet felt like they were curling up, kind of like the Dr. Pepper dude in An American Werewolf in London. Sometimes when putting on shorts in my tent, I’d get a hamstring cramp.One night when my calf was swollen, I had a humongous, painful  cramp in my calf muscle in the middle of the night. Ayeee! Then there was the infamous hamstring cramp in Astoria that caused me to fall off my bar stool.

I could do without the cramps but the rest of these physical changes are quite welcome. I held onto my weight loss from my Key West tour for a couple of months, until pulmonary embolisms parked me on the couch with junk food for solace. It would be great to hold onto these changes well into September so that the 50 States Ride is relatively easy. (Doing it last year with blood clots in my lungs set a low bar for “easy.”)

The Mental Afterglow

After the Key West tour, I was totally mellowed out (except for my bruised rib). This feeling went far beyond mere satisfaction from completing an arduous task over a month’s time. After this year’s tour, I had the same mental afterglow but it was much stronger and more long lasting.

I have no idea what the endocrinology or neurology of this phenomenon is. I recall reading an article about a writer who microdosed on LSD daily for a period of time. (Basically, until her supply ran dry.) She just felt happy all day long. And much more productive. I can’t say I’ve been particularly productive, but the happy part sure fits like a glove. A friend of mine once did ayahuasca and described a profound experience that she “still need[ed] to process.” I feel that same need to process this post-tour mental afterglow.

I talked about my tour with Joe, a reader in DC, at a protest I attended last week. He says he had the same thing after his tour and, to this day, he feels changed in a way that he can’t describe. Andrea, my friend from Friday Coffee Club, said something similar last Friday. She did a tour very similar to mine a few years ago.

It’s a subtle feeling. It’s similar to the feeling I get immediately after I meditate.  (Ironically, I stopped my meditation practice during the tour because it was obviously superfluous.) Maybe it’s caused by a boat load of endorphins or serotonin floating around in my head. I wonder if it made me less introverted during the tour, talking with my Warmshowers hosts or the people in the park in Wenona IL or Martin or Maria and the plant nerds. I definitely noticed it when talking to Julie in the bar the last night in Astoria. I felt like I was talking to someone I had known all my life.

Regardless of the introversion angle, I feel very different. And, just like last fall, the feeling is fading.

Can I hold on?

In the interest of holding on to the physical and mental afterglow, I decided to go for a long bike ride today. The humidity was oppressive and, as the day wore on, so was the temperature. I managed to ride my Crosscheck 92 hilly miles to Poolesville MD and back.

After the ride, I was totally zonked physically. I think riding fast on an unloaded bike brings about a higher level of muscle fatigue that riding a loaded touring bike slowly. Mentally, however, I felt the same afterglow, albeit in muted form. Then I fell asleep. And the Sandman took it away.

 

 

 

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July by the numbers

Well, this is getting ridiculous. I knocked out another 1,482.5 miles in July. 1,357 of that was from the Any Road Tour. I rode in five states (Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia). There were five mountain passes too. My longest day was 94.5 miles over Washington and Rainy Passes then down hill for miles and miles and miles.

For the year I’ve ridden 7,736.5 miles. And my ass doesn’t hurt one bit.

Any Road Tour: The Worst

Every bike tour has bad aspects to it. I was on the road for two months. And I am surprised how little went wrong.

    • Soul sucking headwinds. I had a couple of tough days in Illinois when I was surprised by strong headwinds (and hills). My ride from Circle to Jordan MT must have been a drag because I don’t remember much about it. I also had a tough day riding the last day into Astoria, but I didn’t realize it because adrenaline kicked in as I approached the coast. The baddest day was the 88 mile ride to Missoula. The scenery was gorgeous. The entire ride was downhill. The headwinds were punishing. Five days out of 60 is not that bad.
    • Defying death in Iowa. I got caught in a nasty storm in a hilly part of Iowa. My brakes were totally inadequate to the task. It was scary. I made a bee line for the flat Great River Road in Wisconsin.
    • Too many motels. Time and again, my camping plans were washed out by storms at night. My plans to camp out on the first three nights on the C&O canal were washed away. What the heck am I carrying all this camping gear for? I used my tent for the first time in Indiana.
    • Killer hills on day two. The washout on the canal meant that I had to ride over Catoctin and South Mountains in Maryland. I was not physically or mentally up to the climbs.
    • Days six and seven. Three steep climbs in a row. The second taking me from Pennsylvania into West Virginia and the Ohio River valley was truly the hardest climb I’ve ever done. I was weaving all over the road just trying to move forward. There was nothing meditative about the climb, it was just damned hard. Then I decided to skip a scuzzy hotel in Wheeling and climb back out of the Ohio River valley. Dang. The next day’s steep rollers made me feel utterly incapable. I made a wrong turn and traded scenery for flatter ground.
    • Hapless apps. Both weather.com and google maps were sources of frustration. Weather.com consistently got the timing or even the occurrence of nasty storms wrong. I was better relying on my eyes and ears. Google maps tried to get me to ride down a steep decline on a wooded single track trail in Shelton WA. Near Camano Island WA it told me to turn around and go down a nonexistent street. It was useless when I tried to cross the St. Croix River from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
    • Unreal food. Lord help you if you are a vegan or even a vegetarian and you try to ride your bike in rural America. Time and again, the stores had no fruit or other healthy food. I bought a sandwich in Sandpoint ID that was a soggy mess when I opened the wrapper a few hours later. I ate it but I wasn’t happy. And in Newhalem WA the only store for over 60 miles was closed because of a computer problem. Good thing I had a ripe peach and some downhill riding to get me to the next town.
    • Close passes and f-bombs.
      • I expected far more closed encounters with big metal things. The worst one was on my ride from Fort Stevens into Astoria. The bridge had only about a two-foot shoulder and the cross winds were strong and erratic. A tractor trailer passed about a foot from my left shoulder. There were plenty of other close passes but I had room to bail out if necessary.
      • I never really got used to the two-lane roads with a 70 mph speed limit in Montana. Objects in your mirror are closer than they appear indeed.
      • I think I had only one unpleasant encounter with a driver. He was annoyed that I delayed his access to the only road across Shelton WA. He dropped numerous f-bombs as I rolled past in traffic on a road torn up by construction. A mile later her caught up to me and started in with the f-bombs again.
    • Inhospitality

Many towns out west offer free or low cost camping to bike tourists. Iroquois IL and St Helens OR were two towns that didn’t offer this anymore. (I could have caught the latter if I had read the addendum sheet from Adventure Cycling.) Winnett MT had camp grounds but they all seemed to be closed. (I camped illegally next to an RV.) And the Warmshowers place in the town of Lewistown MT looked like a dump. The volunteer at the town greeting center told me that I couldn’t camp in the park with in Kettle Falls WA. I called the police and they gave me permission.

  • Medical woes. I pushed my body hard and it gave me plenty of feedback.
    • In Minnesota, my left calf started swelling up. Then I rode 136 miles in a day. I’m an eejit. Because of my recent deep vein thrombosis in that area, I had to visit an ER in Bismarck. Thankfully, it was a false alarm.
    • In the town of Square Butte MT, I ate a late lunch. I ordered a chicken Caesar salad. What I served was an elaborate dish, the biggest and best salad I’ve ever eaten. Unfortunately my tummy was not up to the task. When I dismounted in Geraldine, my head was swimming. Any thoughts of riding on to a Fort Benton with a tailwind were scotched.
    • When I dismounted in Missoula after 88 miles into a headwind, I had a similar experience with light headedness. I skipped the Warmshowers house and checked into a hotel.
    • Before the tour, I did two months of physical therapy for my left shoulder and arm which ached in random ways at random times. Winds pushed on my panniers causing me to use my arms and shoulders far more than on a regular bike ride. My arms and shoulders were quite sore from simply controlling the front end of the bike. After a few weeks the pain in my arm and shoulder went away.
    • The middle finger on my right hand has been numb for over a month. My handlebar tape was so compressed it offered no cushioning. Both hands feel stressed from holding on to the bars for so many hours. In Washington state, I noticed that my wedding band felt tight. My fingers were so swollen that I couldn’t budge the ring. (It comes off now with some persuasion so I think my hands will be fine with time.)
    • I have a history of lower back problems including back surgery. I’ve been doing physical therapy exercises every day for over 20 years. And my pulmonary embolisms presented as back pain last December. So I was a bit worried that all the riding, especially the climbing and riding into strong winds, would cause big back problems. My lower right back sometimes felt like it was being stung by bees. It may have been old scar tissue stretching under the strain. Regardless, my back held up fine.
    • The expansion joints in the highways of North Dakota beat my back and bottom up for several days.
    • Speaking of back problems, I stopped doing my back exercises for the entire tour. Not only didn’t I miss them, but I was much more comfortable in my tent. I could change clothes and move about without difficulty.
    • I had some perineum soreness. This came on especially when I was making a big effort. I noticed that I’d push down on the handlebars and saddle, digging in, when mashing the pedals. When I became aware of this, I’d focus on loosening my upper body and unweight my behind, often by standing in the pedals or stopping. Also, I had no saddle sores, despite discontinuing chamois cream somewhere in Minnesota.
    • A recurring problem was muscle cramping. Sometimes I’d get cramps in my feet or lower legs when changing shoes. Sometimes my calves would go haywire. The worst calf cramp happened the night before going to the ER. Then there was the massive hamstring cramp in Astoria. My advice is that if you’re going to fall off a barstool, get piss drunk first. You won’t notice how hard your right sit bone hits the floor. (Mine hurt for four or five days.)
    • With the understandable exception of the mother of all climbs in Pennsylvania, I did not feel any maxing out of my lungs. I breathed hard for long periods of time but I always felt like I had extra lung capacity. This is strange given that I have asthma. I didn’t use my rescue inhaler once.
    • My knees normally are all messed up but they only felt sore a couple of times, after difficult climbs. By the time I made it to the big mountains out west, my leg muscles were cooking with gas.
    • The black wasp sting in Port Townsend WA hurt big time. After an hour the pain went away but my lower lip was a swollen mess. The swelling went away in two days.
  • Mental problems
    • I can’t think of a single day when I was depressed. Tired? Yes. Anxious? Yes. Depressed? Nope. After the first days, I discontinued my daily meditation practice. Never missed it. After all, I was on a rolling meditation retreat.
    • As I explained before, I made it a point to focus on the short term. When I was under extreme stress, I’d concentrate on NOW. If I looked too far ahead, especially early in the tour, I ran the risk of being overwhelmed. Ironically, once I reached Astoria, I found it strangely discomfiting. I needed mental rest as much as I needed physical rest. Talking to Julie, Shannon, and Eric, mostly about their lives, helped a lot.

Any Road Tour: Day 56 – Bypassing Seattle

Today was supposed to be a short day to Bremerton to catch the ferry to Seattle. I decided that in order to do all the things I wanted and needed to go in Portland I’d have to take a day out of the schedule. So Seattle got the heave ho.

The day began with a gentle ride off route to a cafe for breakfast. I ordered pancakes and eggs, expecting a modest meal. I got frisbee-sized pancakes. For the record, I could not eat it all.

I am learning that the Olympic Peninsula has some Olympic-sized hills for bike tourists. Fortunately the hills provided nice views of blue waters. Crossing over the Hood Canal Bridge was a good example.

Still no orcas to report, just a seal now and then.

This area has heavy traffic which is a bit of a shock after having the road nearly to myself for close to two thousand miles. I was grateful for the tailwind that made the riding easy if somewhat unpleasant.

Occasionally I was on a road that allowed my mind to drift and to imagine what it was like at the top of a peak covered in snow in July.

It was getting hot out so I took an hour break at a McDonalds in Silverdale. I chugged cold drinks and enjoyed the AC.

Next came Bremerton. There may be lovely neighborhoods in this town but I didn’t see them. I took a pass on getting a motel after 40+ miles and rode on. Riding by an aircraft carrier that was being demolished was pretty cool. These ships are LONG!

The road out of Bremerton was a four lane freak show. Cars were blowing by me and I was cowering in the far right of the debris strewn shoulder.

I took the quieter old route to Belfair, hoping to stay at the motel in town. Up and down for 13 miles to learn that there were no vacancies. My choices were (a) ride to a nearby campground and put up my tent in 90 degree heat, (b) turn around and ride back to Bremerton for a crappy chain motel, or (c) continue southward another 25 miles to Shelton which has three motels.

I chose (c) because moderation is not in my DNA.

After a few miles I decided to call a motel and make sure I could get a room. The Shelton Inn had a first  floor room so I told them I’d be there in two hours.

I rode another half mike and turned off the main road onto East Trails Road. It had the steepest hill I’ve seen on the tour, even including Pennsylvania and the last 100 feet to Tim Jones’s house.

I pedaled for a minute before pulling into the mouth of a driveway. Holy crap! I caught my breath and tried to start again. It took me three tries to get sufficient momentum to get both feet on the pedals.

Once I got going I didn’t stop. I was weaving all over the road and my legs were burning but I wasn’t going to walk.

I was more concerned with time. If this hill were typical of the rest of the route to Shelton, I’d be lucky to get there in three hours.

I looked at the map and saw that I was riding next to a lake. Oh great, some level ground, right? Nope. The lake was down there and I was up here, riding up and down.

And now I had a headwind.

Bitch. Moan.

I endured and made it to Shelton in a little over two hours. It took me 30 minutes to find the motel because of a road closure. The Google tried to send me onto a path in the woods. I rode down a steep hill on a bike path only to find it continued through a gate as single track.

Not gonna happen. The hill I had come down was about 100 yards long but it was so steep I had no hope of riding up it from a dead stop.

Push!

The Google started going bonkers so I shut it off and found some detour signs to follow.

Most of the town including the hotel are the bottom of a bluff. One road, the closed one on my route, goes down the bluff to the east and another to the west. I went west and found the road was all torn up for repaving.

I took the lane and rode down the bumpy, curvy mess of a hill. As I passed a driveway I heard someone screaming “Get of the road, you fucking asshole!!!”

Welcome to Shelton.

I think I delayed his highness from getting on the highway with his shit box of a used pickup truck.

I had gone out of my way to avoid this construction zone. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate my efforts. So for the first time in over 3,900 miles, I extended the numb middle finger on my right hand high in the sky.

I thought I did pretty well going down the hill. I kept up with the car in front of me. Slipping past the line of cars at the red light at the bottom of the hill, I glided into downtown Shelton.

Then I heard Prince Charles, Duke of Shelton, come roaring by. For the record, it appears f-bombs from pick up truck drivers do not exhibit a Doppler effect.

I engaged him with mighty verbal gusto and more unidigital sign language. He roared away yelling out his window, rushing home to do some meth with his wife and watch some Fox News.

I was slightly embarrassed that this lusty exchange of profanity had occurred within ear and eye shot of the desk clerk at my hotel.

I made my apologies explaining how I held back for 3,900 miles. She gave me a coupon for a discount at the diner next door.

After washing up I walked to a Mexican restaurant up the street. My veggie enchiladas were muy bueno.

I went for a postprandial stroll in downtown Shelton. After 8 pm this place could be a good rsetting for a Walking Dead episode.

One shop keeper apparently agreed with me.

Miles today: 88.5

Tour miles: 3,965.5

500 States in 10 Days

Mrs. Rootchopper says that a good definition of amnesia is going through a second pregnancy. I have a definition of dementia. On September 8, I will ride the 50 States Ride in DC for the tenth time.

That’s right, 500 States!

Last year I rode with a fabulous group of friends who made me feel old and feeble. Of course, riding with pulmonary embolisms might have had something to do with that.

This year I hope to be healthier. And I want some good company again. Today I already registered myself and my friend Emilia, who will be joining me for the third time since 2014. (Emilia es muy loca.) So join us.

If you are a WABA member you’ve already received an email with registration details. If you’re not a WABA member, you can ride as a guest of a registered member. Or become a member and register.

In any case, I need someone to keep Emilia and me from riding off course – AGAIN!

And you won’t even have to tow me over Cathedral Heights because Emilia said she’d do that,

Also, I agree not to skip the 18 states that I’ve actually ridden in since last year’s ride. (I mean, I’ve really had my fill of Montana!)

So sign up. Then send me a message to let me know you’re joining the 500-States Posse!

June by the Numbers

In June I rode 29 of 30 days for a total of 2,260.5 miles all in The Mule, my Specialized Sequoia touring bike. My longest ride was 136 miles from Fargo to Gackle, North Dakota. And The Mule broke both the 47,000 and 48,000 mike marks.

In the first half of 2018 I rode 6,254 miles.

Any Road Tour: Day 33 – Headwinds to Circle

Last night I learned that Wibaux has its own microbrewery and it serves pizza. I walked into town to partake. The pizza was very small but delicious. I decided that in lieu of dessert I would have another beer. It was muy bueno.

So if you’re ever in Wibaux try the Pale Ale.

After a sumptuous breakfast of Froot Loops and toast I hit the road for the 30 mile ride to Glendive. The first 5.5 miles were on the interstate. It may sound odd but riding the interstate is actually enjoyable. You get a massive paved shoulder protected by rumble strips. And the grades are gentle. Sadly the interstates still get headwinds.

I left the interstate for 12.5 miles along Ranch Road. This road goes through massive cattle ranches. They don’t seem to have all that many cattle though, but the views ain’t bad.

After another 7 miles on the interstate I took an exit and turned left into Glendive. Had I known better I’d have taken a right to go to a restaurant to top off my fuel tank. Downtown Glendive was all but abandoned. I crossed an old railroad trestle, festooned with flags. It had been turned into a bike/ped bridge over the Little Yellowstone River. The park on the other side in West Glendive was having a show-off-your-old-car event.

Not seeing any 1991 Specialized Sequoias I moved on. I found a gas station and sat down to a fine repast of shrink wrapped sandwich, corn chips, and soda. While eating I read the diesel pump: 146 gallons. $452. I wonder if the vehicle had solid rocket boosters.

I made a decision to continue on another 48 miles to Circle. I knew there would be increasing headwinds and rain but the greater Glendive metropolitan area wasn’t floating my boat.

The next 21 miles were a gradual uphill, I went from about 2,100 feet to 2,700 feet. It was as slow going, about 9 mph.

In Lindsay the maps I have said there was a gas station convenience store. When I got there it was closed. It was a good thing I stopped in West Glendive.

The next 9.5 mikes were uphill, another 500 feet. Out here in the plains you can see weather from miles away. I could see that I was riding between two large storms. I could hear thunder. I ate a two-day old peach then u stopped to put on my rain jacket. Down came the rain. I didn’t mind since it kept me cool and took my mind off the increasing headwinds.

By the time I reached the peak, the rain had stopped and I was dry. The downhill to Circle would have been awesome but the wind spoiled the joy.

I was pretty happy to see the town of Circle. It has an old motel that has free WiFi and shag carpeting.

When I checked in I learned that Martin, the Swiss bike tourist I woke up in Gackle after my 136 mile romp from Fargo, was also staying here. We got together for dinner in town. I had pizza and beer. (I bought enough for breakfast.)

Martin is taking the Northern Tier route from here. I’m taking the more southerly Lewis and Clark Route.

There are no services between here and the next town called Jordan. It should be interesting.

As of today I am 4 days ahead of my planned itinerary. I expect to give at least one back to headwinds.

Also, in the next few days you may notice that the URL for this blog has become Rootchopper.com.

Finally: does anyone know what this is?

Miles today: 78

Miles so far: 2,473