Any Road Tour: Day 37 – Dizzy heights around Square Butte

Last night’s dinner was a burrito and Mexicali fries. This is what the Mexican food chain calls tater tots. Head. Table.

The motel room was buggy but I didn’t care. I slept well and dried my camping gear.

I needed a jacket in the morning. Low 50s. No wind though.

I cruised the town, stopping to buy provisions at a grocery store. Then I found a coffee shop that Felkerino would have approved of. Fortified with coffee, bagel, and a jumbo chocolate chip cookie. (Andrea, I don’t have a jersey pocket so I ate it in the spot.)

On the road by a little after 8, I was on level ground with a 2 mph tailwind. I felt strong and cruised along above 10 mph with no effort. Finally!

The route trended downhill between North and South Mocassin Mountains.

I stopped in Denton for lunch, chicken legs, smothered mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob. Burp.

Approaching Coffee Creek, I could see Square Butte. I thought it was only a mile or two away but it never seemed to get closer.

The road turned directly toward Square Butte. I looked at my map and tried to figure out how I was going to get around it. I figured to the left. Then I saw the sign on the side of the road: 8% grade. Downhill.

Suddenly I was flying down a curving road into a canyon. No guard rails. Frequent white crosses denoting fatal crashes. A steamroller in the middle of the road. WTF!

I slowed to 25 mph as it pulled to the shoulder. Would the new asphalt it was smoothing grab my wheels?

Thankfully it held firm. I accelerated with no effort to 35 mph. Curbing down the hill like some crazy two wheeled bobsled. It was just plain thrilling.

At the bottom was a vast valley with Square Butte on my left and Antelope Butte on my right. The cave-like holes in the face of the butte caught my eye as did the defective longhorn steer in the field between the butte and me.

At the recommendation of Michael and Leonore I stopped in the town of Square Butte for lunch at the Country Club. It was quite the dive but the chicken Caesar salad I had was a work of art.

It took a long time to make and eat, using up time I wanted to spend biking.

Seven miles later I pulled into the town of Geraldine. I had booked a room in the B&B. I pulled up and three people were sitting on benches outside the restaurant/bar next door.

As I dismounted I suddenly felt lightheaded. Until I got off the bike I was seriously considering riding on to Fort Benton to take advantage of the perfect riding weather. My spinning head has other ideas.

I checked in and convinced the owner enter to let me do a load of laundry. I sat outside talking to a local farmer. He said the red grain I have been riding past is a kind of hay. He also mentioned how it and everything else is in bloom right now. Then it hit me; I ran out of antihistamines two days ago.

I went next store to the general store and bought some: 120 tablets for $6, about 1/4th the DC price. I asked the clerk to double check the price. $6. I bought some sunscreen. $6. If he sold scotch I’d have bought a fifth.

So I’m spending the night in Geraldine. The town. (Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.)

The only problem with this arrangement is that tomorrow will be an 80 miler with headwinds. I may end up splitting it into two days.

Miles: 75

Total tour miles: 2,750.5

I went over 6,000 miles for the year today.

Any Road Tour: Day 36 – Over Judith

Well it rained four times last night. The first two, at 11 and 1, were loud thunderstorms with lightning. Needless to say, I was awake through every flash and boom. At 3 we had a heavy rain shower. This time drops of water started falling onto my torso.

I put on my rain jacket and tried to sleep. Tried. Then at 5 am another shower came through with more intra-tent dripping. When I got up at 7 some of the inside of the tent was wet but I was pretty much dry. Sleepless, but dry.

I left the tent to air out and rode to the Kozy Korner got breakfast. It was one of those legendary monster pancake breakfasts (with eggs and bacon on the side).

The cook and owner was working alone. She must have been 80 and was using an oxygen tank. The customers were fetching their coffee for themselves until reinforcements showed up. Life out here is hard. Apparently meth is a problem.

After buying some fruit at the General Store, I packed up my tent and bade Michael and Leonore goodbye.

I rode west into a strong headwind. The route was flat for several miles but I couldn’t break 10 mph. I accepted my fate and counted cattle and buttes.

I decided not to stop for second breakfast and continued west. The winds died down a bit but the road now tilted upwards. For 25 miles.

There was a massive field of grain topped with red flowers.

There were some serious hills in the distance. These were the Judith Mountains. The road went over them at a little over 4,500 feet. It steepened near the top as evidenced by this charming sign.

I didn’t bring any tire chains so I forged ahead.

It was a healthy climb, longer but not as steep as the two climbs outside Pittsburgh.

I could now see some serious mountains off in the distance. I suspect they are if the rocky persuasion.

I planned on staying with a Warmshowers host. I checked out his house and the yard was filled with debris from his handyman job. The lawn was filled with tall weeds and the place was protected by three barking dogs (not to mention the neighbor’s barking dog).

All the decent hotels in town are booked or very expensive so I got a room at a cheapo motel. The air conditioner is hard at work drying my camping gear. Unfortunately the place doesn’t have a washer and dryer so my WABA socks will be a tad ripe for WABAsocksWednesday.

Total miles: 57

Tour miles: 2,675.5