No Name Tour: Day 4 – Headwinds Are a State of Mind

After yesterday afternoon’s massive feed, I fell into a food coma in my hotel room. Laundry was accomplished. Nats best Cubs on the telly. I slept for 8 hours.

Just what I needed.

The hotel breakfast was decent: cereal, OJ, coffee, yogurt, fruit (including 2 apples for the road), and toast.

As I left the hotel the wind nearly blew me over. Once I got on Route the wind was in my face. I was determined not to fight it. So I plodded along at 8 miles per hour. During the day, the wind intensified and my speed crept downward.

No worries. The temps were cooperating, staying in the high 60s and low 70s.

I decided to just forget about how long the day would take. I stopped from time to time to check out the sites.

It turns out that a business in Santa Monica (the western end of Route 66) makes huge fiberglass statues as advertisements. Most of them look like Paul Bunyan carrying an axe or whatever matches the business being promoted. Mufflers were popular. A hot dog business in Illinois had one made with a giant hot dog. It’s named the Paul Bunyon statue because of restaurant trademark conflicts. It now stands next to the road in Atlanta, Illinois.

Paul’s a whole lot bigger (and my head is much smaller) than he looks in this picture.

I was plodding along thinking the bike gods that the road was mostly level.

I stopped in the town of Elkhart and had a light lunch at an Amish cafe. I was happy to get out of the wind for an hour.

The wind picked up even more when I saw Stephen and Bernd coming my way. Steve is from New York and Bernd is from Germany. We had a nice chat. They were loving their tailwind. Steve said they rode more than 80 miles yesterday and “didn’t break a sweat.” He also said that the winds were so strong in Arizona that he was literally blown off the road into a ditch.

Steve and Bernd happy to riding the wind

Isn’t bike touring fun?

I rode into Springfield expecting to camp but the campground looked boggy so I headed into town in search of a hotel.

Along the way I saw some signs for Lincoln’s tomb so I checked it out.

It turns out that 3 of his 4 sons (Robert is buried in Arlington) and his wife are also buried here. This surprised me because Willie was buried in DC (the basis for the book Lincoln in the Bardo).

I know my history fanatic friend Jessica is going ape over these pictures but there’s more! Lincoln’s tomb is just up the hill from the graves of the Korndog (sic) King and Mr. Accordion!

I’ll bet that made Jessica spit her cerveza.

After checking out an inexpensive Howard Johnson’s they looked like a perfect spot for meth sales, I ride into downtown and grabbed a room at the Wyndham. I’m on the 28th floor and I can hear the wind howling outside. I have an amazing view of Springfield and let me tell you it’s totally not worth the picture. (I grew up in Albany and I’d feel the same way about the view there do don’t give me any grief y’all).

In spite of the headwinds I logged 52.5 miles today making the tour total 225 miles.

Tomorrow I check out Lincoln’s house before riding headwinds outta town.

Any Road Tour: Day 41 – Wasted in Missoula

Before I begin today’s report I wanted to show you my trail angel from yesterday. Here’s Maria who invited me to join the “plant nerds” at the Montana Native Plants Society meeting in the woods west of Lincoln.

If I have the story right, she gee up in the tiny town of Ovando, MT about which more in a moment.

I hung out with the plant nerds all night. It was a full out orgy in the woods,

I’m kidding. It was an earnest group of field botanists who truly care about the flora of Montana. Got me the most interesting part was hearing how Maria and her friend Jack Potter (no not the former PMG) talk about their joint replacements and related medical problems. Hiking is very hard on the body. I feel better now because when I go hiking I feel sore all over.

Anyway, thanks to the MNPS and Maria for taking me under their wing got the night.

I slept poorly, the after effects of drinking beer the day before and riding hard two days in a row. And the fact that it rained all night, outside and inside my tent. (I will shop for seam sealer tomorrow.

Also i slept in my rain gear for warmth since the temperature dipped into the 40s. (There is snow visible on top of the taller mountains around here.)

After breakfast with the nerds I took off on the long ride ton Missoula. I had planned to ride to Ovando yesterday but the climb over Rogers Gap, fierce headwinds, and Maria’s sales skills put me nearly 30 miles shy of that town. A 55+ mile ride from Ovando to Missoula would have been a nice break from the long days I’d been putting in. With the distance from the MNPS meeting to Ovando, today’s ride clocked in at 88 miles.

The headwinds were moderate to start and the ride was nearly all downhill. Sleepy and sore, my body wanted nothing to go with the effort.

After a half hour I rode through Lincoln. I had been told that accommodations in Lincoln were probably sold out but I could see plenty of empty campsites as I rode through town. Sadly, I had to skip the town’s rodeo and it’s famous Ring of Fire.

The ride to Ovando was done on fumes. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm.

My friend Charmaine sent me an article about how this tiny town of less than 100 attracts Nicole tourists from both the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Route.

I joined Tom, a GDMBR rider, for second breakfast at the town eatery. He described bear paw prints as big as his plate and riding into a herd of elk. I take my chances with Winnebagos.

We briefly talked to two other GDMBR riders from New Zealand.

On the way out of town I checked out some of the town’s kooky sleeping quarters for weary cyclists: a teepee, a chuck wagon, and an old town jail. I’d have stayed but my rest day in Missoula was my top priority.

Into the increasingly strong headwinds I rode. I was out of gas after 15 miles. I stopped to eat junk food. After another five miles I was bonked again.

It was misery amid splendor. The beauty of the mountains and woods and streams was astounding. I could have stopped every mile to take pictures. In the interest of getting myself off the bike sooner I kept riding.

After 75 miles I stopped at a sub shop in Milltown. I was starving. I ate giant sandwich and it instantly revived me.

Good thing too, the headwinds intensified with each passing mile into Missoula. One blast in particular almost brought me to a dead stop.

I forged ahead and asked the Google to direct me to a Warmshowers house. The Google tool me on a confusing ride through the University of Montana campus.

I finally found the lovely house in a beautiful neighborhood. As I rolled my bike inside, I became dizzy. I had waaay overdone it. It seemed like a fascinating place to stay but I just couldn’t deal with interacting with people. I made my apologies to the hosts and rode off to find a hotel.

And so I landed in a huge room in a Holiday Inn. Tomorrow I rest.

Miles: 88

Tour Miles: 3,044.5

Any Road Tour: Day 40 – The Mule goes over the top

Last night I over did dinner again. Cheeseburger (Montana beef is mighty tasty) with fries, three local Belgian white beers, and tater tots stuffed with jalapeño and cheese. Suffice it to say, I did not sleep all that well.

I awoke at 5:30 to a massive muscle cramp in my left calf. It hurt so much. I told myself to breathe through the pain and it subsided. (Frankly, I think the breathing just took my mind off the pain.)

Breakfast was a massive serving of biscuits and gravy with an equally massive side of hash browns at Mel’s Diner across from the Inn. I was disappointed that the Fonz wasn’t there but the food was great.

Off I rode budding Augusta farewell. I headed south roughly parallel to the Rockies. A favorable wind allowed me to ride comfortably for 20 miles before I turned west and began THE CLIMB OF DEATH.

I road a two lane highway with minimal shoulder (thanks to rumble strips). Speed limit 70. Up, down, and around the road meandered. The ups were bigger than the downs as I slowly made my way to 4,500 feet. Then the gun began.

The climb to Rogers Gap at 5,600 feet was 8 miles into a headwind.

Of course, to make it more interesting the road became steeper near the top.

I pulled over to rest about 3 miles from the crest and my bike started to roll backwards. I had been climbing so long that I didn’t realize how steep it was.

I paced myself as I ascended. Getting to the top wasn’t particularly difficult, it just took a long time.

Then I saw the sign for the top. Continental Divide, Ma! (Sorry. Geezer cinematic reference.)

Some cars were parked on the shoulder. A woman got out of the rearmost one and offered to take my picture.

Her name was Maria. We got to talking and I mentioned that I wasn’t sure where I was staying tonight. Maria was doing field work with the Montana Native Plant Society. She invited me to stay with her group (of over 100 people) just east of Lincoln.

I begged off then took off down the mountain. Or not. The dreaded soul sucking westerly Montana headwinds were much stronger on this side of the Mountain.

Running low on food and water I realized that it was poor form to turn down such s gracious invite.

After I crossed a beautiful river, I followed Maria’s directions and ended up at their campground . It has a lodge building and shower facilities. I will be camping along a river.

I arrived around 1:30 so it’s a short day for me. Tomorrow will be a tough 80+ mile grind into the wind to Missoula and a rest day.

Miles: 52

Total miles: 2,956.5