Chrome's Ride to Th' Ride - Wednesday August 1st

2565 miles so far, 730+ for today.

For every down, there's an up - right? That's today's ride in a nutshell. 

I left Rugby ND in brisk morning air, time to zip up the jacket! Rugby, by the way, is the geographic center of North America, just in case you're wondering.

By the time I reached Minot, the clouds were gathering, and it wasn't getting any warmer. Just west of Minot, I made a quick stop for gas, just long enough for the train crossing guard up the road to drop just as I arrived. A painfully slow line of freight cars squeaked and clanged down the track... and stopped. Then they moved again, then stopped again. I was at the front of the line and had a close-up view of the progress, or rather lack of progress. They moved again, then stopped. By the time they were moving again, I was in the process of getting a souvenir, a smashed-flat nickel that I laid on the tracks. About 40 minutes after the guards came down, the train finished the back-and-forth and traffic was allowed to go. I pulled off to the side and retrieved my new poker card protector from the gravel beside the track. So, a 40 minute chunk (or 50 miles at 75 mph) was traded for a flattened nickel. Now *that*, my friends, is looking on the bright side!

Between Minot and Williston, the skies turned even darker and it began to rain. Not just rain, but the cold and drenching type rain. There really is no up-side to this part of the day. At least I'm helping the drought conditions by attracting torrential downpours. Just had to slow down and deal with it, as the dirt from all the gravel roads which run across Hwy 2 attached itself in brown rivers all over my bike. I now have the official dirtiest bike in the west. Probably won't wash it until Seattle. 

Between Williston and the Montana line, the rain stopped (after about 90 minutes or more), and I could see blue sky in front of me. Montana has some seriously large sky. Their slogan is "Big Sky Country", and they aren't kidding about that. Highway 2 took me through alternating pasture land, wheat fields being cut, and open range lands. The combines were out in small armies, marching their way in formations across vast swaths of wheat. I saw antelope and mule deer bounding through the uncut wheat and across the open spaces. Spotted another eagle's nest, but no one was home.

I gave up on Hwy 2 in Havre. Rather than fight the tourist traffic in Glacier National Park, I opted for another scenic route and turned southwest on 87. Good choice! 87 is every bit as scenic as 2, and has those things I was missing on 2... curves.

I rode 87 to Great Falls, where the State Fair was going on. I had considered staying in Great Falls and calling it a day, but it was not to be. Lots of traffic, no place to stay. That's okay though, because I had gained an hour as I moved west, and after cleaning my windscreens on the bike and helmet, I was ready for another ride. I took I-15 south to Helena, 90 miles to the south and west.

Wow.

What a road! Allow me to try and give that road its due - it lay there all warm and inviting, voluptuous curves wrapped tightly around silky smooth pavement, urging me to go faster. "C'mon", I heard her say, "Nobody's around, just enjoy the ride!". It was true, there was nobody, and I do mean *nobody* in the southbound lanes for probably 80% of that ride. Guess they were all up north at the Fair. I climbed a bit out of Great Falls, crisscrossed the Missouri River a couple of times, and shot through tiny passes walled by huge slabs of mountain. Up and up and up, then down and around, over and over. Every time I'd think we had experienced it all together, she (the road was a "she"... deal with it) would throw some different nuance my way. Every time I'd either ease into or slam into a corner, cross-steering and climbing the seat, she'd be there, holding steady and smooth. 

I realized after a few minutes that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with a road! Good thing that stretch of pavement was firmly attached to Montana, I could just imagine the reaction my oh-so-patient bride would have had if I had been able to bring it with me... "Look honey! It's a 70 mile stretch of amazing road. She followed me home, can we keep her?" 

If I was still a smoker, I'd have needed a cigarette after that ride. It was that good. I-15 relaxed a bit 10 miles or so outside of town, around sunset, and I rode the straighter part into Helena with my lengthening shadow pacing me to my left. 

Tomorrow, I'll push for Seattle. I still have just under 600 miles to go. My lovely wife will hop on a plane in Charlotte while I'm still asleep, and land in Seattle before I make my 2nd gas stop. 

-=Chrome=-

Email all the riders: riders@lrlr.org

Twitter: @LngRchLngRiders

Donate: http://lrlr.org/donate