Tuesday, June 14, 2016

53: Weather or not?

When you are touring on a bicycle, the weather plays a huge part in your frame of mind. What it does not do, however - except under very limited circumstances - is change your itinerary. We'd all like to ride under sunny skies, winds from behind us, maybe 65 to 70 degrees . . .  but you can't just sit around and wait for those conditions before you get on your bike, or you'd never get anywhere.
Bundled up

And so it was that this morning, we headed out from Lake McGregor into a nice, cold, cloud-laden day, and rode in the drizzling rain for 2 and a half hours or so.  (It did stop raining while we were having a hot cocoa break, but since we were totally wet by that point, I don't really think it counts!)

Now, we are getting pretty used to riding in the rain. It's really not so bad, and if it's warm, a little shower can actually be a nice way to cool off for a while. And riding while it is cold - that's actually sort of invigorating and pretty nice if you've got the clothes to keep your core warm. But riding in the cold rain?  Not so much! It's just cold, and once your feet get wet, they are wet and cold and they won't dry out, and I think Levi Leipheimer described it very well once when he was asked about a particular stage in the Amgen Tour of California, "well, it's like standing in a cold shower for five hours." Yes it is, Levi - yes it is!

Anyway, things work out for the best sometimes, and so while we were dead tired yesterday for going another 20 miles past the campground where our fellow cyclists decided to stay for the night, we were gratified to wake up this morning in our snug little cabin, listening to the rain on the roof!  I was very thankful that I'd ridden those 20 miles yesterday, and did not have to ride another two hours in the freezing rain.

Doesn't look like it's clearing up, does it?
We have ridden into the town center to have some lunch and liquid refreshments, and enjoyed our conversation with Jessie at Brannigan's Pub.  Her family has a ranch not too far from Great Falls. Dad would like her to take it over someday. I wonder about the economics, the lifestyle, the logistics of running a 600-head cattle ranch. What must it be like? How on earth do you know what to do? Do you just learn from your parents?  On the job training?  There must be programs in ranch management, but it's a topic I have never even considered, coming from city folk as I do. Roger jokingly asked her if she was a vegetarian. "Not a lot of vegetarians in Montana! I'd be disowned!"

Happily, Roger and I are hungry omnivores, so we are doing just fine here in Big Sky Country.

We are staying with Doug and Denice, our Warm Showers hosts. We are honored to be their first guests! They are so very warm and welcoming, we feel like family. Since they live "close enough" to the park, we are going to do a side trip like we did to Crater Lake, and ride up to Glacier without our heavy packs. We will stay a night at the lodge, and then do some of the Going to the Sun road on Thursday before heading back to Kalispell.

We are expecting rain again for the next few days, so no telling how much of the climb up Logan's Pass we will feel like doing. They are getting very close to having the road cleared all the way through. In the meantime, they allow cyclists and hikers to go up as far as their work area. So we'll see.

Look closely - new snow on the mountains for our trip to Glacier tomorrow
We won't plan to take the computer with us, so look for our next post in a couple of days.

The day's report:  Lake McGregor to Kalispell, 37 miles/2494 to date


  1. Enjoy the park! I'm sure it will be delightful!

    1. We were so very fortunate to take some time on Wednesday to ride up the road. Thursday was a wash-out, so we would not have even been able to see the mountains if we had tried to ride up then!

  2. Been catching up on your wonderful adventures today. I was a few days behind. You write so wonderfully it has been my favorite nursing reading for the last 53 or so days. Thanks for sharing y'all are amazing!!! Glacier is one of our favorite parks that we have been to yet. Absolutely stunning. Those switchbacks on going to the sun road are pretty creepy in a car, I can't imagine how amazing the experience will be on a bike.

    All our love!
    Rachel, Jeff, & Aleska

    1. It is great to hear that you are enjoying our trip! I'll be posting this later, but we did not go all the way up the road; it was a combination of bike issues and road closures but we did have a spectacular ride a good ways up there anyway!


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