Monday, July 9, 2012

Day Twenty-Three: Tech Support to the Rescue

OK, like the rest of the country, Montana is in the middle of a heat wave. Today we rode from Cut Bank, Montana to Chester, Montana, and while the temperature started out, at 7:30, in the 70s, by Noon we were into the 90s. We covered 67 miles in all, so it was a tough day on the heels of yesterday, mitigated slightly by friendly elevations (a lot of downhills) and the forecasted headwinds not really developing (although a breeze would have felt good).

Not much to say about the scenery. If possible, it was flatter, drier and more arid than yesterday. Impossible to find shade anywhere. Absolutely no trees by the roadside. At one point, I tried to find a tiny bit of respite in the shade of a rural mailbox! The most interesting views (and best sources of shade), in my opinion, were often the dilapidated graneries and other man-made structures and evidences of industry along the highway. I also enjoyed the relatively frequent - and different - freight trains. Some were all coal, some were all those round cylinders with unknown gasses or fluids, some were mixed crates (a lot stamped from China), but all were BNSF. The tracks run parallel to the highway the whole way. And it was pretty much a highway. Montana Route 2, a two-lane, 70 mph road, some times with shoulders, some times not. But a lot of traffic by the standards we've gotten used to.

If we follow the ACA maps, we're on Route 2 for pretty much the balance of Montana -- around 10 days. Ugh. So I finally brought in tech support - in the form of my son, Ben. Each night, figuring out and mapping our routes consumes an inordinate amount of time. Part of this is not traveling with a bona fide laptop and relying instead on the vagaries of an Android Tablet. But the biggest part is coordinating the different requirements of a good route: find towns the right distance apart; then find towns that have lodgings; then find roads between those towns that are bike-friendly; and, finally, double-check that you haven't inadvertently thrown in a gravel road or mountain pass! So I phoned Ben back in New York (between shifts on his ice cream store job) and told him we wanted to get to the Badlands in South Dakota, and could he please get us there and off of Route 2?

Well, Ben came back overnight, like a champ, with a route that looks sufficiently good that we've committed to it and plan on taking it for the next 15 days! Tomorrow, we shift South, and head to Fort Benton, Montana. Thanks, Ben! (that is, at least until we're totally lost somewhere in the hills of one of the Dakotas on a gravel road).

Today's route and metrics:



  1. I hear ya about the vastness of the prairie. I drove across it only once, but even at 75 mph, it seemed to go on forever.
    Hey, I miss the charts, maps and data. Well, the maps, at least.
    What you guys have done already is truly mind-blowing. It's the same distance as from NYC to Disney World in Orlando -- but with a Continental Divide thrown in to make what you're doing far more difficult.

    1. Routes and metrics are back. Just had a few other things to do first, like wash clothing, have dinner, go shopping, make sandwiches for tomorrow, talk to Laura. You know.

    2. What, living essentials coming before the stats!?! You know my motto: The unquantified life is not worth living.
      That was some pretty decent mileage yesterday. Keep on truckin'!