Thursday, July 12, 2012

Days Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven: Lewistown, Montana

Wow. Today's ride from Stanford, Montana (Joe's ranch, actually) to Lewistown, Montana had our first tailwind in ages (mild, but still most welcome) and a lot of gradual downhills. It made the 56 miles one of our easier rides (at least until it became scorching again at around Noon).

As is becoming usual for us, the morning portion of the ride was the most enjoyable. This outcome seems to be reflective of two facts: it's not boiling hot yet, and our legs are reasonably fresh. But in this case it also reflects that we followed Joe's advice and took a 7 mile detour towards Utica and Hobson, which gave us the benefit of a virtually empty road. It also enabled us to bypass approximately 10 miles of construction (with loose gravel and cautions to motorcyclists) on the main artery, route 87.

However, by Noon we were sweltering and back on 87, so the balance of the day was really about getting there. Which we did.

And then we stayed. My doing, I'm afraid. I was tired and feeling the miles and wanted a rest day. And, since he's an accommodating riding buddy (and it had been over a week since our last one), Bob agreed. The fact that we had our best internet connection in weeks, plus access to real computers, both at the hotel and at the Lewistown Library a block way, sealed the deal.

We also had our best food in a long time. The Mint Bar and Grille would not, truthfully, be out of place on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sophisticated food, well-presented, with some subtlety. Also an excellent wine list. Actually, it wouldn't fit in at home in one way -- the bill was ridiculously cheap. I even went back the next night solo (while Bob was adventurously cycling almost 30 miles roundtrip out of town in search of hot springs -- don't worry, he found them, check his blog: Eating at the bar, I enjoyed chatting with two ladies: Britt, who is a lawyer, originally from New Jersey, but who came out West to practice Indian law - and is now running for a judgeship -- and Andrea, a friend of Britt's who showed up later, in a spaghetti strap black cocktail dress, straight off of her shift building airplanes. As I said, the Mint is an interesting place.

The rest day was not actually all that restful. First, I did a couple of hours of work for a client. Then, notwithstanding the tech support from Ben, I spent a lot of time going over and rejiggering our route for the next two weeks, with the goal of ending up in Deadwood, South Dakota, both for the town and because it is a trailhead for the Michelson Trail, which is supposed to be another one of those great bike paths. Taking it will set us up for a loop around Mt. Rushmore and then a straight shot east to the Badlands. But first, we have to spend another week getting through the Southeast corner of Montana, which is pretty desolate in its own right, but will seem especially so, I'm afraid, after Lewistown.

Here are the route and metrics for Day 26 (if you think there are any for Day 27 you haven't been paying attention):



  1. Looking at the map, I thought, "alright! They made it half-way across that immense state." Then I saw on Bob's blog that indeed Lewistown is the geographic center of the state.

    Funny to see names of towns identical or similar to more local burgs. Utica. And Lewistown (spelled as "Lewiston" in Maine). BTY, Lewiston, Maine had a brief moment of notoriety in 1965 as the unlikely site of the Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) rematch. Ali won it with a shot to the head known for posterity as the "phantom punch," because it's hard to see. But it was real.

    Glad you got a well-deserved rest day.

  2. Hi, Roger! Checked to see we made the blog. Glad to see you are on your way and it's going well. The Black Hills will cool you off. Great to meet you and have a safe trip.