Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day #16: Character Building

Today's Route: Bigfork, MT to Whitefish, MT (48 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 671

I fell asleep early last night to the sound of the falling rain. A little while into my sleep, I thought I heard a faint voice saying, "Is anyone home?"

I poked my head out the tent vestibule to find the campground host, with a note in his hand. He had put the note in a ziplock bag and was planning on attaching it to my bike.

Good news and bad news.

He wanted to let me know that Montana is in the process of creating a reduced rate for cyclists at their state parks. Awesome! And awesome of him to come out in the pouring rain to deliver the news to me.

The rains from yesterday evening continued on-and-off throughout the evening. When I awoke the next morning, it sounded as though it was raining cats and dogs. I expected to hear lots of meows and barks, but the sounds were drowned out by the raindrops on the fly. That's how loud it was!

Riding in the rain is a character builder. And so today, apparently my character needed some building.

I'm glad I outfitted myself in rain gear from head-to-toe before I got out of the tent, because the rain was quite drenching. Though I didn't actually get drenched, 'cuz I was donned in rain gear. Get it?

My rain gear, from the calves down.

For me, riding in the rain is different than riding in the sun. My speed is slower. And I make up silly songs and sing them at the top of my lungs in order to keep myself energized.

I was on the highway for only a few miles outside of Bigfork. It's okay that I had now gone three days without a shower, because I was thoroughly sprayed by each passing semi-truck.

Fortunately, the maps routed me onto some country roads, where I stayed for a majority of the remainder of the ride.

I enjoy riding on the quieter country roads. There is less traffic and often more interesting sights. Such as this pink Cadillac, which, if it could talk, I'm sure would have some great stories to share. (This car may not actually be a pink Cadillac. But I like the sound of a "pink Cadillac." And since this is my blog, a pink Cadillac it will be!)

The pink Cadillac, with stories to tell.

The rains lightened and then resumed in all of their pouring glory. At one point, I heard the rumbles of thunder. It just ain't smart to be biking in the lightning. Just off the side of the road was a closed store. I rolled up to the store, leaned my bike against the wall, and stood under the overhang. I was going to wait until no thunder was heard for four to five minutes before continuing on my way.

A sweet, old woman named Marilyn opened the store door. She asked about my ride, and she said she was grateful that I stopped at her store to seek shelter.

Marilyn asked if I was doing my bike ride to train for a marathon. I thought that was a cute question. It was enough of a commitment to dedicate every Saturday morning and multiple weekday evenings for four months to marathon training. But dedicating 24-7 for three months is a little much.

Marilyn had a sizable scar on her throat. I wanted to ask about her scar, but I didn't.

As it turns out, there were only a few rumbles of thunder. So, I parted with Marilyn, and I was on my way.

The sun was trying to peak through a layer of clouds off to the east. The sun's rays were visibly diffused. Although my poor camera skills didn't adequately capture the moment, there was a beautiful display of what my friend Chris calls "god light."

God light.

The storm clouds gave way to a beautiful display of color.

The rainbows make it all worthwhile.

Though the big, blue Montana sky was a darker blue in certain sections of the sky for the remainder of the ride, the rain decided to give me a break for the rest of the day.

My rule on rainwear is to keep wearing it until it is dry. The purpose for this is two-fold. One: I've found that if it is likely to rain again, it will likely rain before the gear has dried. And two: I don't want to put away wet gear.

Speaking of rules, Montana has an un-godly number of postings of the Ten Commandments. On billboards. On storefronts. On car doors. Either Montanians are extremely virtuous, or they need constant reminders to be virtuous.

Back to the wet gear...when I remove my wet gear, I strap it to my back rack. The purpose for this is two-fold. One: The gear is easily accessible in case it does rain again. And two: The extra airing out ensures that things are dry before I put them away; I abhor the smell of moldy rainwear.

The more it rains, the more homeless I appear.

Looking like a bum. (Yes, that's a bra hanging from my bag.)

Columbia Falls has the most awesome name for the Main Street that runs through town. Doesn't it make far more sense to name the street Nucleus Ave? The grocery store would be located on Vacuoles Street, the city power station would be located on Mitochondria Lane, and the nursery would be on Chloroplast Drive.

The best street name for a main street.

Surprisingly, I've only ridden past one roadside message so far on this trip.

Roadside message, complete with a close-up of my finger.

Tonight I am staying with Kathy and Bill, friends of Jake's parents. I had planned on staying at the Whitefish Lake Campground, as the campground was just a few miles from the Amtrak station. As it turns out, Kathy and Bill live right down the street from the campground, making the commute to the train station even closer!

I arrived at Kathy and Bill's house in the early afternoon, dropped off my panniers, and then rode my bike to the Amtrak station to box up the bike so I wouldn't have to do so in the morning.

I told the train station attendant that I had done this before, hoping that he wouldn't stand over me and watch me to ensure that I didn't put any unallowed items in the box.

My plan worked. The attendant gave me the box, a roll of tape, and left me to my own devices. I was able to leave my bottles on the bike and put my helmet in the box.

I walked back to Kathy and Bill's, took a shower (my first in three days!), we talked for awhile, and then they took me out for sushi at Wasabi Sushi Bar to celebrate my arrival into Whitefish. Delicious food and fantastic company. What a treat!

Just a small part of Kathy's lovely container garden.

My maps tell me that when I passed through Columbia Falls earlier today, I was a mere 20 miles from the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. Ah, so close! I can't wait to come back and bike Adventure Cycling's Great Parks North route from Glacier National Park up through Jasper National Park in Alberta.

(In case you were wondering, I am one of those people who has the gene whereby urination post-asparagus-consumption results in a pungent odor. It's amazing given that there were only two tiny pieces of asparagus in the sushi. If the rain didn't build my character, than surely the asparagus pee did.)


  1. What?? No Glacier?? I was looking forward to that. What about your readers!?!?! YOUR READERS!!!!

    1. Mark - The readers can expect to be satisfied on this matter a bit later. ;)

  2. I realize that it's your blog, but your 'pink Cadillac' actually looks like a '55 Ford wagon. It is well known that Fords are not as song-worthy or blog-worthy as a pink Cadillacs.

  3. Always spoilin' the fun, Eric! My friend Doug sent me the following, which was provided by his friend, Bret: "It's a 1956 Ford Customline. This was their midlevel car. I can't tell which trim it is without doing some research. The single tone paint would indicate a lower trim, but the chrome side spear looks higher level."


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