Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 15- July 17 - The fastest way across Montana is via the Interstate

Day 15 - July 17 - Billings, MT to Forsyth, MT - 100.6miles ( kms) - total so far 1185.1 miles  (kms)

Distance: 100.6 miles (   kms)
Total time: 8hrs 20mins (including  lunch and a chat at a rest stop with a cross country cyclist from 2011)
Average Moving Speed: 14.1mph (kph)
Maximum Speed: 26.1 mph ( kph) 
Calories burned: 4780
Elevation gained: 2448 ft (meters)
Weather:  Cloudy and raining lightly in Billings with temperatures about 65 degF (18C); patly sunny and quite humid later, with temperature rising to 85F (29C) in Forsyth.  Expected moderate easterly winds did not materialize but a headwind all day, slightly stronger in the later afternoon from the east.   

Powered by:  Breakfast 1 large bowl of oatmeal, 1 boiled egg, 2 slices of whole wheat toast, 2 and a banana; 2 liters of Gatorade and 2 liters of water, 1 protein bar, 2 bananas, 1 Monkey bread muffin with peanut butter, 1 Gu Gel, and 1 Clif bar.   

Since Jody had arrived with Zola, I took a day off in Billings and environs on Tuesday.  We drove to the Little Big Horn battlefield site about 50 miles SE of Billings and I spent an interesting hour or two walking around the well-marked sights.  Signs about rattlesnakes were prominent and urged visitors to stay on the paths.  This is one of the most iconic sites in US history where Custer, filled with hubris, was badly outnumbered by the Plains Native Americans (four tribes came together to surround him) and died will all of his troops (and horses, save one) on this knoll.  It's become famous as the site of "Custer's Last Stand".  The battlefield has many small stone markers which indicate the exact spot where known and unknown US cavalrymen died and in recent years, more markers have been added to indicate similar locations for some of the Native Americans who died here.

Custer's last stand monument at Little Big Horn battlefield; the white stones mark the place where individual soldiers fell

One of many markers at the site

In recent years, sites where Native Americans fell have also been marked

Part of a large memorial to the Native American casualties erected in the 1990s

Another view of Custer's last stand hill

I left the bike at a shop in Billings in the morning to change out the tires and check the chain and derailleur.  But on Wednesday morning when I was ready to leave about 9:30 on a 100 mile ride into an expected easterly wind, it was clear that the front fender had not been adjusted to accommodate the more sizable touring tire.  Jody and I (mostly Jody) tried to adjust the fender but the lack of suitable tools and the rain reduced our ardor for the task. So back to the shop, where the adjustment took 5 minutes.  By the time I was ready to leave, the rain had stopped but it was already 11am.  

The first 25 miles or so was on a suburban road that was on the north side of the Yellowstone and was quite busy. The absence of a shoulder (margin) and the traffic did not make for a pleasant ride. Things improved measurably when I got onto Interstate 94 which has light traffic (about half of it seems to be trucks) and wide shoulders separated from the traffic lanes by a rumble strip.  Unlike the shoulders of busy roads in Oregon and Washington, these were much cleaner with only small bits of road debris, broken glass and bits of blown-out tires.   It would have been a pleasant enough ride except for the roar of traffic. I noticed that about half of the truckers moved to the outside lane to reduce the draft of their vehicles on me.

I-94 where I rode for over 70 miles on the shoulder (margin)

View of the Yellowstone river down below the bluffs

It was a quite hilly ride with more than 20 of these 3-5% graded hills en route.

Yep yep

Irrigated and non-irrigated lands

I stopped in a couple of rest area to top off my water bottles and eat some snacks.  At the second one, a man approached me and asked about my trip. It turns out that he had done a solo ride from Oregon to Maine in 2011 and he could not stop raving about how it had turned his life around.  When asked why he did it, he said that he was sponsored by the "I want to" foundation.  As he left, he wished me good winds and noted that pedaling was now my job but that the pay rate was not very good.

Nearing the end of a ride on the Interstate shoulder that last almost 5 hours

I pulled into Forsyth near 8pm and as usual, had to rush to shower and get to a restaurant before it closed. In these small towns, if there is one restaurant, it typically stops serving at 9pm.  But delightfully, every small town bar and restaurant that I have patronized has had some microbeers available. I wonder if South Dakota can match that.

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