Day 17: Friday, June 12, 2015
Stop to Stop: Fort Benton, MT to Great Falls, MT
Underway: 6:45 am Off Bike: 4:50 pm Ride Time: 6:34 hrs Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 56.4 Total Miles: 1,186.67 Weather: Sunny, warm, WINDY
First Things First: First swarms of Mosquitos; First Chinese buffet
Mile to Mile: Ugh, what a day. My easy 54 mile jaunt to Great Falls turned into a slow, tedious and noisy slog. The first 20 miles were fairly easy but I had hoped to get something to eat in Highwood and the only place in town – the bar – was not open at 10 am. That’s okay, only another 30 miles – I’ll be done by early afternoon. Ha! First a new hazard showed up. If I stopped for a snack or drink, squadrons of mosquitos would show up and attack from all sides. My well deserved breaks turned into misery. I had to stay above 10 mph or they would catch up and draft right along with me looking for a landing site.
Then the next obstacle showed it’s true form. The forecasted 6-8 mph winds from the SW started roaring at 15 with gusts to 20. (A guy I talked to later said they were gusting to 30 and I believe him). If I stopped pedaling, I would slow so fast that it seemed like I had the brakes on. Right on my nose. Most of the time. All I could do is keep my head down and peddle even if I was only going 6 mph. I was excited when I saw water towers and building off in the distance. Almost there. Water. Food. Rest. As I turned on the highway towards Great Falls, the sign said 6 miles to town. At the speed I was going that was another 45 minutes. The buildings were part of Malstrom Air Force Base. Double ugh.
I did make it but there was no rest for the weary. I first had to fix my bike seat. A major support bar underneath ear had sheared off. Luckily, I passed by a place that added trailer hitches and did welding. Twenty minutes later and $5 poorer, my seat was fixed (for now) and the annoying squeak every peddle revolution was gone. I found a Chinese buffet for lunch which solved my fuel issue. And I passed by a grocery store and restocked for tomorrow. Things were looking up. But the simple encounter that made a rather ugly day special happened while I was stopped at a light, in rush hour Friday traffic when a lady in a car two lanes over yelled over to ask where I was going. San Fransisco, I said. She said she saw me in town back in Lewistown – that was 2 days and 150 miles ago. She said,” I loved the good luck message your daughter wrote on your pack”. I said thanks – amazed that this little event just took place. She wished me luck and we were on our ways. It made my day.l