Short Day, Lonnnnng Update

Columbus, MT to Big Timber, MT

Once again, my early slumber of the night before resulted in an early wake up call. Well, there wasn’t really a call but I did wake up early. And I decided to officially start my day shortly thereafter. Fortunately, the rain that fell through the night stopped early enough to give my tent time to dry by the time I was ready to pack up. Well, the ground sheet was still wet but that wasn’t a big deal.

Despite my leisurely pace to the morning, I was still on the road by 7:30 AM. The question was, “To where?” Well, I really wasn’t sure. Essentially I had two reasonable options. Big Timber or Livingston. Both in Montana. The former was about 65 km away. The latter was about 100 km away. Typically my preference is to lean towards 100 km days but on this day I was leaning towards the shorter day. I had some more editing to do on my most recent work project so a short day would greatly assist in that regard. And so, I set forth towards Big Timber.

Google didn’t endorse what I was about to do.
The state of Montana had no problems with it.

As rides go, this one was very easy. Especially when I opted to ignore Google’s route and jumped back on the Interstate. Not only would Google’s route have added several kilometres to the ride, it would also have added a sizeable climb. Neither of which I felt were necessary. Side note: While Google’s route was bad, Garmin’s proposed route for my 65 km destination would’ve been about 280 km. I laughed when I saw that and gave my Garmin the day off.

I wasn’t on the Interstate for long but it definitely was the more efficient route. Plus, I actually don’t mind riding on the Interstate save for the debris from blown tires that one far too frequently encounters. The tiny metal fragments tend not to react well with bicycle tires. Other than that, the route is direct and the grades of the climbs are often significantly more moderate than the other options.

See, the Interstate isn’t so bad

Interstate travel notwithstanding, perhaps the biggest upside to my route was that most of it was spent on frontage roads (essentially what would be called service access roads back in Ontario). It ran alongside the Interstate but without all the noise, traffic, and shoulder debris. There was actually no shoulder at all but there was also VERY little traffic. At one point I went about 20 km with only two cars having passed me. It actually felt like I was on a really wide bike lane. Side note: In addition to paralleling the Interstate, the route also paralleled train tracks and two trains passed me along the way. I waved to both and both responded with the whistle/horn being blown. I don’t know why I get a kick out of that but I do.

My easy journey had me arriving in Big Timber shortly before noon. The plan was to get a motel room but I suspected I was WAY too early for an early check-in. But I figured there would be no harm in asking.

The motel in question was the Lazy J Motel and they had vacancies. However, as suspected, I was a bit early for an early check-in. That said, they were VERY accommodating and said they would clean my room next and it would be ready within the hour. Perfect! On the way to the motel, I had passed a Tasty Freez restaurant which I could only assume would have ice cream. Considering said establishment was less than 1 km away, I figured it would be an ideal place to pass the time. Spoiler Alert: It was.

Happiness is needing to shoot in portrait to get all of the ice cream in the frame.

The Tasty Freez did in fact have soft serve ice cream in chocolate and vanilla. I opted for a twist of the two … well, in this case the “twist” was actually alternating stacks but I was perfectly okay with that. I couldn’t help think that this could be the most enjoyable ice cream of the trip but then I quickly remembered David and Becky in Woodbury, MN. Their banana split offering is still far and away the best ice cream experience thus far.

Anyway, as I raced against the heat to consume my stacks of ice cream, my phone rang. Odd, since my phone never rings. But I recognized the number as that of the Lazy J. It turns out they got the rooms mixed up and mine was already good to go.

Much of the rest of the afternoon was spent editing so I’ll spare you the details on that. Suffice it to say, it went well and I finished the next draft of the video. What was more notable was that as I worked I occasionally looked out the window and noticed some dark clouds moving in. And the wind was picking up. The sky was very reminiscent of when I was at Assumption Abbey in North Dakota. Well, to make a long story short (I know, I know … WAY too late for that), the storm that eventually blew in was VERY similar minus the hail. Once again, I was very happy not to be in my tent.

The storm in question started to roll in around 3:50 PM and by 4:30 PM the full force of the storm had arrived. It lasted about 30 minutes before settling down and leaving a very nice late afternoon behind. Calm winds. Blue sky. It’s incredible how much the weather changes here. And how quickly. It’s actually one of the reasons I don’t like to stop too much along the way when conditions are good because you just never know how much things will change in just a few hours.

The remainder of the day was spent updating my blog, trying to come up with a route for the coming days, and searching for possible Warm Showers hosts along my yet to be determined route. And between all of that, dinner had to be made. Tonight, that dinner consisted of my first ever Ramen noodle experience (at least, I THINK it was my first ever Ramen noodle experience). Of course, that experience was a bit challenging since I didn’t think it would be wise to fire up my alcohol stove in the motel room and there wasn’t really a convenient place to do so outside. The room had a microwave but the only bowl I have is metal and, as such, not microwave-friendly. However, my well-equipped room also had a single-serving coffee maker. Since all I needed was hot water, well … I figured that should work nicely. It did. My main concern was that it would add a coffee flavour (ugh) to the water but fortunately, that didn’t happen.

While dinner was a success (well, as much as Ramen noodles can be deemed a success), both making a decision regarding my upcoming route and finding an available host were not going well. It was now getting pretty late into the evening so I figured any Warm Showers reply would likely not come until morning. I decided I would sleep on the routing decision until then. Just to be clear, the availability of a Warm Showers host wasn’t dictating my route it was just another factor in the decision. The biggest factor was timing things correctly so that I would arrive in Salt Lake City on the 12th.

I’d deal with that in the morning.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 68.04 km
Ride time: 2:59:46
Average speed: 22.71 km/h
Maximum speed: 37.87 km/h

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