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Chapter 7: David and Frosty's Excellent Adventure--Bicycling the Continental Divide

Written by Subject: Travel

"When you're pedaling down the road on a bicycle, your legs allow you an intimate connection with the landscape. Your eyes focus on beauty, colors and flowers. Emerson said, "God laughs in flowers." On a bike ride, your eyes waltz across the dance floor enjoying those subtle touches offered by the wilderness. You enjoy the tapestry of sounds, the elegance of colors, and the sense of becoming a part of it with every cell in your body. Your nostrils breathe in not only fresh air, but sheer energy that fuels your flight. There's a million things that happen to you on a bicycle ride through the natural world. Every sense of your being comes alive. On all my tours around the world, I've never met an unhappy cyclist. No matter the troubles of the planet, THAT person riding THAT bike enjoys THAT moment as if the world is breaking someone else's heart, but not his or hers. So this day, pedal your bike into the joys of life, the energy of life, the beauty of life. It's your right, your choice, your chosen destiny. If only for THIS moment: make it yours and enjoy the sheer thrill of the ride. Musings of a cyclist while photographing a stand of laughing flowers on the Continental Divide."  FHW

Woke up to birds chirping in the trees!  After that storm last night, it's good to be alive and in one piece.  We broke camp and ate breakfast at the mercantile café in town.  The store featured dozens of pictures of farmers and rodeo cowboys. Those old photos showed farmers in their Sunday suits, but no one ever smiled.  

One placard over the kitchen with a waitress waiting on tables, read, "Everything expands when it gets heated. Therefore, I don't have a weight problem; I'm just hot."

Fence filled with Teddy Bears along our Route 89 toward Livingston, MT.

We pulled out of Wilsall to ride 30 miles to Livingston on a 1 percent downhill grade the whole way.  We made town by noon.  Felt like gliding along with such an easy feeling.  We crossed over the wild, clean and clear Yellowstone River. Several plaques told about Lewis & Clark spending time on this river.  Two hundred years later, and it's still rolling along through the wilderness.

Livingston maintains its 1880's décor with brick buildings maintained along Main Street.  Just like out of the old west!  You can almost 'feel' a cowboy staggering out of a saloon drunk on his butt, or Clint Eastwood getting into a shoot-out with some desperados.  It's pretty cool to ride through the history of the Old West and then, get to see it up close and personal in the old buildings from another time.

We bought more food at a grocery at the edge of town and filled our water bottles.  We faced 70 miles along the river before our entry into Yellowstone National Park. The first few miles out of town, we enjoyed a dedicated bicycle path.  Instead of taking Route 80 with tons of traffic, we cut across the Yellowstone River and rode on Route 540 through farms and ranches.  

Riding along a river allows fabulous contemplation of your life.  With mountain peaks to the left and right of you, and the water constantly moving—you, too, feel in the 'flow' of life.  

At the same time, when you're riding a bicycle, you're also in the grip of Nature's 'flow' of life, too.  Up ahead, one hell of a black, ominous thunder and lightning front headed our way.

"Let's catch the first dirt road and camp," said David.

"Man, we better make it snappy," I said.  "That's a nasty storm headed our way."

Dirt road where we camped before storm, and then, got kicked out by owners.

David led the way and turned right down a dirt road through a grassy field. We made it about 200 yards to find a spot in the road to pitch the tents.  Ten minutes later, we jumped into the tents when the rain deluged on us in buckets and more buckets.  As the Vikings would say, "It's raining cats and dogs."  There's a whole story behind that saying.

"One supposed origin is that the phrase derives from mythology. Dogs and wolves were attendants to Odin, the god of storms, and sailors associated them with rain. Witches, who often took the form of their familiars - cats, are supposed to have ridden the wind. Well, some evidence would be nice. There doesn't appear to be any to support this notion.

"It has also been suggested that cats and dogs were washed from roofs during heavy weather. This is a widely repeated tale. It got a new lease of life with the e-mail message "Life in the 1500s", which began circulating on the Internet in 1999. Here's the relevant part of that:

"You've heard of thatch roofs, well that's all they were. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. They were the only place for the little animals to get warm. So, all the pets; dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs, all lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Thus, the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs.""

 

This storm rivaled the one in Wilsall, MT.  The frickin' sky opened up and dumped all over us.  Rain splatted the tent like huge elephant ears splashing down on us. Nothing like being out in the middle of Nature when she's really pissed off!  

 

Thankfully, we enjoyed exceptionally waterproof tents. I could tell you stories where I fell asleep in places around the globe only to wake up floating on my air mattress in the morning in the middle of a small lake in a sheep pasture. Ruined a $400.00 camera! Oh well, the lessons of the past.

 

Two hour later, the storm passed, but we faced another problem. The children of the person who owned the land drove their truck out to our location. They saw our flags when we ventured onto the dirt road.  

 

"You guys can't sleep here," the man said. "My father would be pissed if he found you here in the morning."

 

"Okay," David said.  "We'll pack up and leave.

 

Twenty minutes later, with the sun still in the sky and turning the clouds purple, we cranked the bikes through the mud and made it to the road.  The sky turned purple with brilliant blues in the West where it glanced off silver-gray-white clouds.

 

"Man," I said. "This was worth getting kicked off the land. This is gorgeous riding.  I'm blown away by the beauty all around us. This is one of the grandest sunsets I've ever seen."

"It really is astonishing," said David.  "Oh, and look! There's a bunch of horses running up to the fence to greet us."

 

Sure enough, five horses galloped toward us.  They stopped when they reached the fence.  

 

"This is great," David said.  "Look over there, an elk!  Oh, and two mule deer running across the road. We're in animal paradise."

 

As the sun set over the mountains to the west of us, we reached an old school house out of the 1940's with an abandoned back yard. We pitched our tents, and then, more rain.

In my journal that night, "The rain creates a magical rhythm that plays on the tent. It pops and releases as the drops run down the rain fly.  The drops gather and run down the side wall. Some drops stick and stay until another raindrop joins them to create a heavier drop that slides down the nylon until it pool at the base of the tent. Rain also releases my emotions. It cleanses my being.  It clears my mind. It lifts my sense of balance, especially when I'm in my tent and not getting my butt soaked and drenched out on the highway.  A-men brother!"

David Christie, Frosty Wooldridge, summer 2019, Continental Divide Ride, Canada to Mexico

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