“The pure essence of adventure must be lived firsthand. You run toward the rain, the snow, the tempest. You appreciate sweat pouring down from your brow on a backpack trip. That moment you crest a 14,000 foot peak, every cell in your body savors itself because you reached the summit under your own power. That Class V rapid fills your guts with fear and excitement at the same time. Your ears, eyes and nose inhale the magic of the campfire deep in the silent woods. Adventure calls to every fiber of your being while you live your “moment” on this planet. Live it well my friend and you will smile all the way into eternity.” FHW, Golden, Colorado
“You ready for this century?” Robert said next morning as he packed up his tent.
“Exactly why am I riding 100 miles with you today?” I asked.
“I think the first Mt. Everest climber George Mallory, said, ‘Because it’s there’ would cover it from my perspective,” replied Robert.
“Who am I to argue with such a legend?” I asked. “I might as well argue against John Muir, Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and Thoreau. I can’t do that so I must pedal my rear end off and make that 100 miles with you.”
“It’s good that you represent all the senior citizens of America,” Robert chided.
(Frosty running from a vela-raptor that feeds on cyclists for dessert.)
From Great Falls, Montana to Browning, Montana, we faced splendid beauty, deep rolling canyons, steep climbs and lots of pavement. Not to mention 100 friggin’ miles!
(Robert in a field of flowers on one of our stops on the 100 mile day.)
How does it feel to pedal a bike 100 miles? On a road bike, it’s a long day in the saddle without much expense of energy. Light bike, no load, fun times. But on a mountain touring bike, I’m hauling 70 pounds of gear and another 20 pounds of water, plus my bike at 30 pounds and my own weight of 185 pounds.
Okay, I’ve done some crazy stuff in the past. I got talked into a 200 mile day by an Australian friend, John “Mad Dog” Brown back in 1986 across Texas. We did it, too! After 17.5 hours in the saddle and 18,500 calories, we pulled into Post, Texas totally exhausted, worn out and caked in road grime-sweat. We cranked through head winds, rain and personal tribulations. One guy quit. At the end, John rode over to me, “Good to ride with you, mate” and shook my hand. Our other friend, Kevin, looked more dead than alive, but he made it.
We rented a motel room. I can say that when I finally hit the shower, the water droplets felt like angels massaging my skin. I dropped off to sleep for the most peaceful rest of my life.
“Let’s git ‘er done,” I said, swinging my leg over Condor’s top tube.
(Robert in front of a tall Montana cowboy and an old mule skinner.)
Robert and I left the church yard by 7:00 a.m. with a blue sky and rising sun. The road proved flat for awhile, but quickly turned to up and down, up and down. We pedaled up long passes and over enormous grass covered plains. It felt like we pedaled across sand dunes blanketed with deep green prairie grass. We sweated, dripped and ran dry in the mouth. We stopped at every little town along Route 89.
You can’t help but travel in “wonder” at the Montana landscape. Steinbeck fell in love with Montana. Me too! Clean, fresh and wide open to your senses and your imagination.
(Frosty resting up against the tall Montana cowboy.)
We stopped in Choteau, once filled with dinosaurs and still featuring dinosaur museums, and also A.B. Guthrie’s home who gave Montana the “Big Sky” moniker. We stopped at a local restaurant with terrible service and marginal food, but we filled up our water bottles and jumped back onto our saddles.
The towns of Bynum, Miller Colony and Depuyer fell away from our rear view mirrors without so much as a whimper. We crossed into the Indian territory of the Black Feet.
(Robert’s and Frosty’s bikes stacked up to the flowers at a restaurant in Choteau.)
Having already pedaled 18 passes and 2,400 miles, my legs felt great. Amazing thing about the human body. It adapts to most anything you challenge it with-- in your life’s journey.
By 9:30 p.m., five miles south of Browning, the sun descended quickly toward the horizon.
“We any closer to that century mark?” I asked Robert.
“Only another half mile,” he said. “We need to get some shots of that sunset. It’s blazing away.”
Before us, an exquisite sunset burned into the clouds and settled into the rugged profile of the Glacier National Park Livingston Mountain Range. Magic! Money couldn’t buy what we saw developing ahead of us!
“We just hit 100 miles,” Robert said.
We took a few shots with Robert riding away from me and riding toward me. If you go to his Face book page at Robert Montgomery, you will see some of the shots he posted.
Since we rode in early summer, the sun didn’t set quickly. It lingered ever so tantalizingly in the sky. We reached that century mark at the “cooling hour” when the heat of the day evened-out to the sweet spot of perfection between hot and cool. Before us, the round, golden orb sank behind black mountain profiles. Old sol dragged the day away from us in one last glorious color show that tinged the clouds and painted the sky with ephemeral banners. Quiet, stillness and calm pronounced themselves on our souls. Behind us, the silvery moon rose above the horizon from the east while a few stars began twinkling above us in the ink black of space.
Within a few minutes, the sun carved color patches on the edges of the clouds, and suddenly, the sky fell dark.
“Pinch me,” Robert said. “I’m blown away.”
“Make that two of us,” I said.
We pitched our tents. I slipped into my nylon home, opened the air mattress, fluffed up the sleeping bag and dove into it. Within seconds, I fell asleep. Robert and I lived a very good day.
(Magnificent sunset over the Rocky Mountains after a 100 mile day.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes, 10 of the Continental Divide. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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