28 May 2008

Beautiful Weather

I slept so well last night in the hotel room of dreams and would definitely rate it as the best room I have stayed in, all for half the price of a room at the Travelodge back home! It took me a while to drag my corpse out of bed but after a shower and some emails I was out by half six.

The journey to Missoula was slightly uphill but made easier by a bike path for the first 12 miles. The remainder was terrible with road works which had filled the tiny shoulder with thousands of stones and bits of glass. I was right up against some fast moving traffic and almost came off when I edged into the crash barrier but it was more of big stumble than anything else.

Once in Missoula I made my way across town to the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters. They are the non-profit folk (reminds me of the joke about Mohammed getting turned down for a job at the Cancer Research shop as they are a non-prophet organisation) who make the maps I use and do lots of other cyclist friendly stuff.

I was met by Becky who takes care of riders when they come in, and she got me to sign their guestbook and took a Polaroid of me for their 2008 wall. I was amazed to see that Dave Fisher, a cyclist from Somerset England was in there yesterday morning as he was a week ahead of me at the start of Colorado and is travelling light with only two small bags of kit! The top photo is of one of several bikes they have on the walls there and this one was a Peugot PX10 ridden by their chief cartographer, Carla Majernik when he rode the TransAmerica Trail in 1976 for the first time.

I was left to use the computer and all their facilities including a fridge full of drinks and a freezer full of ice cream, before leaving at 11 having dawdled long enough. One problem I had today was that I lacked a clear idea of where my destination was. Without that it is easy to mess about and get nowhere since there is no target and I did just that.

I stopped at the bike shop to pump up my tyres with a decent track pump and bought a tiny allen key for my brakes, then spent ages getting lunch and making calls at Safeways where I met a nice chap called Marty Mastas who gave me some tips on the roads ahead and some white water rafting spots, so it was nearly 2pm when I headed out again.

A few miles outside Missoula I stopped to chat to a cyclist coming the other way fully loaded with kit. He was Robert Menegio from Santa Fe and was riding from Oregon to Virginia by a most circuitous route through the Great Lakes and Canada (he doesn't like the heat). He saw Dave from Somerset yesterday and apparently he is racing to get back for his daughter's birthday so I may not catch up with him.

I began a gentle climb out of the town of Lolo up towards Lolo Springs, where I knew I could stop for the night if I felt lazy. I stopped at a garage to fill up on water and to put on more sunscreen since it was really cooking and then minced around on the phone a bit more.

There were 25 miles between me and Lolo Springs and I took the first 15 at a nice steady pace, slowly watching the sun disappear behind a darkening mass of black cloud. Soon enough it started to rain so I had to unpack my rain jacket which I had confidently put away last night and I moved my camera and phone inside my bags.

This was not to be a light shower however and the heavens opened like never before on this trip. I may as well have been under a waterfall as within minutes I was soaked through, the rain even coming in at the neck of my jacket. With the precipitation shock troops having done their job, the heavy guns came out and wave after wave of hail came down, stinging my face really painfully and reducing my vision to about 3 metres. Thunder and lightening filled the sky, getting closer and closer together as the hail started to fill the roads a few centimetres deep accompanied by small streams that were forming on the road.

There was no let up and nowhere to seek cover as there was a river on one side and a now flooded ditch on the right between me and a wire fence. All I could do was keep moving onwards towards Lolo Springs and hold my breath whenever a logging truck sped by me. I did see two other cyclists on the opposite side of the road but there was no way we were going to stop in these conditions.

Eventually I made it to the top and stood shivering in the Lolo Springs bar whilst I waited for the cabin man to turn up. Having spoken to Robert earlier I was hoping to follow his recommendation and stay in a teepee up here but the state of me necessitated a cabin with heater to try and dry my sodden clothes and shoes.

So the lesson of today has to be 'Don't mince around as you never know what's ahead of you'. However I am sure this storm is following me across the last few states - just look at the weather photo from a couple of posts back and you can see the evil intent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are really getting the weather out west! Keep going champ.