Today: 92.01 miles Total: 303.54 miles 9.10.10
I slept in a rainy ditch last night. 20 feet from busy railroad tracks with coyotes howling throughout the night. The sunset lit the very dark but colorful clouds as they masked the rain that wanted so bad to pour down even harder. This morning, it finally stopped coming down. I think I’m about 10 miles beyond Shelby. Maybe I should have mapped a route out before I left Montana, instead of this 3lb. pile of 15 AAA maps. Towns are really few and far between out here. I woke up for good at 7:30am, although rain, stopped cars, choooo-chooooo’ing trains, and yelping coyotes kept me awake, alert, and uncomfortable all night. It took a while to pack up next to the tracks. Finally, for the first time, a nice train driver flashed me the deuces (over 40 crowd: deuces=peace sign) as he steamed by, finally raising my awareness that even though they were always honking at me, maybe it wasn’t because they were furious or threatening.
I pulled on my wet socks, shoes, and clothes. I stuffed away my wet tent. As I rode away, the mud in my fenders, pedals, shoes, and gears made a plethora of weird noises, vibrations, rubbing and shakes. I couldn’t even clip into my pedals. 30 miles later, in Chester, I laid things out to dry as I cleaned the mud from my clipless shoes.
I used the bathroom’s blow dryer to suck some moisture from wet socks, shoes, and gloves. At the market, I talked to some old people before buying a pear, a loaf of french bread, and a block of cheese. It was 1pm. I had 60 miles to the next town. I was tired from a morning of muddy headwinds. I put in my earbuds (Superfreakonomics audiobook), lowered my head, and charged into the impending raindrops.
I descended into Havre, setting a new 36.8mph high, at exactly the 5pm goal I set myself 60 miles away (albeit with excruciating pain taking over a new part of my body: my right knee–a couple of times pushing me into screaming pain).
Rolling onto mainstreet, the storm clouds I’d been staring at all day were starting to settle over Havre. It a took a random right turn off main street in an attempt to find a residential area in this decent (20,000 person?) town. I asked the first guys I saw if they knew of a patch of land I could camp on. They, friends, invited me to walk right into Jeff and Donna’s house. They said, “The worst they can say is ‘go away’,” and I agreed. They were just the kind of people I didn’t know I was looking for.
As I was setting up my tent in their backyard, Jeff came out and invited me to do it in their garage because of the rain. Then, as I was talking to mom on the phone, he yells out the backdoor, “Get off the phone! It’s time for dinner!” I didn’t argue–that was so nice to hear. Homemade Indian tacos were a delicious dinner with 2 grandparents and some of their friends. After Donna insisted on giving me a huge homemade brownie for dessert, I headed back to the garage my beautiful, roofed bed for the night.
Havre is a “college town,” so the screaming and marching band that I heard drew me out of my tent. I walked around town, only to find that the screaming girls were at a high school football game. I didn’t find the college. But I was able to speak to a number of friends on the phone–friends on the beaches of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, climbing in the desert of Utah, and beginning graduate school. Me? I’m in a moldy garage, sleeping on the bare cement floor, in a tent, writing in my journal by the light of a naked garage aged-yellow halogen bulb.
But ya know what? I’m dry. My stuff is dry. I’m stuffed full. I rode my bike nearly 100 miles today. And I met some people with huge hearts in the middle of nowhere, Montana. And all is goooooooood.
And I’ve only slept in 1 ditch.