Tom and I left Townsend MT this morning (June 3) with dark clouds hanging overhead and a 58 degree temperature. Our goal was to ride 44 miles and camp out in White Sulphur Springs. This was the most demanding day because the first 27 miles was all uphill, in some cases the grade exceeded 8%. Well, it turned out that the hills were not the most demanding part of the ride.
The temperature dropped to a low of 41 degrees, there was rain (and more rain), and sleet. To add insult to injury, a stiff wind shifted into our face for the last 9 miles. There is not much you can do in this situation but drop down in low gear and crank away. It took us 6 1/2 hours to reach White Sulphur Springs, which included food stops and rest stops and potty stops and let’s get warm stops.
All in all, though, it was a good ride which tested our resolve and our equipment. We told a few jokes, swapped tall tales, and broke bagels together. Actually, our hands were so cold we broke bagels all over ourselves and the ground. Both of us ended up smelling like cooked salmon because that went everywhere, also. Halfway up the steepest hill I was threatening to shoot the person that talked me into this trip; Tom assured me that it was some guy name Mark.
The good news is all of my stuff stayed dry thanks to the Sea to Summit dry sacks Tom pointed me towards. Most of my clothing is some type of synthetic fabric which dried out pretty quickly, and the selection of clothing I decided to bring seems adequate for all occasions. I was somewhat cold but not uncomfortably so, and I was damp but not soaking wet.
The Bacchetta recumbent bike performed very well, especially the front gear selection. At this point I am not sure what, if anything, I would change on the bike. Right now I am carrying 31 pounds of gear, 9 pounds of water, 8 pounds of food, and 13 pounds of panniers. The bike itself weighs about 42 pounds, so my total rolling weight is 103 pounds. It would be nice to get this below 100 pounds, but I am not sure how to do this right now. Note to self: go through my weight list to see what can be tossed out.
Mayn Cemetery is on the right when entering White Sulphur Springs (coming from Townsend), and it had a beautiful display of American flags, which, incidentally were really, as they say, Blowin’ In The Wind. We decided to stay in the All Seasons Inn; camping would have been miserable because of the wet and muddy ground. The hotel provides a secure area to store the bicycles which was a real plus, and the hot showers were an even better plus. Dinner was at a diner instead of our cook stoves. Lots of nice people, lots of nice stories about White Sulphur Springs, great idea to stop here.
Get ready, Harlowton. You better close the bars and lock the women up cause the old guys are headin’ your way!