Day 9: Browning, MT - Chester, MT
Distance: 102 miles
Vertical: 974 feet
Biking Time: 6:10
While planning this cross-country tour, I originally designed our route thinking that all three of us were going to be biking every day. When it turned out that we were going to be unable to do this, I did not change the route accordingly thus leaving a few anomalies. Such as the fact that today was supposed to be just a short 58 mile ride from Browning, MT to Shelby, MT. Had we stuck to the plan we would've left Matt with two brutal 100+ mile days and a rest day in the middle where he would have to watch Nigel and I cruise downhill 60 miles. Considering Matt already complains a lot, it would've been more painful to leave the route as it is and listen to Matt's incessant whining than just bike an additional 44 miles. So we did just that making today my first century ride, and part of that was done while wearing a banana suit... because, you know, why not?
Although Washington was arguably the most difficult stage of the ride with the amount of vertical feet we had to climb and the fact that we summited 6 different passes in 5 days, the Great Plains are proving to be difficult in their own way. Around every corner in Washington we had new views and no stretch of road lasted more than .5 miles. In the plains there's grass, train tracks and power lines. The most interesting things I saw today were a wind farm and two trains passing each other, but that was mostly because I was tired and wasn't thinking logically enough to understand that there were two separate sets of tracks and that I wasn't about to witness a head-on train collision. I got so bored that I started to play a game with myself where I would find the farthest thing I could see in the distance, look at my odometer, bike to that thing and see how far away it was. The longest distance today was 6 miles. Nigel passed the time by staring at my back tire for miles on end since I felt benevolent and decided to take on the head wind for the whole ride. The bad news: the further east we get through Montana, we're not even going to get the hills that made today's ride even slightly interesting. The good news: I'll be breaking that 6 mile record real soon.
It's not all bad though and there are definitely some redeeming qualities about the Great Plains. There is an element of peace that I feel being here. Part of my excitement about this journey was getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Seattle. Now that I am here, I question that initial excitement... but it is definitely peaceful and gives me a lot of time to think with minimal distractions. I have also been blown away by the hospitality of the people we've met. There have been so many crazy distant connections but that hasn't mattered at all to the people who have welcomed us with open arms. Last night we stayed with the friend of our friend's boyfriend's mom. He welcomed us into his home as if we had known him for years and then brought us out to dinner with a friend of his, no questions asked. Tonight we are staying with a friend from school, Emma Earl, who has been so amazingly generous: feeding us as well as providing us with showers, beds and even the opportunity to clean off our clothes. We've shared our story with everyone and have loved hearing all of theirs. It's truly inspiring to see how welcoming people can be and I can only hope that I have the opportunity to do something similar for people on journies like ours in the future.
Love one another,