Day 15: Over the Top: The Rockies

September 17, 2002
Butte to Belgrade
76 Miles Google Map

It says something about a man if he can bike through the chilly morning rain, up over the Continental Divide, then onward for another sixty miles. I mean, the guy is either very tough or perhaps should be on some kind of medication.

In my case, it was a combination of guts plus good planning. Yesterday, to get some information, I had stopped in at a Butte bike shop where one of the employees recommended going over the Divide using Highway #2 south of the city, which has a far gentler incline. (I-90, on the other hand, practically goes vertical to get over the peaks.) This was excellent advice. There was still a thousand-foot elevation rise over some seven miles, but that proved to be no problem. The crossing itself was anticlimactic: a half hour of semi-serious climbing at which point I came to a slight rise at the top of which was a small weatherbeaten sign announcing the big ac-complishment. I didn’t bother to stop and celebrate, continuing on with an hour of vigorous downhill pedaling accompanied by a friendly breeze that hurried me along. I just wish the annoying rain would have stopped. It kept drizzling the entire day with only a couple of brief respites.

After my early victory, I consumed some pancakes at a restaurant just off the Interstate and made a reservation at another Motel 8, this one fifty miles away. It was ambitious of me, but I figured having taken yesterday off combined with the cool weather would get me there without my legs giving out. Along the way, I did have to cycle up a killer hill, but a soup break halfway into the mini journey helped keep me going.

Arriving at the motel I checked in, then had to spend some time out on the sheltered patio to dry things off and clean up the bike. This still left it a bit messy-looking to be taking into my room, but the lady at the front desk was very understanding. I suspect she felt some sympathy for the long, wet ride I’d had.

It was one of the most rewarding days of my trip.

Distances
    Today:       76 Miles
    To Date:  772 Miles / 1,242 Kilometers

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