Day 17: Full Sails

September 19, 2002
Livingston to Columbus
75 Miles Google Map

After discouraging headwinds, drizzle and rain over much of the past few days, the bike gods finally smiled on me today.

Soon after hitting the road, I found myself cycling mile after mile in my highest gear (my Sequoia Touring Bike — circa 1991 — has eighteen). It didn’t take me long to realize I had a little help. Actually more than a little: a twenty to twenty-five mile an hour monster wind from the south-southwest. I made the halfway point — the second turnoff to Big Timber — in exactly two hours. Since that turnoff is thirty-six miles away, I was cranking away at an eighteen miles-per-hour clip!

The pace slowed beyond Big Timber as the interstate changed direction and the wind started blowing across my bow, making it harder to stay in my lane (meaning the shoulder of the road). However, after a roadside area rest stop (featuring additional Lewis & Clark history), the highway curved slightly back, providing me with some more easy miles. At one point, the gusts were so strong I could begin coasting from a standing start without even pushing off — the wind just took hold of me.

What fun it was watching the treeless fields and hills flow effortlessly by! It was more than just cycling; I felt like the world’s fastest runner speeding over the land. But soon my blustery friend left. Rather abruptly, in fact. I went over a small rise and down into a small river valley, then suddenly found myself having to slog away once more. It was similar to stepping off a moving sidewalk and being on your own power again.

It was around this time that my fantasy of a century ride (one hundred miles) into Billings began to fade. And a long climb out of that valley put the finishing touches on it. I saw the day for what was — a wind-aided, seventy-plus mile effort. But not too shabby! I arrived in Columbus about an hour and a half early, got a room at a you-know-what hotel, then used the extra time to write a couple postcards and buy some camera film. 

[Editor’s Note: A decade later on, this guy remains clueless about digital photography.] 

It’s now a hop, skip and a jump into Billings. There, I’ll need to get some directions on how to best cross Southeast Montana. I hope to do a better job than General Custer.

    Today:       75 Miles
    To Date:  884 Miles / 1,422 Kilometers

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