Day 18: Slogging Along

September 20, 2002
Columbus to Billings
42 Miles Google Map

More wind, but this time in my face for the whole ride — over four hours of toil. The confusing part was that this was out of the east on a dry, sunny day. My father once explained to me that an east wind is the harbinger of precipitation — not that I was yearning to get rained on, mind you.

The first couple hours were the most difficult: an endless series of hills with that refreshing “breeze” in coming at me. I then took a brunch break in Park City to regroup and try to wait out the conditions. Once I was back on the road an hour later the wind had slackened off, though it never got easy. Sometimes you just have to play out the hand you are dealt. Besides the weather, I also had to endure a runny nose, sore legs, and a watery left eye.

Almost as challenging was getting to the Rimrock Mall once I’d arrived in Billings and had found a hotel for the night. First there was a narrow highway to navigate infested with trucks. Then one of the streets leading into the massive parking lot was so busy I ended up walking the bike on the sidewalk.

Once in the mall, I went to a bike shop I’d found in the Yellow Pages. There I had a pleasant talk with a fellow named Lyle, who provided some valuable advice about cycling through “Custer Country” — apparently, this can still be rather unfriendly. The main decision this weekend (today being Friday) will be whether to continue on I-90 or go off on a tempting shortcut. Most likely I’ll stay on the Interstate.

Lyle had some interesting travel stories of his own such as a trip he’d taken up through North Dakota, then down into Oklahoma. It makes me realize I’m but a novice at this cross country cycling game.

Experienced an epiphany walking out of the mall. The day had turned into one of those crisp, sunny, early autumn afternoons and I suddenly envisioned an Asian girlfriend (but not my old Korean advisary) heading towards me through the tree-lined parking lot. A beautiful Friday afternoon and a beautiful someone to share it with.

Losing my focus here…

Billings represents a milestone. Making it this far means I’ve tackled the Cascades, the Rockies, the Montana High Country and am entering the Great Plains. This removes some of the original uncertainty and anxiety.

    Today:       42 Miles
    To Date:  926 Miles / 1,490 Kilometers

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