Isang's Blog/

{July 6, 2010}   Day 11

– I woke up ready to be driven up an 11 mile uphill climb. I tend to forget listing the locations we’re staying in. Sorry, last night we stayed in Avon. Avon was great. We played volleyball, threw horseshoes, and watched a sunset lightning storm. Awesome! Now we’re onto Townsend, a 60 mile ride with a 12 mile climb up to the Continental divide. In case you don’t know, the Continental Divide divides the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, stretching from Canada down to New Mexico. It’s the highest point of our ride.

At the top I ran around and stretched while reading the road side sign with a story of Frenchwomans Road. Apparently a woman from France ran a lodging house and became famous for her hospitality and cheerfulness. After being murdered by her husband, it was taken over by a man named Macdonald, hence Macdonald pass. Along the way through Montana there are many historical sights and stories for several regions. Being there atop the Divide, I tried to picture what it would have looked like without the city or power-lines in the distance. What a breathtaking sight. Time for a photo op!

Left to Right: Timmy, Kristin, Izzy, Brad, and Little Me 🙂


Muk Muk at the Top!

Timmy attempting to lift me like the bike

Ok being at the Top means you get to go Down!! I went flying down, reaching my fastest speed yet of 39 mph! The wide curves and open lane gave me plenty of room to just coast and admire the view coming down. All that hard work making it down hill got me hungry and I treated myself to a fresh salad with the crew. Who would have thought veggies become so desirable this far into the country. Something about Iceberg Lettuce just doesn’t cut it for me. Mixed mesclun salad, yes please! God I miss Whole Foods.

When we reached Helena we had the opportunity to explore the capitol building. Thanks to the interviewing skills of Andy, we met Lt. Governor Bohlinger and his awesome dog sophie. You know the guy is a chill guy when he has his dog in his office with him. As graceful and eloquent as a gentleman politician could be, he explained the meaning behind the bull moose on his wall. A professed man of the people, he explained his political agenda was heavily influenced by Theodore Roosevelt, who created the Bull Moose party in 1912 after being denied the Republican party platform for presidential election. I’ve never really been face to face with a politician explaining how he felt for the common man. On a humorous note he explained how Montanees have a sense of humor for even the grimiest of situations. We learned during our photo op how the state once donated small pox infected blankets to charity. What would have caused an uproar really was a “ha, man that’s pretty funny” mentality by many. We met Governor Brian Schweitzer and his dog while walking out. Very kind, friendly simple people.

What a pose

Capitol Craziness

Hanging with Sophie

Gentleman Lt. Governor Bohlinger

Group Love!

We took time to tour the nearby museum, full of Native American historical artifacts and the pioneers that came out to this wonderful state and turned it into what it is today. There was something that saddened me seeing native American historical artifacts. Seeing such colorful garments, pottery and bags as part of the past, it’s a bit haunting. These tribes saw the beauty around them and carried respect for the land. One can only hope such respect is not completely lost. We took the time to enjoy good old fashioned fun and catch up on our history while out here. Montana is amazing.

Muk Muk and I strike a pose

Beating Izzy for once

We made it out of museum to see a storm brewing above. Preparing for the worst, we started riding out to make it to camp 30 miles away. There was a considerable amount of  great teamwork by everyone. A few of us had injuries, mine included, so we were going a bit slower than the rest. Yet that didn’t stop the others from helping us get there. We worked on drafting each other, keeping the injured in the middle, and going as fast as we could go without making it too fast. I was a bit conscious of slowing down the group, yet even when I pulled out Sue just brought me right back in, saying we’re all sticking together. Great motivator. My bike is not the lightest, but I’ve been learning how to get the most out of it.

We were racing through when I looked to my right and saw the storm come over a mountain top. Yelling behind me, I asked Andy, “Hey, is that rain coming towards us”. He yelled back “ Yup!”. Not one second later a clunking sound on the top of my helmet. He yelled again, “that would suck  if that was a hail storm”. Oh great, another one. From this distance it looked like a bright white torrential mess. Incredulous, I kept thinking we’d make it past the fast moving mass of hail. Of course, within a minute things got pretty chaotic.

From pea size to ¾ inch rock size, we were getting pelted. Soon the silent humming of our bikes was harmonized by “Ow, S$#t, F@#k and damn”. Started panicking thinking it was a freak storm I heard people dying in, hail stones the size of golf balls or worse. I was hit hard in my right hip and had to stop for a second since my eyes started smarting from the pain. God that’ll leave a nice bruise. It was like being in a paintballing arena!

We saw a house ahead and made a dash for it. Being in the middle of nowhere, with few trees in sight left us little options. Of course the one option we had with a porch had a a big german shepherd running for us at the fence. We hightailed it, and I hid under tree with Timmy as the rest of the riders determined their own fate out near the road (I think under a bush). Storm passed and we came out laughing. Man, Montana is crazy weather.

Small but painful

We made it to Townsend, where I learned a good lesson on dehydration. One of our riders got sick not drinking enough during the ride so it was a reminder to always get that bottle up at least every 15 minutes. I think all of us forgot what with the weather circumstances being cold and windy. More and more I find our ride is the ultimate experience because not every cross -country group does nearly as much mileage as us.

Little things I took from today: learning what wind clouds vs. rain clouds look like. Learning what to do if lightning is near you. Learning to just be in tune with your body more, listen more, just be. Had a great moment riding in line with everyone today, really felt like a powerful unit moving cross country, making a huge impression on the people we passed as we rode into stormy weather. They probably were like “wow, those guys are going to get slammed bad”, or even “props to them, they’re crazy enough to ride in weather like this”. In the end we all laughed and found it was just another great way to have a story. Like paintballing except you can’t really shoot at the clouds to make them back off.


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