2015 Cycle Greater Yellowstone Day 7: Powell to Red Lodge

As forecast, the wind did indeed come up during the night. Our tent rippled and flapped like mad, but stayed firmly planted to the earth. I inserted earplugs and tried to ignore the tempest and get some sleep.

Come morning, the wind had not abated. There were rumors, none true, that the ride start had been delayed, or that the day’s riding had been cancelled, though I think there had been some alternative arrangements made for people who had tight times schedules for meeting airport shuttles.

At breakfast (inside a building at the Park County Fairgrounds, thank goodness), as I juggled my plate of eggs and cup of coffee, one of the community volunteers asked if she could help in any way.

“Could you calm the winds down for us?” I asked, jokingly.

“I’m afraid not,” she replied with a sad smile.

Well, it was worth a shot, anyway.

The final day of CGY would be a long, hard slog into headwinds of 15-20 MPH, gusting to 30-40. On top of that, the day started out at 44 degrees, and we had an additional 3-mile detour that morning, to avoid some fresh chip seal in a construction zone.

As we bundled up and headed out, a few people asked, “You riding today??”

“Of course. It’s what we’re here to do.”

Sag 2 in the fairgrounds parking lot at 7:10 a.m. - probably the emptiest it would be all day.

Sag 2 in the fairgrounds parking lot at 7:10 a.m. – probably the emptiest it would be all day.

Wind, wind wind, wind, WIND! In our faces or buffeting us from the side. With occasional spray from windblown irrigation sprinkler mist. Ugh!

We had a brief moment of respite when the shower truck passed us on its way to Red Lodge and sheltered us in its lee. Then it was right back to the wicked, whipping wind.

“Come back, shower truck! Come back!”

Bugman’s shoulders kept tensing up from the strain of trying to keep the tandem headed in a straight line. Luckily, he travels with his own personal masseuse. ๐Ÿ™‚ We took occasional breaks along the shoulder of the road so I could work the knots out of his muscles. Our noses were running from the cold.

About 14 miles into the ride, we came across a nice downhill that we remembered from 2013. It was windy back then, too, but not quite like this. We topped out at 20 MPH on the descent.

The hill on 294 west of Powell this year.

The hill on 294 west of Powell this year.

dfvdfv

The view from that same hill in 2013, sans wildfire smoke.

Finally! Our first rest stop, at the bottom of the hill. Bugman and I were exerting a lot of energy to buck the wind, so we made sure not to repeat our mistake from the Beartooth Pass ride - we made sure to eat! We chowed down a Kate's bar hunkered in the lee of the pickup truck.

Finally! Our first rest stop, at the bottom of the hill. Bugman and I were exerting a lot of energy to buck the wind, so we made sure not to repeat our mistake from the Beartooth Pass ride – we ate! A lot! We chowed down some Kate’s Stash Bars as we hunkered in the lee of the pickup truck. We would stop a few more times along the road to consume candy bars and other carb-heavy snacks.

At the rest stop, sag 1 was full. (Every time I saw the side of this van, the A-Team theme song would pop into my head. "I love it when a plan comes together.")

At the rest stop, sag 1 was full. (Every time I saw the side of this van, the A-Team theme song would pop into my head. “I love it when a plan comes together.”)

Sag 3

Sag 3, the “vulture.” Heh.

Despite the challenging conditions, this volunteer was chipper. (Love her hat!) I've forgotten her name, but I think she came up from Florida?

Despite the challenging conditions, this volunteer was chipper. (Love her hat!) I’ve forgotten her name, but I think I remember she’s a friend of Jennifer Drinkwalter who came all the way up from Florida to help out with the ride.

Bugman and I had to keep stopping to eat and drink. (It's too hard for him to do that on the run while piloting the tandem, even on a calm day.) At this stop, I spotted a salticid (jumping spider) on the signpost. I get a kick out of salticids. They have personality.

Bugman and I had to keep stopping to eat and drink. (It’s too hard for him to do that on the run while piloting the tandem, even on a calm day.) At this stop, I spotted a wee salticid (jumping spider) on the signpost. I get a kick out of salticids. They have personality.

9:49 a.m., mile 23. This is starting to feel like Desolation Road.

9:49 a.m., mile 23. This is starting to feel like Desolation Road.

We had two brief respites from the wind. At mile 27, we had a half-mile downhill with the wind at our backs. Joy!!!! It felt so good to get up over 10 MPH! Then, around our water stop at mile 33 on a school property near Clark (on a road not yet mapped by Google!), the topography sheltered us for awhile. It gave us a false sense of optimism that perhaps the wind was done with us.

Nope. It was another windy 20 miles to our lunch stop.

There was another cyclist who left the water stop at about the same time as us who was really struggling. When we would stop for a break, he often would, too. For a time, he drafted us, but then we hit a patch of downhill, and he couldn’t keep up with the tandem’s gravity advantage.

Some cyclists commemorating their passage back into Montana at mile 42.

Some cyclists commemorating their passage back into Montana at mile 42, around 11:45 a.m.

The further north we got into Montana, the more the wildfire smoke seemed to clear. Interesting!

The further north we got into Montana, the more the wildfire smoke seemed to clear. Interesting!

I swear, there were whitecaps on Clark's Fork.

I swear, there were whitecaps on Clark’s Fork.

There was a steepish ~100-foot climb outside of Belfry that about did us in. The buffeting we got from the wind at the top was rather disconcerting.

The cemetery 2 miles outside of Belfry seemed awfully inviting . . . but we knew we had to be close to our lunch stop and our opportunity to take a break!

Full disclosure: I took this photo the next day, on our way home. My photo reflexes were slowed due to fatigue, and I missed my opportunity during the actual ride.

Full disclosure: I took this photo the next day, on our way home. My photo reflexes were slowed due to fatigue, and I missed my opportunity during the actual ride.

Hooray for the Belfry Bats, my all-time favorite town/mascot combination!

Mile 53, 1 p.m. Hooray for the Belfry Bats, my all-time favorite town/mascot combination!

The school was kind enough to open up the atrium to the gymnasium to allow us a little shelter. My mood was kind of grim. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to complete the ride. But a couple of people on their way out were psyching themselves up, and their gumption rubbed off on me. "Maybe we can try making it to Bearcreek," I said to a skeptical Bugman.

The school was kind enough to open up the atrium to the gymnasium to allow us a little shelter. My mood was rather grim. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to complete the ride. Especially that last hill into Red Lodge, which, as I recalled from two years ago, had a slope steep enough to slow us to a crawl – not a good thing on a windy day like this. But a couple of people on their way out were psyching themselves up, and their gumption rubbed off on me. “Maybe we can try making it to Bearcreek,” I said to a skeptical Bugman.

We headed out to find a sag driver, to discuss the possibility of arranging a pickup at the water stop in Bearcreek, 8 miles away. As it turned out, our fellow tandemites Nico and Jeanne had already talked to the support crew – they were planning to sag in the sign van with their tandem to the top of the hill, then ride the final ~2.5 miles to the finish. Peer pressure! (And, whew!) We would save ourselves some pain and join the sag.

We four loaded our two tandems into the sign van, then caught a ride in another vehicle, stopping here and there as the driver took pictures of other riders continuing up the hill under their own steam. We stopped at a pullout for an electrical service station at the top of the hill and were reunited with our bikes.

The "we're almost done" smile.

The “we’re almost done” smile.

Two tandems, ready to ride that final hill down into Red Lodge.

Two red tandems, ready to ride that final hill down into Red Lodge.

Our rescuers - Bruce, who drove the sag (who I mistakenly called "Jim." Oops.), and - darn! - I can't remember the woman's name. Thank you so much, Bruce and photographer lady, for helping us have a better time on our final day of CGY!

Our rescuers – Bruce, who was in the sign van (who I mistakenly called “Jim.” Oops.), and – darn! – I can’t remember the woman’s name. Thank you so much, Bruce and photographer lady. You could have taken us straight to camp, but you didn’t. You took the trouble to help us have the experience of a last downhill on our last day of CGY. You guys rock!

As we rolled across the finish at Lions Park in Red Lodge, we got a big cheer. I kind of felt like we didn’t deserve it, and corrected people that we had sagged up that last hill. But our cheerleaders dismissed my qualification. We’d had a tough day, and we deserved some accolades. Well, OK, then. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bugman and I found our bags, checked into our hotel, and cleaned up.

Interestingly, the summer 2015 issue of Mountain Outlaw was in our room, and the feature story was about wildfire.

wildfire articleWe returned to camp to schlep our final bag and our bike to our car in long-term parking. A volunteer had offered to let us borrow her car, but we declined the offer – it wasn’t a very long walk, and we balanced the bag across the bike seats, so we didn’t have to carry any weight.

We got to the car and . . . the power locks wouldn’t work. Our battery was dead! Recall the #foreshadowing in the day 2 post? Bugman must have left a dome light on when he was drying our wet clothing. Darn!

No worries – there happened to be a cyclist from Boulder who was departing from his parking spot right next to us in the nearly-empty lot. We flagged him down and asked if he could give us a jump.

“I don’t have jumper cables,” he said.

“We do,” I said. In fact, we’d used them at the end of the 2013 CGY, when our car battery died after our radio malfunctioned. (What is it with our car battery and Red Lodge??)

No problem – I’ll just dive into the back of the car and fish the jumper cables out from under the cargo bin, where they live in a little storage compartment . . . except, they weren’t in the storage compartment. I rummaged around in the car, getting increasingly frustrated. Where the heck could those dumb jumper cables be? We wouldn’t have taken them out of the car. All of our other emergency supplies were there! What the heck?!??

I may have let my accumulated frustration get to me. I may have yelled and pounded on the car seat. It may have felt really good to do that.

The guy from Boulder was totally cool and overlooked my outburst. He offered to swing by camp on his way out of town and alert the CGY crew that we were in trouble.

Within minutes, a jeep pulled up, and Site Coordinator Rob asked, “Which side is your battery on?” Our car started on the second try. The CGY crew saves our bacon yet again!

We loaded up, moved our car to the hotel parking lot, and headed out on the town to celebrate the day, which was our 17th wedding anniversary. I was reeeally craving pizza, so we went to the Red Lodge Pizza Company, which we had enjoyed on our 2013 visit.

Toasting our marriage with some champagne-flavored jelly beans from the Montana Candy Emporium.

While we wait for a table, a toast with some champagne-flavored jelly beans from the Montana Candy Emporium.

The CGY crew happened to be having their end-of-ride celebration in a back room at the pizza place, so we saw lots of familiar faces going by.

2015 CGY Ambassador coordinator Dixie came over to our table to say hello, and she took a photo of our anniversary toast with our beer from Red Lodge Ale (a 2013 sponsor).

2015 CGY Ambassador coordinator Dixie came over to our table to say hello/goodbye, and she took a photo of our anniversary toast with our beer from Red Lodge Ale (a 2013 sponsor) and texted it to me.

It was a rough ride this year, but we came away unscathed, with some great memories of the places we saw and the people we met.

One of the reasons I appreciate Cycle Greater Yellowstone, other than the excellent organization and the amazing scenery, is that the challenge of the ride scares me and provides strong incentive for me to stay in shape, which also helps me to (hopefully) avoid or mitigate the types of health problems that have stalked the members of my family as we age.

We’ll see what 2016 brings!

Salud!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Advertisements

2015 Cycle Greater Yellowstone Day 6: Cody to Powell via Lovell

Nothing says HELLO, WAKE UP! quite like dodging deer as you start your day’s ride. Cody is lousy with deer, and they have very little fear of people. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can have a garden there.

Those are not lawn ornaments.

Those are not lawn ornaments.

At the bottom of a steep hill on the way out of town, we had to brake hard to be sure not to smack these two.

At the bottom of a steep hill on the way out of town, we had to brake hard to be sure not to smack these two.

The sky was cloudless, but still hazy with wildfire smoke.

The sky was cloudless, but still hazy with wildfire smoke.

We cast a weak shadow across the road. The hazy sunrise diffused some interesting color onto the hay bales, though. Thinking of Monet again . . .

Our tandem cast only a weak shadow across the road in the hazy light, which diffused some interesting color onto the hay bales. Thinking of Monet again . . .

The colorful tanks at this farmstead caught my eye.

The colorful tanks at this farmstead caught my eye.

“Wyoming is beef country – enjoy both”
Why, thanks. I shall!

?? Not sure what that's all about.

?? Not sure what that’s all about.

We had a bit of gravel and construction to ride through. This shot is closer to what I normally see on the tandem when looking forward - mostly Bugman's back.

We had a little bit of gravel and construction to ride through. No big deal. On a side note, this shot is closer to what I normally see on the tandem when looking forward – mostly Bugman’s back.

Saw a couple of farmers out setting siphon tubes that morning.

Saw a couple of farmers out setting siphon irrigation tubes that morning. Looks like a field of sugarbeets at left, with some kochia (which dries to become tumbleweeds) along the edge. Surely this is irrigation water that came out of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. See here for a 20-second closeup video of setting tubes. See here for a blurb about setting tubes, on the webpage of the museum I used to work at.

The water stop at Willwood gets my vote for prettiest

The water stop at Willwood gets my vote for prettiest “greenhouse” setting.

Already at the Penrose Cemetery water stop! There was a cattle grate across the cemetery entrance. Bugman suspected that, rather than keeping cattle out, it might be useful for keeping zombies in.

Already at the Penrose Cemetery water stop! We were making pretty good time on the ride, as the first 50 miles of the day’s ride were all a gentle downhill – good for a tandem! There was a cattle grate across the cemetery entrance. Bugman suspected that, rather than keeping cattle out, it might be useful for keeping zombies in.

The semi-arid landscape is not too green in late August without irrigation water from stored springtime snowmelt.

The semi-arid landscape is not too green in late August without irrigation water from stored springtime snowmelt.

Lunch in Lovell already?!? It's only 10:43 a.m.! I guess this is what the fast people experience every day. There was a small basket of pins for cyclists to take, which boasted of Lovell as The Rose City.

Lunch in Lovell already?!? It’s only 10:20 a.m.! I guess this is what the fast people experience every day. There was a small basket of pins for cyclists to take, which boasted of Lovell as The Rose City. I didn’t notice the roses, but I did notice the murals and businesses on the downtown’s main drag as we went through.

The Hyart Theater intrigued me.

The Hyart Theater intrigued me. I love that it’s still in operation, and that it has an interesting history. Because of the scarcity of metal when construction began in 1950, the trusses for the roof were made of salvaged train rails from “old mines at Bearcreek, Montana” – maybe the one we would pass on our route the following day?

The storage towers of the Western Sugar plant dominate the Lovell skyline - a familiar sight to someone from the North Platte River valley in Wyobraska!

The storage towers of the Western Sugar plant dominate the Lovell skyline – a familiar sight to someone from the North Platte River valley in Wyobraska! I got to tour my local sugar factory a few years ago. According to an article in the Powell Tribune, the Lovell factory towers measure 35 feet in diameter and are 165 feet tall. “Combined, they hold about 300 million pounds of sugar – enough for 500 million Snickers bars or 500 million cans of pop.”

These were not pieces of mining equipment. Rather, they are used for piling sugar beets. At beet harvest, the beets are stored in gigantic piles near the factories, which run full-tilt to process the beets ASAP, before the sugar content declines too much.

We saw a few of these along our route. They are not pieces of mining equipment. Rather, they are used for piling sugar beets. At fall beet harvest, the beets are stored in gigantic piles near the factories, which run full-tilt to process the beets ASAP, before the sugar content declines too much. Here’s a video clip of a piler in action.

Some highly photogenic longhorns near Cowley.

Some highly photogenic longhorns near Cowley.

The day was getting pretty warm. We planned to stop at the water stop in Deaver to refill our water bottles. But this happened:

I love surprise ice cream! Those sherbet

I love surprise ice cream! Those sherbet “cool tubes” rocked! (Though the bright color did scare me a bit.)

Near Powell, we passed several alfalfa fields with some puzzling structures in them. All the alfalfa in our area is grown for hay. Here, it was being grown for seed, which means pollination was necessary. The structures were housing for bees, probably alfalfa leafcutting bees!

Near Powell, we passed several alfalfa fields with some puzzling structures in them. All the alfalfa in our area is grown for hay. Here, it was being grown for seed, which means pollination was necessary. The structures were housing for bees, probably alfalfa leafcutting bees!

At the end of our ride, we got a boost from a kind cyclist who offered to let us draft him for a ways. We were going a solid 20 MPH there! Wheee! We arrived in Powell shortly after 1 p.m. – about 6 hours after we departed – an amazing time for an 80-mile ride, including rest stops and a lunch break!

We had plenty of time to get cleaned up and head to downtown Powell, and reason to go there as well – we were seeking air conditioning! It was hot out in the (smoke-hazed) sun! I was very glad we had the time. I enjoyed Powell!

We stopped in at the Powell Post Office, one of many to have gotten gussied up with murals in the 1930s.

“Powell’s Agriculture Resulting from the Shoshone Irrigation Project” by Verona Burkhard

Then there was the detour into WYold West Brewing Company, which clearly knows how to tap an audience as well as a keg.

Then there was the detour into WYOld West Brewing Company, which clearly knows how to tap an audience as well as a keg. The pub was just barely open, the restaurant and brewery still to be completed. I guess we’ll have to come back when they’re serving their own beers!

While Bugman went next door to grab some nachos, I went into the True Colors gift shop, which is the kind of place that you exit reeking of incense. The shop owner has a shelf on which she collects images around a different theme each year. This year it was bicycles!

I loved the

I loved the “bicycle sugar skulls” she’d framed from packages of DOMA coffee.

I made a purchase – something I’ve been coveting for a few years: a 7-year pen! Best of all, it had a bicycle design!

I swiped this image from the Walker Art Center shop's webpage. If you want a bicycle 7-year pen of your very own, check out the Walker Shop.

I swiped this image from the Walker Art Center shop’s webpage. If you want a bicycle 7-year pen of your very own, check out the Walker Shop.

Bugman and I took the nachos to a shaded downtown plaza and inhaled them. Then we went back to camp and stood in the dinner line. Ah, the joys of burning crazy amounts of calories for days on end!

Local volunteers came to help out a mealtimes. In Powell, it was the Red Hat Society. Thank you, ladies!

Groups of local volunteers came to help out at mealtimes. In Powell, it was the Red Hat Society. You can kind of pick out two of them in this picture, down at the meat trays. Thank you, ladies!

We had our final announcements session that night, the thank-yous and raffles and all that, since everyone would probably disperse pretty quickly after tomorrow’s ride, the last day – already!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention something cool that was brought up at the final announcements, of which I was unaware: four American Wounded Warriors were sponsored guests on this year’s CGY. I think this is a great program. And I bet the conditions on the ride this year were nothing compared with some of what these Veterans have gone through.

The weather wasn’t done with us quite yet. We were informed that high winds were expected in Powell, beginning around 11:30 p.m. The building on the fairgrounds where our meals were served would be kept open all night, in case we tent campers needed to take shelter.

When Bugman and I returned to our tent, our grasshopper tent marker had already blown off. We stowed him away for safe keeping, and pounded in a few extra tent stakes to make sure we’d stay grounded overnight.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 7 ride to Red Lodge

Day 6

Distance and elevation gain (per my mapping software): 84.29 miles, 3,037 feet

Min temp: 62, Max temp: 82, Winds 10-20, with a random gust of 49 between 3-4pm, Precipitation: 0.09 inches, mainly before the ride set out

The morning got off to a bit of a later start than we’d wanted. There was a long line at breakfast. The power in the kitchen truck had gone out that morning in the drizzle, so there was only one food line open for the first chunk of the morning. Since the dining canopy had blown down, the organizers had not wanted to have it up overnight again, so we sat on wet chairs around wet tables to eat. But the rain quit by the time it was time to hit the road.

Shoshone River northeast of Cody.

Shoshone River northeast of Cody.

Heart Mountain. I'd recognized its silhouette from the artwork I saw on display in the Cody library - done by a Japanese internment camp resident during WWII.

Heart Mountain. I’d recognized its silhouette from the artwork I saw on display in the Cody library – done by a Japanese internment camp resident during WWII. Don’t know the story about how the United States imprisoned thousands of innocent people? A stop at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center might be in order. I’d heard Heart Mountain mentioned in hushed tones by some of the older Japanese women I met in western Nebraska.

We had a rest stop in Powell, Wyoming, where we momentarily got hung up on a curb at a traffic light. (I should not unclip when we stop for traffic. I best serve the tandem team by providing power on the start.) An older lady waved and waved at the cyclists from her front porch as we went by. That made me smile.

Beyond Powell, we entered high desert territory. It looked a lot like the scenery back home, but with less bunchgrass.

dfvdfv

This was a ya-hoo-hoo-hooey! downhill, especially with the wind suddenly buffeting us side to side. I tucked down out of the wind as much as I could to try to help stabilize the bike.

Our lunch stop on rocky high desert soil was buffered by cardboard boxes under our bums.

Our lunch stop on rocky high desert soil was buffered by cardboard boxes under our bums.

At the lunch stop was a booster club from the school in a nearby town: Belfry, Montana. When Bugman and I had driven past Belfry on our way to the ride earlier in the week, I said, “Oh, wouldn’t it be awesome if their school mascot was a bat?”

Guess what?

I am now the proud owner of a Belfry Bats booster club t-shirt.

AWESOME!!!

We had a rest stop at the Belfry school. I bought a couple of ibuprofen from the bike mechanics. My bum was mighty unhappy about being on that bicycle seat, despite the stand-and-pedal technique Bugman and I had worked out:

Call out “stand and pedal?” Get an affirmative. Call “off” to stop pedaling. Shift gears. Call “up.” Stand up and pedal for 20 counts, sitting down on the 20th. Shift gears. Resume pedaling the normal way.

I totally would have shopped in the Belfry Country Store, except they were closed - gone for a family event or something.

I totally would have shopped in the Belfry Country Store, except they were closed – gone for a family event or something.

There's the smoke from the dadgum fire that rerouted our bike tour.

There’s the smoke from the dadgummed fire that rerouted our bike tour.

Back in Belfry, a course monitor let us know we were just a few miles away from pie.

Pie, you say . . .?

Hungry Bear Cafe

Mmmm . . . pie . . .

Bearcreek has been better days. The highest and best use of this old building might just be bike parking.
Bearcreek has been better days. The highest and best use of this old building just might be bike parking.
Smith mine historic photo

Just outside Bearcreek is a historical marker on the Smith Mine Disaster. This photo was on the plaque near the marker.

present look of mine

Here is a present-day view of the mine site, left in memory of the 74 people who died in the 1943 explosion. A few of the miners lived long enough before being overcome by noxious gasses to leave notes behind. One such note engraved on the marker read: “Walter & Johnny. Goodbye Wives and Daughters. We died an easy death. Love from us both. Be good.”

And that last hill into Red Lodge . . . oh my . . .

3.5% AVERAGE grade for 7 miles . . . I think this included 2 miles of 7% grade . . .

It doesn't really show in this picture, but if you knew where to look, you could see some more bikes on the road waaay down there, which was part of the hill we'd just come up (there was more hill to go from here!).

The grade doesn’t really show in this picture, but if you knew where to look, you could see some more bikes on the road waaay back there, which was part of the hill we’d just come up (there was more hill to go from here!).

I felt pretty good when a passing cyclist complimented us on how well we were tackling the hill. (We were on a tandem – tough on the uphill, remember?)

I didn’t feel so good physically, but we made it all the way to the top without stopping. (And the pie stayed down!)

Beautiful, beautiful descent into Red Lodge!

Beautiful, beautiful descent into Red Lodge!

We rode right down the main street of town to a park at the “official finish.” I heard some pedestrians gasp “They just rode 500 miles!” (Not quite, but I’ll accept the awe and admiration all the same.)

As we snacked on a frozen chocolate malt and tried to politely back away from an overly talkative community booster, a firefighter helicopter hoisted a load of water into the sky from the airport atop the hill west of town.

fire copter

All the downtown business windows sported small yellow signs: "thank YOU firefighters"

All the downtown business windows sported small yellow signs: “thank YOU firefighters!”

Bugman and I briefly stopped by the baggage drop area in a park a few blocks north, then biked the final-final mile of the ride back to our car on the fairgrounds adjacent to the airport. That last hill included a segment of 10% grade. A biker headed in their car the other direction rang a cowbell of encouragement as she passed. I appreciated that.

When we got back to the car, the power locks seemed kind of slow. Got the bike up on the car, ready to leave, turn the key and . . . nothing. Dead battery!

Remember back on day 0 when we headed out on our trip, and the radio quit working? Well, the radio must have come back to life, because the stuck CD had been spit out, and our battery was dead.

I grabbed our jumper cables (which, ironically, we had received as a wedding gift 15 years earlier) and stood by the side of the road through the fairgrounds making the “thumbs down” sign, and the next biker headed out with his car stopped to give us a jump.

We motored back to the baggage area and took turns going back to get our bags so we could leave the engine running and keep the alternator charging the battery.

A mighty fine-looking porter. Raowr.

A mighty fine-looking porter. Raowr!

We got checked in at the lovely Pollard and took lovely showers.

Then we went scrounging for food. (When you’re burning an extra 1,500-3,500 calories a day, food suddenly becomes an obsession.)

Our first meal was at Mรกs Taco.

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The yummy something Bugman ordered.

The yummy something Bugman ordered.

My scrumptious tacos.

My delish tacos.

Next stop: Montana Candy Emporium. While this shop is not necessarily tops in terms of sheer variety of candy (perhaps they were letting their stock diminish in the lead-up to the slow winter season?), it is better than most and has a bonus atmosphere created by old shop cases and scads of random antiques to gaze at.

Giant chocolate-covered caramel marshmallows on sticks. With sprinkles.

Giant chocolate-covered caramel marshmallows on sticks. With sprinkles.

Our second meal was at the Red Lodge Pizza Co. Did not take a photo, but the pizza was excellent. So was the company. We recognized a fellow cyclist, an Australian, across the way, eating alone, so we invited him to join our table.

After second dinner, we and the Aussie hiked just north of town towards Sam’s Tap Room at the Red Lodge Ales brewery where the ride afterparty was being held (Red Lodge Ales was another ride sponsor).

On our walk to and fro, we saw a bat, an owl, and a deer.

The music in the taproom was too dang loud, so we went into the bar area instead.

Another brewery pint glass to add to our collection!

Another brewery pint glass to add to our collection!

We had toyed with the idea of getting up early the following morning and riding the reopened Beartooth Pass, but Bugman had a work meeting on Monday morning.

We slept well and deeply, ate a filling breakfast, and headed home.

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw