This is part of a series of posts written during my cycle from Vancouver, BC to Minneapolis, MN in June 2013. For the most part I followed the Adventure Cycling Association’s ‘Northern Tier’ Route, but deviated where I saw fit. It was a great experience, read on to find out more…
Today turned out to be a milestone for me — it saw me ride my first double century (200 miles). I’ve been pushing closer to the double this year with a number of rides in the 130 range, and a 150 miler on my trip down to Montpellier. If the 200 target has been on my radar for a while, I had no intention of going for it when I woke up.
The storm of the previous night had blow over and the wind had changed to a more favorable direction. I grabbed a quick breakfast and hit the road, frustrated to have lost a day with the storms and determined to make it up. The wind was strongest in the morning, unusual as it’s usually the other way around, and was blowing almost directly at my back. As a result I was blasting along, making it 90 miles to Malta — the first town of any significance — by around 1.30. I had planned to stop for the day in Malta, but didn’t want to waste the good weather, so I had a quick lunch and pushed on — now targeting Glasgow, the small Montana town not the Scottish city!
It was a hot afternoon and I was glad to see an open bar in Saco – a minuscule hamlet about 25 miles east of Malta. I intended to go in and grab a cold coke, but I got dragged into a conversation with the proprietor and his regulars – they made me take a photo of their outside bar, and remarked that I had ‘almost no accent’ before asking what language we speak in England. That was my cue to leave!
The wind died out in the afternoon, but I still made good time to Glasgow, having covered 160 miles — already just about the furthest I’d cycled in a day. I had a quick meal and had a look at the map: Wolf Point was 50 miles away, getting there would make up for the day off and put me back on target for stops over the next few days — not to mention bagging me my first double.
I set off, powered by ice-cream from dinner and excitement about reaching the landmark I zoomed along. Although the wind had died, it wasn’t an obstruction and storm clouds that had looked ominous earlier in the afternoon had cleared. In the end the biggest challenge in reaching Wolf Point didn’t come from the weather or fatigue, it came from the Mosquitos. They’d been bad all day, preventing me stopping on the side of the road and making me eat my lunch standing in a gas station — but as the sun dropped and I turned my lights on, I was mobbed. I couldn’t wear my glasses in the dark so I ended up squinting as I rode along, scrunching my eyes against the mosquitos.
Eventually, despite the insects, I rolled into Wolf Point and grabbed a motel (insects still too bad for camping). I was ecstatic about riding my first 200, but thoroughly tired of the weather, landscape, and insects. They’re making me suffer and addition another dimension to the endurance required to do a trip like this.