Six cyclists crowded the living room and front porch of the Sullivan house on Jackson Street in Missoula. Saddlebags, helmets, tents, pumps, and rainwear produced a myriad of trip hazards. A reporter from a Great Falls newspaper was frustrated trying to get Ty, Drew, and Mac together at the same time. We would not get on the road until close to 10:00, way too late for Tom (the most serious cyclist amongst us).

Outside the temperature was in the mid-40’s and rain was falling steadily. Snow had fallen on the hilltops. Mac’s mom Ginny would ride with us us in the cold and wet when most of us would have stayed home. After a quick stop at the supermarket and the hardware store we headed east on Montana Route 200 and it quickly became apparent to all of us that this was going to be a tough day. It’s easy to dress for the cold, but add in precipitation and things get difficult. You have to stay dry and warm, but too many clothes and the sweat from within will soak you through and through. After a mere 5 of the 80 planned miles we took shelter at a truck stop to reassess and add clothes.

There is always a silver lining; a strong tailwind was boosting us along. (Ginny would have to battle this as a headwind back to Missoula so she left us after 15 miles.) The wind pushed the rain up and inside the back flap of my raincoat soaking my jersey. We were all pretty wet, cold, and miserable and we sought shelter at the first opportunity, 23 miles into the day. Hot chocolate was on the house because they recognized the charity riders. I put on dry clothes and luckily, the rain stopped although it remained cold and windy for the rest of the ride. Drew’s parents meet us at a rest stop 40 miles into the day and cooked us lunch. We all crowded into the family van and cranked the heat to the maximum.

Back on the road we all seemed to be in better spirits. A warm lunch, an extra heat boost to take the edge off, and even though the clouds threatened, the big sky’s of Montana began to reveal themselves.

What had started off as a miserable day had turned into a pretty good one. We had views of fresh snow on the hilltops and rivers twisted and carved the landscape along our route. We pulled into Lincoln, montana at about 6:30. Tomorrow, Tom has a route picked out for us that crosses the continental divide at Roger’s Pass on Route 200, cuts south to Wolf Creek and then follows the Missouri River up to Cascade, Montana. Nothing like local knowledge.
Bonus photo; there is lots of game crossing the roads in Montana and drivers need to be alert to avoid collisions.