When in doubt, put on all your foul weather gear. The sky above Missoula appeared to be clearing, but to be on the safe side we checked the newspaper, the weather channel, and weather.com. The forecast called for intermittent thunder showers.
I put on my foul weather gear but didn’t prepare for the cold. All I wore under the coat was a T-Shirt. Although I wore water-proof gauntlets, I neglected to slip on my official Harley Davidson glove liners.
Shortly after we passed through Bonner, MT I feared that I would be reporting, Oh, Hum another day of great riding, just a different river. That thought changed with a yellow warning sign, Watch for Big Horn Sheep. We didn’t see any Big Horns but we sure looked.
About twenty minutes into the ride I took this shot of Jim on Montana 200. We still held out hope for a dry ride. Before I had the camera back in my coat pocket it began to sprinkle.
For the next fifty miles the rain steadily increased in intensity. Rain alone doesn’t normally faze us, we are water-proofed. This rain had partners, wind and cold. As we climbed, the temperature dropped into the low forties. You are probably asking, “Why didn’t the fools stop and put on warmer clothes and glove liners?”
The answer is easy. There was no place to stop under cover.
We were in this weather for about an hour. A few times we had to slow significantly in order to see the road way.
If you think we are tough, we are, but not like a long distance bike rider we passed. His attire included a soft cap, a short sleeved shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. He had to be in agony.
The community of Lincoln is halfway to Great Falls. We stopped there to get out of the rain long enough to warm up, and to don additional layers of clothes.
Inside the café, I dropped my coat and helmet and hustled to the bathroom where I held my shaking hands under warm water. Returning to the booth, I got a hot coffee. Jim grinned and pointed out the window. The rain had stopped.
Not sure if the weather Gods were toying with us, we added layers before resuming our trek.
All was good. The next eighty miles to Great Falls was warmer and dry.
Great Falls is touted as the gateway from the mountains to the Great Plains. Shortly after leaving Lincoln, we began to see the transition.
Jim is happy to be warm and dry.
The 165 miles we rode today felt more like 400. During lunch we started calling for a room. We learned that there were multiple baseball and soccer tournaments in town. All rooms were booked.
A few years ago Mike Foster and I had a similar problem in Idaho. We rode six hundred miles in twelve hours before arriving in Pocatello around midnight. Every room in town was booked for an American Legion Little League Baseball tournament. A friendly clerk called around and found one room. It was forty miles back the way we had come. Another person heard the news and headed for his car. We raced back and arrived at the Bates Motel at two in the morning. No pavement, no linens, and scary, but we took it.
This time we were luckier. From where we sat, Jim spied a Town House Inn. He called. “You are lucky, we have a cancellation.”