August 24, 2001

8/24/01 Park Lake

33.6 / 6637 miles

I almost forgot my second flat tire yesterday. The campground turned out to be four or five miles on the other side of town. The road was a busy two-lane without a shoulder. We did a pretty good job keeping together but I slowly lost ground between the group. There was a good headwind but something else seemed to be slowing me down. I heard the telltale floppy noise that signals a flat tire but when I looked down, both tires looked fine. I rode a little farther and when I heard some other noise, I realized it was the trailer tire. My tires and cities just don't get along. I changed the tube as fast as I could and tried to catch up to the group. Good thing the campground was easy to find.

Today's word is 'brutal'! Besides spending way too much money, buying too much gear, eating too much, and loading up enough groceries for a month for our two day trip to Butte, our short 19 mile day ended up being over 30 miles with most of it climbing.

I tried to get an early start on my errands. Picked out a new camera at Target but ended up with next more expensive model because the first was out of stock. At least it was on sale. Then headed over to Bob Ward & Son's Sporting Goods. Talked with Travis about the trip and he gave me a 40% discount. Too bad he didn't have any stoves in stock. After that I went grocery shopping. Almost panicked at the checkout because I had so much stuff. By then it was 11:30, lunch time!

Met Mike at Pizza Hut for their AYCE buffet. Because we didn't eat breakfast, we definitely did some damage. We left feeling way too stuffed. I had barely made a dent in my shopping list when we headed to the bike shops. The Great Divide Cyclery didn't have any pedals, so I took a detour over to Big Sky Cyclery. Jim had great people working for him as they made room in the repair area for me to change my pedals and put my new knobby tires on the wheels. Again I was able to get some pedals for about half-price. I hope they last longer than the last brand. Back next door to the first bike shop was Base Camp, a camping outfitter. Ended up with a very good stove that simmers, for $50 off. They also helped me box up everything I was sending home.

It was kind of sad to say goodbye to Malcolm and Jeremy. Jeremy was going to do some fishing and Malcolm really wanted to see the Charles Russell artwork at the Mackay Gallery. Since they were taking the day off, we wouldn't see them again as they were headed back to Vermont in a couple of days. It was great to share part of the Divide with them.

By the time I got back from the post office, it was already 4PM. Mike and I headed out of town but when our route took us away from any sort of gas station, I told Mike I was turning around. I was totally drained from all the errands, and needed at least a Coke. I was probably also a little dehydrated. That done, we started back on the route, with over 12 miles already done today.

Back on the road again

I expected the first long climb out of the city. The new tires were working well but I was still tired. Near the top of the ascent, I had to walk the bike because it was just too steep for me. After that we had a nice downhill but it had a lot of washboard sections and instead of loose gravel, it was a lot of soft sand. My other tires wouldn't have done well in this stuff.

What surprised both Mike and I was the second climb to Park Lake. It just seemed to go on and on, and on, and on. By now the sun is fast approaching the horizon, almost blinding us to what was ahead. I was tired and this continual climb was frustrating. We did make it, but we were totally exhausted.

The last mile to the campground was downhill but because my clothes were so sweat-soaked, it was a chilly ride. At Park Lake, we couldn't find Todd and Whitney, so we picked a campsite and hoped they were behind us. As it got very dark, Mike ended up riding up the road, otherwise they would have never found our campsite in all the trees.

Todd and Whitney arrived about 9PM. Mike and I weren't hungry, but Whitney prepared dinner for the two of them. For my part I made them some hot cocoa to warm them up on this chilly evening. We sat around lamenting the tough day and being glad that it was over.