August 26, 2001

8/26/01 Butte, MT

0 miles

Sat and watched my friends pack this morning. I know I made the right decision but it still hurts to be alone again. I didn't know Mike, Todd and Whitney but a short time, but I won't forget them. It was already getting warm when they rode off at 11AM. I almost felt lost without them. I need this rest day, so I first wandered. Found the two bike shops in town closed but stopped to talk to Dave Johnson at Pipestone Mountaineering outfitters [www.pipestonemtng.com]. After lunch, I went to the movies (American Pie 2) and had some good laughs. The rest of the afternoon is for bike maintenance while listening to some new CD's (Dido-No Angel and the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where art thou?").

I was hoping that Frog and his brother, Ed, would show up at the campground tonight, so I wouldn't be alone. Just as well they didn't. Summer ends in a week and I probably won't see another cyclist after Labor Day. So I just sat around reading "Miles from Nowhere" by Barbara Savage, and I also think I got drunk on more than a few beers.

I know I'll be second-guessing my choice for days to come. The simple fact is that I don't have the strength or skill to keep up with younger riders like Mike. All I know is that I rode 355 miles of the Great Divide and that the Montana section is the toughest.

As I sat here reading, over walks Steve from Michigan. He's here with his wife after spending a week at Glacier National Park headed to Yellowstone tomorrow. Later, looking up at the lights of the city, it struck me that where else in the world could you travel for 6700 miles, seeing wonderful scenery, meeting generous people, and never really being threatened at all. Americans are blessed and I wonder how many really "know" it.

Nancy has been my guardian angel but there's only so much she can do, especially when protecting me from myself. The pavement is my element from now on. And who knows, I just might bump into those guys along the way.