Not prepared for a wonderful Montana bike ride

In the Montana Road Tour 2021, Jennifer and her loyal volunteers at the Montana Cycling Project ran a well-organized bike ride through some of the prettiest country the United States has to offer.

But at about mile 25 on the first day of that ride, I became aware that I was not prepared for it.

Somewhere between Butte, MT, and climbing up Mount Haggin, I began to regret not doing more practice rides. Jerry had canceled out of this ride, saying he did not feel it in his bones. He may have been the smartest of the three of us signed up for the ride. I was feeling it in my butt bone, my shoulder blades and my arthritic thumbs. Not to mention my cranium where, inside it, I was thinking how to shorten this torture.

The ride starts and ends in Butte, goes to Jackson Hot Springs for the first two nights and then on to Dillon and back to Butte. So, I thought, I could stay in Jackson and skip the out-and-back ride on Tuesday. Pedal straight through to Dillon, skipping the RATPOD part of the ride, which I did in 2013 (Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day). That would cut the 115-mile day by more than half. Skip the out-and-back ride out of Dillon and hope that Armageddon arrives before riding over the Pipestone Pass back to Butte.

I had my cheater ride all figured out — if I could get through this 94.6 miles to Jackson. Up this winding mountain pass, to a long descent, which was too short to ever be called “long” and which greeted us with headwinds all the way to Jackson. I had my quilted jacket the whole day – and this was in August. But I pedaled all the way and may not have been the last one in.

Or maybe I was.

Laura, our third rider, had a better (as usual) plan for the ride. “Let’s abandon it,” she announced in Jackson. She finished ahead of me (as usual), but I found out she had done a walk-of-shame on Mount Haggin and had taken a SAG ride into lunch (!). This was shocking. As shocking as my sister once saying in the middle of a day riding, “Maybe we should stop here.” This was Capt. Turbo saying we should abandon the ride.

But that was fine with me.

Laura had a friend who said before the MRT, “If you are not having fun, I will come and take you home.” She was not having fun. Neither was I.

The friend came, we figured out how to get two bikes, two packs, three people and a dog in a Subaru and headed for Butte.

The problem with riding like this is: In order to ride 90 miles comfortably, you have to do practice rides of 90 miles, which for me, riding at 10 mph, is nine hours out of my day. I’m retired and could do that, but that’s a lot of time away from gardening, reading and several other activities I do to putter away my days.

Or maybe an electric bike is the answer. A woman, who looked 80, on the MRT passed Laura going up the mountain riding an electric bike and said, “An electric bike makes uphill fun again.” Can that be true? If so, my next bike is going to be electrified.

I have not come to the point of abandoning bike riding completely. I keep reading articles about how biking is the best exercise for people in certain age brackets. So I am trying to ride through Seattle’s rainy winter without getting wet. Which means I skip many days. But when I can, I take “coffee rides,” which is how Becky on my sister’s ride in summer 2021 described it: Ride for coffee and then back home. I’m riding to my Pilates classes and back home, probably 16 to 18 mile per ride, depending on which hill I take to get back home. I’m hoping this may be enough for whatever my sister comes up with in 2022.

Here’s the 2022 plan for the Montana Road Tour:

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