Published: September 22nd 2012September 22nd 2012
My dad had his bike gear on long before I woke up at 6:45. The ride, however, did not begin at 9:30. So he got to cool his heels for a while in all that wicking gear. Fred has lots of riding gadgets: helmet-mounted rear view mirrors, some sort of Ipod App that counts calories, but it takes time to find them and properly arrange them. But the guys got off, down Route 22, with all manner of family to see them off. While they rode, I wandered around the "Interpretive Center" -- A Lewis and Clark museum at Great Falls that devoted a surprising portion of its exhibit space to documenting the struggles the Corps of Discovery had with grizzly bears. They treed many a man. Fred cousin, Bruce, last night told my parents that grizzly bears roam just north of Great Falls, slaughtering sheep. And that's the direction where my dad and Fred decided to ride. A couple hours into it, the sag truck attendants (my mom, Lois and I) got a call for water. We found the discoverers in good spirits -- they had conquered 20-some miles of hills and roadwork. At the 40-mile mark, they stopped for
Sag team waits.
burgers at Fort Benton.
"We could knock of 20 more miles," Fred declared, burger in hand.
"How about 29," I offered, which we all knew was the distance to Geraldine, the next town down the road. Laughter all around, but it was confident laughter, the laughter of men who have made a habit of shrugging off the exhaustion and weariness that keeps other men confined to hotel beds watching Missouri lose slowly and badly to South Carolina.
So they set off again -- would they would ride to Geraldine? Would they bike 70 miles on the first day? Would they equal the devil-may-care determination of the Corps of Discovery when they portaged the hills around the falls despite the prickly pears, the dust, and the heat?
No. My dad managed 11 miles before the wind and hills convinced him to call the sag truck, Fred 15. They returned to the hotel quieter and stiffer. No one mentioned averaging 350 miles a week. Because, you see, if they want to take a day off each week, they should ride 60 miles a day.
My mom and Lois ride off to get them. I chose to stay
put on the hotel bed and watch Penn State slowly beat Temple. Now, I did this only because the ESPN ticker had the Nebraska score, the Huskers were close to breaking 70 points, and ESPN always airs the most boring Big Ten game of the week. Otherwise I would have watched Missouri slowly lose to South Carolina on CBS. I would never, on any account, watch Montana State play someone equally irrelevant on ABC.
Tomorrow it might be Lewistown.
There are more photos below