Day 11 of 64: 91 miles. As I ride into Lincoln, Montana, I am suddenly aware that the tiny houses and cabins and buildings I constructed with my set of Lincoln Logs years ago actually have some reference to architecture in the Northwest.
Here they are -- larger versions of the green slat-roofed and redwood cities I constructed on my living room carpet.
With the majority of the riders, I camp on the grass outside of Lincoln's High School, and the word quickly spreads that thunderstorms may cross our grounds.
That night we are awakened twice to the sound of gunshots; I am baffled. Premature fireworks? A tire blown on the highway?
The next morning someone on staff mentions that in Montana residents venture out in the middle of the night and shoot their guns aloft to ward off bears. In the process, they may scare a camper or two, which, evidently, they not only don't mind, but somewhat enjoy.
The next morning, the 70 cyclists are forewarned that we may be cycling 90 miles into 20-35 mph winds and intermittent 40mph gusts. Headwinds, where you fight against nature to move forward. They predicted headwinds, but, at least for a key part of my ride, they were wrong.
The headwinds we expected are tailwinds; and coming in out of Helena, I am moving without pedaling. Looking over the shoulder of the road, I see the knee- high grass gesturing in cresting, falling waves toward my destination. This moment is one I am grateful for: in part, because in the last 10 days of riding, my skin has been sodden, numbed, burned, blistered, peeled off, and burned again. I have pedaled uphill into gust after gust amid rain and snow and headfirst into caustic winds. After all such matter, the air carries me for miles. I no longer pedal. Chasing, catching, and carrying me is a wind of 40 miles per hour, pushing me along, easing the burden of forward motion.