August 5, 2006
I woke early today as planned, without sleeping very long or very well. Oh well, today would be a short day. Last night I ate a big Snickers with peanut butter before going to sleep, left over from the morning. It had melted in the afternoon, but was perfect later on in the evening.
Today I skipped breakfast and headed straight for Missoula so I could get there before noon. Instead I stopped for some Little Debbie Honey Buns and Coke. The ride was mostly semi-developed highway with wide shoulders, and cool, chilly weather.
The early-morning-weekend riding reminded me of riding Route 222 in Allentown when I was fourteen. We would always go riding on the weekends, exploring the outskirts of Allentown – usually in colder weather. I remember one day was so cold that my friend Eric showed up with Ziploc bags fastened over his shoes with rubber bands. “Home-made booties!” he said, so proud.
I made it to the post office in time before they closed. There I met Mark and his daughter Anna, riding their own cross-country route on recumbent bicycles. They went mostly along the northern tier, and then through Nebraska and Wyoming. They’re from Vermont.
Well I was lucky that Mark told me The Adventure Cycling Association headquarters is open on Saturdays, or else I wouldn’t have bothered to check. The building was in the middle of downtown Missoula, there among an outdoor market with numerous vendors, some street musicians, and plenty of people out walking around on this Saturday morning. A girl with a guitar and harmonica sat on the sidewalk and put on a solo show. Dreadlocked young hippies sold incense across the street.
The handles to the door of The Adventure Cycling Association were actual bicycle handlebars, and the first thing you see inside is a bike that was ridden in the original 1976 Bikecentennial Ride. Inside were two women doing office work. They took my Polaroid photo, had me sign the log, and showed me where they had free sodas, ice cream, and computer access for cyclists.
Apparently only about 500 riders check in here each summer. I wonder what’s the real statistic of how many people cycle across America each year. – probably more like 1,500-2,000. The best part of my visit to the headquarters was picking up the Pacific Coast maps – funny that I’m almost there, to the Pacific Ocean.
Bumping into Mark and Anna again, he said, “We’re staying another night… this town is too cool to leave… catch you later!” I hung around town for a little while myself, grabbed some pancakes at a cafe, and headed up to Craig and Sherri’s house. Sherri came out and immediately showed me the laundry, shower, kitchen, tv, computer, refrigerator… “Make yourself at home,” she said, “Here, you sleep in our son’s bedroom – he’s away at college.”
For dinner Craig cooked a big vegetarian meal, and I had some corn on the cob, polenta, and veggie burgers (Which were very good!). They had done a tour of Europe some years ago. Craig has ridden across most of Canada, and is following a bunch of Crazyguy journals, so we had a lot to talk about. Life is good.