July 3: Wolf Point to Glasgow, Montana - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

July 3: Wolf Point to Glasgow, Montana

THE LITTLE PARK on top of the hill last night was full of cyclists. For a couple of days now we've been hearing not only of a British rider called Sam, who's a couple of days ahead of us, but "around a dozen" others bearing down on us from the opposite direction. It wasn't hard to guess that it was an escorted group organised by Adventure Cycling. And there they were - seven rather than a dozen - setting up their tents beside the swimming pool and looking distinctly drained by the wind in their hair all day.

For us, the wind had turned in the last hour. Yesterday evening there was another storm and we were again treated to thunder, lightning and a lot of shaking tent. This morning it blew again, still from the west. We and the Adventure Cycling group had exchanged fortunes. They left lighter of heart, their only concern being whether or not to regroup at the first hamburger joint.

Having turned in our face, the wind then took against us in a big way. We rode into it, up long, long rises that rarely went down. We rode in the gear we normally reserved for proper hills, the largest sprocket, for hours. And all the time along the wastelands of the US2.

It wasn't so much hard as unrelenting. We had grown to love North Dakota, quite the opposite of the dread stories we had been told, and our opinion was all the warmer for having had the wind playing around our rear panniers. Montana had started even better, frankly majestic. But now we are in the dull plains we had expected of Dakota. It is, in Steph's term, Montanotonous.

Being open means no shelter. No shelter means no relief from sitting in the same position, heavy in the saddle, in the same gear, for hours at 12kmh. You try to think Zen thoughts but Zen can

Julie and Jean-Philippe from Quebec City. Follow their story at www.seattlequebecvelo.blogspot.com.
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escape you. By the afternoon, up a short, sharp hill, we were delighted to seek relief at Bergie's, a blue and white cafe on the edge of Nashua. Every cyclist in the northern states stops there.

"We get hundreds of bikers through here," the waitress said, "but I never knew why." We explained Adventure Cycling to her. She said she was at university in Missoula and had often seen the organisation's headquarters and thought of calling in just to see what it was about.

A middle-aged man at a far table thought he ought to join in the conversation.

"Camp by the roadside, do ya?"

We said we didn't. He either didn't listen or didn't care.

"Doncha get kinda scared that someone will come and drop somethin' on your head while you're in that little tent?"

"Does that happen a lot?"

"Does what happen?"

"Do people drop things on campers' heads a lot?"

He looked momentarily more stupid than ever and thought that, no, perhaps it didn't happen so frequently. "Rather sleep in my own car, though," he said. "Got your own bedroom with ya if you gotta car."

We let the conversation drop.

By the end of the afternoon I was demanding a halt every ten minutes just for the pleasure of no longer pedalling.

A headwind: a cyclist's worst enemy
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I did begin to suspect that a wobble in my back wheel was causing the rim to brush against the brake block every turn. But in the end, I think, I was simply morally and physically weak.

And that, really, is all there's to be said about the day. We have camped beside the RVs outside the Cottonwood hotel. The price is just $5, to cover the cost of the showers. It was a figure thought up on

Gary and Deb from Alaska, crossing the country with Deb at the wheel
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Randy, another Crazy Guy, an instant friend
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the spot, I think, by a hotel receptionist flustered to find that we weren't in an RV. Odd, really, because there are close to a dozen other cyclists here tonight. They include a fellow Crazy Guy - Randy Garmon - and, with a wife and small RV following him, Gary Griffeth from Alaska and his nephew Jeremiah.

AMERICAN FLAGS SEEN: 16

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