I’ve seen another bear – a Black bear this time. I was riding along when it suddenly came roaring out the woods shouting “Oi, woman, ger’off my land!”. This was no time for diplomacy and I had no option but to tackle aggression with aggression so stood up on Reggie’s saddle and elbow-dropped him like a WWF wrestler from the ropes. He fell to the floor like a sack of spuds, face down to the ground with me astride his neck, holding one stumpy forearm behind his back in a paw-lock as he squealed for mercy.
Alternatively, I saw a bear from about 200 metres away, casually walking down the road before crossing it and scampering into the bushes. I continued on to the campsite and, again, experienced the kindness of strangers as a very friendly family offered me their spot after examining “my rig” as they put it before departing, then the couple next door invited me over for whiskey and soda which was just what the doctor ordered!
Things went a bit downhill after that and I’ve spent the last few days, metaphorically, pulling myself up off the floor after being tired and emotional! Three main reasons for this:
1) I spent a couple of days with the 3 people I sometimes hook up with, then go ahead when they have a day off, then they catch up with me again and we ride together for a day or two before the cycle repeats itself. It’s nice to have company sometimes (although I never really feel alone as, as cited above, people stop and say hi or offer you a drink etc.) but I find it hard riding in a group as I’m always bringing up the rear which is a bit demoralising. I always tell them to please go on and don’t wait for me but they do, which is nice of them but inevitably means I hurry then knacker myself out. I want to spend 2 hrs rocking in the foetal position halfway up a big hill, I’d like to be able to do that and not feel I have to press on to the top so they’re not waiting too long.
2) I got lost. It was essentially fine as you don’t feel you can ever get too lost – just head either south or downhill if you are and sooner or later you’ll hit a main road that will take you, if not to your intended destination for that night, to the next town on the route. But it did mean a horrible trip down the highway before arriving in Helena in a slightly deflated state.
3) Spent a day on, according to the book (which does lie a lot), the toughest terrain on the whole route. It was horrible. As I set out from Helena, I realised straightaway I had zero energy and today was not the day to be tackling it. I knew at time of ordering the night before that a Chicken Cobb salad from Bert & Ernies was not a calorific enough choice and I should go for a high energy option and, sure enough, bitterly regretted it the next day. Really I should have turned around and taken the day off but I ploughed on and found it really heavy going. Them there was a 2 mile, extremely steep climb up a muddy, rooty, rocky path with deep gullies in it so there was no option but to push your bike up hill and battle to hold it steady going on the even steeper downhill stretch. Frustratingly, the slope looks fine in the photos but it really wasn’t! I’d left Helena late and made such slow progress that I arrived at my destination not just in a mood but in the dark and in the rain. Last time I set out at midday!
I have found a new motivational song of choice to help me through the bad times such as those. Funny how stuff you never listen to at home suddenly becomes your go-to option. Go sistas!
I am now feeling a lot better after a day off in Butte, a historic mining town. I
got overtaken bybumped into an Aussie guy also doing the route and we blew our budget on steak and beers last night and took the trolley tour of the town this morning which was fun. Now we’re both blogging. Let’s hope he’s also saying nice stuff and not writing “had to suffer through a 3 hour dinner and spent all morning trying to shake her off – talk about a limpet! And who knows when she last washed her hair!”.
Physically and not just mentally I am feeling better for a bit of a rest as my body is in a bit of a state. I have terrible heat rash on the tops of my thighs (it’s been 35 degrees at times), so I covered up for 2 days and wore leggings rather than shorts. Mistake. Without the padding my bottom was red raw at the end of the day. In addition, the arm of my sunglasses has started severing my right ear off so I need to give that a rest too! Other than that, all is ship-shape!
Here’s a list of the movers and shakers on the animal chart: bears at number 1 after papping a Black one, wolverine and beaver riding high in joint second and a new entrant on this week’s chart – a skunk! It did the ‘psfffffff’ skunk-thing, looked slightly embarrassed at what it had just done and ran off.
Tan-wise, shoulders = David Dickenson. The rest of me is a bit red after running out of P20 suntan cream and switching to that globally-recognised brand, Rocky Mountain suntan cream. It doesn’t work.