Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Falls Mt to Fort Benton Mt

This was very informative because it seems like almost all of the plants I have been finding pretty and really adding a lot of color to the trip are basically classified as noxious weeds.

This what I would call a "mean " hill you have to climb when leaving Great Falls. It is steep and what made it more complicated was at least 20 mph cross wind with strong gusts mixed in. The bush on left provides some idea of the wind. When you are climbing a hill at 4-5 mph a cross wind affects you a lot more than when you are moving faster.

The 40+ miles to Fort Benton was one of the most challenging I have have ever had on a bike ride. The cross wind was almost exactly perpendicular to the road, so the bike was leaning into it the whole way. You can ride like this ok but what made yesterday interesting was the big gusts that messed up balance and it was a fight to keep from getting pushed into the roadside gravel and/or sideditch.. Then there was the big trucks that would roar by causing a whole different wind dynamic. On a side note I am beginning to believe that about half the drivers of those super big motor homes should be water boarded on a regular basis just for their non sensical driving habits alone. Obviously any idiot can just jump into one of these tanks and set off down the road while they arev talking on a cell phone.

This is now wide open country, no bluffs, or tree stands or even many signs of human habitation.

This challenging riding went on for 15 miles and some pretty big hills and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into when a lady in a dual wheeled pickup stopped nearby and was looking at her tires. She said that the wind was blowing so hard that it was affecting her truck and she was checking to see if she had a flat. She asked how I was doing and said if I wanted to stay put for 2-3 hours she would stop and give me a lift on her way back to Fort Benton. She also said that "right over that hill is a 24 mile construction zone --they are paving the road."

This was real thrilling news but I figured I would push on anyway (like I had a choice). That 24 mile stretch ended up the best of the day. Traffic speed was reduced to 30 mph. and the highway folks would hold up traffic for a while and then lead a passell to next stop with a pilot car, and there was absolutely no passing. I was permitted to travel on my own for the 24 miles ,so for 20 minute stretches I had the road to myself. When a caravan would approach I pulled over and let them pass. What a perfect deal--it made handling the cross wind a lot easier.
When I came upon this sign I had to laugh--whoever designed it had no idea what else the message might mean--or considering that this is wind country maybe they did. Anyway it seemed appropriate.

There is a lot of information available in several places about how L/K had to make a decision when they reached this areaas to which fork of the river they had been following was a continuation of the Missouri or some tributary.
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