Day 35: Denton, Montana to Lewistown, Montana

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It is hard to beat the scenery here in Montana. Square Butte followed me for miles.

At every turn, I’m seeing things that, well, I’ll never see in Florida. Real eye candy.

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Hay, or alfalfa, rolled up and ready to go. This keeps reminding me that winter is coming and I need to beat it to New England.

Today’s ride is about 45 miles and there is just one major climb. As usual, I’m optimistic that I should make it to town (Lewistown) in plenty of time and, for a change, I do. I enjoy the scenery along the way and snap lots of photos.

I’m disappointed in the camera in the phone I’m using. For reasons unexplained, it will store the photo upside down, or mirror image. Had I known this before the trip, I would have gotten something else. It is an LG LK7 and leaves me frustrated with photos that I cannot load up to the blog, for some other reason, they just won’t load. This means that you folks are missing out on some interesting photos that I just can’t post.

Even though the ride was short today, it was hot. I arrived in Lewistown with just a few drops of water left and all of my Gatorade consumed. Even for this Floridian of fourteen years, it is hot.

I arranged with a WarmShowers.org member to stay at their place, but that wouldn’t be in until late in the day; some people have jobs, a concept I have pretty much forgotten about. I needed to do a few things while in town, so after filling up on cold drinks, I went looking for things. First on the list was another soldering iron, I needed to fix my ham radio antenna tuner again. The local True Value store had one for $20, so I decided to wait and see if my WarmShowers.org host might have one. We’ll call my host “Brian.”

I then hunted around for a bike shop. My shifting was getting bad and I don’t have the tools I have at home, so I figured, let the experts do it. More importantly, I discovered this morning, in my daily inspection of the bike, that I was missing a very important bolt that holds the handlebars to the front wheel. There are two, and if loose, the wheel could turn in any direction on its own. I imagined flying down a hill at speed and hitting a small rock and the wheel turning!

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This bolt in the center of the photo had gone missing.

I found High Plains Bike and Ski on 10th Street. (406)538-2902 He is only open a few hours a day, and on specific days. I was lucky, he was going to open at 4 pm, so I parked in front of his place, laid on some shady grass and went to sleep. A vehicle pulled up 20 minutes later and Mark, the owner, invited me in. He did some quick adjustments, replaced the bolt and did it all so quickly I didn’t realize he was already done. For a few bucks, I was ready to go.

The best part is Mark really knows his machines. He looked at the paint on my top tube of the bike, the one that runs from the seat to the handlebars and warned me to keep an eye on it. The machine has about 54000 miles on it and all that sweating over the years has etched off the paint and is causing corrosion on the tube. He instructed me to get a razor blade and peel off the paint and take a closer look to be certain the tube isn’t forming cracks. I will. For the moment, it does seem okay.

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Corrosion on the top tube.

One more thing to think about as I ride along.

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Mark isn’t looking for more business, he seems to have enough customers, but if you’re in town and in trouble, look for his shop.

I left Mark’s shop and met with my WarmShowers.org host, “Brian.” Brian had been working on a car that he just got a good deal on. A few days ago, a friend collided with a deer. The hood was damaged, and the deer flew over the top of the car and crashed through the rear window and into the back seat. The owner considered the car totaled and sold it to “Brian” for a very reasonable price. “Brian,” and a friend replaced the rear window with an opaque material and duct tape and he is hunting for a good hood. Otherwise, the car is in great shape, the deer, not so much.

“Brian,” and I met at the local Chinese restaurant and ate to our heart’s content. We then went to his father-in-law’s and borrowed a soldering iron. My day was coming together.

We went to “Brian’s” place and he showed me to a couch in the basement which would be my “room” for the night. He introduced me to “Cricket,” a young cat that he has. I told him I like cats and he didn’t have to keep her upstairs, she would be fine in the basement overnight.

I settled in, had a hot shower and soldered my antenna tuner. The WiFi connection in the basement was hopeless, so I hit the hay. The couch is in a bicycle storage area so there are bikes everywhere, including a few hanging directly over the couch. When standing I had to avoid hitting my head.

When I went to sleep, “Cricket,” decided to go to sleep at my feet. All was well. I was warm, dry, comfortable, and had a cat sleeping at my feet.

At about 03:05 am I recall that the cat had moved up and was now sleeping on my butt. She isn’t fully grown and wasn’t very heavy. All that Chinese food was having a reaction and suddenly my butt felt like Mt. St. Helens. In the pitch dark, there was a mighty blast of hot air. Cats can be very reactionary and this one was no exception. The sudden loud noise scared the living daylights out of her and she launched…straight up. With a terrified scream, she crashed into the bikes hanging overhead. I then heard her clattering around and scrambling to escape. I was laughing so hard I thought I peed myself.

I got up, came back to bed and went back to sleep, the cat was nowhere to be seen. In the pitch dark, about a half-hour later, she quietly returned and went to sleep by my feet. She is a quick study.

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Cricket

In the morning I packed up, said goodbye to Cricket and “Brian,” and headed off out of town. I was still chuckling about the cat. “Brian” is one of those folks that likes to be prepared should anarchy ensue and the world as we know it ends. He stockpiles water, rice and beans, lots of dried beans. Should the world devolve into anarchy I might warn Cricket that with all those beans, she might want to carefully consider where she sleeps.

Author: Dennis Blanchard

Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.

1 thought on “Day 35: Denton, Montana to Lewistown, Montana”

  1. what an adventure, jumping cats and volcano farts.
    i’m reading your book “300 zeros”
    not too wild about all the rattlesnakes and the bears too.

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