September 2: I wake up at 5:30am, determined to get some mileage in before the wind inevitably picks up some time in the late morning or early afternoon. I leave the Galata Motel by 7am. I’m feeling pretty good about this. I wanted to leave early, and by some miracle I have. The sun is just rising over the horizon behind me as I pedal down US 2. This is a constant in my trip. Each day is a losing battle, running from the sun just as I have seemingly run from real life during this undertaking. Every day I lose that race, and the sun inevitably passes me as I continue to chase it into the West.
It ends up being windy pretty much all day. When I say that the wind slows me to a crawling pace, I mean that on average I travel about 5 miles an hour. Keep in mind that a fit person walking on flat ground can cover somewhere between 2 and 3 miles an hour. A fit person on a bicycle tour (without a trailer and dog attached) can travel somewhere between 10 and 15 miles per hour, maybe even more. So I’m slow. I’m always slow because I’m not a cyclist and I’m towing 100 pounds, but when it’s windy the trailer acts as a parachute and I am even slower than my usual slow.
In the afternoon I get “pulled over” by a young, handsome policeman.
Remember that US 2 is a one-lane-each-way highway. This stretch is pretty busy. Like “semis roaring by causing wind tunnels that suck me into the road and make me feel like I’m going to die” kind of busy. The kind of fear where you make noises without meaning to. Every time a semi passed by on my side heading west I would let out a loud “HOOOOOOOOOKAAAAAAYYYYY.”
Let’s set the scene. The shoulder was decently sized but unfortunately was filled with rumble strips. Riding my bike and trailer on rumble strips wasn’t just uncomfortable, it was impossible. So the left trailer tire was slightly over the white line. The yellow lines in the middle of the road were dotted though; traffic could pass as long as there was none oncoming from the opposite direction, which there wasn’t most of the time. Let’s remember that I’m talking about a “busy road” that is busy by Montana standards. So, not that busy, but with big scary trucks. Anyway when the policeman pulls me over, I am working on my tan lines. I had no shirt on (rocking the sports bra) and my shorts were rolled up.
Hoocheymama bicycle tour trash (check), pulling a baby trailer (check), traveling 5 miles an hour (check), policeman in an SUV behind me with his lights and sirens on (CHECK). Guys he put his lights on. Sirens too. To pull over a bicycle traveling 5 miles an hour. Ok, maybe 8 miles an hour. Because “concerned citizens” had called in that a woman was bicycling down the highway with her baby. Now, this was not the first time someone thought I had a baby in the Burley trailer. It is a baby trailer, so that is not an insane assumption. I had also looked up the rules and regulations for bicycles in the state on Montana a few days prior. Bicycles are considered a vehicle, and as there is no minimum speed limit in US 2 in this area, I could have ridden my bicycle down the middle of the westbound lane if I had such a (totally legal) inclination (and also a deathwish). I say this to the handsome cop. He agrees with me. He awkwardly gets in his SUV and drives back east. But really, were the sirens necessary?
I arrive in Cut Bank, Montana and stay in the RIverview RV Campground. The campground is out of the way and to be honest it seemed a little sketchy at first. It was beautiful. I am so glad I stayed here instead of the more expensive campground located in Cut Bank. There was a short hike down to a secluded river. I let Dobby run around and stretch his legs. Everything around the river was green, so different from the uniformly yellow/tan landscape I had been traversing for days.
We have traveled 2,580.7 miles.