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Monday, August 31, 2009

Down Time

Wednesday, July 22
Off Day at Waterton Lakes

Weekends. Time to shift direction, concentrate on something besides work, the news, whatever. What is it for you? That occupies your week? That you seek to avoid on the weekends?

For the riders of the tour, today is an off day; no riding required, although the option is there. Since the little saddle is starting to fit just a bit too well and since my bike has been somewhat obstreperous, it seems a good day to shift my attention to pursuits other than pedaling.

OK, so this entire trip is a vacation. Time off from the "grind." I'm not (or maybe just barely) aware of so many things that occupy my thoughts during a normal week at home or on a business trip. Even things I don't realize I notice until a tour like this when I become completely oblivious to them, for a variety of reasons.

For example, on my first tour I slept in my tent every night, a pretty major change in routine. At the end of about the third day of the ride, I called Shirley. During the conversation, she asked me, "What time does it get dark where you are?" My reply? "I don't have a clue!" Sound asleep before sundown is the norm.

But the tours really do provide release from the normal norm. No laptop, no work brought along to catch up on, no newspapers. This year, being in hotels, I'll have to admit to having the TV on a few times - surfing for the Tour de France coverage which was never found. But it is near total disconnect. All you need to do is get up, eat breakfast, get ready to ride, ride, eat at the picnic stop, ride some more, find some mid -afternoon refreshment at at the end of the ride, unwind in town, eat dinner, sleep and repeat. It's great and I highly recommend it.

Waterton Lakes Village is in a beautiful location. Mountains surround the north end of the lake that extends down into Glacier Park in Montana. The location of the US/Canadian border is visible from a spot just above the visitor center which offers a grand view of the area. The weather continues to be near-perfect.

At Waterton Lakes

Our hotel is located in the village, not far from all it has to offer in the way of services

Our hotel in Waterton
NOT our hotel in Waterton
In the hotel yard (our hotel)

Hiking trails, boat rides and cycling options are available. We decide to take the hike up to Bertha Falls and then on farther to Bertha Lake. The trail is well maintained and winds around with a repeating pattern of sections lined with wildflowers followed by an opportunity to walk in the cool shade of the abundant evergreens before emerging at an opening offering panoramic view of the lake below. The walk to the falls is pleasant and not all that challenging.

On the way up to Bertha Falls

The falls are of the tumbling ilk, water rolling down over a rocky stair step, never really getting launched over the edge of anything. We take a few pictures and head on towards the lake.

Lower Bertha Falls

The trail immediately becomes steeper and not long after the falls we get up onto a ridge that, on approach, appears to want to carry us along the edge of a sharp precipice. That wasn't really the case, though and we were soon back into forest shaded hiking, winding our way up in what I would later determine to be 24 switchbacks.

It is quiet and we encounter no other hikers. A bit above the falls, we do meet a group of young men and women working for the park, repairing one of the switchbacks. Hard labor for them, but they are smiling and chatting as they go about the digging and scraping and hauling of rock. If you have to do this kind of work, it might as well be in a place like this!

Later we find that there is another waterfall, this one taller and more of the water-throwing-itself-down-the-mountain type. There is a bit of bad news in this discovery as the water is coming from a place well above where we are. That would be where we will find the lake we are going to see. We climb on and eventually reach the high point of the hike where we can look down on the surface of Bertha Lake.

Nothing much to see here. Just one of those picture post card perfect vistas of a turquoise lake surrounded by rocky peaks, their lower slopes painted a cool, dark shade of green by the trees that grow right down to the water's edge.

Bertha Lake

We walk down to the lake level, through a field of bear grass. This is the first time I have seen bear grass and it is showing off by sparkling brilliantly with reflected sunlight.

Bear grass

The only "improvement" is a rough log bridge across a small rill that feeds the falls we saw on the way up. There is a couple wading in the water in a clearing across from our location. And a single merganser swimming and diving, unconcerned with our presence.

A page from my journal with notes and my impression of Bertha Lake (left)

We sit on bleached trunks of fallen trees and eat lunch. As we finish, another of our group comes down the trail. It is getting awfully crowded so we take off for town. Once there, we settle down and do some serious consideration of local insects.


The tour has provided a chance to "get away from it all." And the day off at Waterton Lakes provides a chance to get away from the tour. What a grand day.

Today's Ride:      Tour Totals:
00.0 miles           237.1 miles
0000 feet             9509 feet

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big Slide

Tuesday, July 21
Blairmore to Waterton Lakes

Local Indians called it The Mountain that Walked and at 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903 Turtle Mountain did, in fact, move. In a sudden and devastating collapse, 90 million tons of limestone thundered down onto the coal mining town of Frank, Alberta, Canada. In ninety seconds what had been the north face of the mountain became, as it remains to this day, a marker for 58 of the 70 people killed in this calamity. That 530 inhabitants survived seems a miracle, to be sure, but an awful tragedy for those that lost their lives; and for their families and friends as well. Six hundred people in a coal mining town; I suspect they all pretty much knew each other.

A lot of time has passed. Gladys Ennis, 27 months old in 1903 and the last survivor of the slide, died 14 years ago at the age of 94. If Turtle Mountain has walked since 1903, it has only been baby steps. Except for the highway, the rubble was never cleared away. The town moved. Life went on.

It must have been a terrifying minute and a half. A mountain thundering down on the sleeping town, wooden buildings offering no defense against the onslaught. Now, I stand looking up at the scar on the face of the mountain. The morning air is cool, the sky is blue, there is no traffic on the highway. As I read the brief summary of the slide and its aftermath on the sign at the side of the road, I try to imagine what it was like. I cannot. It is just too peaceful here. Too nice a morning.

We are reminded from time to time of the possibility that we might not be here in 90 seconds. We could make a quick turn onto a new route, but if we are on the right road, there is no need. We can ride on. We just might get another day on the plains, in the mountains, cruising along the river. Enjoying the going. So it was today...

It is a grand morning. There is the promise of another day riding through a landscape that never misses a chance to surprise and awe with offerings of sweeping prairie and towering, rugged mountains. A destination that, we are told, will be one of the high points of the tour. So I swing back onto the small saddle, clip in to the pedals and leave the slide behind.

This is one of those days that is not best be described with words. So, here are some pictures. Enjoy the ride.

Clicking on a picture will open it in a larger size. For this one, you'll be able to read the story on the sign.

Today's Ride:      Tour Totals:
68.2 miles           237.1 miles
3261 feet             9509 feet

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dear Montana

You thought I didn't have anyone to write to upon returning from the trip? You don't know me very well, then. Here are my notes to those that affected me in one way or another during the Glacier/Waterton Tour.

To the Delta (nee Northwest) agent in La Crosse,
Kalispell is in Montana, one of our 50 states. It is a destination on your route map. Yes, you are now the world's largest airline, but try to keep track of ALL of your cities, please. Especially the ones I want to get to. And our pilot; he is better informed on navigational issues ~ right?

To the designers of the CRJ Regional Jet,
Mine was a window seat. It took me a while, however, to find it ~ the window that is. I finally looked down and, what do you know, it was there all the time ~ the top of the window not quite coming up to shoulder height. Now I know you think I'm going to complain, but not so. I've never felt so, well, tall. Thanks!

To all of you on cell phones while in stalls in the airport men's rooms,

To a few of the passengers on the plane to Kalispell,
One, two, even three calls AFTER the announcement to "Turn off and stow all electronic devices!" Are you the same select group that gets to go through the intersection after the light turns red?

To the Delta/Northwest baggage agents in Kalispell,
Where do you keep the badger and the mountain lion when they aren't fighting over passengers' bags? If they had been better fed, maybe they wouldn't have worked themselves into such a frenzy trying to get to the Gu and energy bars packed in my sports bag.

However, might I say that the new American Tourister rolling duffel that you gave me as a replacement worked OK. And you had it right there behind the counter. Cool.

To the Flathead-Glacier Transportation driver at the Kalispell airport,
I don't know why I agreed to let you take off with a passenger ~ AND my one still intact bag ~ for the "quick run into town" while I dealt with the not-still-intact-bag issue. Thanks for coming back as you said you would.

To the young man at the ice cream stand in Whitefish,
I like the way you count. THREE big scoops on my "single" huckleberry cone!

To the huckleberry growers or pickers or whoever in the Northwest,
Can't you export those things? We are only a couple of states over. To the east. Think about it.

To the self-supporting riders in Eureka,
Riding the Continental Divide Trail. From Canada to Mexico. I am humbled and impressed. I know you are not finished yet. Good luck and be safe.

To Bill,
The yellow arrow on the road means "Turn. Here. Now."

To The Cutting Board in Eureka,
You might have the country's best burger. And a mean huckleberry shake, too. But you'll have to actually come up with them before I can render my own opinion. Maybe next time.

To the British Columbia highway department,
Keep filling in those shoulder rumble strips. Alberta is way ahead of you on this, so you'd better get cracking.

To Waterton Lakes Park,

To the bears in Montana and Canada,
Bicyclists are not "meals on wheels." I was relieved to find that you see it the same way. Just remember, huckleberries taste better and don't generally move as quickly as we do.

To the ranger who was SUPPOSED to be at the Glacier Park entrance in St. Mary's,
My park pass really was with my passport. Which was in my suitcase. Which was in the van. Which would soon be on its way to West Glacier on a different road. I'm sure you would have believed me, but I was OK with you not being there to actually make me try and convince you.

To the designers and builders of Going to the Sun Road,
It was truly an epic road to ride over with spectacular vistas at every turn. And not as difficult as I had expected. Don't worry, I know you had nothing to do with the cold rain we rode through on the way up.

To the brewers of the Huckleberry Lager,
Good use of berries! This observation gives me cause to rethink my opinion of the Grasshopper beer I enjoyed in Waterton Lakes Village, however.

To Montana, British Columbia and Alberta,
Thanks for a truly awesome ride. I'll not likely do it again as there are other roads to explore. But I'll not forget the seven days of this unique tour.

To Shirley,
Thanks for tolerating my riding habit. It was a great week. And so nice seeing you at the airport.

And to you, my legion of readers few who have stumbled in, postings about the ride itself will continue soon. Coming up - Day 3.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Let's Rumble

Monday, July 20
Eureka, MT to Blairmore, Alberta, Canada

Don't forget the "standard" opening introduced in the Happy Wanderer post.

Instead of riding the 1.5 miles (in the wrong direction) to the school for breakfast, we decide on the Casino just across from the hotel. The idea was to get a head start on the early departure, but the table service wasn't all that speedy and we weren't even the first out on the course.

It promises to be an interesting day. First, at 94 miles, it is the longest ride of the tour. We get to cross the border and ride through two Canadian provinces. Throw in a mountain pass ~ that would be Crow's Nest today ~ and there you have it. An interesting ride.

The border crossing is at Roosville. I don't know about you, but my first thought is of Kanga's youngest, not a rough and tumble border town west of the Rockies. I roll up to the border guard's window ~ not unlike a toll booth ~ and we chat about the tour as he scans my passport then wishes me a good ride.

Crossing Over to the Other Side

The ride up from Eureka to Roosville was along a gently rolling road through a wide plain. But after passing the border stop, things changed - the road began to wind through forested hills until we emerged on a high plain with more rugged mountains appearing ahead. Along this stretch we drop down a 1 mile, 8% descent to the Elk River, requiring a 1 mile, 8% climb to get back to the level we were two miles earlier.

Long White Line, Canadian Style

It is nice riding as we head due north with mountains ahead of us and to our right. At Elko, 31 miles into the ride, we turn onto Highway 3. The weather is still good, the scenery is still spectacular, but the riding becomes unpleasant. Do you recall my comments about highway 93 into Missoula (in the Happy Wanderer post)? "Rumble strips, the remaining shoulder a veritable debris field of tire-threatening detritus..." That's also Highway 3 in British Columbia. And it was busy; cars, campers, trucks. It isn't like we had a lot of choices. A look at the map reveals this is about it for getting us to Blairmore. So, we persevere.

The Crow's Nest Highway in British Columbia

The lunch stop at mile 45 is at a pullout with a spectacular view. Traffic has lightened up a bit and even with the rumble strip, the scenery and pure enjoyment of riding through it come increasingly to the fore.

View from the Picnic Stop Along HIghway 3

So we roll along a road that treats us to views of increasingly rugged mountains, views that change at every turn. Approaching the 65 mile water stop, I get behind a truck driving slowly along the shoulder. This is part of a two-vehicle grass cutting crew. The sign on the back of the truck proclaims to approaching cars: Women Working. This is a crew of two men. I don't ask about the sign.The guy driving the tractor with a big mower on the side niftily avoids devastating the water stop and his partner stops the truck to trim the grass with an industrial strength Weed Whacker. I chat with him a bit about the ride then take off. The tractor driver stops and shuts down the mower as I go by. A nice touch. Thanks.

It is only a mile to Sparwood where I stop to look at what is billed as "The World's Largest Truck." HIghway 3, which has pretty much carried us due north since Elko, takes a sharp turn to the east, with a bit of a southerly drift as well. We are now on another of the "Rolling Uphill" sections that appear often during the tour. This is the climb up to Crow's Nest Pass. It's taken some time, but I DO have experience with mountain passes. I'm pretty sure I have already been as high as I will ever be on a bike - 12,200 feet on Trail Ridge Road. The Swiss ride provided the chance to do three named passes. OK, it provided opportunities do a lot more. I just took advantage of 3.

Having established my credentials vis-à-vis bicycling on mountain passes, I can say that Crow's Nest isn't much of a pass. At least not in a way that includes describing it with terms such as "high" or "steep." It is a pleasant climb and we top out at 4,600 feet, (only 2,000 feet higher than our starting point in Eureka). The event is marked with a sign overlooking a fair sized lake. Impressive or not, I did take the obligatory picture of my bike at the top:

Crow's Nest Pass

It's downhill from here to Blairmore and on the way we enter Alberta, Wild Rose Country according to the sign at the border.

Entering Alberta, Canada

Alberta is also home to places-with-names-that-make-you-want-to-know-more. Frank Slide, Leitch Collieries and, my personal favorite at the bottom of the sign...

Things to See in Alberta

Really. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. We will turn off of HIghway 3 tomorrow before reaching this what is sure-to-be-engaging destination. Bummer. Maybe next time.

Blairmore is home to the majestic humble but clean and comfortable Highwood Motel. The little diner across the street offers "Hand-made" burgers and shakes, a nice treat after the long ride. We then go in search of further refreshment and find a tavern named "Tavern." No putting on airs here.

Appropriately if Unimaginatively Named Tavern

The rumble strips and traffic earlier in the day threatened, but did not succeed, to spoil the ride. Instead, it was the amazing landscapes that we rode through and around that mark the day in my memory. I'll leave you with just one more picture:

Just Another Big Rock

Today's Ride:      Tour Totals:
93.7 miles           168.9 miles
3240 feet             6248 feet

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Happy Wanderer

Sunday, July 19
Whitefish, MT to Eureka, MT

"Not all those who wander are lost," observed J.R.R. Tolkien. On the other hand, some are. Lost. Take Bill, for example. One of his self-proclaimed talents is missing a turn on a route that has only a few to start with. And, wanting to establish his position in this category early in the tour, he rode right past the turn that would have brought him to the picnic stop at Ant Flat. He locked up the beige Boston M.T.A. jersey on the third day of the ride by missing one of only two turns on the route. A true champion.

Unless otherwise noted, the following applies to each day of the ride: It was a grand morning, cool and clear, when we headed out early after a quick breakfast. The plan is to ride in the cool of the day and arrive at our destination early in the afternoon. This provides an opportunity for refreshment and a tour of the sights unique to this day's stop before getting back together with the group for dinner and the evening meeting. Remember, this is the first paragraph for all of the remaining posts. I'll only call attention to exceptions.

We leave Whitefish on highway 93. I have some concerns about this. On my first tour, we rode into Missoula on 93 and it was a decidedly bicycle-hostile route. Rumble strips, the remaining shoulder a veritable debris field of tire-threatening detritus, all this made more uncomfortable by the constant stream of little cars pushing big RV's at high speeds in both directions. But not here. Not today. It is early Sunday and we are north of the west entrance to Glacier National Park, making for a much improved riding experience.

The Long White Line, Northwestern Montana Style

Nonetheless, we were on 93 for only about 5 miles when the route swung off onto quieter roads - the first of three loops off of the highway we would be provided today. This part of the ride is described on our route sheet with the following notations:

Left on Twin Bridges Road
Rolling country road, no shoulder
Right on Farm-to-Market Road

Along the Rolling Country Road

Then, at the 19.4 mile point, we are back on 93 where we enter Stillwater State Forest. A 1.4 mile climb at mile 26 is followed by a stretch of "rolling uphill," leading eventually to the Tobacco Valley. Here, the second loop off of 93 starts with a left turn onto the road to Trego. We are to go 1.7 miles then "bear right" on an unmarked road, riding another mile to the picnic stop. This is the turn that Bill missed. He'd been far ahead of everyone so I was surprised that he was not at the Ant Flat stop. First, I assumed he'd come and gone already, but when I signed in I saw he had not yet come in. He finally arrived and told the story of how he had missed the last turn and had made it into Trego. At that point, he knew he'd gone too far so he backtracked towards 93. When he got to where he could see the highway, he knew he'd missed the turn. Again. As I said, a real pro. But, third time's charm and he finally got back on track.

At the Ant Flat Picnic Stop

After "lunch" (it was only about 10:00 a.m.), I headed out and was soon back on 93. About 8 miles along this stretch, I go by a sign: Eureka 5 miles. According to Mapquest, it is 51 miles from Whitefish to Eureka. At this point, I'd ridden about 55 miles. So, considering our extra loops away from the highway, this all added up. BUT. Our route today required us to go a total of 76 miles. No sooner had I gone by the sign than I was turning off onto the last of the extra loops.

There had been a lot of ups and downs on the route so far, mostly of the the "rolling country road" ilk. But here the road looked a lot more like rides at home. The climbs were steeper and, being towards the end of the day, all the more difficult. Yet the views were spectacular and it was probably the most enjoyable 20 miles of the day. The pictures below are from this part of the ride:

On 93 Before the Loop East of Eureka

Climbing on the Scenic Side Roads

Changing Landscape as We Ride On

One of the Many Ranches We Encounter on the Ride

As was to be the pattern for the almost the entire ride, the cool morning had given way to warming temperatures, soon to reach the mid-90's. As enjoyable as the ride was, it was good to get back onto highway 93 - north of Eureka now - and finish off the ride into town where we checked in to the Ksanka Motel.

Riding in to Eureka

I've camped on the two previous Cycle America rides and really enjoyed the experience. But I've chosen the hotel option for this ride, partly to avoid the heavy lifting associated with dragging big duffels of tent, sleeping bag, etc. (my non-union collarbone being the consideration). And, because the ride in Switzerland showed me just how nice having a room with a real bed and attached bath / shower could be after a long day. The Ksanka was tastefully done in early garage sale. The pink tub and sink set off the white toilet nicely. The tub area featured gray tiles with the odd black highlight here and there, all against off-white walls over a brown faux-stone linoleum floor. But the room was comfortable, quiet and cool and did not require any assembly to use. Yes, this is a good way to go.

Bill had been there a while and had already acquired our post-ride refreshment, although I had to go into the convenience store to get an opener so we could actually enjoy said well-earned palliatives. While sitting at a table in a small grassy area under the only two trees on the motel grounds, two self-supporting riders wheeled in, their bikes laden with every sort of pack and pannier. They had been riding from up near Banf in British Columbia, negotiating the Continental Divide Trail. This is NOT a paved road and the men and their rugged bikes reflected this. One of the riders was, by plan, ending his ride in Eureka and as we talked, his wife drove in to meet him. His friend, however, was not quite through with his ride. He would continue on, by himself, TO MEXICO! The OLD one. We are talking months. Our ride today had covered 75 miles; I was on the bike for about 5 hours. These guys said that 40 miles in 8 hours was a really good day for them. My goodness!

Anyway, I was truly impressed and told them so.

Later, we walk down into town - this is a feature of nearly all of the hotels at which we stayed: they are NOT in the center of town. Even the small towns.

On the Walk in to Town in Eureka

There was an establishment claiming the best burgers in the country. Clearly something needing independent verification. We enter the rather contemporary-trying-to-look-frontier establishment to find they stopped serving food about an hour before our arrival. Well, they were reputed to have good milkshakes too, so we say we'll try one of those. Huckleberry of course. "Uh, we are out of our Huckleberry ice cream," our young server tells us, backing away a little, fearing maybe she's pushed us too far. We eventually settle on vanilla shakes. They were OK, but could not cut through the disappointment of the unmet need for northwestern Montana beef and a huckleberry shake. Life on the road is tough.

Today's Ride:
75.1 miles
3008 feet

If you do NOT understand the Boston M.T.A. reference, leave me a comment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Not Yet

OK, I am still on record at Bebo as having 0 friends - you can find the first report of this unfortunate condition in the posting Nil. I'm faring better on Facebook, however. In fact, the list there is all the way up to 14! And Facebook is pretty active on my behalf, constantly offering suggestions for adding friends. They must sense I need the help. But recently I encountered a suggestion in one of the Facebook features for this rather drastic approach: Drag friends here to add. Ok guys, I'm not THAT desperate. Yet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Going Down

The descent on Going to the Sun Road (to be discussed in more - perhaps even excruciating - detail in a later post) was long and exciting. The one I took yesterday was short. And painful. Turning a corner here in town at very low speed, I got into a patch of newly deposited gravel and went down like a shot. Riding a road bike with its skinny, high pressure tires through a layer of loose gravel is like walking on ice with Teflon coated shoes. You will, more often than not, be going down.

There were numerous extenuating circumstances (as always), but I was going at a very low speed and decided to simply roll on through; with traffic backed up due to the road work that was the source of the gravel, I had to turn onto the paved trail that parallels the road. It was that extra 45 degrees that did me in. I turned the handlebars and in a flash I was on my right side on the pavement. Of course, I ended up with abrasions on my calf and elbow. In addition, I felt a pain that is sure to blossom into a colorful bruise on my hip. But it wasn't so bad - there wasn't the forward velocity necessary to do really significant damage so I was up and on my way in no time.

It was a perfectly marvelous evening and my plan was to ride down the river for an hour and come back. The Stoddard Kwik Trip provided a reason to stop and fuel up - chocolate milk and a Glazer donut. It was there that I found that my other injury, a sore thumb, was worse than I had thought. It was stiff and very painful whenever I tried to grasp anything. But only the heavy stuff; you know, like the dollar bill I tried to pull from my wallet. What was interesting is that it was my left thumb. It must have gotten caught up in the brake lever and twisted as it was my right side that hit the pavement. So, even though I had gone no more than half the distance I had hoped, I headed home.

Ice and ibuprofen, applied in quantities I will not reveal here, helped. And today, less than 24 ours after the spill, the thumb is stiff and sore, but not swollen. At noon today I as even able to tear off the top of a little pack of coffee "creamer," a feat that was beyond me in the morning.

In addition to this improvement in thumb-function, I have a new story to tell. Seems as if things are looking up!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Saturday, July 18

Did I say that yesterday was day one of the Glacier / Waterton tour? I know the answer, but just want to see if you were paying attention. Yes, I did say it. Well technically, Friday was the day for "Early Arrivers." Saturday is the first day of the tour as defined by Cycle America. And what was it like?

A glorious, cool morning; blue skies, tree covered mountains in the distance, a fresh pot of coffee in the motel office. Getting off to a good start. We walk into town, looking for a place for breakfast, deciding after not too much deliberation to step into the Red Caboose Diner. There were no other customers, not always a good sign. But the breakfast was special... I had the Sweet Potato Waffle, which I enjoyed very much.

Red Caboose Diner

Sweet Potato Waffle!

Then it was back to Glacier Cyclery to give Bill a chance to lighten up, in a financial way. He went whole hog, popping for a bottle of chain lubricant. Being the proud owner of a new do-rag and jersey, I held back today and left the shop empty handed. We then continued our cruise around the pleasant downtown area with its covered sidewalks and mix of upscale and tourist-focused shops.


One jewelry store proclaimed to have famous Montana "Yogos." A bit of exploration was in order. We find out that a yogo is a rare - rarer than diamonds, according to one source - high quality sapphire, found only in Montana. There is quite an array of yogo jewelry, including some nice ear rings. And only about $2,000. Too bad they didn't have Shirley's size. Maybe I'll be able to find a nice scented candle instead.

We succeeded in our primary mission, though: spending enough time looking around to need to go to the Great Northern Brewing Company for lunch. They offered a special roast beef sandwich which I ordered with the house horseradish sauce. It was a really good sandwich. However... 90% of the sauce came across in one bite. Yikes! I did not think I would survive. But, I did, and the rest of the meal was enjoyed without further incident.

Now it was time to head for the school - which I had found yesterday in spite of the bum steer. And, I had actually laid my eyes on the bike boxes in the wrestling room where Cycle America had set up shop. We passed by the ice cream shop where I'd gotten a huckleberry cone on my solo tour on Friday. Ice cream...

...it's not just for dinner anymore

It took about an hour to unpack, assemble the bike and then put away the case for storage at the school. I didn't have any left-over pieces when I was done, so figured all was well. We rode the bikes back to the hotel. Helmets, shoes were packed with the bikes and I carried everything else - that included Bill's stuff - in my backpack. I have GOT to stop carrying that pack when Bill is around.

The ONLY time when rubber side up is OK

We took the shuttle back to the school for dinner and the first of the evening meetings. As was the case yesterday (remember Camp Dixie for Girls?), I had another blast from the past experience. Ted, one of the 36 riders on the tour, was from Connecticut and had worked at Pratt & Whitney. Hmmm.... I worked at Pratt & Whitney after I graduated from Ga Tech. It didn't take long to realize we had worked in close proximity to each other and had probably met - this was 38 years ago, so let's not be too picky about details here. He was able to get me caught up on a number of people I had worked with then but not heard from since. Warning! Cliche ahead... It's a small world. After all. Can't you just hear that annoying tune?

The meeting lasted way too long. And too long for us to be able to make the 7:00 p.m. showing of Public Enemies as we had planned. Day 2 of the trip and day 1 of the tour was coming to an end, so we retired, getting ready to do what we came for - in addition to the Great Northern Brewing Company thing - Go Ride!