Day 20. Great Falls

87 miles 2,152 feet

The day started out with a weather service warning about high winds—55-60 mph—and then driving rain. The NWS said it would calm down around 8 am changed to 9 am. I could hear the wind outside my hotel room, and see the trees bending under it. So there was no hurry to get going early. I can handle 30 mph but twice that is too much. So I waited and then bundled up in rain gear went down the street to an old bank converted to a coffee shop and had a latte and a breakfast burrito while the weather calmed. But I didn't want to wait too long because the westerly wind would clearly help my first 17 miles heading due east.

After finishing my latte I bundled up and headed out. It was windy and rainy but the tailwind was wonderful. After 17 miles my route shifted to the south and remarkably the wind was also a boost in that direction, so I made great progress to one small town after another. Most of the small towns were close to ghost towns with businesses boarded up. Quite discouraging both for me but more so for the people whose towns these were. I found a larger town and took shelter for a chai latte and muffin mostly to warm up—it was in the 40s and my hands were soaked. I tried to reserve a hotel room about 60 miles from Valier but it was fully booked.

After my break I took off on the route generally SE and the rain abated but the wind continued as a tailwind. I made great time and had a smooth straight frontage road adjacent to the freeway. It was close to ideal for fast biking—straight uncrowded road with a tailwind, and a gradual loss of elevation as I headed to the Missouri. For example, here are elevations of towns I've recently visited:

St Mary 4,551
Del Bonita 4,281
Great Falls 3,300

So you can see I am gradually leaving the high plains.

I stopped for lunch at 1:45 and realized Great Falls was only 33 miles away! I took off and traveled through vast wheat fields as far as I could see. Montana is enormous, vast, and cultivated. Biking through it gives a sense of the enormity of even one state.

I kept biking with a tailwind and eventually was on the outskirts of Great Falls. I found my way to my reserved hotel which was a simple, low-key place with short and long-term guests. This is not a prosperous part of Great Falls, itself not particularly preposterous. But people were friendly and fairly open.

So I finished the longest distance of my trip so far, and am not especially tired more than the usual. Tomorrow I hope to pick p a replacement for my Helionox chair which I lost in Many Glacier. Beyond that, I have yet to figure out what the day will hold. It mostly depends on the wind which will be true through the midwest expect.
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