Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 57

Livingston, MT → Bozeman, MT
Net Elevation gain: 247 ft. (4573 ft. to 4820 ft.)
Average Speed: 9.2 mph before city traffic, 8.7 overall
Top Speed: 43.6 mph
Time spent biking: 4 hours 5 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 5 hours to Bozeman, 12 hours total
Miles biked today: 35.9
Total for trip: 2740.5 miles

Our original plan before we went to sleep last night was this: wake up around 6:00 or 6:30, get on the road by 6:30 or 7:00, and get over the pass! We only planned 25 miles for the day, just enough to get over the pass and down in to Bozeman. Brett had called the Scrabble club there and was planning to meet them for a few games in the evening, which we were both really looking forward to. We were nervous about the pass, but knew it really couldn't be THAT bad because a bunch of those 25 miles would have to be downhill.

A sunny morning. Ready to climb a mountain? Nope. Got to pack up the tent first!

In reality, we woke and got up around 7:00, and didn't hit the road until after 8:00. We were happy to find that the campground we'd chosen was right next to the highway we were getting back on, so less than a mile into our day we were on the big road headed west once more. And uphill.

It was uphill for miles, with only two brief respites, but it was really not that steep. It was long, but not as annoying or strenuous as Day 1 through the Berkshires of Massachusetts, or some of the days in New York. In fact, we pretty much never left the big ring in search of easier gears. Our cadence was a bit slow, but we were moving along at 6-8 mph, and enjoying the scenery. A few trains passed us. Lots of trucks passed us.

Views from our climb.

At one point we pulled onto the shoulder of an exit ramp for a break. It was a long break, full of talking about all kinds of stuff, and then we walked back to the bike. Jenny was in front, and had just gotten to the rear left side of the bike when Brett yelled, “A snake! A snake!” A large rattlesnake was calmly making its way toward the front tire on the right side. Jenny froze: “Where?! Where?!!” The snake never got upset, but ended up choosing a different route, back into the grass along the side of the road. We were a bit shaken for quite a while, and Jenny actually cried a little from the shock, but we were also really excited that we got to see a real live rattler! We both were constantly looking out for snakes after that.

It was pretty big.

Fascinating to watch. We finally got to see a rattle snake!

The rest of the hill was pretty anticlimactic. We climbed a few more miles, for a total of 13 miles, and then we started to drop. On the first descent we reached our top speed for the day: 43.6 mph! That descent was fun, but the rest of the way down was a little more nerve-wracking. The shoulder was a bit narrower, there were more twists and turns, and it just wasn't as relaxing. Still, we made it down without any incident, and by about 1:00 we were in Bozeman, cruising the downtown.

The information sign at the top of Bozeman Pass.

There were so many bicyclists in town! We were amazed by the well-marked bike lanes and by how many people were riding their bikes on the road. We set out to explore the town and to find the food coop. Because it was so early, it felt like we had the whole day ahead of us. We were a little tired from our climb, but mostly feeling excited to have it over and to be in such a cool town with so much time before dark!

First, we located a bike shop, and the guys working there were really nice but we decided not to leave the bike there for a basic tune-up as it was still our transportation for the afternoon. Next, we biked to the hostel in town. It was really cute, but slightly more expensive than we would have liked ($20/person). We considered it a back-up option to finding someone from warmshowers.org, and so we biked on to the next point in our explorations: the co-op. Bozeman's food co-op is amazing. First of all, they have a very large and well-arranged building. Second, they have so much delicious food at reasonable prices. Third, they have a great sitting/eating area on the second floor with plugs and free Internet! Needless to say, we stayed a while there.

An assortment of foods from the co-op. Jenny patiently waits for Brett to take the picture so that she can dig in.

After we reluctantly left the co-op, we headed back down the main street to a good book store where we peeked into a book on hot springs in the Northwest. We copied down directions to a few and then made our way outside of the cute downtown area to find the cafe where Brett had been told to meet folks for a few games of Scrabble.

Brett wasn't sure what to expect, since his Scrabble skills are no doubt rusty this summer, but he defeated his first opponent, Sylvia, handily (394-270) with good luck from the tile bag. Then Marty arrived and he played two games simultaneously. Brett didn't do so well in his game against Marty, and he made the mistake of challenging SEEPIEST (it's good), while Marty played very well and won by a safe margin (416-372) despite a late rally by Brett. After having to finish the last game outside in the blustery plaza because the cafe closed, we said our good-byes.

Brett misses his Scrabble club back home, but enjoyed a few games with nice folks in Bozeman.

On our way to the Scrabble games, we had swung by the house of a person from warmshowers.org, but they weren't home. We went back by after Scrabble, because they had a very neat house and wonderful gardens. There were large solar panels, vegetable gardens in the front and the back yards, and bikes around (including an old tandem). He still wasn't home, so we headed downtown for some pizza to take back to the hostel where we'd get to stay after all.

Brett had never stayed in a hostel before tonight. This was a very nice one.

The cool wall of instructions and information inside the hostel.

Arriving back at the hostel, we found out that although we had missed our chance to book a room to ourselves with a larger bed, there was one dorm room left that had no one in it so far, so we'd have it to ourselves. After consuming our delicious pizza, we biked out one more time to get cash from an ATM to cover the hostel cost and then we spread out our stuff in the room with bunk beds. We met a few other guests, including a father/son duo who were fun to chat with. They were from France, even though the son has been living in Chicago for a while. We took a nice hot shower, and bedded down for the night after Brett did a little writing for the blog. For a nice change, there was no Internet to get distracted by. We were tired, but it was a really fun day.


  1. Sounds like you guys crushed the climb!

  2. That rattler was really big! Gosh, I'm glad it didn't get any closer to you. First mountain pass over and done with! Yay! And awesome Bozeman! =) You guys rock!

  3. Seems I have missed a lot the past few days. I was off for the weekend and did not take my computer or get on my daughter's. We had a "gender party" where the sex of our first grandchild was announced by cutting into a cake. You have the ultrasound technician put the ultrasound result in a sealed envelope, give to a baker who makes a cake with either blue or pink frosting inside, then you invite friends over and everyone finds out at the same time. It's a girl!!!! Emerson Greenlee Pace with make her grand entry on or around Jan. 2. Not quite wrapping my mind around the idea of being a grandpa, but I could get used to it. A rattlesnake!!! You are indeed fortunate. I have wanted to see one in the wild for as long as I can remember (I love snakes) but no luck so far. Your photos continue to be gorgeous and very helpful to the narrative. You make the mountain climb seem like a ho-hum nothing. Congratulations on making it over so easily. Looking forward to the next post. Ride on.......

  4. I have now watched the rattlesnake slither off about a dozen times, leaving you safe and unbitten every time. Just checking.
    Hats off to those who love snakes, but to me they are a little bit the stuff of nightmares.
    Love and hugs,

  5. 1. Alternative title for your blog, "What we ate for a few months (Oh, yes, while we biked across the USA)" Yum!

    2. warmshowers.org sounds like a porn site. Really. I think that every time I see the name.

  6. I can't believe you came across a rattle snake!!! How scary! Thanks for a the cool video! I hope that's the closest I'll ever come to seeing one myself! Bozeman looks awesome, what a cute place :)

  7. I like the photo of the bike beside the road with the flowers.

    I won't tell my mom about the snake -- she'd find it too scary.