Actually met & talked to people!

Trip Start May 06, 2012
Trip End Jun 26, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Saturday, May 19, 2012

A 100+ mile day wasn't an enthralling prospect after the exploits the day before. But having slept soundly I was dressed, fed and ready for action by 7.15am..... 

I headed out into the Montana plains, which I had experienced a little of the day before between Cut Bank and Shelby. However, I was to discover that the slight rolling plains would give way to a totally flat expanse of countryside with nothing of any description bar fields for miles and miles on all aspects of the horizon - no trees, no houses just fields and the occassional cow. I think the video below demonstrates this more than words!

The sun was shining and I knocked off 40 odd miles before deciding that a 2nd breakfast would be in order so I pulled into Chester and tucked into my 2nd portion of eggs and bacon. As I was eating I saw two bikers pull up on their BMW 1200GS Adventure motorbikes (the same I have at home) laden as if they were leaving a war zone with all their possessions. The bike has a 3 box format at the back, one on each side of the bike and a top box and to each of these they had attached plastic crates in which they had placed additional bags..... it was a sight to see and it made me yearn that I had chosen to motorcycle around the country rather than bicycle! Though my idea of taking a motorbike overland to Sydney is still an adventure waiting to happen I know that this will be with Kaye rather than without her. Not only because 2 months away seems a long time, so 4 months to Sydney would be too long, but also because I would like to share the experience and the sights with her. That will have to be something we will, if she would like, tackle in years to come.

The bikers came in and I got chatting to them, which rather delayed my day because we spoke for nearly 2 hours. They were on a 23 day trip from Philadelphia (or Pittsburgh?) and were heading to Alaska and then returning. One of them had left his family behind but had a wallet made by his daughter from gaffer tape that she had then coloured in all sorts of gawdy colours. As we were all at the beginning of our big adventurs we had a lot to share and I was able to show them this travelpod site which Kaye had found from me, because they were looking for a way to blog about their trip and I showed them what an easy and fantastic site this is. It was great to have a proper conversation rather than a 5m chat with a waiter over dinner. Unfortunately, we both had to head our separate ways and I left thinking that a motorbike seemed far more sensible!

It was now past midday and yet I had over 60m to go...... I arrived in Havre after 5pm and was, unsurprisingly, a little shattered. It had not helped either that I had had my first puncture. Though it only took 10-15mins to change it was an addition to my day I could have done without. Fortunately, there was a bike shop in town so I was able to restock on inner tubes. I was also told by the owner of the bike shop that I was the first cyclist he had met who was doing the Coast to Coast. I am on one of 3 routes that are mapped by Adventure Cycling, an amazing non profit organisation that creates these maps, and about 50-100 people do each route each year and it appears I am the firts lunatic on the Northern Route. 

Whilst at the bikeshop I met a couple who were amazing. They were farmers, restraunters and handyman to boot. Lefrey (I think that is how you spell his name) single handedly runs a 4000 acre farm - all wheat - and in addition he helps out with plumbing and electrics for people and at night he works in the kitchen helping his wife who runs one of the largest diners in Havre. Having met them I said I would definitely have dinner there and they said there was a Best Western opppostite.

Having finished at the bike shop I cycled down to the Best Western to discover that all the rooms were full - arrgh - it turns out that this weekend it is Canadian Memorial Day and a lot of them come over the border (about 30m North of Havre) for the weekend. I had to cycle over a mile back to the other side of town and then realised I would have to cycle back again for diner! Just what I needed an extra 3m after such a long day. 

Anyway I went to the restaurant and had a delicious meal and was even more amazed to learn that in addition to their huge job undertakings they had 3 kids who were all between 20 and 23 but that they had also adopted 3 other kids. They were both so charming and when I walked into their restaurant I was virtually mobbed by their waitresses because they had all been told about (and I quote) "this rather charming and crazy Englishman who is cycling across the US". I was given a table in their dinning room even though they were fully booked and when my bill arrived they had taken off all my drinks! I ensured my tip more than made up for their kind offer though. It was so refreshing to meet two people who were so charming and humble who worked so hard and diligently and who also had given so much to their kids and 3 other kids - all of whom had been to college and 2 of whom were now helping out for the summer in their restaurant. They also were so content with life. It was a pleasure to meet them.

I cycled home with a full belly but absolutely shattered and hardly remember undressing though I do remember that my legs were so shaky from their exertions that I had to prop myself up against the wall to prevent myself from falling over. I fell asleep and in the morning discovered that I had had a 5min conversation with Kaye that I have no memory of!

Tomorrow would be a day of needed but enforced rest........ 
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Joan Perkins on

I still think that you are mad but my admiration increased after every blog I read from you. So proud that you are my GodsonXXXXXX

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