I cannot lie. I was ready for this tour to be over. For the last week, I woke up on a sleeping pad about 2 inches thick, wearing dirty clothes and nursing a body made sore by either 60 miles of riding or intense hiking. I had been living on a diet of oatmeal, trail mix, peanut butter ramen, and chili cheese mac. This tour felt like it lasted a long, long time. And even though thinking about working on my thesis gives me a case of anxiety intense enough to paralyze me till I force myself to think about something else, I am ready to go back to civilization. I am pretty sure Abby Ryan has forgotten about me.
Also my bike has slowly been falling apart. My front rack wasn't fitted to my bike properly, and it broke my front bag, so it had been attached with a bungee cord for the past three weeks. Then I lost the bolt that attached my front rack and brakes to my fork, so we had to use a zip tie to keep everything in place. That ended up breaking my rack entirely, so this I rode back to Missoula gypsy style.
Additionally, riding with high speed cars for five weeks was starting to take its toll. We have a few friends who are riding cross country with the fundraising group Bike and Build, and for the second year in a row one of their riders was killed mid route. He was killed by a woman who was texting and driving. He was a recent graduate of UF, and he was a teacher in the Bronx.
We still had three long days of riding through forest fires to get back to Missoula, we battled against giant RVs for space in the road. A couple of times, 50 foot vehicles passed Travis within a foot against oncoming traffic, honking at us all the while. Apparently it is too much trouble to ask retirees to move their foot from the accelerator to the brake and wait for 7 seconds. Nope, they are in a huge rush to continue on their permanent vacation and can't be bothered. Travis said this is his last road tour. He is advocating for the off-road Continental Divide mountain bike route next year.
FINALLY we arrived at our first destination in Missoula: Adventure Cycling headquarters. We used Adventure Cycling maps to help guide our journey, and since we're members we wanted to pop in and say hi. Besides they give you ice cream when you visit.
So we joined our place on the wall with the hundreds of other cylists who embarked on bicycle adventures. It's inspiring to see who has done it, parents with young kids, septugenerians, couples like us. We even saw photos of inspirations from the past, like Laura in 1982.
And then, it was time to take care of what was really important.
Our host was my sister's best friend Brit and her fiancee Brian, who were generous enough to let us stay in their house and let us pet all the cats, including Mac and Purry Murray.
They also took us to karaoke, where I was able to hear Travis sing the song he sang to me EVERY MORNING when we started riding, except this time he sang more than just he first line.
And now I'm finishing up this blog, and getting ready to fly back to Florida, where the humidity will settle on us like a wet blanket, and we'll start dreaming of next year's bike tour.