On Saturday, Pam and I met Mike for a ride out through Billings and Clever on a beautiful morning. She was feeling quite a bit better than the day before, but we still cut our planned route from the original 49 miles to 43 in anticipation that she might fade at the end. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but our shortened ride was still for the best because Mike had a work call to deal with and we ended up with an unplanned opportunity in the afternoon that we wouldn’t have wanted to miss.
We were feeling a slight breeze in our faces as we left Battlefield and passed by Wilson’s Creek. That breeze ended up getting pretty strong by the end of the day, which really plays havoc with us on that big bike. Luckily, it was a tailwind later in the ride, so it didn’t hurt us as bad as it could.
We started the day out by losing Mike within the first four miles. He was in front of us and missed a turn. We yelled and waved, but couldn’t get his attention. He was heading uphill, so there was no way we could have run him down, so we made the turn and stopped at the top of a hill where we would have a good view to see him when he figured out he was alone. That didn’t seem to happen quickly, so we decided to move on after trying and failing to reach him by phone. He knew we were heading to Billings, so we hoped he would find his way there.
Unfortunately we didn’t get very far before we found our path blocked by a low water bridge that had been taken out. I looked for a way over it, but couldn’t find a way to do it with dry feet so we headed back the way we came and followed Mike toward the next intersecting farm road that would take us over to County Line Road. Just as we were about to make the turn, here comes Mike with a sheepish grin on his face. I presume he went just about all the way into Republic before he headed back to look for us.
With those issues resolved, we continued our trek to Billings, but within 10 minutes we had lost him again! Same scenario, except this time Pam pulled out the air horn to try to get his attention. It didn’t work. Again, we kept going…this time without bothering to wait. Pam laughingly said she expected him to beat us to Billings.
By the time we got to Billings, I was glad to take a break. From the time you cross Wilson’s Creek until you stop at Casey’s (because we always stop at Casey’s), it’s generally a steady uphill grind. On Saturday, that grind was into the wind, so I was really glad to have that leg of the ride done! Then, as we pulled into the c-store, Pam was right! Mike had beat us. Since he doesn’t ride with a computer, we wondered how many extra miles he had on us. After that one, he seemed to learn the lesson: If you don’t know the route, don’t ride off the front!
From Billings, we turned to the south, then back to the east for a while to circle our way to Clever. I really like those roads out there, even though they can get kind of hilly. Most of the time they’re pretty nice rollers that the tandem handles reasonably well, and the wind was more favorable going south and east. We passed lots of pretty, rolling pastures, woods, and farm houses that were old when I lived there as a boy. Needless to say, those twelve miles passed all too quickly!
We made another c-store stop for good measure. I shed the last of my warm clothes and Pam finally started shedding hers. While we were there, Pam couldn’t resist the temptation to check Facebook for new baby pictures, but she was disappointed to find nothing new.
The final fifteen miles consisted of the steep and long climb out of the Terrell Creek Valley, followed by the rollers over County Line Road, the monster hill on ZZ, then the second crossing of Wilson’s Creek. We’ve ridden that so many times that it seems kind of anti-climatic, but there aren’t really any other reasonable options to get from Clever to Battlefield by bike. The only other way I know involves a long loop to the east that would add a lot of miles.
As we were slowly climbing the hill on ZZ, Pam spotted a deer just across the ditch. Because that’s the battlefield, they’re pretty used to people, but this one did something I’ve never seen one do before. It just stood there watching us as we went huffing and puffing by, but it also kind of squatted with it’s back legs. I don’t know if we caught it taking a dump or what, but I sure thought that odd. It never did run from us. Pam managed to grab a slightly fuzzy picture of it, and I think you can see it’s still partially squatting.
We finished the ride with almost 44 miles at exactly noon. You can click the map above for the full GPS track.