Day 53/55: Spokane to Montana to Wyoming to Chicago

I had a teacher in Jr. High School who would always go on rants about how his favorite place in the world was Montana. When the school year would wrap up he would take off and stay there for the entire summer. Even after 10 years I still remember how fondly he talked about it. That was the reason why I decided to venture east through the US instead of Canada.

Absolutely fantastic backroad riding. It hit me like a freight train that while people have been sitting at desks in offices for the past 2 months this has been my office.

Your office chair may be more comfortable than my bike’s but my chair can take me around the country in what felt like the blink of an eye.

I had planned on making it all the way to Mt. Rushmore that day but with the amount of mountainous riding there was no way I was going to make it by sundown. I hopped on the highway for the last 150 miles and arrived at my Airbnb just north of Yellowstone.

I had a small lapse of judgement during that 12 hour ride. One of my gas stops I forgot to fill up my tank. The normal routine entails filling up the gas tank and then using the bathroom. This particular time I drank a ton of water and the bathroom took the lead at this stop. Realizing I hadn’t eaten in 8 hours I bought some gas station snacks and headed back out to the bike where I ate my lunch/dinner. I saw a storm rolling in so I geared up and hit the road. I was wondering why after 85 miles my gas light went on. I really stretched this tank of gas. Good thing this didn’t happen in the more remote stretches of the trip.

As I got to my destination for the night I decided to eat something with substance. Belgrade, Montana, has some great places to eat. The Yelp ratings were all extremely high. I’m used to seeing the opposite most places I visit.

Some good conversation with my hosts, a last load of laundry, and then it was time for bed. I replaced stopping at Mt. Rushmore with driving through Yellowstone the next day.

I woke up an hour later than usual… to be fair I went into a different timezone so I actually woke up at the same time I always do.

Yellowstone was breathtaking. I will certainly be taking another trip there to spend some significant time. I wasn’t there to “see the sights” but more so to enjoy the ride and see what I could from the roadside. I’ll touch more on this in my closing discussion.

I had the pleasure of passing minivans the entire day but some things you can’t avoid. Another 1 lane construction road. I sat in this queue for about 25 minutes.

Once I got through that mess I ran into these big guys. They just walk across the road/stop in the road whenever they please. After all, this is their home. I’m the stranger… not the other way around.

After over 6 hours in the park I started making my way out the north entrance.

My entire day was planned around riding Bear Tooth Pass and it was worth the wait a million times over.

Type “Bear Tooth Pass” into Google Maps and zoom in to see the type of road it is. Twisty roads for miles on end winding up and down the mountains.

I once again was overcome with a strange feeling once I finished up that stretch of road. The highway was some miles ahead of me and I knew that my exploration was completed. That was the last place I sought to see before I was willing to go home. It was essentially over at that moment.

I had fun lugging all my gear up the stairs at the Super 8 I stayed at. You get what you pay for but I didn’t care. I wanted to try to join the “Iron Butt Club” the following day. Before you assume it’s some elite homosexual illuminati cult let me correct you. To join the club you need to ride 1,000 miles in a 24 hour period.

I was up at 5:45 and on the road by 6:30. This was the home stretch. If I completed this feat I’ll have proved that I was mentally and physically able to do something I thought I couldn’t and I would also be able to sleep in my own bed when I arrived. Failure would result in another crummy motel stay.

Not much to report. Luckily I had cell phone reception for most of the ride so I had music to enjoy. When I made it through Minnesota I turned off the music and decided to reflect for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I always look forward to gas stops so that I can get off the bike and stretch out. I laughed in the morning when I departed because the thought that ran through my head was, “Yeah, only 11 gas stops and you’re home.” ELEVEN GAS STOPS. That’s more than double any of my long days. I just kept chipping at the miles and it didn’t even seem that bad. The highway is boring as hell but I expected that. There were points when the wind was awful and I was just sideways for a good 250 miles but that passed as I got closer.

And then there it was. Achievement unlocked.

Morning:

Evening:

Stopwatch including stops:

I was still 125 miles away from home but had a very large grin for the next 50 miles. I can’t believe I did it.

That grin turned into a lot of cursing and profanity as I ran into 30 miles of 1 lane road due to construction which resulted in an average speed of less than 10 mph. It added an extra hour to my journey. I tried to keep my cool but at about the 16 hour mark of just sitting on a bike that is now over 200 degrees there is not much patience to be had. I’m proud to say that once I got through the bullshit 1 lane section I happily doubled the posted construction zone speed limit. Sue me.

And just like that it was over.

This was my life for 55 days.

And the final time.

Trip total: 2,237 miles (it rolled over at 10,000 so add what you see in the picture to 10,000).

The final odometer reading.

And the final picture.

My next post will be my closing thoughts. That is going to take some time to write up but expect it in the next few days.

  • Mary Lemcke

    Bitchin end to your adventure! I can’t wait until your next one so I can live vicariously through you!

  • xbox go home

    looks like it was quite the home stretch, with yellowstone and dat zany road. Congrats on making it home healthy and safe, and becoming eligible for that homosexual group 😀 I really enjoyed getting to see the country through your trip!