I’ve been an avid bicycle rider for the past twenty-five years. The simplicity of a bicycle has always been a moving, two-wheeled oasis in all situations of life. You can’t touch me; I’m on a bike. The Formative years were spent riding wheelies on a banana-seated huffy. Adulthood morphed into riding road bikes in rush-hour traffic around downtown Georgetown, D. C., or commuting via inner-city Denver.
Lately, in the second childhood stage, it’s riding Mountain Bikes in the hills of southern Montana where the Buffalo (Officially: Bison), Tom Cruise, and the Lewis-Clark Expedition once roamed. Not sure where Hunter Thompson roamed…but he roamed alone. “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” A Hunter Thompson quote.
Anyway, one bicycling adventure in Montana was getting filmed for an ESPN show while cycling up the Beartooth Pass Highway (Northeast entrance to Yellowstone Natl. Park) with eight other bike racing club members. The long, steep switchbacks took us 3.75 hours to climb. The descent took all of 20 minutes while passing bulky Winnebago Motor home’s from Wisconsin at 50 mph. The ESPN show aired at 4:00 am. Which means the Dunkin’ Donut Baker’s, Delivery Room nurse’s, and night-shift morgue employee’s got to see us getting filmed out of the backseat of a rented convertible.
I’ve also endured the pleasure, multiple times, of riding the 24 Hours of Rapelje mountain bike race. Held in the little town of Rapelje, Montana where the Rattlesnakes outnumber the cattle two to one. The actually have Rattlesnake farms out there! Herd them doggies!
There’s nothing like riding your lap in the blackest of night, alone with your thoughts, headlight, drunken rancher’s, howling coyotes, in the middle of Nowhere, Montana, at 2:00 am. It’s the kind of stuff that makes your legs pump like a V-12 Jaguar on rocket fuel. One drunk rancher pointed a rifle out the window of his ranch truck at my teammate in the wee-wee hours.
Cyclists wearing neon spandex, LED lights, Chartreuse helmets, and riding yellow carbon fiber bikes don’t look like coyotes, but if the cowboy had drunk enough Hutterite Colony wine, made from dandelions and diesel gas, we may have looked like the alien invasion that landed in their wheat field.
The cyclist yelled back at him, “We came to earth to steal your hog operation. Why do you people all look inbred and have the same last name of Kleinsasser?” “ Can I park my spaceship in your barn?”
Then the gun went off and probably hit something in the next county…like dirt. Good thing Ford F150’s can’t go where mountain bikes can.
I bicycle commute every day and the ride takes me over the Yellowstone River, the longest free flowing river in the lower 48. I can look down upon the water and see the Rainbow Trout staring back up at me and asking , “ I’ll trade you some gills and fins for your wheels!” I said, “ Sure, we can meet-up at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi and swap again!”