Miles: 126.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1945.5 Weather: Mostly Sunny, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 2

Roadkill: 16 (8 Chipmunks, 7 Birds, 1 Unknown)  

Bugs Swallowed: 1 (Mosquito)

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

I decided to use fresh legs, stored fat and a light bike to make mileage today.  126 miles with only 1950 feet of total elevation gain!  It's plain to see that the plains are sloping downward. 


When you start choosing a cloud to chase, you realize that the scenery change from the mountains is dramatic; the ways to pass time are limited and why Montana is truly "Big Sky Country. I haven't experienced an expanse this vast since I was in the pre-Sahara.   The ride felt like the countless spins I'd take across the rolling hills of Kansas, but the Sunflower State loses its claim to the open space title. 

I procrastinated at the start as I'd become accustomed to the lethargy of sleeping in with Katy and the kids. It turns out that the storm we endured in the Glacier log cabin was a rager.  I finally got news today that over 100,000 people were evacuated around Calgary due to flooding.  The churning cauldron of rain, hail and lightning stretched from Jasper, WY far into Alberta Province. I guess the kids were terrified for a reason.

Once I got moving, I gingerly assembled the racy, sexy Colnago.  It's a temperamental beauty, so I always clean it up for a ride.  I snuck into the motel's lobbyl bathroom and dId the best I could, but in the end I was only able to offer up an undeserving French whore bath to the object of my affection. 

I didn't feel good about this sloppy preparation because I wanted to honor the name. On top of that, the tortuous saddle mounted on the bike is stamped "Bottechia."  Colnago and Bottechia, two of the greatest Italian legends in the sport.  The saddle came courtesy of my pal Ted, whom purchased an Italian/Chinese bike, so it was fitting that I had it atop my Italian/Taiwanese mistress.  Very exotic. 

 For those still reading, here are a few tidbits to keep you in the know:


Ottavio Bottechia  was an uneducated, illiterate cyclist,  and the first Italian winner of the Tour de France.  The rat bastard Tour organizer, Henri Desgrange, despised Bottechia and said of him, “The only words of French he can manage are 'No bananas, lots of coffee, thank you'...'His ears stick out so far that I call him butterfly.'"


Defiantly, Bottechia dropped the butterfly moniker in 1924 by winning the first stage of the Tour and holding the yellow jersey every day to the end. The French predictably criticized him for "winning without trying" and were unimpressed with the lack of drama in the race. 


Bottechia was an outspoken opponent of Mussolini's fascism and was found dead by the roadside in 1927.  His death remains a mystery, but by all accounts, it appears that he was assassinated by Blackshirts. 

Before Trek and Armstrong, before anyone cared about doping in cycling, there was the innovative team of Eddy Merckx and Ernesto Colnago.  The greatest cycling duo of all time allowed the Cannibal to achieve what no other cyclist will ever do:  Win everything, solo.  Colnago made the bikes and Merckx supplied the engine. The. Greatest. Ever. 


Merckx was the cycling equivalent of Mike Tyson, Tom Brady and Michael Jordan rolled into one. He wasn't a pampered dandy like today's elite road riders and he won it all. The Giro? Yes. The Spring Classics? Yes. The Tour? A bunch.  Yet, while he probably could have ridden a sawhorse with wheels, he credited Colnago for giving him the edge with his unparalleled designs. 

Ernesto Colnago abandoned his family farm to race, then crash out and finally to work in the cycle trade as an apprenticing mechanic.  Eventually, he was employed as head mechanic for the Molteni team and with the Belgian Merckx started making history. 


His bikes all sport the famous 'Asso di Fiori' or Ace of Clubs logo. I'm fortunate to own two of them (one is retired) and I know that my lardass is not worthy of them. It was my first Colnago that got me calling my steeds "jealous mistresses." I bought the bike and knew I had no business on one of them because I wasn't fit. So, my wife had to endure the storage of it in our bedroom for three months. I would stare at it, much like I stared at my Farah Fawcett poster as a boy--a reminder that I needed to take action to be able to mount it. 

Okay, so much for boring and nebbish cycling history. The readers want all of my narcissistic insight regarding chafing, hillbillies and road kill, so I'll continue now. 


Inverness. Havre. Kremlin. The town names along Highway 2 or the "Hi-Line" were either named by diverse clusters of immigrants making their way to homesteads near railway construction or someone put on a Montana funny names contest.  The seemingly infinite expanse of green prairie is dotted by towns with fewer than 300 people with good humor. 


US 2, follows the old Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, organized in 1919 to link Portland, Maine with Portland, Oregon.  That historical note was lost on me, since the only thing remarkable about this road is that it's infested with 100 million trillion mosquitoes. 


"We've had an unusual amount of rain lately," said a shopkeeper.  I think I went far today because I didn't want to stop.  If I pulled over to take a picture, I was assaulted.  I recall smashing eight of the bastards on one leg as they were feasting on my highly nutritious, cholesterol infused, blood. 

The majesty of the mountains is behind me now, but people are still friendly.  I was about four miles down the road after a 70 mike slog and realized I left my sole water bottle in a bar near the town of Tahiti, or some such name.  Just as I was in the throes of making a decision about dehydration versus extra mileage, a loud motorcycle passed then stopped in the narrow, rumbled strip of the shoulder.  A grizzled guy jumped off the bike and handed me my bottle. 


"I figured I could catch you," he smiled.  


 


Comments

07/03/2013 11:35pm

I really enjoy the blog Jonathan; I find it amusing that you stopped at Scheels in Fargo and got the good 'ole Fighting Sioux UND jersey, soon to be extinct, and a line from someone about them being the "lesser" school of our proud state.
UND is the only state school worthy of any pomp as they have arguably the greatest hockey program in the nation.

One warning about the bit of advice you received; you should have your chain checked prior to the recommended "500 miles". There is no way for any person to say a chain will last a certain distance especially under the circumstances you may encounter upon a tour. Consistent light gears are your friend.

Have a great rest of your ride and be safe!

-Jared

Reply
Jonathan Leahey
07/04/2013 12:01am

Jared:

From my text message to friends as I was buying said jersey:

"Ted: I stand corrected. I guess this is Bison country. I'm still getting the Sioux jersey. Better hockey team, in deference to my pal Kevin."

I knew enough about the hockey to be dangerous.

I would have gone to an independent shop, but it was Sunday, as I mentioned.

Thanks for the advice on the chain. When I get back
to Fargo, I'll have it inspected or I'll just swap it out.

Stay in touch and get up to Oregon sometime!

All the best.

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