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Baxter to Billings

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“If we want to make it to Cody, Wyoming by Saturday night, we’ll have to leave Thursday evening,” said the Chef. He originally asked for Thursday off, but had to work, so we made plans to leave as soon as he got out of the kitchen head to my sister’s house in Moorhead, MN that night. He drove up at 8:00 pm. We geared up, loaded up the bike, and literally road off into the sunset. It was a gorgeous night to start a bike trip. I love a night ride with the full moon to light the way, the stars shining over head, and just a hint of cool in the air. We logged 140 miles the first night, about three in the saddle.

Friday morning, we woke up before 6:00, regrouped and were on the road by 6:30 heading west. It felt good to be all leathered up, the sunrise to our backs, the full moon setting in front of us. The fields and flatlands rolled out all around us. It’s harvest time. Some of the wheat fields are yellow stubble. Other fields are still green, and the sunflowers are in full bloom. It was all smooth riding until about Dickinson, ND.

The wind was coming out of the north and biting through my clothes. The Chef pulled over for gas, a cup of coffee, and the chance to put on a few more layers, including the rain gear.

I’m laughing because I think I look like a big marshmallow.
I have no regrets for any of the gear I purchased for the ride. The rain started about the time we hit Roosevelt National Park. Normally, I would have wanted to drive through it a little and take pictures, but it wasn’t a good time with the rain already rolling down our backs. We stopped at a rest stop just over the Montana border to dry out and warm up. We met two Harley riders from Kalamazoo, MI who were waiting out the rain and thinking of calling it a day with just 100 miles in. They were headed to Glacier National Park. We decided to forge ahead towards Billings. Once you have your goals set, it’s hard to change course.
We stopped in Wibaux, MT for gas and when the Chef asked me how I was doing, I said, “I’m hungry.” We ate at a local diner where I savored the veggie beef soup and held the warm cup of coffee in my hands. Then, we were back on the road.
The rain was pretty much over by then, so the wind took over. When the wind is blowing hard across the grasslands and over the road, it reaches under my helmet and tries to yank the thing right off my head. Several times I reached up to press it back down, tighten the strap and lean lower behind the Rider. The rain we drove through was moderate. It blurred the vision, but it wasn’t a downpour, and we didn’t have any lightning & thunder. The wind, however, made me feel like a bobble head, and my neck was getting tense from fighting it. By the end of the day, my cheeks were hot from windburn.
The last couple hundred miles into Billings were gorgeous again. Just enough cool to stay geared up and comfortable. The sun was out, and the roads were dry. I said a little cheer in my head every time we past a milage sign and I watched the numbers go down. My bottom was numb by the time we reached our destination. The first thing we did was drop face first onto the bed and take a nap!
We rode 610 miles in one day. This is my first big ride. I spent 10 hours in the saddle, and it took us about 12 hours. Back at the rest stop where we met the guys from Kalamazoo, a couple ladies were there, too. I told them this was my first big ride, gestured to the Chef and said, “He wanted me to experience all the elements.” They said, “You’re very brave.” I said, “Yes, I am,” and smiled. My word for the year, after all, is Dare. At dinner, the Chef pointed out that with anything, you’re constantly redefining your comfort zone. With riding, you have the challenge of the elements, and when you’ve conquered whatever Mother Nature threw out that day, you know you’ve grown stronger and are ready for the next day’s ride, come rain, snow, sleet, or blazing hot sun. Ride on!
Today, we’re heading over the Bear Tooth Pass and to the east gate of Yellowstone National Park. I think I might need to use the gel seat today!
Be safe, journey on, and happy trails!

 

  1. Fun Mary! I love reading about your adventures. 🙂

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