Started at around 9:00 AM on Montana Highway 200, headed for the continental divide. Not much work as Lincoln is pretty high up already. A moderate climb for one mile before the pass. I expected it to be much higher and was surprised when I reached it so soon. Talked with a motorcyclist from Ontario who also bicycles. We agreed the Trans Canada Highway is a bad road for bicycles. Descended from the summit. Another fast run destroyed by a headwind. Couldn't break 40 mph despite a large drop in elevation. The pass looks more formidable from the other side.
At the bottom, the terrain was unusual. Long rolling hills. One mile up, two miles down, two miles up, one mile down. On one of the uphill runs two oversized loads pass me (prefab housing segments, again). The first guy gives me plenty of room. I pull over for a couple of trucks to let them pass when the second one flies at me with less than a foot between the corner of the house and my head. The wake knocked me over it was that close. I can only guess, but it looked like he was out to get me. This convoy had two escort vehicles and he had plenty of room on the other side. He knew I was there and was intimidating me for sport.
You can see long distances out here and the sky is very clear. The air smells pretty good from some kind of yellow flower growing everywhere. The road has a nice wide, paved shoulder and traffic is sparse. Monstrously huge ranches, but very few cows. Small herds far from the road. So far I've seen cows, horses and guys with cowboy hats, but I haven't seen all three together at one time. Turned around from time to time and saw the Rockies behind me. They stand up like a wall. This is the first I've actually seen the mountains. Before that, I was in them and couldn't see more than the opposite sides of a valley. The rolling hills ended abruptly. Buttes out in the distance, then an obvious escarpment. Two quick descents and it's pancake flat all of a sudden.
Rode well over 50 miles before encountering a town. It's really empty. Found a truly wretched gas station at a place called Simms; just barely a village in size. The guy working the register looks just like Junior Samples from Hee Haw; four hundred pounds of lard packed into bib overalls. The place stinks of bad hygiene, but I need to refill my water bottle and buy Gatorade or I will dehydrate. They've got fried chicken under warming lamps. I can't imagine anyone eating it unless they were seriously stupid.
Ranch country appears to have ended and farms have sprung up: wheat and a couple other crops I can't identify. 200 joins with US Highway 89. The road quality has gone way down. Instead of repaving, the old road was just partially covered with a thin layer of unfinished asphalt. It's quite rough and traffic has gotten heavier. Earlier, there was a 10-mile stretch where I couldn't ride on the shoulder because of an extra deep rumble strip. The headwind is back. I see a windsock so I know I am not imagining it. A series of scattered thundershowers is right behind me. It appears to be gaining, but it's so far away I can't tell. The road is very narrow here. Another piece of house passes me. This guy honks and waits until I can pull over far enough to let him pass. The road dumps into Interstate 15 and the storms are getting closer. I can see long bolts of lightning on my right. The wind switches to a tailwind and I'm off at nearly 20 mph blowing into Great Falls. I jump off the interstate just before the shoulder pinches down to a strip of nothing on an overpass. I get on a truck route that isn't very comfortable, but I am going fast now which makes it easier.
Head toward downtown, but pass so many motels that I decide to turn around. There's an old Milwaukee Road station on the Missouri River. I will have to check it out tomorrow. The motels are all packed on to a strip of road about a half mile long. It's starting to rain so I pick one quick. It's only $32 and I get a huge room with two double beds. I can't figure out how they decide the prices on these things. Although I am in a motel ghetto, there are few places to eat. The diner I eat at has no nonsmoking section and poor ventilation. After 20 minutes I stink like cigarettes. Why did I bother to shower? Everybody eating there is obese. I think I'll get breakfast somewhere else.
Quite a lot happened today in the middle of nowhere.