July 25, Day 23 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
After eclipsing the 1,000-mile barrier yesterday, Debbie and I were feeling pretty good about things. However, not every day goes as planned, or is easy. And one shouldn’t take life’s blessings for granted. That was today’s lesson.
We had two choices this morning: ride frontage roads and the Interstate, or travel Montana Route 1. Each path leads to the same destination, but gets there in opposite directions, circumventing a mountain range on either side. Neither of us wanted to ride the Interstate again, so we opted for Route 1.
The sign read, “Road Construction next 27 miles,” yet there was none. It may have been an apologetic gesture acknowledging a chipped tar surface and the intention of the authorities to address the matter in due time, while appeasing the natives with their good intentions. We continued on our path anyway, and soon encountered rumble strips and a relatively narrow shoulder. The road conditions, however, weren’t the major issue on this day. A headwind cut our travel speed in half. Eventually, we realized that we were climbing, ever so subtly, but climbing nonetheless.
These factors came together to form a coalition of adversity aimed to sour our experience. Traveling was slow and discouraging. Sights of snow on distant mountains, denoting the Continental Divide, acted as a flicker to keep the flame alive. They would grow larger and closer as the day wore on. However, after 28 miles, we landed in the town of Philipsburg, which provided a wonderful diversion from the stress of traveling through our adversity.
Philipsburg is a small town with some Western culture and style. People were gathering for a weekend celebration. After lunch at a barbecue joint, we visited a candy store, but not just any candy store. This candy store had some scale to it, coated with a healthy layer of nostalgia given the décor and selections. Check out the photos.
After we returned to the road, we eventually turned east, avoiding the headwind. The pace of travel picked up for only a few miles as the steeper climb of the day greeted us. Soon, we were crawling up a steep ascent smattered with switchbacks. The views at higher altitude began to convert our discouragement to awe and wonder. Perseverance pays off.
The remainder of the ride was filled with magnificent scenery and easy, downhill cycling with now a tailwind. It’s amazing how quickly one’s fortunes can change when you “stick with it.”