It is Day 12 of the Big Ride Across America. I’m perched on a balcony in Billings, Montana, catching up on all manner of things that get lost in the hurried shuffle of this trip. When you roll steadily from one town to another day after day, it’s easy to lose things. It’s easy to lose a phone call to a loved one, or time to stretch, or your wallet if you’re not careful.
I hear it’s hot all over the U.S. right now, although it’s that blistery scorched heat of Montana that we’re enduring now. We rode 92 miles from the sleepy agritown of Harlowton today and after three other long days on the road we are all ready to enjoy our rest day. Riding across the sage-dotted, crispy grasslands of central Montana, I often felt like the place was ready to burst into flames. I felt like bursting into flames half the time. You cannot drink enough water in this parched environment, nor can you keep enough sunblock on your fair freckled skin.
At this point in the ride, we’ve broken into groups that travel at a desired pace. There are those that move quickly across the road and stop seldom. There are those that move slowly and stop seldom. Then there are those of us that move more slowly AND stop often! I have been thinking about my knee injury– a strain of the quadriceps tendon in my right knee– and how fortunate I was for that to have happened. Since I got back on the bike on the way to Odessa, WA, I have learned to worry less about arriving early or keeping up, and instead break often for ice cream sandwiches (huckleberry ice cream sandwiches in Montana), slow down for hilarious and conversation, and I take more pictures than I know what to do with (passed a thousand today!).
My knee is almost completely healed at this point. I didn’t quite believe my physical therapist Carla when she told me that riding my bike 80 miles per day would actually help my quadriceps tendon heal, but she was absolutely right. I started weaning myself off ice and pain killers naturally and now I only deal with a bit of stiffness in the joint in the morning. It feels fantastic about halfway into the ride every day.
As I’ve said before… the organization and food on this ride is just fantastic. Last night we had a catered dinner by the forthcoming Cafe Chinook in Harlowton, MT– owned by Liberty and Todd King— that consisted of handmade salsas, local tortilla chips, tossed salad, and grilled flat breads. Tonight we had a delicious dinner catered by Beyond Basil in Billings… grilled Montana ribeye, grilled salmon, quinoa salad, potato salad, and apple pie. We have been truly spoiled.
Tomorrow we will ride 56 ridiculously short miles to Hardin, MT, our last stop before heading into state number four, Wyoming. I am grateful for every moment of this experience
I am in the midst of an amazing adventure-- riding across the country with 17 incredible, hilarious, generous people who are suffering through hurt backs, injured hands, tender behinds, sunburns, strained knees, and insatiable hunger to raise up the cause of the American Lung Association, an organization that has been fighting for your healthy lungs and clean air for over a hundred years. If you can give to this great cause, please make a donation at http://action.lungusa.org/goto/larissapowers