TRIP 2003

Update #27 - June 25th
Billings, Montana - 4783 miles (7653 KM)

Since the last update was posted, the weather has been a big factor. The temperature went from nearly one hundred degrees in Missoula to just under fifty degrees (with chlling rains and a wind chill close to freezing) between Livingston and Big Timber. I had two days of rain (between Butte and Belgrade and Livingston and Big Timber).

Yesterday was the toughest because with the rain there was a stiff cold wind that made the wind chill factor close to freezing. I wasn't really prepared for this since I had switched over to Summer clothes in Spokane, WA. Also, my insulated gloves had disappeared off the bike somehow. To keep my hands from freezing too much yesterday, I had to get out a pair of socks and wear them. I found out that the windiest part of the state is between Livingston and Big Timber through the Crazy Mountains.

Being in Montana, there was quite a bit of change in elevation. I've been hovering between 3000 feet and just over 6000 feet. I went over two passes (Homestake Pass ( the Continental Divide) about nine miles East of Butte (6400 feet) and Bozeman Pass about ten miles East of Bozeman (5400 feet)). Both of these were on I-90 which I have been riding along (legal in Montana) between Missoula and Billings. For the most part, the shoulder was at least four foot wide and smooth. I did take advantage of using frontage roads whenever possible.

One of the neatest things to happen occured in Missoula while I was visiting the headquarters of Adventure Cycling. This is a cycling association that came out of the first mass TransAmerican bike ride occuring in 1976 to celebrate the country's bicentenniel. It used to be called for a long time "BikeCentenniel". Through my past visits, I became friends with one of the employees (Paul Adkins who takes care of the website). I've had nearly a thousand visits to my website through the link from Adventure Cycling's on-line journal page.

Paul made a comment while giving me a tour that my old cycling jersey was looking a bit ratty. I have been wearing the jersey since 2000 and it was faded and worn out. I had a big patch in back for one of the rear pockets and there were some worn out spots up front. I was becoming embarrased wearing it especially if I had to speak in front of a church group. Paul made it possible for me to get one of their cycling jerseys. This jersey is quite colorful and it celebrates the association's 25th anniversary in 2001. Even though the jersey is a couple of year's old it still cost over $60. So, thank you very much Adventure Cycling.

My resting place for each night has varied from one night to the next. I spent one night in my tent east of Missoula. I spent two nights in churches (Drummond and Belgrade). At the Drummond Community Church, I slept in a bed since the basement of the church used to be the parsonage. I had two rooms donated through churches in Deer Lodge and Livingston. I also had two stays in people's homes in Butte and Bozeman. The home visit in Butte was the greatest in Montana so far since it came out of the local bike club. I think thare is going to be a long term friendship there. They were a Christian family. I am staying with friends here in Billings and will be here three or four days.

The response from churches have been varied also. I've had quite a few contacts with pass-off ministers. I don't know what page in the Bible they are on since they didn't understand the concepts expressed in James 2 and Matthew 25. Matthew 25 is the clincher since it has direct quotes from the Messiah telling us that we need to take care of the needs of our friends and of strangers (giving a drink of water, feeding someone, clothing the naked, inviting in a stranger, visiting the sick, or visiting someone in jail or in prison). When we do so, we are in fact taking care of the Messiah also. If we turn away the stranger, we also turn away the Messiah. There is a warning that when we do so, in the End Times and the Final Judgement, these souls will be seperated along with the chaff and be rewarded Everlasting Punishment. The action behind Matthew 25 shows whether the person is a true believer in the Messiah (showing a true love for the Messiah - heart knowledge) or one who just acknowledges that they are a Christian (head knowlege). They know all the right words but there is no true application behind them.

The minister with the small independent Grace Baptist Church is a prime example of a minister who understands Matthew 25. He went down to the sheriff's office to meet with me. His church provided a meal and a motel room that night and also a breakfast the next morning. Out of his personal money, he slipped me $10.

The United Methodist Church in Bozeman is a prime example of a church that understands and lives out James 2 and Matthew 25. The church has showers and provides towels and toiletries for ones that need them. On Saturday mornings, nurses going to the church provide free health screenings. The high school students recently finished a mission trip (not to a far away place but right in their community) and they made and gave out free lunches to those that needed them. Ladies in the church bake bread and delivers it to first time visitors who live in the Bozeman area and other ladies make casseroles and soups for church families in need. There is a collection of food for the city's food bank and blankets for the city's ecumenical mobile soup kitchen. The church is also actively involved with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate and also the ecumenical social ministry "Love Inc". The sermon was peppered with suggestions how the church needs to be active in doing social ministries and it does so with flying colors. There is a great personal involvement of the church members not just a collection of an offering or a line item in the church budget and sending the money off to another agency or ministry.

Along the way, I've seen a lot of wild animals here in Montana. I've seen a lot of deer. Outside of Three Forks, I saw a lot of buffalo on a private farm. This farm was a hunting farm since it advertised hunters being able to hunt and kill a buffalo for $300 a head. Between Big Timber and Columbus, I saw a big prairie dog colony. This colony was actually a state park. I didn't stop since prairie dogs have been recently found out to be carriers of Monkeypox.

I've experienced more than the usual amount of bike problems. In Bozeman, I had to fix a flat rear tire. Coming over Bozeman Pass, a rear spoke broke. I had to stop at a bike shop in Livingston to get it fixed. The last spoke to break was one on the rear wheel in Northern California near the Oregon State Line almost 1500 miles away. Yesterday in the rain about two miles out of Big Timber, my front tire went flat. I was too cold and numbed from the weather so I opted to call my friend in Billings and ask them to come and get me. I hate doing this since I can't count those miles missed. I only ask for a ride in dire circumstances. This has been the longest ride (almost 80 miles) for the trip East. I have a hard time with riding in vehicles because usually we are traveling 4 times more than I normally travel by bicycle.

The website won another award (this was the 216th). It was a Silver Placing from the Digital Dragoness Choice Awards. This was the website's seventh award for the year. Well, this is all I have to write in this update. I'll be here in Billings for 3 or 4 days with friends.

From Billings, I'll be riding to Hardin and then turning south to Cheyenne, Wyoming and then on to Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. I'll try to post an update as often as I can if there are any changes in my plans.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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