Monday, May 25, 2009

Cycling along the Mission Mountains

When I was in school I used to ride my bike up and down the Mission Valley to and from Flathead Lake. It was my first taste of freedom as a kid. Each summer I'd usually leave Missoula on a Friday morning and return on a Monday morning. I'd get my bike ready the night before, and I'd put quarters in my socks to use in pop machines along the way. I did it weekend after weekend.

Now and then I'd rope a friend into going along on the ride with me and they suffered like animals. Only one guy named Scott didn't suffer. He had a nice bike and knew how to ride it, but most of the time I rode alone.

I'd sleep in the basement of my parent's house and I'd keep my bike down there next to my bedroom. There was a stairway out of the basement that went up to the backyard. I'd walk my bike along the house through a gate to the frontyard, ride down the sidewalk to the end of the block and out into the street. I'd ride under the canopy of trees out of my neighborhood and out of town to the interstate. After ten miles riding west on I 90 I'd turn north on highway 93. Leaving Missoula on my bike like that was like leaving orbit and venturing out into space. The distances seemed vast. The reality out on the open road was often harsh. Wind heat and highway traffic. It was nothing like riding a bike around town.

I can never drive down highway 93 now without thinking back to those summers and all of those bike rides.

Today the clouds were closing in on the mountains and it was very bright and hard to get a picture without just blowing out the sky. So this is kind of a wierd picture.


Jules said...

Oooohhhhhhh... so you've ALWAYS had this sort of connection with the 2 wheeled mode of transportation. Actually, you paint a very nice little pic here, Don!! And you take a nice one too!

don said...

By the time I was in 8th graded I'd ridden a lot of 100 mile rides. I'd hitch hike if my bike broke down. I'd camp and found that adults would always help me out, even if I didn't ask.

One time I was in 6th grade or so and my friend and I decided to ride our bikes to a hotsprings 30 miles out of town in the woods. When we got there, we checked into the campground and I don't think we realized what they would charge or how much money it would cost. They let us have a campsite free or we would have just slept in the woods, it really didn't matter. When the family in the campsite next to us saw us they let us eat with them and insisted that we sleep in our sleeping bags under their camper as there were bears coming into camp every night, and they said that if bears came to get in the cab of their truck. The bears never came.

Plus they let us have icecream if we turned the icecream maker. We thought it was a total bonus. But we really weren't as innocent as people thought.