There’s just inappropriate clothing. If there was ever a stage to prove the adage, this one was it. We started in 46F temps and it was expected to warm up to the fifties but in fact it remained resolutely below 42F and dipped to 36F at one point – that’s 5C and 2C respectively. I’ve ridden in colder weather but not for over eight hours.
We started in a silvery overcast in busy downtown Billings rush hour (yuck) and soon climbed to the plateau above the city – I had to go to second gear at one point but that wasn’t as bad as poor Ben on the ’24 NeraCar who was pushing it up about a mile long hill. There were potential fuel stops as soon as 40 and 50 miles – but we pushed through to 65 miles despite the coffee’s effect on the waterworks in the cold temps – and then went to 150-plus on the second stop.
To cap it off, misting rain started as we crossed the Lewis and Clark National Forest through the Little Belt Mountains – then held off then started again as we surmounted King’s Hill Pass at nearly 7400 feet. On the far side – it became proper rain and then dried out as we came close to Great Falls – our destination. If this sounds dreary, it wasn’t at all – all three of us really enjoyed it. I joked that it was like riding in the Scottish Highlands – you are passing through incredibly spectacular country – it’s just that you can’t see it for the mist and drizzle.
The bikes don’t care about the weather – the colder the better – and they ran great. We all had to reach for second about once or twice during the entire ride – but that was it – despite the huge climbs. Mark showed me the plug from my bike afterwards and it was a great colour – proving the carb needle choice for altitude was spot on.
We still arrived 40 minutes early despite taking it deliberately easy – and we are now excited to hear that the National Park Service has opened the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. So it’s game on for tomorrow……
Leaving the hotel in Billings
passing a freight train