There are stories clogging up the pipes here at The BigBikes, blocking other, better stories from coming out. Story-constipation. It's a real problem. Time to put on the arm's length latex glove and reach up the story pipe's ass and pull that shit out.
What a charming image.
I'm not that strong a planner. I don't plan. I bought a plane ticket, one way, to Bend...Redmond actually, for the High Cascades 100, which I was covering for Cyclingdirt. The idea was to make my way over to Missoula, MT sometime after the race. The race was covered. Tons of sweet helmet cam "footie" was taken of fast riders on amazing Oregon trails. Then my favorite Ozzie, this side of Nick Cave showed up after the race with a friend of hers. Beers were left unfinished that night as Deschutes Public House. My excuse? The 3:30AM wake up call for the 5:30AM race start (ya, the one I missed. Suck it.)
But the next day, Sunday, we did (eventually, after way too much coffee at Thump) make it to the Niner demo not far from downtown Bend. There we met up with a most majestic Fuzzy John Mylne. One of the most terrifying single speeders on the planet. He doesn't shave his legs...or his chin. I think it's a religious thing.
I opted for the R.I.P 9, a 4.5" bike. Unfortunately, the trails near the demo were smoother than Massachusetts pavement, so they were unable to put the R.I.P. to the test. I could feel it chomping at the bit, talking to me, going "Mommy, can I go out and kill tonight?" but I couldn't offer up any victims.
It looked good though. Even if it was a gun at a pillow-fight.
CGW really putting the Jet 9 through its paces on the road back to the demo spot. We got a little turned around. The road was not in the plan. Only bad plans involve roads. I'm finished with drop bars, did I mention that?
Simone was too fast to keep in the frame. Seconds after this photo was taken, frustrated with our road grind, she rolled right the fuck over that loader. That's what happens when you put an Ozzie on a 29er. "This thing would be great faah runnin' ovah wallabies!" she concluded at the end of the ride. Then she chugged a can of Foster's and let a Vegemite burp go in my face. (I have known Simone for almost a day...we can joke like that).
Not a strong planner...right. So I thought I had booked a flight through Travelocity just before we left Thump for the Niner demo. I hadn't. When I called (while we were already en route to the airport) to confirm, they told me that my transaction had been canceled three minutes after I made the reservation. WTF? I would have said, if I said such things. "OK, well book me another seat on that flight please." "Nope, all the seats are taken." "All right, the next flight then." "At 11AM?" (it was 5PM). "What's another word for WTF?" At that point I told the Ozzies to turn the car around and that I'd spring for tubes and beers so we could float the Deschutes in style. Of course the tube rental place closed at five (Planning! Yes!) and we were left to drink really cheap, really good beer at a party attended by kayakers and stand up paddlers and their ripped abs. It wasn't too too bad.
Plan...where were we? B? (I don't know) was devised: I would rent a car at Redmond Airport and drive it to Missoula (10 hours according to Googly Maps). And...go! One problem — I didn't pass the credit check. What can I say? I'm a fucking mess. And none of the sketchy companies I normally rent from would do a point to point from that location. But that was when CGW stepped up and overtook Nick Cave for the title of "Thom P.'s favorite Australian." She offered to put the car on her card if I promised not to get in a drunk-texting accident or hit a bull elk on purpose. I also took back everything I ever said about Cadel Evans being a hobgoblin with the voice of a little girl.
It's 581 miles to Missoula, I got a full iced coffee, a half a night's sleep, it's dark...and I'm wearing flip flops.
Just after I saw what I am almost positive was a wolf, I nearly ran out of gas. I'm not afraid of wolves. I'm not afraid of anything. (Except for great white sharks in fresh water rivers and lakes and C.H.U.D.s under the stairs.)
The cruise control was set at 83 for about 7 hours. I hardly stopped to pee (which is a great sign after exerting yourself in the heat for two days), but, when I was within less than an hour of Missoula, at 6AM, I hit construction. It was almost more than I could handle. I pulled off for a coffee, pulled back on and was promptly instructed to stop. "We got a wide load comin' through...gonna be a while." "About how long?" "Oh, about a half hour." "Just take that stop sign and beat me to death with it please. Seriously" I proceeded to turn off the car and fall asleep, waking up to the stop sign being tapped on my window. Shaking off the drool and cobwebs, I saw that two large pick up trucks were waiting patiently behind me, not honking. That never would have happened in Boston. I mean, Missoula is the town where I saw a meter-maid approach a guy at a cafe: "John, is that your truck?" "Yes, yes it is." "Meter's up. Didn't wanna just nail ya." "Why thank you, can I buy you a cup of coffee?"
We'll get down to talking about the riding in Missoula and Bozeman soon...