We had originally planned to leave Hardin at 8, but when we were offered a breakfast of sausage and biscuits by Sharon, how could we? As the kids had been so busy with the yard sale the day before they were allowed to miss church and to sleep in. It meant we didn’t leave until 11, but we weren’t in a huge rush. It was only about 50 miles to Billings and while our future host, Caralyn, sounded fun we had a rest day lined up so had lots of time to hang out.
After saying our goodbyes it was back on to I90. What had been a novel experience when we got on it in Chamberlain was definitely losing it’s pull. It was still the fastest, shortest and flattest way to travel and even had a decent sized shoulder, but we’d spent so much time on it that I was feeling a similar way as I did about corn fields. Having said that, I’m not sure if the alternate route would have been much better. While beautiful rides are of course a big part of the trip, I’m going to be riding for long enough that I don’t actively seek them. Quite often routes are chosen based on length + elevation gain. People we meet or stay with recommend their favourite local routes and while we’d love to take them it’s just unrealistic. Being so close to the half way point of the trip the 6 months is starting to not feel that long and, although we’re on track, it’s still just not practical to see and do everything we want.
Not much of note happened on the ride along I90 until about 10 miles out of Billings. I was behind C cresting a climb, but then flew past her going down the kinda lengthy descent because of my extra weight. I enjoyed letting my legs recover and coasted down and let my speed start taking me up the next small climb when I realised that C wasn’t behind me. I coasted to a stop, looked back and saw C about 3/4 of a mile behind me standing by her bike in the shoulder. I assumed she was taking a picture although I couldn’t think of what. I waited a few minutes, looked back again and she’d barely moved. I turned around and started to ride slowly back towards her.
When she caught up with me, I saw that her rear tire had gone flat. We put the bikes down and worked on fixing it. We couldn’t see a reason for it to have gone so with some trepidation we changed the tube. While we were changing the tube a pick-up truck came past and a guy called Sean hopped out. He asked us if everything was OK and we told him about our problem. He said that he was returning to Billings from Yellowstone and would love to drive us to town. Having been unsure about what had caused the flat we took him up on his offer.
When we got to Billings we thanked Sean and said our goodbyes and said our hellos to Caralyn, who was a little surprised to see the cyclists she was hosting arriving in the back of a pick-up. C went to work looking at her bike and found that both her front and recently new rear tires had started to wear through to a dangerous level which must have been the cause of the puncture. If we had just replaced the tube she could have had either of her tires blow out going down the next hill and lost all control of her bike, especially bad when that might have thrown her in to the middle of an interstate where cars are legally allowed to go 70, but often go faster. We were both very glad that we had accepted Sean’s kindness.