Monday, June 27, 2011

go go granny gear

Kale trees at Peaceful Gardens

It's the morning of day four on the road.  We've covered over a 161 miles in the last three days.  Through Helena, out to Chase Family Farm, up and over McDonald Pass, and to a great camp spot on the Little Blackfoot River in the town of Avon.  Just a few miles out of town, my front shifter breaks.  The bike drops into the granny gear in the front chain ring and I can not seem to fix it.
Now I'm assuming that everyone knows what the granny gear on a bicycle is.  That little tiny chain ring in the front for climbing hills.  The one that if you shift into it at the wrong time your legs start spinning a million miles per hour.  Yep, that one, and now I'm stuck there.  In granny gear.
Justene and I have 75 miles to ride today to get Seeley Lake.  We are also hoping to meet up with my dad who's riding in from Missoula to join us for 3 day.
After playing around with the cable and the front de-railer for a while to see what my options are.  We keep going.  I could rig the cable so that I'm stuck in the middle chain ring, but then I wouldn't have a hill climbing gear.  So I settle for the granny gear as it seems to be the best option.  I'll be able to climb any of the small hills that we have ahead of us and I will be able to peddle up to about 13mph before spinning my legs out of control.
The day before this in Helena we were riding down a back street and saw three really cool metal sculptures of snails.  These snails are like us I thought.  They're slow moving creatures that are pulling around a giant shell that they call home.  Just like us.  Just like me.  Stuck in granny gear, pulling around a giant trailer that has everything in it that I will call home for the next 3 months.  We have found our power animal.  The Snail!!!
They're so cute too, and perfectly fitting for our adventure as we are in no hurry.  Often we will ride until dark to get to the next camp site.  Wherever that may be.  On the night of day two Justene and I are in Helena thinking about getting out to Chase Family Farm.  We've cycled over 50 miles that day already.  Pushing through 20 miles of headwinds and battling with sunburns, we decide that 10 more miles at this point is to much.  It's dark out and we are tired.  So we pull into an empty field right in the middle of town and pitch our tent.  This is one of the perks of bicycle camping that I really enjoy.  With the bicycle, it's like an a free pass to camp almost wherever you want.  When the neighbours finally see us in the morning they just sit there in the kitchen and watch.  No phone calls to the police, no harassment or harsh looks.  Just wonder and stares.  Like who the hell are these people on bikes???
We make it to Bigfork on day 5 and set up at the Marina Cay for our first rest day.  Bigfork is a great little place to take a day off and walk around.  It's Saturday and we hit up the Farmer's Market and right away we meet Paul.  Paul is larger than life at six foot four and he's the only one there selling fresh produce.  It's been a slow year growing food for most people, but not for Paul.  He runs Peaceful Garden  here in Bigfork and has a 51 foot geodesic dome that he grows all year round in.  Only in his 3rd year gardening, Paul already has a lot going on.  He's retired and has made a huge life style shift, and now he is a raw vegan specialist.  His stories are amazing as he begins to tell us about his life.  I haven't even mentioned to him what Justene and I doing and that we are making a documentary on the availability of local organic food.  This is just the person that we want to meet.  Finally I ask him if he will repeat some of what he has just said for the camera.  The whole time I have been just standing there listening and have forgotten to press the record button.
Peaceful Gardens .net

In Bigfork I am also able to get "Schlep" (my bicycle) fixed.  Cameron at the bike rental shop has a spare shifter that he sells me for $20 and teaches me a little about bike maintenance.  We get a lot of laughs from the guys at the bike shop when they hear that I have just ridden 150 miles in my granny gear.
Check this guy out.  Paul Renner is our hero!!!
Paul Renner with the ladies; Justene, Mela, and Jeannette (girlfriend, sister, and mom)
Now we are onto Whitefish today to visit Walking Bear Farm.  Then another farm stop in Eureka on Tuesday at Ten Lakes Farm.  We will also plan to spend at least one day rock climbing at Stone Hill before crossing the boarder in to Canada.  It's getting more exciting everyday.  The scenery is better and better and we are falling into a good daily rhythm on the road.
We've seen lots of wildlife.  Sandpipers flying over head chirping at us, two baby elk with their mothers, turtles, crawdads, hawks, pelicans, tiny lime green beetles, and ourselves, our alter egos,  Whippoorwill and Ruff Hewn alive and well.
The Road its self has also proven once again to grant us the things we need.  Justene (or Whippoorwill) has found not only her trail name for this adventure, she has also found a beacon.  A large glass prism that mounts perfectly on her handle bars.  A traveler's symbol for lighting the way.

When the traveler is ready, the light will appear.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

300 Miles down

Long distance cycling feels like we got novocaine shots in each butt cheek.  It's kinda numb, it kinda hurts.

Welcome to our gear room.

The packing begins.

Have lunch will travel

Bob Trailers are like loyal dogs.  They'll follow you anywhere.

Thanks Jo, Brad, Stacy, Mackenzie, Zack, and Kyle for the fashion show/send off ride.

This web footed blue ninja-duck-man wanted to go for a ride 

Our power animal, the snail.

Our camp on day 2.  An empty field in Helena, next to a trap shooting club (think shotguns).

Nice legs!!!

This turtle tried to cross the road...
This little turtle wears spandex.
 My dad Collin "Porter" Bangs joined us for 76 miles from Clearwater Jct. to Bigfork.  76 miles may not sound very long if your not 67 years old.  Good job dad!!!  Thanks for buying lunch.

Sometime the road is as long at it seems.
The Journey continues.  Enjoy the ride...