Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bikes, trees and soot

24 Miles

Yesterday the boyscouts volunteered with the Montana Conservation Corps to remove dead and burnt out trees in Lockwood.  Being reasonably close, our troop leader egged me on to ride my bike out there so I took him up on it.  Unfortunately I didn't Mapquest the directions first and trusted the single-line map that I was given, which would have been fine, except the map started with Old Hardin Road.  I thought I knew where Old Hardin Road was but I didn't.  I ended up taking the Hardin Road in the wrong direction for about 3 to 4 miles with a howling headwind.   As I started getting up into the foothills I figured out that I was in the wrong place and called Sarah on the cell phone for directions.  I had to back track all the way back to the highway where I found the Old Hardin Road.  I'm surprised how many roads in Lockwood are not marked.  Anyway, I finally got on the right track and made the turn on to the last road on my directions.  And the road kept going and going. The buildings were thinning out quickly and I was beginning to wonder if I was supposed to take one of those unmarked roads.  I came around a bend and my heart sank.  I'm exhausted from trying to find this place and fighting a strong headwind the whole way.  Now I'm confronted with the steepest hill I've ever had to climb.  I quickly shifted all the way down into my lowest gear.  I can usually spin all the way up a hill, slowly, but with little resistance on the pedals.  I had to push hard to get up the hill and thought of quitting several times.  But I finally made it.  Out of breathe and unable to go any further, I stopped at the top of the hill and rested while drinking ice cold water to recharge before beginning my service.  I could see the action about 500 yards away.

When I finally made it to the work site, I grabbed a hard hat and lended a hand hauling brush and limbs up a hill to the top where the chipper waited to turn the stuff into mulch.  It was actually kind of fun work but exhausting.  Many of the trees were burned in previous years so I was covered in soot by the end of the activity and chipping that stuff put all kinds of soot and ash in the air for us to breath in.  I was spitting black all day long. 

At the conclusion of the service project, the other Boy Scout leaders asked if I wanted a ride back. Are you kidding.  The ride up was work!  Now its time to play.  I hit 45 mph on the way down that steep hill, and that was being conservative.  I just rolled down.  Had I been pedaling I could have easily broken 50 mph.  With a tailwind, I made it home quickly.

After cleaning up, I took Tara out to pick out her birthday present, a new bike.  She was so excited that she fell in love with every bike she saw.  The first was a used teenagers BMX bike that was heavier than my mountain bike fully loaded with my gear.  The second was a little girls bike with tiny wheels.  It took some doing but I finally explained to her which kind of bike she needed and narrowed it down to three.  She finally ended up with a hot pink mountain bike with 5 gears and handlebar brakes.  It's a little big for her but she'll grow into it.  She's happy and I guess that's what matters.

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