Last night’s dinner was curtailed by an impending storm that never broke. The wind dashed the tent about noisily, and the dinnertime sprinkles never materialized to anything more. As dawn broke the shifty wind had made up its mind, and that mind said tailwind. Paul, Terry and I broke camp at 5:30 to shoot into Missoula and get a tour of the Adventure Cycling Association’s headquarters before everybody left for the weekend. Though, we weren’t so keen to get there quickly that we were going to skip breakfast. Much to our surprise and delight, we met Jerry and Jonathan at the diner, whom we hadn’t seen for about two weeks. The five Valkyries joined forces again and set off for town on our trusty steeds.

The scenery was beautiful on the ride to Missioula, and I was able to enjoy it all the more for the fact that I was seeing it from a bike path. I haven’t had a completely stress free ride in some time. I turned on some Bach concerto’s performed unaccompanied by Yo Yo Ma. For three hours, I lost myself in the beauty of the mountains and music.

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

The bike path from Hamilton,MT to Lola, MT

Tom, the last-place and in no hurry East bound racer took some time to share whisky from a bottle and tips about the location of secret hot springs up ahead.

Tom, the last-place and in no hurry East bound racer took some time to share whisky from a bottle and tips about the location of secret hot springs up ahead.

We arrived at the ACA just after lunchtime and were given ice cream sandwiches, stickers, and a wonderfully informative and interesting tour by Jennifer. Jennifer is a cartographer for the ACA. She and her coworkers are responsible for maintaining the accuracy of the maps with an eye towards cyclablitliy. Given how good our experiences have been on route and how challenging they have been off route, I can say with certainty that this group has made my trip across the US awesome.

ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

I also want to take this moment to say that any prior implication (or explicit statement) that the cartographer at the ACA is a “total A#@HOLE!” for the description of the Ozarks as “moderately rugged” was clearly all just a misunderstanding.

Jen, a very friendly and helpful cartographer. --Missoula, MT

Jen, a very friendly and helpful cartographer. –Missoula, MT

The final part of the afternoon was the weighing of the bikes. I was disappointed not to have the lightest one, but it was understandable since I’m on a recumbent. Here’s the tale of the tape (fully loaded, some food, no water):

Whifferdill: 75lbs
Persephone: 80 lbs.
Lord Montague: 85 lbs.
Burly Chassis: 87 lbs.
Pokey: 90 lbs.

The Valkyries together at ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

The Valkyries together at ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT

Weighing Persephone at ACA headquarters. --Missoula, MT

Weighing Persephone at ACA headquarters. –Missoula, MT