A rainy day ride in White Bird Battlefield

July 09, 2013

Adam and Lauren

Lauren smiling while braving the rain near White Bird Battlefield

Driving all over the country is pretty fun way to make a living. My wife Lauren and I are going from town to town talking with people about the cool things PeopleForBikes does and spending several months living the life of a nomad. What could be better for a newly married couple still wondering what they are going to do when they grow up? But, with all of the great things that this job entails, life behind the wheel of a car can get a little monotonous, so finding ways to change things up on occasion is important. And, this day…well, we found one heck of a way to keep things interesting.

The drive from Boise, Idaho to Missoula, Montana is a beautiful one. Narrow, winding roads with thick, pine forest on one side and a swift-moving river on the other. Occasional waterfalls scatter the roadside, and you are greeted by magnificent views with every crest of a hill. Rarely do you see another paved road while on this drive. But the one we DID see was a perfect opportunity to break up the drive. We had just began a long, steady climb up to the Lolo Pass when the trees broke open to reveal a road off to our right. The view we saw that day makes me wish my writing skills were better so that I could describe it more vividly. Simply put, it was a picture out of the Tour de France. Miles of switchbacks winding up a deep green mountain side without a single car in sight. As if it were meant to be, a small area off of the road was waiting for us as we were looking for a place to park.

Adam enjoying a quick ride to break up a long drive.

By now, the clouds began rolling in and the weather seemed to be looking gloomier by the minute. The mountaintops that were a couple of miles away looked like they were getting hit with some heavy rain. But we decided to go for it anyway. As quickly as possible, we threw on some riding gear and hit the road.

As we began our descent, we noticed each switchback taking us further away from civilization and closer to wilderness without a human for miles. Each pedal stroke down the road gave us the sobering realization that the climb back up was going to take us much, much longer than the trip down, but it is totally worth it. When we finally reached the bottom we turned to see what we had gotten ourselves into, seeing nearly every turn across the hillside leading us back up to our car that was much too far away to be seen. By now the air had turned from cool and clean to moist and thick. Every now and again, our faces were with tiny rain drops that seemed to sent as a warning of what was to come.

Lauren and I usually climb at different paces, and we were soon separated. Each of us left to only the thoughts in our head as the rain steady began to fall. Each turn in the road seemed like a turn into heavier rain and I began to wonder if this was such a good idea after all. By the time the rain hit hard, Lauren and I were far enough away from each other that I was afraid of the experience she was having. In my mind, I could see her hating every moment of the cold and wet. As for me, I love it. Where we come from in Texas, rain is a welcomed thing, and it felt like a blessing to get to ride my bike in it.

Lauren as she ascends back to the PeopleForBikes car.

I picked up the pace; thinking that the sooner I got back up to the car, the sooner I could rescue my bride from the heavy storm with the car. Pushing harder with each mile, I would often put my head down to guard from the heavy rain. As I lifted my head nearing the top, I was met by a large elk herd crossing the road about 100 feet in front of me. Needless to say, my efforts to reach the top had been stopped. There was no way I was going to try my luck with animals that size. Finally, the last one crossed the road and disappeared into the mountains, and I took off, still thinking that my wife was hating every minute of her ride. I sprinted to the car, put my bike on the roof, hopped in the car, soaking wet, and began making my way down the hill in the torrential downpour we had found ourselves in. To be honest, I expected to find Lauren hiding under a tree trying to escape the rain. But I was wrong. To my surprise and excitement, I came to find a woman dancing on the pedals as if she was fighting for the polka dot jersey in the Alps. I as passed by, I could see that all of my worry was for nothing. She had a huge smile on her face and was riding like she was enjoying every single second of this adventure. In an instant, my roll changed from Rescuer to Team Car. Seeing that she was going to finish this under her own power, all I could offer her was the occasional picture and screams of “Allez! Allez! Allez!” from the drivers seat.

Reaching the top, we exchanged looks of excitement. Working together to get our gear in order and ourselves dry; I came to the realization… This is pretty great way to break up long drive.

Lauren as she reaches the top of the climb with the help of her "team car".

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