Day 18 – June 18 – Helena, MT to Townsend, MT – 34 miles

After a free, pleasant breakfast, a long but gradual climb out of Helena and a brutal 15-25 mph constant slap in the face of a headwind created a nightmare. 34 miles is all I could bear today.

Slow climb out of Helena:


Nothing has irked me more than the incessant ESE wind that I’ve been battling with for 3 days now. Today was by far the worst. Going on flat road east of Helena, and even downhill as I passed Winston in sight of Canyon Ferry lake toward Townsend, coasting at all was unthinkable. Cycling in a slight breeze is one thing, but on a touring bike with 35+ pounds of gear, extra wind resistance, and a 20 mph wind in your face, not to mention 90 degree temperatures, going any measurable distance is brutal.

North end of Canyon Ferry lake in the distance:


Arriving in Townsend and locating a park, I ate to replenish my energy supply and sat down to consider my options. 35 miles remained to get to the next town of Three Forks. That would match the distance today plus add an uphill climb as the route follows the Missouri River upstream. Noticing clouds building in the sky, wind continuing, I checked the radar on my phone to discover the area was in a thunderstorm watch.

That was the final straw. I decided to hunker down for the rest if the day and night. An elderly lady walked by as I sat in the shade of a tree on a park bench and asked if I would be camping the night at the park. Not knowing if that was commonplace, she went on to say that people often camp in Colonial Park. 10 minutes later I had my place for the night after calling the city office and verifying it was okay.

I feel financially this may work out better as I would have had to pay at my intended destination (Missouri Headwaters State Park) and I’ll still be able to make it to Bozeman tomorrow where I contacted and confirmed a host.

As I finished eating my chili and noodles in the park, two boys from town biked over to inquire my situation. They were intrigued at the thought of going hundreds of miles by bike. Our interesting conversation was cut short as their friend was anxious to get to their favorite pond by the river to catch snakes, a rather popular activity for the youth here.

Not long after, some members of the Rotary Club brought tables on trailers to the park. I decided to offer some assistance. They were grateful for the help, and I was glad that the leather work gloves my mother suggested I bring along finally found some use on the trip. Thanks mom!

One of the Rotarians turned out to be from Richmond, MN, little more than 10 miles from where I’ve grown up. We talked for a little while. It was nice to get some sense of home while still being 900 miles away.

Evening arrived and I found myself writing these words and charging my phone when an older couple walked from the gas station with some food. They sat at a table near to me. Before I knew it, I was once again telling the story of my adventure and cause. The couple, from Bozeman, found it fascinating and took down my blog site. They then left, but not before giving me the last two peices of chicken they had.

I set up camp as darkness settled over the park, ready for a night of sleep. Little did I know that’s not what was in store.

Very wide open around the west side of Canyon Ferry lake by the town of Silos: