Tales from Vacation: Biking the Beartooths

The Beartooth Mountains are big. Big big. And, the road leading through them is steep, winding, and scary as hell. So, when Erik suggested we take part in a Beartooth Mountain bike ride as part of his family reunion over Fourth of July weekend, I promptly said I needed more information.

Of course, more information never came and we signed up anyway.

The view from the top of the Beartooth Mountains, just shy of the Montana-Wyoming border.

I hadn’t been on a bike since high school; I had long lost my pedal legs. Thankfully, bike skills were completely unnecessary. I’ve been joking that the tour bikes are Big Ass Bikes since they seem well-suited to a wide, American ass. The seats are big and cushy, and the handlebars are high enough to keep you fairly upright (picture a lovely French woman riding a bike with baguettes in a basket; it’s that kind of bike).

The Beartooth Bike Tours bus drove our group to the Montana-Wyoming border, the summit of the Beartooths, high above the treeline and still in some fairly deep snow. It was beautiful and cold. After our guide, Doug, handed out bikes and let us take a few wobbly spins, we set off down the mountain. In a car, the road was scary, but, on a bike, the road seemed exceptionally wide and comfortable. The bus followed us to keep cars from running us down, but traffic was light since it was very early in the morning.

Our guide, Doug, and his kilt. Hubba hubba.

We stopped several times along the road and Doug explained the history of the pass (it was built over two years in the ’30s thanks to some money-passing at the federal level). Frankly, he could have told me the pass was built by aliens and I would have nodded my head and believed it. Doug was lovely. Dressed in some kind of canvas kilt, heavy boots, and leather bracelets, he looked like an odd combination of barbarian-garage mechanic. Typically, it’s not my kind of thing (kilt-wearing fellas are fairly common up here and I always roll my eyes), but Doug was so darn fit and charming, it was impossible to resist. He knew about history, geology, and probably lots of other things I can’t remember through the haze of dreaminess.

Doug alone made the ride worthwhile. But, there was so much about it that was amazing. The views of the mountains, the freedom of the bikes, the thrill of the ride, it was all fantastic and I’d happily go again. I recommend it to anyone heading out that way for vacation. We went through Beartooth Bike Tours in Red Lodge and it was fantastic.

Dogs rule (especially on the crappy days)

I had a rough week. I’ve been feeling fat and slow, and like my whole body is one big, lumbering ache. Everything hurts. My feet, hands, shoulders, knees…you name it.

Seeking escape, I hit the bathtub with an issue of Fitness magazine (the June issue; I’m running behind on my deep reading). Inside was a two-page spread about bikini confidence featuring “random” women at some sunny beach, all wearing bikinis and talking about how everyone can wear a bikini, no matter what their body looks like. It’s all about confidence, they said. Trouble is, they were all SKINNY AS HELL! I don’t need skinny women in string bikinis telling me their secrets to body confidence at the beach. What a crock! I left the bath feeling worse than I went in. (Thank goodness the mirror was fogged up and my bikini body, now freshly pruned, was out of view.)

As I dried my hair, I looked at the bed to see Dougal. The entire front half of his body was under the bed, his chubby torso and back legs sticking out. His legs were frogged out to the sides and it was the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. He wasn’t doing anything. He was just laying there looking adorable without even trying.

Dogs rule.

And, I suspect they all look fantastic in bikinis, even the bow-legged, chubby ones. It’s all about confidence, I hear.

Vacation, come back!

I just got back Saturday from 10 days in Montana.I survived the four-mile running race. I rode a horse named Pedro. I got a sunburn. I swooned over a man in a kilt. It was awesome. In fact, it was so awesome, I’m having a bit of trouble squeezing back into my real life. I want more vacation life and I’m mentally throwing a bit of a hissy fit about it. I’m giving myself the rest of this week to have a tantrum.

In the meantime, I’ll start going through my pictures and putting together some good stories for you all. I can’t wait to tell you about Pedro and how much I love Montana. It really is such an amazing place. (Since I live in an amazing place myself, I’m qualified to make this designation.) My brain is having a hard time recovering from all that sunshine and open space. Washington State mole people aren’t used to all of that. I think I may have even gotten a slight tan. Moses smell the roses!

At any rate, vacation stuff is coming. Promise!