Discovering Missoula by Bike

Trying to recover from a solid month of running on adrenaline, after much sleeping I ventured out and started exploring Missoula on my bike last Sunday.

In preparation for my first day I tested out the route to my internship, about a mile away from my house. (That took about five minutes.) Soon, I was pedaling around in the warm weather, viewing the flooded Clark Fork River from its riverside trails, utilizing the bike/ped only bridge infrastructure, and then taking in the last gasps of one of Missoula’s farmers’ markets. The photo at left was taken at a defunct Old Milwaukee train depot, which has since been taken over by the “conservation” group Boone and Crockett Club*. On the way home I biked through Greenough Park, where Atticus and I have been taking our twice-daily jaunts.

Wednesday evening after work, I helped the Missoulians on Bicycles stuff ride packets for TORSV West, happening this weekend. When hearing I was from Portland, one man told me he heard that Portland just officially became the Meth Capital of the US (results seem inconclusive). I chatted with an older couple about the deer that had been languidly hanging out in my neighbor’s backyard when I got home from work, and they insisted, no big whoop—you’ll probably see some bears before you leave too**. Finally, I got to taste some Big Dipper Ice Cream—just enough that I’m looking forward to journeying over to their shop for my flavor of choice.

After visiting the University of Montana campus for the first time this afternoon, I swung by my local bike shop for the first time. I wanted to see if I could order a spare tube for my 650B wheels before I really needed one. The bike lanes and shoulders here are still thick with gravel applied for winter weather. In Vancouver I rarely saw stray glass on the ground, and here there’s a little of it everywhere, meaning my perfect record of zero flats in Vancouver is unlikely to be maintained in Missoula. Anyway, a few of the bike shop employees were pretty excited to see my bike. One guy instantly commented on the Honjo fenders; he pointed out to a woman that it was a Sweetpea, who seemed excited; and another man and I discussed Brooks saddles while the first man graciously inflated my tires for me.

Now that my body is finally starting to feel human again, after adjusting to a time zone change, a new town, four weeks to nine months of insanity, and more, I’m hoping to start going a little beyond city limits on my bike, to take in some views and work on my distance and hill climbing. Clearly I don’t have to go far for spectacular scenery: the slight elevation gain going to an elementary school a few blocks away makes it clear I’m in store for a treat when I hike up to the L on Mount Jumbo. As for good beginning distance options, I’ve been given a basic rundown by a couple of locals, but will need to make them sit down with a map for specifics.

So far, I’m really enjoying my internship. People from every department at the Adventure Cycling Association have been very welcoming to me, and I’m already getting to know people a little despite only having made it through my first week. It looks like I may have a by-line by the August issue of the magazine, I’ve been told I could totally review the unwrapped rain cape I found on a shelf near my desk, I’ve been working in databases and proofreading layouts. Generally I’ve been trying to be proactive without being annoying (or worse, screwing up something big and damage people’s trust in my capabilities). Next week I’m meeting someone who may have me help out on some of the ACA blogs.

If that wasn’t enough, every morning chocolate chip cookies are baked for the cyclists’ lounge at the organization: a room where travelling cyclists are invited to use the internet station, enjoy refreshments, or get a tour of the building. When there are cookies left at the end of the day, the office manager personally distributes them throughout the office. The last two days I’ve gotten a much-appreciated 4:45 pick-me-up!

A great start to my time in Missoula.

*=”We want to save them…so we can kill them!”
**=Indeed! The very next morning I took Atticus out for our jaunt and there was a bear stuck on a neighbor’s roof!

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