Slipping clutches, Bikes, and Beer

Road trip to ride bikes, something for many of us here in Bozeman takes place a few times a year. This time, it was for New Belgium Brewing's Tour de Fat in Missoula. Casey, Wiley and I loaded up the trusty fixed gears in Casey's FourRunner Friday evening and headed west, with visions of full pints dancing in our heads. Unfortunately, enthusiasm trumped preparation as we would find out throughout the weekend. The first hint of this came to us as we started to climb Homestake Pass on the Continental Divide. 5000 rpms at 70 miles per hour in fifth gear immediately presented us with a "one of these don't belong" puzzle as the stench of burning clutch infiltrated itself through the AC system like one of those scent tendrils in a Looney Tunes cartoon. We pull over, scratching our heads and wondering if we can make it to Missoula by the morning on fixed gear bikes. A few tests of clutch disc static friction were next, after allowing everything to cool down a bit. We continued to tentatively head west and up, as there was no place to turn around. With deliberate application of the throttle the clutch seemed to hold just fine, enough to decide to attempt to make it to our destination, which it did.

The next reminder of our poor planning popped up after arriving in Missoula. We stopped at a Safeway to get some food (8 piece box on sale for $5!) and asked a friendly local as to a potential location to park and sleep. She replied with "Rattlesnake Drive" as did some of the bike shop employees did when I called them a few hours earlier. We head on up, and find three trailheads with gates and signs warning against camping. And that's it. Well, there were also plenty of big, fancy houses and hobby ranches, many adjacent to said trailheads. Sleep was beckoning, and we had no desire to all spend the night in the truck. All three of us. No way. Options weighed, we stayed in what appeared to be the most secluded of the trailheads. I woke up to the sounds of shuffling feet around my tent and plate numbers being muttered. (note: a white SUV is pretty visible from the road) Opening the tent flap with a cheerful "Hello!" brought a serious-looking guy over.
  • guy: "You're not supposed to be here, there's signs all over that you had to see..."
  • me: "Gosh, sir, I sure do apologize if we created a nuisance for you."
  • guy: "Well, no, you didn't, but...there's not supposed to be camping here and there's signs everywhere," (at this point the song "Signs" starts going through my head, and unfortunately it's the Tesla version) "...and there's been people up here doing horrible things at this trailhead, and we have to live here." Keep in mind this is sort of like Triple Tree in Bozeman but with more Ponderosa pines.
  • me: "I certainly am sorry. We got in real late last night (true) and there were no vacancies at the hotels (true) we were going to stay in (ok, not really true). Somebody told us about this place and we're just catching a few hours sleep before we head out again. I'm terribly sorry to disturb you, sir."
  • guy: "Well, just don't be surprised when you get a ticket in the mail. You're lucky the Forest Service didn't catch you."
Thankfully, that was not to be a theme for the day.

A hasty packing and trip into town ensued while we were wondering what kinds of horrible things could have gone on up there. Wiley mentioned Father Rapin' but we were unable to remember the accommodating offenses mentioned in Alice's Restaurant. (Mother rapin' and Father stabbin')

In town, got a good parking spot, got coffee and a bagel while Casey worked on waking up for the next hour and a half. We were on our way to Caras Park right next to the river when I heard a "Hey John!!" from the sidewalk. I quickly stopped and hopped on over to find a friend of mine and her sister sauntering along. With some 'Hi's' and hugs I explained why we were in Missoula and with some more 'How are You's?' I learned that Brin's sister Ally is now living in Missoula and we could stay on her floor that night if we wanted to!

We arrived at the Tour de Fat about an hour and a half early, on account of our early wakin', so it was time for a bike ride! There's these nice bike paths going along the river and few things are better for a leisurely morning cruise than nice riverside bike paths. We cruised over a bridge, passed people running, people running with dogs, some transients, all sorts of people. We cruised past the UM stadium while the football types were setting up their party headquarters, including a "private, entry by invitation only" tailgate party, which seemed to me to be counter to the spirit of the tailgate party. But I've never claimed to care about football, so I'm probably missing something. We rode along the Kim Williams trail heading east until I got a flat, borrowed a tube from Casey, and we figured that would be a good time to turn around anyway.
At the park, the festivities were just beginning. Funny bikes, tall bikes, and even a log bike were being ridden around with every costume more entertaining than the last. Local non-profits were there, including a thrift store dressing those unfortunate enough to be without a costume. Sethanol and Elizabeth arrived and we moseyed on to the costume folks with Casey getting a housedress, Seth a pink and white dress, Elizabeth a schoolmarm/librarianesque getup, Wiley a quilted satin skirt and purple soccer jersey, and me a TIGHT yellow/pink/orange floralish shirt and some black/pink/purple capris.

The bike parade through town embarks with two guys with car stereo trailers (and car batteries, presumably) taking their places in the ride to ensure we are always within earshot of tunes. The ride goes well, passersby and motorists both enjoying the scene. All paused along the river as the tall bike crew tested their track racing prowess on the abandoned running track. We continued without incident, basking in the two-wheeled fellowship abounding that morning. Until I got a second flat. And my pump, tube, and patches are home in my messenger bag. Clumsy hands (me) manages to stick the single patch any of us possessed to itself, so a last-ditch effort of cutting and tying the tube was attempted. That held just enough air for me to tighten the axle nuts before it too gave up. Time to walk.

Now, being dressed up in a clashing outfit of tight women's shirt and loose women's capris gave me no concern when in the protection of people dressed in a similar fashion. I was a teensy bit more self-conscious walking down Broadway by myself, dressed like a Linda Richman on mescaline. After ten minutes of this, my angel in a housedress comes astride a black fixie with a whole and intact tube! Thanks, Casey!

Back at the party was standard Tour de Fat fare: Funny bikes to ride, bands, and beer. $4 a pint seemed a bit steep BUT there was no entrance fee and the proceeds went to local cycling groups. At least it kept me from getting drunk.
  • Casey won the Slow Race
  • That fried chicken came in handy
  • Skinny Dip: really good on a hot day
  • The five of us handed out about 300 copies of the Practical Pedal to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience
  • Flamethrowing Pogo Sticks!!!
  • Someone traded his car for a bike, getting a custom (and beautiful) Black Sheep commuter equipped with Campy Veloce, Fulcrum wheels, and a snazzy rack and pannier set
That evening, tired from all the fun, we got some revivement with coffee and made our way to Ally's place. After a few hours of chatting, drinking more beer, and playing with Ally's dog Maddie we retired; Casey and me to the floor, Wiley to the narrow sofabed.

The next morning was enjoyed with coffee at Ally's place and more coffee and cheap (but GOOD) day-old bagels at Liquid Planet (there will be a beer-inspired posting aout that in the future). The truck made it back without much clutch slipping. And at this point there's nothing else to write about.

Check out the Tour de Fat if you can. There's one at the New Belgium Brewery in October sometime. Worth the drive.

This is a link to some pictures.


Singletrack Mind said...

I prefer the term "mumu" to "housedress" was a little more exotic than your average housedress...It definitely felt like the sort of thing one could wear for days on end without changing...or even showering

rando cowrissian said...

great report, the next best thing to being there for us unfortunates who had to work, and in this case, I do mean work, not the kind of work I do when I wink and laugh and say I'm at work, when I'm obviously not doing anything near to working. So, thanks.

Seth said...

More pics of the event can be found here:

Evan said...

Hey guys!

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