Montana Daydreaming

I’m sitting here in the Bozeman airport, feeling really emotional and happy right now. The weekend went really well, but it was the renewal of several old friendships and the strengthening of bonds across time and space that  made the trip so worthwhile. The intent was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends from Montana, Owen Pittet, but it was also going to be a chance to meet up with some of the kids that I rode, trained, and traveled with when I was running Team “Dazed and Confused” in the mid 1990’s. Owen was a racer, but really a friend of philosophy and pragmatism, and honestly, we spent the last years of our asolescence together.

This may ramble and move flow-of-thought, so I apologize in advance if it’s not very smooth. I need to work on stitching my stories together, and making sure that this is more cycling-focused, and it is, but cycling is as much the theme of this blog as it is the channel for the stories about the relationships and experiences and locations that I have been given because of the bike, and the ride. Is that too sappy?

I flew in on Thursday with my SRM-equipped Cervelo, and ended up sitting next to a woman who was attending the same wedding I was, but she had the privilege of being a bridesmaid. I think her name was Jennifer. We spoke for a while, but ended up departing the airport in separate directions as I went in to town to hook up with Owen and prepare for a trip to the Gallatin River for a 4-hour float. Owen’s friends Graham, Hans, Josh, and several others were there, but there was this character, a guy named “Murph” who was the star of the afternoon. The guy rode down the river in nothing but shorts, and for a good chunk of the time, he wasn’t even wearing a crash helmet. He was just this life-loving, beer-guzzling drunk and was a riot to watch and speak to. We stopped halfway down for lunch, and we survived the “Mad Mile”, which was actually pretty darned fun and fast. I’m not much for water sports, but this was a good time. Oh yeah, you can light pipes with a magnifying glass… I witnessed it.

After I got out of the river, we dropped some people off at their homes, and I got dressed and met up with my old friend Jeremy Martin and his girlfriend, Kelsey, for dinner. Jeremy was the first Junior I ever coached, and in many ways, I was, am, and remain closer to him than my own brother — we’ve just traveled parallel paths for over 15 years now. He even got a degree in Public Health, thinking he would be a coach or Phys Ed teacher. The last time I was in Bozeman (around 2001), Jeremy was getting married (didn’t last long, but his heart was in the right place, though I doubt hers was), so it’d been too long a period of time for me to have not seen him. We ate at Ferraro’s, had some exquisite wine, and I learned a lot about Kelsey, about what she and Jeremy were doing for their jobs, and where they were going in life. It was a great feeling to see them together and happy, and I think what struck me most was the fraternal love that we’ve kept alive all these years, through all this time and distance apart. I just saw him again about an hour ago at the airport, and it’s my hope that “Little Bear” keeps that cherubic smile on his face forever. Man, he looks happy and healthy! I just bumped in to him at the airport for one last hug and a hurrah. Hopefully next time I get up there, it’ll be for another wedding, hopefully his (this time for good).

Friday morning I got up and met with Ryan Seher, another one of the cyclists I coached back in the mid 90’s. Ryan and I were not as close to each other when we were in Bozeman, but honestly, I’m just as proud of my relationship with him since I departed for Boise and then Dallas, as I am about my continuing relationship with Jeremy. Ryan graduated from Bozeman HS, and then spent time being a minor ski bum and trying to make it on the National Ski Bump circuit in UT. He then attended U of U, graduated with honors with a degree in Political Science, and then went on to grad school, starting at U of U and finishing at King’s College in London. He interned for some senators and governors, and he’s now prepping to attend SUNY – Buffalo to study Internatinal Law. I’m so proud of him! He looks great, and we’ve had some amazing policy discussions over the years.

We met up for a looong bike ride, which took us from the parking lot at the “M”, up Bridger Canyon and out to Battle Ridge campground, before descending in to Wilsall, behind the Bangtails, and in to Livingston, where we stopped for lunch. The final two legs included the climb over the pass from Livingston back in to the Gallatin Valley, and then back to the “M” via Jackson Creek Road, which was completely unpaved when I was a student back in the 90’s. The total ended up being about 91.5 miles with several thousand feet of vertical. But even though the ride was spectacular, and we shot some amazing photos of ourselves, each other, and the scenery, it was the fact that I could ride with someone I hadn’t seen in over 7 years, and still have so much in common with that person. The hours flew by, and when we got back, he invited me over to his family’s house just out of town for dinner. I made a quick detour to Bangtail Bikes, to say hello to Al and Stan and Chris, and then drove over to Ryan’s house for an evening of dinner, more wine, great conversation, and then a real treat – a Board Game. Amy and I don’t get to do that very often, if at all, and win, lose, or draw, the activity is perpetually linked to family for me. New family, mind you, since my folks never did it that much, and my brother and I were usually playing LEGO by ourselves, but this was a great chance to catch up with his mom, sister, and other members of the extended family.
I left around 12:30, heart aglow and filled with fond recollections and old memories of road trips good and bad, and some new memories that left me feeling that we’d made a positive impact in each others’ lives.

I slept in on Saturday, having had two nights of imbibing and knowing that that would make sleep more difficult and performance on the bike a little harder as well, but the main sleep depriver was the altitude and dehydration. So around 10am, I went to the famous Bagelworks (breakfast with an attitude!), got some grub, and went on a tour of the campus. I quickly got bored, however, and on an impulse, I decided to call another person with whom I shared an affinity for cycling, my college advisor, Dr. Tom Roll. He immediately recognized me (it had to have been at least 10 years), and we went on a 2.5 hour conversation bender at Sparky’s Deli, talking about absolutely everything under the sun. Mountain bikes, road bikes, doping, laboratories, Buffalo Jumps, my friend Craig Lee (Dr. Craig, now), Christy the Word Smith, Dr. Carucci, Dr. Monahan, Dr.Jack, Progressivism, the school, authorship, the Kennawick Man saga, and dozens of other themes. It was a fantastic trip down memory lane, and I think the most important theme of the conversation was that I got the opportunity to thank him for sharing his knowledge with me all those years back, and that they’d remained in my head as I forged a path through this life. Mentors with smiles are the best ones, and I have to be grateful that I got the opportunity to study under this man and several others. I tell people that I got an Ivy League Education at a State School Price, and I believe it.

Sidebar – we were chatting when Tom Thomas, the Elder, walked in to the restaurant, and I stopped my conversation mid-breath to say hello. Kinda nice when a client and husband and father of clients also meets your mentor. Kinda cool.

So, anyway, I said my goodbye’s to Dr. Roll, headed back to Jeremy’s house, and got ready for the drive to Helena and the wedding. The trip out there was uneventful, and I arrived about 3:30. While there, it was a little awkward, since I wasn’t really involved in the ceremony itself, so I re-introduced myself to Owen’s Father, Ian? and we struck up a great conversation about growing up, growing old, and all the great memories. A slide show had been put together showing Owen’s and Lynelle’s lives up to that point where they met, and afterward, so we had a blast chuckling about the childhood photos, as well as the young adult ones. There were a few pictures of O and I riding bikes, and that was pretty special.

The ceremony itself was absolutely perfect. It was short and sweet, just under half an hour, and everyone looked dapper. I got photos of Josh, Graham, and Hans, and a few photos of Owen, but I don’t think I ever got a good shot of Lynelle. I hope the Wedding photographer had better luck than I did. Everyone got in, there were no trip ups, and we then waited outside on an absolutely gorgeous day while family photos were shot. I was reintroduced to Owen’s sisters, and we all agreed to make a full evening out of it. I then ran over to the hotel, checked in, stepped right back out again, and headed over to Carroll College, where the dinner and dance were being held.

I sat back at the table next to Owen’s father again, and we resumed our conversation for a while, but then something caught my eye. One of the band members was someone I recognized! I walked up to him between sets, asked him if he’d delivered pizzas in Bozeman back in the 90’s, and he immediately remembered me as well. Jeremy and I were big fans of RUSH, and he was an ACE drummer. He still plays, teaches 5th grade, and has three kids. I’m really happy for him, and it was great to relive some of those old times with someone else that I might never have seen again.

As the evening wore on, the toasts were made, dinner was served, and I got to dance with Owen’s mom, Olivia. Then the sisters and I danced, and then, well, we all just got in to the hang of things and let the DJ take over for the evening.

I partied like it was 1999. The shirt got untucked, the blazer came off, we drank just enough to get loose, ate high sugar content cake, and then danced some more. There were a few breaks, and honestly, some of the dancing and conversation came across with certain innuendos, which I’m guilty of, but which I also enjoyed tremendously, but you know, it was harmless, it was fun, and it was a celebration for two wonderful people, their families, and their friends. So I took advantage of it and had a blast. I hope I’m not remembered as the ‘crazy one’, like I was at times in HS, but considering that I may never see any of these people again, you know, it is what it is. And that’s not a bad thing.

We ended around 2am, after all the cleanup, and I went to the hotel room, crashed for all of 4 hours, and then got up, dressed up in the stinky suit I was wearing, and headed out for Day 4 of my Grand Adventure: destination, Ennis via Dillon.

Dillon, MT is where Rev. Jane Shipp, one of the most important women in my life, now resides. She runs the parish of St. James in that small town, and though she knew I was traveling out there and wanted to see her, she had not contacted me at all to confirm her presence, so I went out on a wing and a prayer. I blitzed over through Butte, then hit 110 for about an hour as I drove through the prairie land on I-15, and got in to Dillon around 9:05.

NUTS. She wasn’t there.

NUTS. I couldn’t stay or stick around for any other reason – I had to get to Ennis and do some business with John and iBike.


So…. I got back in the car and took some back road to 287, then sneaked through Virginia City, stopping to say hello to a bunch of Illinois cyclists who were riding across the country to raise funds for Cancer research at their Uni. I got to Ennis around 10:30, met up with John and EINSTEIN the parrot, had brunch, and then we headed out to the house, HQ for iBike. I got to take a nap, but then we had a serious conversation about iBike and my role in it, and then we finally got down to the road to get a short, but satisfying ride in. Ennis has changed a TON since I was there. It’s almost…. civilized? Wow, can’t believe I’m saying that.

Anyway, we headed in to town for dinner at the Continental Divide, enjoyed some more wine (4th night in a row for said alcohol, wow), a great meal, and then we headed home for a night’s rest. It was evening in Montana, complete with absolute quiet, punctured by breezes flowing against window screens, and the occasional howling of coyotes. Eugenie the poodle is definitely an indoor dog.

So, all that said and done, I got up around 8, we started watching the Tour, and I got my bike packed up and ready to go. I had to leave with all but 5k to go on the stage, but made it to Bozeman in good time. Lo and behold, Jeremy was at the airport, dropping off his customers. We spoke, I thanked him again for being such a great host, and I then headed in to the airport and got ready to fly home. The trip went like clockwork, I finished one book and started another, and got home in time to get to the JCC and help Dorothy with her 20-minute effort.

I know it’s been a long blog entry, and the theme has wandered a bit here & there, but it’s still cycling related. I met most of these people through the bike. Montana exists in my past because of the bike. iBike is around because I ride. Owen and Lynelle live in a city where cycling to commute is common. Cycling is INTERESTING to people. Even Jeremy still rides.

It was a great, short, intense journey back in to my past, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to experience it. The only thing that would’ve made it complete would’ve been to see Jane, and maybe my college girlfriend, Lorri Frisbee. But I’ll get back up there, and I’ll plan it so that Jane and I get to rendezvous.

Photos are up at http://www.picasaweb.com/whareagle . I better git. Responsibilities are calling. I’ll post more after this weekend.


1 Response to “Montana Daydreaming”

  1. 1 Jane
    2008/07/24 at 1:49 am


    Richard, Dude, upgrade your email address book!!!! Sent you my email and cell phone number to your web site. You have my old email probably, which I no longer use. NOW!! You’ve got to come right back to Dillon and see us! AND bring Amy! SO, just start over. Email my gmail account or call, then arrive!!! Seriously, so sorry to have missed you!!

    Your trip sounds awesome!

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