Back on Route 2 again, and the traffic was no better. We had been told that it was going to get worse before it for better, and it was true. Taking up the lane to make sure cars slowed down proved to make people very angry, and even though we were safer that way, the constant mental stress started to wear on us.
Unfortunately, that got worse before it got better as well. In Blaine County, MT we were stopped by state troopers (apparently, you can get pulled over on a bike). They told us that in Montana, contrary to cycling safety manuals and the laws of many other states that view cyclists as vehicles, it is illegal to take up the whole lane. So, each of us got an $85 ticket. Luckily, we were only a mile and a half outside of Chinook, where the county courthouse is located, and we paid a visit to the justice of the peace to discuss the tickets. Also luckily, he was far more reasonable than the officers on duty. After looking up Montana cycling laws (he was under the impression that cyclists held the same rights as cars) he called the prosecutor. “Counselor; I’ve got three boys down here where right and just don’t come in the same package”. They eventually dismissed the tickets and wished us a safe journey. Unfortunately, Montana law doesn’t exactly allow for that.
We discussed what our next step should be, which was a real low point in our trip. We ended up buying bright orange safety vests and a flag to ensure that we drivers would notice us. As we headed out of town, we made sure to continue to be extra vigilant of the movement of traffic around us. While the situation wasn’t good, 13 miles later we left Blaine County and the shoulder got wide enough for us to feel safe again. It had been a rough couple of days, but the worst seems to be over and we are safe.
We got to Havre, and meet up with our host, John Paul. John Paul is a journalist for the local newspaper, and uses his experience as a host for cross-country cyclists as research for a big article he will write on the subject. Therefore, besides getting a roof over our heads, a shower, and good conversation, we also got interviewed. It was an interesting and good experience and he asked many questions that we had not been asked before. Unfortunately, after the interview we were exhausted from the day’s events and we quickly fell asleep.
We slept in a little the next morning, and, after thanking John Paul for his hospitality, headed out of town.