Early season riding

I did my first Montana motorcycle ride March 10, which isn’t early but nor is it late. I bought a 2005 Yamaha FJR in Helena that day and rode it home down I-15 to Butte. It performed just as expected. The roads were dry and surprisingly clean with no late-season sand in the big, sweeping turns. I opened her up into triple digits once or twice on the straights.

We met my brother Scott the next day, Sunday, March 11 at Wheat Montana at Three Forks. We had a nice 180-mile ride down along the Jefferson River to Ennis, then to Virginia City, Sheridan and Twin Bridges. Scott then headed east toward home and we headed west back to Butte over Pipestone Pass. It had some wet spots from melting snow and a lot of sand; we had seven inches of soggy snow a few days before.

Marilyn and I got out out Saturday, March 24. It was 32 degrees when we started the coffee pot but had warmed to 36 by the time we pulled out. Did 180 miles to Dillon on the back roads avoiding the I-15 four-lane, then to Twin Bridges, down to Alder and back. It felt wonderful.It even got into the mid-50s!

What the heck; we took it out again Sunday, March 25, and did 250 miles from Butte to Anaconda, Georgetown Lake, Philipsburg, Drummond, Helmville, Lincoln, Flesher Pass, Helena and home. A little chilly in places, especially the high country. The passes were sandy so no corner carving. Old Red ran beautifully  – 43 mpg averaging 75 miles per hour. She’s a mess, though, as there was some dirty and wet patches due to melting snow.

Riding bikes in Montana this time of year can be exceptionally pleasant, despite potential weather and road surface problems: the traffic is so light and almost non-existent in some stretches. Funny, we saw no bikes on the highway the whole time, but town was crawling with them when we got back. Go figure.

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