26 May 2008

Jackson Hot Springs

The alarm wasn't too welcome at the now regular 0515 time since I stayed up watching Rocky Balboa til ten last night and didn't sleep for almost an hour with all my faffing around.

Nevertheless I was out by six, having answered some emails from back home and had an easy ride to Twin River ten miles away for breakfast. I had thought about pushing on to Twin River last night but knew that with my luck it would have been ten miles of twisty, windy hills! I had a 'Cowboy Breakfast' which was terrible for my arteries but good for my energy and was out of there by half seven onto the 30 miles to Dillon.

Dillon is a small college town hosting the University of Western Montana (I think that was the one) and the journey there was legendary. I have heard about, read about and even dreamed about tailwinds but today I was spoilt by possibly the first wind from the East that I have had all trip. Within two hours I was parked up outside Safeways in Dillon and proceeded to load up on snacks and supplies for today since I had a 50 mile stretch with no services. I was also happy to raid their medicine aisle since my back has been killing me for the past 4 days with what feels like a pulled muscle and I had run out of nurofen.

I spent the next hour doing circles around town as I couldn't find my way onto the 278 road and finally I realised I could get to it via the interstate for two junctions.

According to my maps, the next 50 miles consisted of a series of climbs over two peaks/hills depending on your optimism (the official term is 'mountain pass')! The first one was about 15 miles of climbing and its top marked my pre-planned lunchtime stop where I sat in the rain wolfing down a bad boy sub from Safeways and a granola bar. As I finished lunch and set off I saw another rider coming from the other direction so we both stopped for the now customary cyclist chat.

Since this chap was just on a road bike (racer) I assumed he was a local out for a fun ride in the rain but appearances can be deceiving. Dennis Farling was in his mid to late 50s, from British Columbia and was doing the TransAmerica Trail from West to East. He must be the luckiest cyclist ever as he has convinced a pal to drive a Volkswagen van all the way with all his kit and a mountain bike for the tough hills in it! His friend is also a radio buff and so they have two way radio going on too! It must be so much easier doing the trip that way as his road bike must weigh about 5-6 times less than my loaded bike and the option of switching to mountain bike gearing will be useful in the Appalachians!

We said our goodbyes and I sped down the other side of the first hill which was scary in the wet as my brakes are wearing out and really need new pads so don't work too well in rough conditions! One day until the next bike shop....

The second hill didn't seem as tough apart from the final mile which felt vertical and then I had a steady downhill all the way to the town of Jackson. I had heard good things about Jackson Hot Springs Lodge and picked up a basic lodging for $28 which got me out of the rain and thanks to my super speedy pedalling I was in their huge sulphur spring pool by 1630! This pool was the size of a a proper swimming pool (as per the top photo) and piping hot as one would expect from a hot spring so I soaked there for an hour or so, reading my book and relaxing.

I've just eaten at the lodge restaurant which was surprisingly good and would love to stroll through to the bar next door but still have a week or two free of the devil's buttermilk so will retire to my room for the night!

1 comment:

kellybee said...

Happy Early Birthday! Your adventures sound wonderful. I wish you health and safe biking!