25 May 2008

Super Sunday

I had a nice leisurely afternoon yesterday in the town of West Yellowstone, catching up with family on the phone and working through a couple of days of e-mail accompanied by snacks from Tubby's Bakery.

Again I was up at 05:15 this morning and in the hotel office by 6 for their continental breakfast. I remember when I was younger that pretty much every hotel I stayed at had huge meaty breakfasts with none of this continental lark, although this one was better than most since to accompany the usual spread of toast and cinnamon rolls were some freshly cooked omelettes of which I had 4 to get some energy for the day ahead.

It was still almost dark as I set off since dark clouds obscured any sign of a sunrise and this continued for most of the morning with light showers and black skies following me for the first 40 miles. As I left town I passed West Yellowstone Airport and had the temptation to hop on a flight for the coast to get away from the terrible weather of the last few days but resisted bravely. It is interesting to see how many of these small towns have their own airports when they only have populations in the hundreds..

The general terrain for the morning was sloping downwards which gave me some momentum to help my tired legs and I rode through some pretty nice parts of the countryside including two lakes, the giant 'Hebgen Lake' and the smaller 'Quake Lake' formed by an earthquake which caused an 80 million ton landslide to dam the Madison River back in the late 1950s. Fishermen were starting to head out in boats to Hebgen Lake as well as on foot into the streams of Madison River to do some fly fishing reminiscent of 'Legends of The Fall' which was set around here.

By half eleven I had put 60 miles in the bank and arrived at my lunch stop of Cameron, which wasn't even a town but more of a bar/cafe/shop combo in the middle of nowhere. That said, they served some great food and the bar looked pretty snazzy with a couple of pool tables in good condition but sadly I was flying solo so couldn't embarass myself. I stopped at the next town of Ennis to make a couple of calls and got chatting to a guy called Barrett who comes from the town of Bozeman which was a fair few miles back on my route. Barrett is also a cyclist and is planning to do some riding in Canada this summer with his wife who coincidentally had just bought some prints by the Scottish painter and engraver William Strang!

I didn't have time to stop long in Ennis but it looked quite a cool little town with lots of oldy worldy shops and it was the sort of place I could imagine taking a rest day in if my diary looked different. From Ennis I had the pleasure of a 3000 foot climb back into the mountains and this was a slow one. I think I climb better when I have company as it encourages me not to wimp out and stop for a breather every couple of minutes, and the road to the top took me a fair while. I felt cheated when I reached a false summit and had another mile to go but soon was sailing down the other side with a 7% gradient which reminded me that I need to get some new brake pads this week or I will be in trouble pretty soon.

Two historically preserved/reconstructed towns were at the bottom of the hill, full of shops and buildings which looked like they were from the old west but time was ticking so after an ice cream and a chat in a cafe I made tracks for the last 20 miles of the day. I eventually made it into Ruby Valley and the town of Sheridan on the dot of 6 feeling pretty well cycled out after 115 miles today so I checked into the Moriah Motel which included getting my laundry done in the $50 a night price so I was happy looking at the storm clouds building up outside.

Tomorrow's route contains more hills than today's did so I don't think I will be making the same kind of distance but it feels good to have done some solid miles since I am of the perhaps naive belief that I can ride far enough north to get away from the storms! The picture below was sent to me by Barrett and shows the weather system over Montana yesterday....nice!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can confirm an Andy Strang sighting this afternoon in Ennis, Montana: a small drinking town with a fishing problem. Andy's looking good despite plowing thru the MT rainy season and a few scattered floods. He'll be on the left coast before long.

Good talkin' w/ ya, Andy. Pedal on, pal.