Friday, 29 July 2011

Day 57: Cycling 8 miles in the other direction

Day 57
Ennis to Twin Bridges 44miles (plus about 8 of backtracking)

Sandy, Leo and I packed up and went for some breakfast before setting out. I think we were all aware that the first part of the day would be quite tough. After breakfast I wished them well and set off on the climb. As I am a bit younger and a bit faster than them I went off ahead. Although it's very possible we will see each other again. They also plan to finish around the end of August, like me. It's taken them longer to get this far, whereas I will be slowing down now so our daily mileages will be quite similar. Mine probably just wont take as long!

Soon after leaving Ennis, the climbing began. And it was probably one of the steepest I have had to do in the West. And it was pretty unrelenting. There were no flat sections to break up the incline. Most of the way up I was in my lowest 2nd or 3rd gears, and on some of the really steep bits I even had to use first gear! It was about 10-11miles of upwardness (dont think that's a real word) before I finally reached the summit. I didnt have to stop and push my bike at all, but it was tiring. And the view back down the hill into the valley was impressive, if a little hazy in the early morning sun.
I started off all the way down there!
Once I reached the top, I shot down the other side although a headwind (is there any other kind of wind!) did slow me up a little. Went through a couple of small towns, and then stopped in Adler for a drink and a snack. All seemed well, so I set off again. At this point I still had around 50miles to Dillon, my planned destination.

About 4miles up the road, a guy on a quad bike pulled alongside me and asked if I had stopped at the Post Office in Adler. I said I hadn't, but I had been in the store. He then told me I had left my wallet behind! I checked in my bar bag and sure enough my wallet, and my phone, were not there!

The guy didnt actually have my things, so I had to stop and turn around and do the 4miles back to Adler. I think I must have put my things somewhere on my bike whilst I sorted my drinks out, and then when I rode off they must have fallen on the floor.

Anyway, eventually got back to Adler and went to the PO. The woman asked me to take my sunglasses off so she could ID me using my driving license! Maybe they get a lot of stupid english cyclists leaving their stuff around in these parts! I was extremely thankful to whoever handed them in. But it did mean I still had to do another 4miles just to get back to where I was before I had turned around. Dillon was beginning to look a bit further away...

Once I got going in the right direction, with all my possessions, I came across a couple of cyclists headed down to Texas. They were very nice, and were obviously videoing each person they met. So I did a quick speech about who I was, where I was going and they also wanted a tip or suggestion! Its amazing how hard it is to think of one when put on the spot. In the end I came up with one about getting out early in Kansas and Wyoming to avoid the winds.

They told me about the bike camp place in Twin Bridges (about 26miles before Dillon), and it was starting to sound like a good place to stop.

About a mile up the road I made it to the town of Sheridan, where I met an eastbound TransAm-er. He was also very enthusiastic about Twin Bridges. By now it was well gone midday, I would have had to ride around 80miles in total to get to Dillon and I was feeling a bit tired from the earlier climb. So I decided to stop at Twin Bridges. Which was an excellent choice! The local community had turned a small part of the local park into the 'Twin Bridges Bike Camp'. Its a fantastic little facility. It has a shower, a toilet, an indoor area to get out of the sun, electrical sockets and even a little raised bike stand in case you need to do any repairs. If it had a hot tub, I might never leave!

No need for the fly sheet again today

There is also a selection of books. Im almost finished my current one, so will probably so a swap today or tomorrow.

Its good to see local communities realising the benefits that attracting cyclists can have. Twin Bridges has a population of around 400. They will probably get almost that many cyclists through each year. So we can be a big boost to the local economy. In the hut at the camp, there is even a small form asking about peoples trip, length of stay in Twin Bridges and how much $$ we spend in the town. Over the course of a year, that money will add up. And a good facility means people will be much more likely to stay here, than say 10miles up the road in Sheridan.

Decided to take a short day tomorrow and just do the 26miles to Dillon. By the time I get to Missoula, it will be around 10-11days without a break. So a quick ride tomorrow will be good for the legs. It also takes me to the bottom of a couple of climbs, after which it is flat or downhill all the way to Missoula. I want to get to Missoula during the week so I can go see the Adventure Cycling HQ (and get free ice cream). But even with a short day tomorrow, I should still get there tuesday or wednesday, so thats fine.

As I was pitching my tent, a woman came up and asked me what 'bike camp' was. After giving the slightly sarcastic, but in a jokey way, answer of “a camp for bikes”, I explained what I was doing and about how the locals had set up this facility. Turns out she was interested in doing some sort of bike tour herself, so I gave her a few tips and also the address of my blog as well as details about Adventure Cycling and their different routes.

Had a shower and then wandered into town. Spending a bit of time in the library to get out the heat at the moment. I do seem to have bought the sun with me. Ive noticed not so many places around here have proper air conditioning, presumably because it doesnt usually get so hot. Except when I'm biking through, and I bring a heat wave with me! Tomorrow I'll probably spend a bit of time in town, before heading off for the short ride to Dillon. It will be nice to not have to rush at all tomorrow.

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