Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Day 60: The only way is down (and down and down...)

Day 60
Wisdom to Hamilton 75miles

Had a fantastic nights sleep last night. Think I've now recovered from not sleeping much in Twin Bridges. Jerry and I went for some breakfast, and then set off in our separate directions. He was going down the hills I had climbed yesterday, whilst I would be going down the one he climbed yesterday!

It was quite cloudy in the morning, and I quickly had to change into my long sleeve top. The first part of the day took me out of Wisdom and gradually up towards Chief Joseph Pass. It was some very nice riding, with a lot of if going through pine forests.
Beaverhead National Forest - a very pleasant place to ride

The initial climbing was pretty gradual, but as ever, it got steeper as I neared the summit. After around 27miles I could see the top, and also another sign showing I had crossed the Continental Divide yet again. I think this might well be the last time I cross it, so I think I'm on the Pacific side for good now.
Another mountain pass ticked off the list

I also think I technically crossed into Idaho right at the top of the pass. But only for a couple of minutes. Since I was soon back in Montana, I'm not counting that as getting into my 9th state. In a few days I'll properly leave Montana and get into Idaho for real.

After the short climb, I then had a long, long descent! It was great. The road was quite twisty, but the turns were never that sudden. At one point I had to stop and wait for an oversized load to pass. This truck was carrying this absolutely huge piece of fabricated metal. Looked like part of a turbine or something!

Soon passed a guy coming up the hill on a recumbent bike. Mike was from Atlanta, and heading to Denver from Astoria. Whilst the recumbents are apparently more comfy, they are notoriously poor climbers, and he said he was averaging around 4mph up the hill!
Another Mike on a bike!

Carried on down the hill and the miles were flying by. Pretty much all of my afternoon's riding was downhill or at least flat. Once I got to the bottom of the steep slope, I was then riding alongside the Bitteroot River for most of the rest of the day. This was still on a slight downhill grade, so I was able to make good time. The scenery was particularly impressive, with tall snow-capped mountains on one side, and more greener ones on the other side.

My destination for the day was Hamilton, a town about 50miles before Missoula. I had arranged to stay with Carl and Terry. They hosted cyclists at their house, and have done so since their son rode the TransAm a couple of years ago. I got to their place about 3pm, and was soon pitching my tent in their garden. Im hopeful I wont have any repeats of the problems I had last time I camped!

After having a shower, I had a very nice chat with them for a while and then as we were talking about sport, I tried explaining the intricacies of cricket to them! Unsurprisingly, I dont think they fully understood. Trying to explain cricket to a novice can be pretty tough! I tried to use baseball analogies as much as possible!

Then we had a very nice dinner. Definitely one of the the best meals Ive had on my trip. Then after dinner we played some dice games, before me and Carl spent a long time talking politics and explaining the differences in the way the different Houses (Commons and Lords for us, Senate and Representatives for them) worked. Its interesting to find out how the the different systems worked.
By the time we finished chatting, it was almost 10pm, so I got ready for bed.

Carl and Terry are fantastic hosts, and absolutely lovely people. And their garden seems pretty secure, so Im sure tonight will be fine for camping!

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