6/25/12 Alder to 8.5 miles past Cameron – approx. 43.4 miles that seemed like 100
When we left Chick’s at 8:45 am , it was a sunny, clear blue sky day. We rode down to the KOA to check on the others and found that Frank, Roger and Andrew had left really early. However, the two Bangladesh bikers were still at the KOA. Apparently, the KOA owner invited them to stay an extra day and they were planning to cook for the family that night. They indicated that they would try to catch up with us at West Yellowstone. I told Munitar that I looked up his website and had found it very interesting, and asked if they would take a picture with me. See attached photo.
The first 11 miles of the day were up a long incline through Nevada City and Virginia City. These are old mining towns and have really quaint motels, shops and cafes. I would not mind coming back some day and spending some time there. However, the task at hand was up through 7600 ft, and with a head wind at that. At various points, I got off and pushed just to keep moving. Finally, after a couple of hard hours, Randy and I reached the top. We were rewarded with a long fast downhill of approx. 10 miles into Ennis. Though there was some cross-wind to contend with, it was nothing like the ride into Dillon. I got up to approx. 35 mph at one point, and the view of the valley below was breathtaking.
In Ennis, we stopped at a coffee shop for a break and for Randy to use the wi-Fi. We took the opportunity to call and make a reservation at a motel in West Yellowstone for Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
I also received a response to my e-mail from Mckinley and Patrice. Sounds like they have had some rough encounters along the way, with Patrice having an accident and getting a little banged up, plus dealing with some saddle sores. They were in Jackson and planning to try and make it to Dillon or Twin Bridges today – so, approx. 1 1/2 days behind us. I didn’t have the heart to reply and warn them about the headwinds to come.
Still no sign of Roger, Frank or Andrew. We set out for Cameron, approx. 11 miles away. The only way to describe the ride was BRUTAL – the headwind was so strong you could only make 3-4 mph on a flat road. Plus, it was a constant struggle to even keep the bike on the road as the wind kept trying to push you off the side. It took a good 2 hours or more to reach Cameron, and it was exhausting. Plus, Cameron is basically 1 building on the side of the road and nothing was open. I told Randy I needed to just get off the bike a bit and re-group for a few minutes before I could even think of continuing the remaining 8.5 miles to the intended campground. Randy said that today’s ride was the hardest he had ever encountered in all the cross-country tours he had taken. We just kept shaking our heads and saying, “This is crazy!!” about this time a man stopped by and chatted with us. He couldn’t believe we had been riding into the headwind, and told us that it was 35 mph! Unreal. He asked where we were going and even offered to drive us in his truck, but we declined since we weren’t exactly sure where the others were and needed to find them. He also told us the forecast was for more of the same tomorrow – we will have another 50 miles to get to West Yellowstone.
We were already beaten down and still had 8.5 miles to go in the 35 mph headwind. I told Randy that I had to take it 1 mile at a time. Stop after each mile and drink water and rest a minute. He seemed to think that was a good approach. So, on we went. I am fairly certain this day was the most physically grueling activity I have ever done. Finally, we reached the turn off for what we thought was the campground where we would find the others. We had to ride approx 1 mile on a dirt/gravel road into the cross-wind, and I was clinging on to the handlebars and fighting to keep the bike on the road for dear life. At last, we came to a boat launch area, next to which was a sign that said 2 more miles to the campground. I told Randy, “no way I’m riding another 2 miles down that dirt road and then have to ride out again tomorrow morning.” About that time, Randy yelled, “There’s Frank!” and we headed down to the the boat launch area. Only it wasn’t Frank, it was Andrew. Andrew was happy to see us, as he had last seen Frank in Ennis and didn’t know where he was or where we were all to have met. The three of us agreed that we were not going to go anywhere and would stay put until the morning. We hoped that that the wind would die down and planned to get up and out at the earliest possible time and get as far as we could before the wind could crescendo back up to 35 mph.
So, we spent the remainder of the early evening hanging out at the boat launch, watching people come in, and soaking our feet in the cold Madison River. At one point, just after we got there, two guys that had been fishing came in and, taking one look at us and appraising the situation, offered us soft drinks. That ice cold Coke never tasted better or was more appreciated.
Around 7pm, Randy pulled out the propane heater and combined his Uncle Ben’s rice dish with my Campbell’s beef vegetable soup. Along with that we had multigrain sandwich thins, an apple, crackers, and trail mix. It was quite the smorgasbord and delicious. After dinner, I had a Starbucks via to cap off the day.
The sun is going down as I write this and it is getting cooler by the minute. Randy is working cross-words and Andrew is listening to music or audio books. I am getting ready to start adding clothes layers. It doesn’t look like it will get too terribly cold tonight and the sky is clear, so probably no rain. I am in that “wait in readiness” mode – can’t wait for first light to get a head start before the headwinds really kick up. Breakfast is 17 miles down the road. The end of a truly unusual day. If I can survive the remaining 50 miles to West Yellowstone, I have a room waiting and a day off on Wednesday.