Ale and I are currently sitting under a bench waiting patiently for an ice cream stand to open in Ennis before we continue on our way to Yellowstone. It is very warm outside, definitely an ice cream sort of day, which makes it a little hard for me to write about this story…
Two days ago Ale and I stayed at a trailer park in Wisdom, MT (elevation at 6,000ft). We were really excited to test our new tent with some rain, wind, cold, ect. Now as I look back, I would call it a light sprinkle and a tiny chill, but our tent passed the test none-the-less. We both woke up in the morning feeling over confident in our gear and our ability to camp in the cold and be so outdoorsy. Hah, we had no idea what we were in for.
That morning we set out for a town about 18 miles away. Ale informed me that we would not have food for a while after that town, so we should eat a lot. I was slightly worried because I thought the 18 miles would be a breeze and I wouldn’t even be hungry by the time we got there. Well, I was partially right. There was a breeze involved, but unfortunately it was incredibly strong and going in the wrong direction. We biked in our lowest gears at 5mph (on flat ground) and every so often we would get hit by a side wind and have to hold on for dear life so we wouldn’t get knocked off our bikes. Oh, and then it also started raining (not the gentle kind of rain with friendly droplets that people sing about, I’m talking about the kind of rain that feels like mini bees stinging you in the face). I thought it was kind of fun for a while because we hadn’t had weather like this before and it made me feel tough, but the weather conditions lasted about 2 hours longer than I would have liked. In my excited phase, I got a bit ahead of Ale and figured we would meet up at the town. When we met there, Ale was out of breath and furious because I had not thought to stop and let her draft. Woops. I just figured with the unpredictable wind and my swerving left and right I would be impossible to draft off of, but we agreed that next time I would wait and ask.
Needless to say by the time we sat down at a country western sort of restaurant Ale was not in high spirits. Oh, before that I had spotted another bike tourist sitting on the curb and went over to introduce myself. He was a young guy, tall and extremely thin, decked out in brightly colored rain gear. I invited him to eat with us and he accepted, so we sat down and talked and got to know each other a bit. Meanwhile Ale meditated at the next booth and came back refreshed and ready for the rest of the day. Hugh, the new friend, was also headed towards Yellowstone and asked if he could ride with us for the day, so we said yes and set off.
Again, we faced strong headwinds, but this time I made sure to stay with the pack and allow drafting to occur. We climbed over the first pass, ate bars up at the top, and reflected on how hard our day had been. (we had no fricken idea what was coming). When we started down the hill, I got pretty far ahead again (woops), but I figured at least Ale and Hugh would get some good bonding time, and the wind had died down. The ride down was absolutely gorgeous with a dark sky and the Rockies right in front of us. I felt like I was watching a movie, it was a bit surreal. Obviously, this inspired me to go faster, so I took off (after telling Hugh and Ale I would meet them at the top of the next pass).
As I road I began to hear thunder and see lightening off in the distance. It just added to the scenery and I thought of what an indescribable place this was and how grateful I was to be biking through. Unfortunately, I didn’t even realize I was heading right for the storm. Pretty soon it started sprinkling, then raining, then down pouring. The thunder got louder and louder and the lightening felt so close that I started looking for tall metal objects that might take the hit for me. A part of me thought, “you should probably stop, what if you get hit by lightening or a car can’t see you through the rain and runs you over, or this or that happens…” But then another part of me thought, “um this is fricken awesome! It is like running in the rain on steroids (except for much longer and without the guarantee of a hot shower after). And if you do get hit by lightening and you survive, that would make a good blog post…” So obviously I continued riding (pros > cons). Thank goodness I have lots of time to analyze these types of things while I’m riding.
The second climb was extremely hard, but I powered up faster than I had on any mountain thus far. I had sweat and rain pouring down my face, soaked cloths, numb feet, numb hands, burning legs, burning lungs, heavy arms, blurry vision, and the Rockie song playing in my head. When I got to the top, I cried of happiness. Then I waited for Ale and Hugh, started getting cold, took some pictures, got really really cold, saw Ale and Hugh, told them I would meet them in town, and took off down the mountain. I still had another 20miles until the next town, but my adrenaline lasted throughout the ride. It was an experience I will never forget. In total the ride that day was about 65 miles but it was definitely the hardest ride I have been on. Yay getting stronger 🙂
That night we all stayed at a KOA (Four Seasons of campsites) and had nice warm showers. I don’t think I have ever had such a deep appreciation for warm water. I would have stayed in there all night if eating dinner wasn’t a driving factor. Later on during our tent talk (Ale and I whisper talk every night about life, the people we meet, plans for the next day, etc.) I learned that Ale and Hugh shared a great conversation the whole ride and really bonded. I was very grateful for this because I did not think that I had too much in common with Hugh after our first interaction. (At lunch he talked mainly about Star Wars and TV shows I had not heard of, giving direct quotes that I didn’t quite know how to react to. He also didn’t laugh at my jokes, which always makes me a little uneasy and feel awkward.) Anyways, I am very glad to be on this trip with Ale, because she seems to bring out the best in people and she usually has an excellent read on individuals from the first interaction. And she was right, once Hugh opened up and we had real conversations, I ended up really liking him and just being ok with having so few common interests.