August 27, 2001

8/27/01 Ennis, MT

88 / 6794 miles

Felt a little dehydrated this morning after those beers last night. But I was still able to get out of camp by 8:30AM (that's early compared to my start times lately).

Once I got out of town and headed up the pass, the ride was quite pleasant. Hardly any traffic at all going over Pipestone Pass (6418'). Things went well until I turned onto the highway to Twin Bridges. The signs said "rough road" and there was no shoulder. Most of the road edge was torn up, so I tried to ride more in the lane. Traffic wasn't too bad, but it was the sky that worried me more.

The headwinds had really kicked in and it looked like it might be raining at the higher elevations to the west. I hope Mike and the gang are all right because they're out that way. Plus, for them, that section is the most difficult on the entire Divide route- Fleecer Ridge. I can't even imagine what it would be like in bad weather.

The good thing out of this change in the weather was the cloud cover really kept the temperature down. At Twin Bridges, I re-found the TransAm route that I'd been on about 3 months ago. It felt good to be on familiar ground, sort of like an old shirt. But while the towns were the same, the terrain and views were different headed in the other direction.

In Sheridan, MT, I stopped again at the Prospector Drive-In. One of the local ranchers came in and said "You made pretty good time from Butte." He saw me just as I was coming over the pass. Sometimes it's just fun to eavesdrop on conversation. I sat next to a group of four ranchers who had only stopped for a cup of coffee and to talk a bit. I think they talked about pastures, water wells and joked a bunch about goats.

By the time I stepped back outside, the clouds had disappeared and it was getting real hot. I passed Laurin, Alder, and Nevada City on my way to Virginia City. I'd forgotten that the campground was a ways up the hill out of the valley. Once I got to the camp entrance, I got a whim to continue all the way to the top and stay in Ennis, MT, instead.

Nancy must have been watching out for me because believe it or not, I had a slight tailwind as I climbed. You might remember my description of the extreme downhill I had into Virginia City, topping 46MPH. Well, it's just as extreme going up. But actually, compared to the hills we were climbing on the Divide, this one wasn't too bad.

As I almost reached the top, I met Sandra and Stuart Waterhouse, a British couple beginning a round the world trip through America. Then as I started down the other side toward Ennis, I met Tim. He had a B.O.B. trailer, but with a pirate flag. Great idea! He's doing the TransAm, then might head south toward San Francisco. And in town, I ran into Christopher, who basically headed west with stops to see friends in Ohio and Colorado before ending later in Seattle. For some reason I thought I'd not see another cyclist since summer is almost over. Wonders never cease. Headed to the Cabin Court RV Park, the same place I stayed at before. The owner, Julie, checked me in this time. When I was here in June, she was just finishing the semester at the University. Now tomorrow, she'll be on the other side of the desk as a teacher.

Ended up getting dinner at the Madison River Pizza & Bakery. Instead of selling you a small pizza, you just get half of a medium. They were just closing up but let me stay to eat and talk with them about fishing and forest fires.

Back at camp, I talked more with Christopher, who is a graphic designer who's been at the same job for 13 years. "I just need a change!" he said. But I talked most with fellow campers, Clyde and his son Brian. They had ridden their motorcycles out here from Eugene, OR, to do some fishing. His motorcycle is a Triumph but Brian's is a Ducati (very fancy!). Clyde said they go home after some fishing tomorrow. Good thing too because they're both a little homesick.