Day 41, Junction of 287/87 – Twin Bridges, MT 82 miles (3000 total)
July 21, 2008
Time on bike: 6:06:14
Daily Ascent: 2429 ft (30 ft/mi)
Elevation at days end: 4650 ft
Max: 50.0 mph
A day of downhill (and one big, honkin’ uphill) Flat tire!!?? Not a good way to start the day! I spent the morning putting a patch on my rear tire before I ever got started. From the looks of it I may have ran over a piece of glass. Fortunately this wasn’t an omen for the day to come.
I biked through a valley with mountains on both sides and a babbling mountain stream ((Madison River) on my left. Clearly this is the state where fly fishermen master their trade. The rivers and streams are typically filled with them. Downhill I cycled to the town of Ennis (Hey Ken! Remember Curtis P?).
After Ennis came “The Hill” as the natives refer to it. An 8 mile climb up a 7% grade. It took me 2 hours averaging 4 mph to reach the top. Actually I reached a pseudo top where the road seemed to go downhill and around a corner before going uphill again for another mile! I managed to ride the entire time even passing by the scenic overlook near the top to keep climbing. Its frustrating climbing hills at such a slow speed. Not frustrating, exactly, but more… “grrrrrrrr” as my friend Kate Reuther likes to say.
The 8 mile climb was followed by a 3 mile descent into Virginia City where I reached a top speed of 50 mph! Super fast! I was actually speeding at times when I entered the city and the speed limits read 45 and then 35. I was actually hoping to get a ticket! Wouldn’t that be a great story!
Virginia City is an old mining town. At one time it was the capital of the Montana Territory boasting some 10,000 residents but having no law enforcement whatsoever, except for vigilantism. The town was a literal Gold Rush when within weeks of Bill Fairweather discovering gold in May of 1863 the town sprang up. The entire town of Virginia City is listed as a National Historic Landmark and it’s the only town to have that distinction. Most of the buildings in the town are the original buildings and to top it off they have an array of theatrical performances that take place. I stopped in at “The Creamery” where I saw a 1 hour “hometown” musical which was written and directed by the same fellow. The cast of 4 performed admirably the plot which was set in 1865 where the town marshal had his Stetson Hat stolen, presumably by someone in the audience. Come to find out that it was the piano player who stole the hat, and the piano player was none other than Calamity Jane in disguise. (Calamity Jane actually did live in Virginia City for some time). After buying some fudge I looked at the map and saw that 30 miles down the road was Twin Bridges and then NOTHING ELSE for the next 26 miles so I set my sights. Downhill again all the way there. A front was creeping in and I raced it cycling with tailwinds through sprinkles to get to town before real rain hit. I’ll bet I averaged over 20 mph for the next 30 miles, no joke. In fact, if you take out my 8 mile, 2 hour climb up the hill, then my daily averages goes from 13.5 to 18.5 mph.
So I’ve reached Twin Bridges where it looks like I’ll be putting up my tent right outside of their high school football field.