Jun 27

Earth, wind and fire

by in Week 2

  • Townsend to Ennis
  • 77 miles
  • Strong head and side winds all day
  • Another flat!
  • 812.2 total miles

In Townsend we were fed at the Wood Family Grill. The folks there did a bang up job. But they underestimated how much a pack of hungry cyclists can eat. The owner came out to apologize and a said, “We’ve served a group of 55 Army Rangers, and we thought those guys could really eat. But you ate much more!” Well fed, we pushed off toward Ennis. We would be on Montana Hwy 278 all day.

The headwinds were so strong we could only manage 11-12 mph on the flats. Everyone was struggling with it. The group was getting payback for those 25 miles of super strong tailwinds the day before. The wind was to be our constant companion today, so we did our best to make peace with its presence. Just as you can’t push the river, you definitely can’t push the wind. We enjoyed the rippling of the grasses along the road. But not being pushed toward traffic so much. Fortunately we knew the wind was not all powerful because off to right we could see the Tobacco Root Mountains standing steadfastly.
bakerySpencer & Sheila enjoy a cinnamon roll

One great break came at mile 30 when we arrived at the Montana Wheat Bakery. They had fabulous cinnamon rolls. Giant and well-risen, not slathered in sugary frosting, we split one and could only eat half. We saved the rest for later. Leaving that stop (which attracted just about every cyclist in the group)we picked up Denny from Mukilteo WA. He trailed us for 12 miles until we started up a 4 mile climb. We were half way up when our rear tire flatted again. The replacement wasn’t quick, but it got us up the hill and to the was lunch stop.

Lunch was wonderful, but just delayed our return to the battle with the winds. The problem with the winds from the side is that they require lots of concentration to keep the bike moving in a straight line. With car and truck traffic moving by at 70 mph, you don’t want to be suddenly veering into the traffic lane! When the winds are in your face, you just go slowly.

river view while pulling Denny

long winding road

Off to the east all day we could see smoke from raging fires in the distance. The winds are not helping the fire fighters either. We rolled past a huge encampment that we first took for a rodeo or a circus. It turned out to be support vehicles and tents for the fire fighters.

The toughest part of the ride came at mile 60 when we started a 5 mile climb with bits at 7%. It seemed to go on and on. And on. One of those curvy climbs that teases you with the idea you might be getting to the top, just to trash your dreams as you go around a corner and see miles more of up coming.

A small group of us (6) made it to the top around the same time then flew down 3 miles to Madison Valley. Just 7 more miles straight into the wind got us here to Ennis. In case you didn’t figure it out, the Earth from the title was the big piles of it which we had to climb today.


8 Responses to “Earth, wind and fire”

  1. From Stephan:

    Thinking of you. I read today there were record heat waves across the country. Hope you are somehow staying cool.

    Posted on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm #
  2. From Stephan:

    By the way–How do you get enough protein and calories to support so much riding? Especially, on a vegan diet.

    Posted on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm #
  3. From Stacey:

    This is Stacey (from Ohio, wk 1). I am enjoying reading your blog and sometimes wish I was back out there with you guys! I MIGHT get back on my bike next week 🙂 Take care road warriors!

    Posted on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm #
  4. From Daria:

    What a day you all had and you survived it. Headwinds are one thing but fierce headwinds…..WOW…..and then combine them with those damn inverted declines…..kudos to you all. I look forward to and love reading the reports and of course the pictures. What a beautiful country we live in. Thinking of you all everyday and praying that you have a successful ride.

    Posted on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:22 am #
  5. From Wendy Townsend:

    Sounds as though you both are embodying the “Keep on keeping on” philosophy!

    Posted on Jun 28, 2012 at 7:10 am #
  6. From Nathalie:

    Wow. I don’t know how you do it. BTW, I walked in on Linda the other day (she came home from her vacation earlier than expected) and Morrie was lying contentedly on Linda’s lap, looking very cute.

    Posted on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:18 am #
  7. From S2Cycle:

    Thanks for all your comments. They really keep us going. I don’t know if you’ll see our responses or not.

    @Stephan, we have a chocolate protein and soy milk smoothie with our oatmeal every morning and carry Builder Bars on the bike for more protein. They’ve done surprisingly well with our food. Not perfect but better than expected. Sor far so good on that front.

    @Stacey, we miss you. We gained 13 new folks but have had 2 casualties. Julie is leaving the tour with a broken wrist and Joe has been in the hospital but they think he’ll be rejoining us next week.

    @Nathalie, thanks for being a support person for Linda. Sounds like Morrie threw up and she might benefit from your experience if you could check in on her. THANKS!

    Posted on Jun 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm #
  8. From dianne grob:

    Taking the long view – quite a metaphor for life! Up close, the grasses are pushed down by the wind but in the distance, the mountains are steadfast.

    Posted on Jul 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm #