• Ennis to West Yellowstone
  • 73.8 miles
  • 886 total miles
  • 29,000′ total elevation gain

After writing last night’s blog, we went to dinner at the Ennis High School. It was pasta and veggies, but no protein. As I sat at the table, all the energy in my body drained away. I realized that the fight against the wind all day had taken a huge toll. We were in bed by 9:15.

We were up and ready to go by 7 the next morning, fed, packed and dressed for the cold temperatures. It was around 40 degrees when we started. It warmed quickly and by 10 miles we were stripping off layers. What wasn’t going our way was the wind. Instead of the side winds that plagued us yesterday, we had full-on headwinds all morning. They were so strong that we could only manage 9 mph on the flats. Contrast that with our normal 15-17 mph and you have an idea of what we were up against. We pedaled as hard as we could down a 2% grade and still only got up to 14. It was discouraging.

climbing by Madison RiverBut the scenery remained beautiful. We were traveling up the Madison River valley. It was less open than the previous scenery. Rocky crags rose up on either side of the delicate valley. But we basically had to stop every 10 miles to give ourselves a break, both for our bodies and for our brains. It really is just a matter of putting behind us what we expected to be able to do and just doing what we can in this moment. Every pedal stroke brought us closer to lunch.

Picnic at topOf course lunch was at the top of a 0.7 mile climb. Not a big climb and it let us off at the information center at Earthquake Lake. But the actual lunch site was UP the big hill behind the center all the way up to the scenic overview. It was a gorgeous viewpoint, but it seemed a little perverse to make us all climb the extra half mile to the top.

Earthquake Lake was formed in 1959 when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake caused a landslide which choked the Madison River and formed the lake. After lunch the winds seemed easier, but the climb remained steady. Did I mention that there were precious few flat sections today and even fewer downhills? We skirted Lake Hebgen for what seemed like 15 miles. It was beautiful.

Spencer helping Christian with a flatAbout 12 miles from¬† today’s destination, we came upon fellow cross-country rider, Christian. He’s a high school teacher from NYC and is raising money for an anti bullying program. He had a flat and was struggling to get his bike back together. We helped him figure it out, then flagged down a passing sag wagon to use their floor pump to finish off his tires. It all worked out well because the winds were manageable for the last 10 miles. HOORAY!

Dinner tonight was at a “wild West” style place that had nothing to offer us, so we dined at a burrito bus just down the street. We even scored some soy ice cream for dessert. Boo-yah!

Earth, wind and fire