Ride 89 Day 4

121 miles, 4,856 feet of climbing

Today was hard. Really hard.

We spent last night with my cousin. It was nice to get to know her.

This morning I started off in downtown Bozeman, where I should have ended the previous day. The first seven miles were pleasant with a nice tailwind.

Kelly texted me before I had even started saying she wasn’t feeling good and wasn’t sure if she could finish the ride today.

Then I turned onto Gallatin Road. Let me note first of all, that Gallatin Road fits nicely into a song by the Gin Blossoms, and it ran through my head as I worked my way down that road. This road was terrifying. Jody had warned me that it was bad until Big Sky. The road had almost no shoulder, the traffic was intense with construction vehicles and regular traffic.

I ran into Kelly about 20 miles into the ride. She was getting into her trailer for a nap and then she would decide if she was going to be able to ride or not. I didn’t see her after that.

Up until now, Montanans have been very courteous, giving me room as they passed or slowing down.

Not on Gallatin Road (Gin Blossoms: “You’ll lose your life/ on Gallatin Road”). Most cars buzzed by me, coming within a few inches of me. Trucks full of gravel came up next to me and laid on their horns. After about 10 miles of this, I’d had enough. I’ve never ridden in such a terrifying place in my life. I didn’t even want to be there. I was only on that road because the northern entrance to Yellowstone on Highway 89 remains closed.

Annie put the flashing lights up on the back of the truck and followed right behind me so the cars couldn’t come quite as close.

That just made things worse. Enraged drivers yelled, made gestures, threw coffee at Annie. A semi came really close to killing us both. One guy was standing up out the passenger window screaming at me. As we got to Big Sky a police officer pulled me over (a first on a bike) and explained that if we want to do that, we have to pull over every time there’s a pullout if there are four or more cars behind you. Deputy Slingsby was very nice and gave me a warning for impeding traffic.

So much for my new belief that Montana drivers are overwhelmingly kind. I was so glad to get out of the state in one piece. I’m grateful for all of you who are praying for my safety. It felt needed today

Luckily by then we were in Big Sky. Annie went back to leapfrog support. I took a bike path through town. By the time I got to the other end, most of the traffic was gone, having turned west in town.

I continued south, without traffic, but still fighting the same headwind, and the 70-mile hill. It was only 2-3 percent, but with the headwind that wears on you after awhile. Finally at mile 72, I started downhill, so at leads I had gravity to fight the headwind.

After what seemed like an eternity, we reached West Yellowstone. Since we’re going to seven national parks, we bought a year pass. When we got to the gate, I presented my card. Annie was right behind me and the person at the gate asked her to stay back. I explained that we were together. The ranger told me that the card was only good for one vehicle. I walked over, put my bike on the truck, got in, rolled forward 10 feet, took the bike off and continued on my way. It felt a little bureaucratic.

I took my clothes and a few things in a backpack and headed for Old Faithful Lodge. Annie and the kids went up to see Mammoth since these youngest two were either not born or too small to remember our last visit to this park.

I finally crossed into Wyoming. I made it through my first state. I was happy to reach Madison Junction and get back to Highway 89. Yellowstone traffic was very light and the drivers were polite, which made for an easier afternoon.

The views are gorgeous, but I was so happy to see the entrance to Old Faithful. We’re staying in a cabin behind Old Faithful Lodge.

I’m exhausted and ready for bed.