Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Day 10 - Helena, MT to White Sulfur Springs, MT

. Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Temperature: 51°F to 72°F
Conditions: Partly sunny
Wind: SE 7 mph

Ride Info
Altimeter Trip: 3,340 ft
Altimeter Odometer: 27,500 ft
Maximum Speed: 42.5 mph
Average Speed: 17.0 mph
Distance Trip: 76.1 miles
Distance Odometer: 746.1 miles
Elapsed Time: 4 hr 07 min 11 sec

Staying at the YMCA really recharged everyone’s batteries. I think being able to partake in the many things a YMCA has to offer provided a good alternative from the usual after-ride activities.

Today’s ride was almost like two rides in the way Jim, Chip, and I rode. We took it super-easy to start out. We took a brief spin by the state capital and headed out of town. The scenery changed once more from the lush pine forests west of Helena to the more arid regions to the east. Once we left Helena, we passed Canyon Ferry Lake, and started to head out into the middle of nowhere. You really gain an appreciation of why Montana is called “Big Sky Country”. The humidity is so low that you can see for miles and miles and miles. You could still see cars miles in the distance after they passed you. It’s hard to get an appreciation for how big our country is until you’re right in the middle of it. Being able to see so far in the distance can be demoralizing at times because it seems like you’re hardly moving. That wasn’t the case today though. Spirits were high and the rolling hills provided a goal to ride towards.

We stopped for lunch in Townsend, and I had the best damned hot turkey sandwich and french fries that I have ever had. Lunch must have really rejuvenated us, because we really picked up our pace compared to our earlier lollygagging. The terrain was gently rolling and encouraged jumping out of the saddle and powering up the hills. Knowing that a dip in a hot sulfur spring pool was awaiting us, we didn’t feel so bad pushing so hard. Once we got to the church and got the van unloaded, a bunch of us switched into our bathing suits and biked over to the motel.

If I remember correctly, the sulfur springs are naturally maintained at a little over 100F. It was kind of stinky being sulfur springs and all, but you got used to it after a while. Supposedly, sulfur springs have “healing powers” to them. I hope so because our legs were pretty much wasted after today’s ride. The next couple days would really test everyone’s mettle – three long days in a row (two of them over 100 miles). And Coach said that the forecast for the next several days were going to be HOT, HOT, HOT!!!