Bicycling the TransAmerica Trail

Cycling Across the US, Coast to Coast

Bicycling Adventure #3

54 days, 3,783 miles, Jul-Aug 2010

Ray Jardine

2010-07-29Montana page 15 of 54

Day 15, Montana

From sagebrush camp to West Yellowstone.

I broke camp at first light and continued up the steep road to Nevada City. This little town blew me away. I have never seen anything like it. All the buildings were old gold rush-era log cabins. They were all built very small, and they definitely had an original feel to them. Everything seemed real, nothing fake about it. Yet it wasn't a ghost town; people lived here.

The next town, Virginia City, was much the same: several old buildings lining the street. It was a trip back in time.

The next hill was so steep and long that I had to walk about half of it. It just went on and on - and on. I finally reached the top and zipped down the other side. In Ennis I stopped at a small store for coffee and donuts. The next town, Cornell, was a snack-bust - there were no stores still in business, except the post office.

The afternoon's journey was uphill, as I rode across more high, sagebrush country. The Madison River flowed nearby, but not right alongside the road. At one point I came to a roadside rest area, and stopped to get water. There I met and talked with two cyclists from Kansas City. I had met their lady sag driver back in Ennis. The three were just finishing lunch, and no, they did not offer something cold to drink. I had never met a sag like that before. Often the sag is just as busy helping the other self-supported-types as she is with her own crew.

Rolling along the open road. (View looking astern)

The Madison River, with fishermen in a boat.

Later I pulled into a small store, thinking I'd buy some food. But when I walked into the store I saw that it was a fly-fishing store. Nothing but fishing gear. But then I noticed a few cold sodas and candy bars tucked away in the side room. So sitting on a home-made bench on the porch, I enjoyed a nice snack

The mountains rising above me as I draw near Yellowstone.

The road from there was all steep ups and downs. I pedaled past Avalanche Lake, where a huge landslide had created the lake.

I had passed one of the cyclists, who seemed quite out of shape, then I followed behind the other who was pedaling like blazes. And thus we went for about 35 miles. He pedaled like a racer, and was carrying only a bit of water, while I was carrying my full kit - camping gear and all that. So I got a great workout. Finally he stopped for a rest, and I went on by; then 5 miles later - just short of town - I stopped and he went flying by.

I pulled in to the extremely crowded and touristy town of West Yellowstone, and found the post office where I had a mail drop waiting - half an hour before they closed for the day. Then with Jenny's help (via phone and internet) we were lucky to find me a motel with a room available for the night.

I learned a good lesson about the "extremely crowded and touristy town of West Yellowstone."

While wincing through town, looking for somewhere not too crowded to have dinner, while trying to avoid or somehow ignore the throngs of tourists, I took the above photo without paying attention to the viewfinder. The photo was meant to show the gnarly crowds. Rather, I think it was meant to reflect my feelings of revulsion, unused to being around so many people, after having been alone in nature for much of the past weeks and months. But when I previewed the photo later, it taught me an important lesson. The photo was of a nice man smiling at my camera, obliviously enjoying his vacation with his wife. The exact opposite of what I had intended.

The sidewalk was crowded, to be sure, but not at the moment I snapped the picture. And the photo taught me that the feelings of revulsion were all in my head, and were not really reflecting the real situation. It taught me to look at the people, not the crowds. And to look at the people, not the tourists. Moreover, I realized that my frame of mind had been askew for some of the past two days; in Dillon for example.

This lesson was to have a profound effect on me the following days, as I toured through Yellowstone "crowded with tourists." With my attitude adjustment, I would meet many friendly folks like the man in the photo.

Funny post card, seen in a shop window. It reads "Along Montana's information superhighway"

Miles pedaled today: 89

The story has 54 pages. This is page 15.
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