Days 17 & 18 - Back on the bike again
As you will appreciate the events of the previous day rather knocked my confidence and having to be rescued meant that I had dropped my first mileage on the trip. I had to acknowledge that the chance of riding every mile on the trip was now gone and, more importantly, I had to accept that this was always going to be an almost impossible challenge both emotionally and physically for me. Nearly everyone on the trip has had to give up on that goal already.
(As I am so far behind on my blogging, I have decided to combine days in order to try to catch up so please forgive me for the delay in the correspondence).
Day 17 was, thankfully, a relatively short ride of 56 miles but as I am typing this, I realise that for much of my training this would have been a good achievement but given that most of the rides on this adventure have been over 70 miles, 56 came as something of a relief!
We started off by avoiding the Interstate 90 and headed down a wonderful canyon under the signage of the Lewis and Clarke National Historic Trail. The entire trail is some 4,900 miles long but the section we went through was wonderful and picturesque. There was one massive cave in the rocks on one section, which was closed to the public, but we followed through the canyon alongside the Jefferson River until we climbed out to a spectcular view of the Rocky Mountains ahead of us. The weather was still cold but dry and slowly the sun started to peak through the clouds to leave us with some spectacular views of the mountains as we reached Ennis.
Day 18 was a continued climb up to our goal of West Yellowstone at 6,666ft above sea level and, with my confidence still knocked by my last major climb, I opted out of the last big climb of the day and only rode 54 of the 72 miles. I therefore climbed into one of the support vehicles whilst my bike was placed on one of the many racks available on the two principle vehicles.
As a result I rode from Ennis to Henrys Lake Park where there were signs of the weather turning into showers. Along the way, there were yet more rivers, mountains, forests and scenery to feast on, including looking down on an osprey nest where one to adults was dutifully sitting on a precious egg. In Britain to see an osprey nest would be a very rare occurence, whereas here in the States, the osprey family seemed very much at home and visible for all to see. What a privilege!
Having lived in a tourist town in England (Weston-Super-Mare) for many years, West Yellowstone did feel somewhat familiar with loads of shops catering for every need for any family travelling to a tourist attraction. Clothing, restaurants, gifts, fast food and everything you might not need as well!! Oh, and some good bike shops too!! Nearly everything was geared to promoting and selling merchandise for Yellowstone National Park, which was to be the outcome for the following day.
Jeff Bracken and I were invited by David & Beth Erquhart to join them for a meal on the Friday evening, breakfast the following morning and a trip into the park as well. Their generosity was overwhelming and heart felt but these characterisitics seem to flow from most of the people I have met so far on this adventure. Whilst the people of America may be misunderstood by the world on many occasions, you cannot fault them for their generous hearts to anyone who will share time with them. (Having said this, I think Jeff, David & Beth will remain friends long beyond this cycling adventure!)