June 7 - 19: Idaho and Montana (and Idaho again)

6/11 - Dillon (72 miles 2973.5 total)
oh boy it was cold at ennis this morning. i don't know the facts, but it had to be in the 30's. people bundled up, but as soon as we started climbing, we started shedding some of those layers. a few folks chose to ride in the subaru to the top of the hill, then begin their ride downhill instead of up.
those of us who rode up found it not bad. it was a 7% grade...not all 7%, but most of it. the clouds were hanging along the top of the hills; it was beautiful.
today is marcia's birthday. here's her official bike-ride birthday photo.
usually i don't see her on the road because she leaves earlier than i do & rides faster, but fortunately i spotted her today. notice the clouds up there on the hill; they're covering the road over which we'll ride.
the summit was at about mile 11 of our day. then it was a quick descent to virginia city at mile 14. this whole town is a national historic landmark. it's beautiful & oozes 'wild west.'
i thought this sign provided a good synopsis of the town's history:
we noticed several bikes leaning against the madison dinner hotel, so leaned ours there, too, & joined the breakfast club inside. sarah says that we pie-eaters are a "splinter group" of the breakfast club. sari & i came upon a delectable new pie variety here. it was called fruits of the forest; they warmed it before serving. inside were apples, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, & rhubarb. i know i know--all those things don't grow in the forest. but oh my the pie was good.
we did a little sightseeing before leaving virginia city. then it was only a mile to nevada city, another "one of the hell roarin' mining camps that lined alder gulch in the 1860's." as the sign goes on to say, "it was a trading point where gold dust & nuggets were the medium of exchange, where men were men & women were scarce." this town was also the site of the first vigilante execution.
here's a sign marking the spot. notice the log buildings all around. the whole town looks like an old west movie set. in fact, a sign near the edge of town lists the movies & tv shows that have been filmed here...about a dozen of them.
as we mosied through nevada city we noticed lots of antique railroad cars on a siding near the road; they were in various stages of disrepair. we heard a train whistle on up the block so wandered over to check out its source.
sitting on a stretch of track was this sparkling locomotive with several men in traditional railroadman garb milling nearby. one of them told us that the locomotive is newly renovated. it makes little trips down to virginia city & back.
we left nevada city & rode on down the highway along the valley of the ruby river. large gravel piles covered much of the landscape on both sides of the road. a sign informed us that these were tailings resulting from gold-dredging operations taking place over a 20-year period beginning in 1899. the dredges reportedly recovered between 8 & 9 million dollars worth of gold from the floor of the valley.
it wasn't long before we left these wild west towns & gold dredging piles behind. we passed thru 3 small towns before coming to the burg of twin bridges. by that time we had a nice tailwind from the south. then, as luck would have it, our route turned & headed (oh no) south....for the last 28 miles of today's ride. what a struggle.
during one of our frequent rest stops (resting along the side of the road, that is), i took this picture of a typical "big sky" montana vista.
in many of the pastures we passed there were herds of sheep or cattle; in one pasture there were sheep AND cattle. the folks who completed those 28 grueling miles were pooped by the end of the day. sari & i were 2 of those folks. by the time we neared dillon we even got pelted by a light rain shower. how good it felt to ride into the parking lot of the guest house inn here in dillon.
tonight patty the chef fixed dinner according to the birthday girl's request....tacos. & you should've seen the cake.....a chocolate layer cake with raspberry under the chocolate frosting between the layers & on top. the sides were coated with crushed nuts. & the taste was tremendous!
tomorrow we ride 48 miles to jackson. we ride over 2 passes....badger pass, 6,760 feet, & big hole pass, 7,360 feet. is there no end of passes between here & oregon??
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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