Cyclists were asked not to leave camp until 7:30 AM due in an effort to avoid congestion as vans carried workers to the Stillwater Mine. I LOVE a later start-time! Riders could take a longer route today, all the way to Nye, then back to Absarokee and on to Red Lodge. The ride to Nye was an out-and-back. We had heard that it was a beautiful ride and decided to do the full ride.
We stopped for a quick rest-stop in Fishtail, then headed to Nye; all uphill. There was a headwind for most of the morning which is never terribly fun. Headwinds make me have to pedal harder and I have more trouble relaxing to enjoy to surrounding beauty. We also had to contend with big, big trucks going to the mine. Thankfully, the trucks were informed of our presence and were courteous and usually gave us room on the road.
In Nye, our rest-stop was at their one-room school-house. We had the best cookies and lemonade from a sweet girl raising money for her 4-H club! The school has less than ten students and the teacher lives in a little house behind school. I cannot imagine what it would be like to teach in a school like this; it is still the frontier in this area of the country! (Notice the old merry-go-round in the school-yard.)
On our way back to Red Lodge, we traveled through a few construction zones. Construction zones are always dicey, but these had hard-packed dirt and were not too bad. The Stop & Slow-workers allowed cyclists to wait together, then follow the last vehicle through. (I know you are sad, but I got no pictures of that excitement!)
As we approached Red Lodge, storm clouds were threatening. We got back to camp just ahead of the rain and would have had time to get our tent up, but instead, Steve’s bag and our tent bag were missing! As it started to rain, Steve and the CGY folks searched high and low. I waited under the tent that is normally used for shade for the shower truck. Eventually, the bags were located, but in the meantime, it began to rain, then hail! Misery! The tent got put up in the rain. After some time, the rain stopped, we got showers, and got a little warmer. Crazy as it seems for an August evening, our down jackets were a blessing!
At dinner each night CGY made announcements and told us about any changes for the next day; that night we found out that bad weather was expected the next day–rain and possibly snow. (Oh, joy! Read that with LOTS of sarcasm.) Tuesday was the day that we would be cycling Beartooth Highway and over Beartooth Pass and if you have never heard of it, you should Google it or better yet, check out YouTube videos. Bad weather on the Beartooth was NOT good news. The announcements included the requirement to leave camp no later than 6:30 AM the next morning in the hope that we might beat the weather. (More bad news!) I was already very, very intimidated by the idea of ascending for thirty-plus miles to almost 11,000 feet elevation. After the announcements, we went uptown to Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop and bought wool socks, ear muffs, gloves, and a fleece shirt. The guy running the store had already locked up, but opened to let us purchase what we needed. I went to bed (aka sleeping bag) thankful for the extra clothes, but scared.