Day 7, Saturday, July 25th, 2009
We got up fairly early the next day, and were soon underway, not wanting to risk being hassled be the RV park people. We only ate a breakfast of trail mix, since according to my calculations, we should be fairly close to Immigrant, Montana, which (according to my internet research) at least had a store, and possibly a cafe.
Sure enough, three and a half miles down the road, we came to the town. There was a store there, that used to be an old Shell service station. There, Malcolm availed himself of an alternate form of transportation:
Riding the range, in the old old old old old west
We got some supplies at the store, but ate at a restaurant across the street. The meal was great and the prices were reasonable. And most surprising of all, in this 'old west' culture, there was classical music in the background. I remember enjoying a Chopin Ballade. I complimented them on their music.
After eating, we took a photo of Immigrant Peak, and were soon underway.
Immigrant Peak, from the parking lot of the restaurant
As you can see in the profile below, the climb for the day would be gentle for the most part, with a few undulating, steep sections toward Gardiner. The big climb (of 900 feet) would begin when we passed Gardiner, heading for Mammoth Hot Springs:
We cycled along uneventfully for most of the morning. There was a really nice highway rest area along the Yellowstone River where we stopped for a potty-break. But there were no more restaurants or stores.
As we passed the road going to Miner, the valley began to narrow again, and there were forested hillsides.
Forested hillsides along the Yellowstone River further toward Gardiner
There was a campground a few miles farther down the road. I debated whether or not to reserve a campsite here (as we would be re-united with our van that evening), but opted to take our chances with a hiker-biker site at the Mammoth Hot Springs campground. Besides, it didn't look like there was water here (and we were beginning to get a bit low on water).
Devil's Slide (the bright, descending line coming down the mountain in the center distance
The valley opened up more, and became drier. There were significant alluvial-fan hills to climb, but no walk-up hills. The problem I was running up against was the heat. Often, climbing a hill, we would be going the same speed as the tailwind, and there was no cooling at all. Even the neckband was giving me no relief.
We could have used some of our drinking water to pour over my back, but I felt we were too low on water to use it that way.
Fortunately, a solution came into view in the form of a farmer's field. There was a big sprinkler running there, and it was spraying beyond the fence. I parked the bicycle, and hurried down to stand by the fence. Finally the spray came around to where I was standing, and it sprayed me down. I hurried along to stay in the spray until it passed back over the fence. I even waited for it co come around again, but the wind changed, and it no longer came over the fence.
So in a much cooler state, we resumed cycling.
Somehow, this last day seemed to drag on and on. There were more hills to climb before Gardiner. The internet had indicated there might be places to eat before Gardiner, and there was a restaurant in Corwin Springs, but it had closed down at least a year before. So we cycled on, hungry.
At long last, we came to Gardiner, Montana.
We made it to Gardiner. Food is ahead!
It was beginning to cloud-up as we cycled into Gardiner. We expected it to storm soon, and tried to pick a place to eat with an awning we could put our bicycles under. We ate at Outlaws Pizza (I had been craving pizza the whole trip), which had a substantial awning to park our bicycles under.
The pizza was good, but it never did storm, so after eating, we were again underway.
I was wondering what to do about camping this night. Mammoth campground is a first-come-first-served campground (you can't make a reservation), but they should have a few sites reserved for hikers & bikers. However, where my car would only be a few hundred yards up the road, I did not feel good about claiming a hiker-biker site.
As we cycled through Gardiner, I saw a non-chain motel (the type we prefer), and it had a vacancy. We stopped, and I inquired about a room, and even with tax it was less than a hundred dollars a night. Given the price (and remembering the luxury of the motel in Bozeman), I booked the last room, and we took the room key with us, since we would be able to return by car once we reached Mammoth Hot Springs.
We stopped at a store for awhile, and soon made our way to the old (historic) Yellowstone National Park gate.
The historic Yellowstone Park Gate
A quarter-mile down the road, we came to the real Yellowstone Park entrance, and paid our entry fee. We paid the car fee, since we would soon be traveling by car, and need to re-enter the park.
At the entrance, the ranger pointed to a dirt-road going up the hill, saying it would be better because the road had no shoulder (and the traffic was heavy).
We took his advice, and used the old road from Gardiner to Mammoth. It wasn't particularly rough, but it was almost totally too steep to cycle. There were a few sections we could cycle, but it seemed as soon as you got on, you very quickly had to get off and push.
On the old road from Gardiner to Mammoth
I was not happy with our choice of roads – particularly when I discovered that we had to climb about 150 feet higher than the main road. I was even more annoyed when we discovered that at the top, we lost elevation, and then had to re-climb it a couple of times. But at long last, the hotels came into view. In the end, I decided it was a reasonable choice, since it did keep us out of the traffic.
Coming down into the hotel-area of Mammoth Hot Springs
We knocked on the door of Laron's dorm room, and he came out and took our victory-photo. Then we ate our victory dinner in the Hotel dining room. Our great bicycle adventure for 2009 was over at long last.
The Victory-Photo at the end of the trip
On this day, we cycled 39.8 miles, in 10 hours, 55 minutes. We were pedaling (or pushing) for 5 hours, 38 minutes. Our average speed was 7.0 MPH.
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