Today I woke up in the end zone of the Townsend Bulldogs. We were lucky enough to have the chance to set up camp at the local high school the night before. It was an early morning with us being woken up right at 5:00am; and with good reason. We had a long ride to Helena that day, and it was going to be a scorcher out there.
We ended up rolling out of town a little later than we had originally planned (which has happened every day so far I think). Despite our sluggish start, we got out at a good time and cruised out of town. The first portion of the ride sent us out around Canyon Ferry. The roads were flat and straight, allowing us to get up to a good cruising speed and rally around the reservoir. The nice flat roads were a fantastic warm up for what lay ahead.
Once we rode around to the northern section of the lake we got into some hills. They started out pretty mellow, but just kept getting steeper and steeper. Luckily they were not especially tall, but we were all feeling “The Burn” at this point. Although it feels as if you are suffering on the brutal uphills, once you crest the top and start to gain momentum again it all becomes worth while. With steep uphills comes steep downhills.
The downhills are personally my favorite, and I have been trying to best my Max Speed on my speedometer the entire trip. Before we stopped for lunch we had probably a dozen small ridges to rise over and race down. One of which and a 30-35mph winding downhill that gave me flash backs to my sport-bike.
We stopped for lunch at the northern most point of Canyon Ferry just after noon. By this point the temperature must have been up into the 90’s. Luckily we rolled up on a public park that had an enormous and extravagant log gazebo. The shade was much needed and they even had fresh, cold, and clean water. At that gazebo we ate, rested a bit, topped off water bottles, lathered up with sunscreen, and then hit the road again.
After lunch it was insanely hot out, and there was no wind whatsoever. With more brutal steep uphills and challenging downhills ahead of us we had to conserve energy and water and more and stay focused. Climbing the rolling steep hills out of the Canyon Ferry valley was very challenging especially with a full stomach. Despite the heat and steep terrain, everybody did a great job. We were even rewarded for all the climbing we had done, when we rolled over the top of the ridge to see a 2 or 3 mile steep smooth downhill with only a few swooping turns. This downhill was wild ride. I drafted off of three people at different points of the descent and was able to get my fully loaded bike and trailer up to 46.6mph. New Record!
The rest of the ride into Helena was hot, but much more flat with just a few rolling hills. At this point everybody was getting loopy due to the high temperatures and lack of water. Conservation had played a huge roll in our ride today. In order for everybody to survive the crippling heat we all had to conserve as much water as we could to not only hydrate ourselves, but to help hydrate those who had run out of water or could not carry quite as much.
Nobody dared to waste any water. Any drop that hit the ground was a drop that could have been used in a much better manner. Just like on a large scale fresh clean water should not be wasted or just sent down the drain. There is always a better way to use it, you just have to look a little harder and think outside of the box