Day 23: Jackson to Dillon, MT (48 miles)
What a difference a day makes. Most of our group from the close to 100 miles from Sula to Dillon in one day. I decided to split it up into to two days: Sula to Jackson and Jackson to Dillon. There were several reasons why I made the decision: I knew both parts of the ride were among the most beautiful of the trip and I wanted to truly appreciate both. I felt the best way to appreciate both parts of the ride was to ride it as two, not one. What I did not know was there was a dramatic change in weather in store.
On the first day, the riders had sunshine and a tailwind for the second 50 miles. On the second day, the day I did this ride it was cold and there was a beast of a head wind. There was a climb starting at about mile 12. I had to fight my way just to get there. I was working hard to go forward on a slight decline. When I started to go up, it was near impossible. I felt many times as though I was actually losing ground against the freezing wind even as I pedaled with as much strength as I had. And I was really cold. I got sweaty climbing the hill and then the cold got to my wet self. I do not generally ride in low 30s temperatures and I did not have enough experience with layers on a cold climb. By the time I got to the top of the hill I was really cold. I was so happy to see Cy there at the peak. I climbed into the van to warm up. Deb was next to the summit and she joined me in the warm comfort. A couple of riders just went on without stopping at the summit, and that convinced Deb that she was going to go too. I decided to take a bump down the road a bit and hope for better weather when we dropped down into the valley a bit. I simply cannot tolerate that cold. I was in a lot of pain.
A couple of miles made a big difference. The temperature rose to 45 and the wind was not nearly as cold. I was able to enjoy the rest of the ride, which included another pass and then a 20 mile downhill into town. On the previous day, some of the other women clocked speeds that were unbelievable to me. The fastest was over 51 MPH. I would never go that fast, but I had to work to get into the high 20s. The wind was still a factor! It was a beautiful ride, but I chose not to stop to take pictures.
I was really happy to reach Dillon. I was tired and cold. I also had a Patagonia coupon burning a hole in my virtual pocket thanks to my friend Kitty and some Camp Little Notch connections. Dillon offered a variety of options for us and we had a great time there. But that day was a sign of a weather system change that would impact the rest of the trip.