Day 24: Dillon to Ennis, MT (70.5 miles)

It was a cold morning when we left Dillon heading to Ennis. We knew it was a long day with the toughest climb at mile 60, so many of us were anxious to get started even though it was close to freezing. What was a little different about this ride was that there were a few towns along the way, which offered us the possibility of getting off our bikes and warming up.

At mile 37 or so most of us stopped at the Town of Sheridan to get some coffee. As I got off my bike, Cy came over and showed me a text from Margaret saying that she needed to reach me. With one bar on my phone, I tried to call her and after many failed calls, I learned that my beloved dog, Sasha was sick and in the hospital with an unclear prognosis. I was devastated. But there was nothing I could do. I had a quick cup of coffee and had to get out of the shop. I didn’t want to talk with anyone. I just wanted to get back on my bike. I felt better when I was riding.

It was a nice ride, but I couldn’t really enjoy it thinking about Sasha. I tried, but I couldn’t really get there. What I did know was that there was a 5 mile climb starting at mile 55. After mile 60 it was essentially down hill to the cabins in Ennis. As I got close to mile 55, I realized I was tired and not really feeling strong for a climb. I knew it wasn’t the hardest climb we had done - it probably wasn’t in the top five, but I was tired from the day before. I didn’t feel strong, physically or mentally. And as it had been, it was really cold and windy.

I made it to the top, but was not feeling well when I got there. I couldn’t really understand the question Carolyn, the SAG driver, was asking me. I didn’t think I could go on, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to answer the question. Between the cold, exertion and altitude, I was really not feeling well. Carolyn was anxious because the two women who had reached the summit before me were similarly impacted by the cold. Probably the strongest cyclist arrived first and rode her bike in a circle for a few minutes saying she didn’t feel well at all. She concluded that she felt so bad that she was going to head down. Carolyn did not think that was a good idea at all and it made her worry about the rest of the women coming up the hill. I decided to help her out for a while and we drove down the hill and accounted for all but one of the riders. They all said they were fine. I had warmed up and was ready to ride again. We picked up another woman and found a place where we could get out and safely ride down. How many ways can I describe how cold I was?

Ennis was a very cute town. And the cabins in Ennis were quite nice and the staff could not have been more accommodating. They had the heat turned way up for us when we arrived, and when even that wasn’t enough for us, arranged to address “the heat emergency” with additional space heaters. We had a "Thanksgiving” dinner which hit the spot fo many, if not me, so much. The conversation over dinner was focused on the next day, our final riding day. Snow was likely. Who thought they would ride in the snow?