A few days ago, we left West Yellowstone for Hamilton, Montana. The 75 mile ride was really enjoyable because a good 50 of those miles were downhill! We started the day with a 1000ft climb, and I was amazed at how far we had come from the first week of the ride. Although it was not a difficult hill, my group reached the top in as one unit and filled with more energy than we had at the foot of the hill. I think this is partly because we are all much stronger physically and also because our mentality has completely changed. While I never set out on a climb intending on stopping, I was not always confident I was capable of finishing. Now I have realized that no matter what pace I keep or how long and steep the climb, eventually I will reach the top. And the feeling of accomplishment at the peak is definitely worth the temporary pain during the climb.
After the hill, there was a half mile stretch into Idaho where we were able to snap some photos. For about 5 minutes we were one state away from Oregon! Then it was back to Montana. We were greeted with the descend that everyone had been waiting for. During the downhill, I found myself pumping my brakes and slowing down more than usual. Brian’s accident has made me realize that regardless of how skilled of a biker you are, you are never guaranteed a safe ride. As I’m sure everyone is aware, Brian has taught our team so much on this ride. He has displayed such heart and perseverance in his dedication to the 4k and our goal. In the aftermath of his fall, I know we have all decided to renew our commitment to riding safely not only for ourselves but also for our friends and family.
We stayed at Grace Lutheran Church in Hamilton. The church members were so kind and welcoming when we arrived. It was the first time in a while that we had both showers and a community dinner, so it was really exciting. The home cooked meal was amazing, and despite my fullness, I couldn’t resist a second plate! After dinner, we talked with our hosts about our ride and their experiences with cancer. One church member who was particularly friendly was a two time cancer survivor named Joel Olinghouse. He had battled melanoma and prostate cancer. Even after all his struggles, he was still such a positive and fun person to talk to at the end of a long ride.