Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 17th: West Yellowstone, MT to Virginia City, MT

Having wished Yellowstone Park and the Tetons goodbye we set off for Virginia City. After a four day hiatus from the bike, everyone was relieved to be back in the saddle. We left our church under a sunny sky and biked along the Gallatin National Forest. The scenery was much like Yellowstone itself, but with fewer gawking tourists. We passed evergreen forest and gradually descended into a valley running between two mountain ridges. We learned that this scenery had been created during a massive earthquake in 1959. With a strong tailwind behind us some riders pedaled 35 miles--a Tour de France speed! The first 70 miles passed us in a blur. Everything came to a crashing halt, though, when we encountered our first real mountain pass of the trip. Climbing 2000 feet from the humid river valley we entered scrubby mountain terrain. After a panting break at the top, we descended a very steep hill into Virginia City. Described as a “ghost” town in the Montana atlas, the town was in fact charming. Intending to recreate the feel of the Western gold-mining towns, every house downtown was restored to its original Wild West state. We relaxed at the ice cream parlor where the white gold is still made on a 1934-era gas-powered mixer. The Episcopal Church was cozy and we were treated to a generous spaghetti dinner. Some riders relaxed in the evening with a stroll about town while others sat on the church stoop composing postcards.

-Alex Rabin

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