I heard my named called from a field of high grass at nine in the morning. It wasn't a religious experience, it was Sunjay, the cyclist from Twin Bridges. It turns out he had spent the night just outside of Jackson, squatting on some rancher's land. We spent the day riding together, just over 90 miles. It was pretty flat, only one major climb to Chief Joseph's Pass, followed by a 7 mile free fall that erased 2000 feet of elevation. Eventually we would ride all the way down to Hamilton, 3000 feet beneath where I slept last night. I'm expecting my tent to stay a little warmer.
Through conversation I found out that Sunjay was a D1 National Champion at Cal Poly in downhill mountain biking. Unfortunately they don't give out rings for those kind of things, which explains why Terrelle Pryor stuck with football. I also thought it was great when he asked very genuinely, "Why does Ohio State refer to themselves as THE Ohio State University?" I assured him that in fact they are confused, and are just an Ohio state university.
Flying down Chief Joseph today, I really felt like I could take off. Every once in a while though, a little white cross marked the site of a fatal accident, a gut check to be certain. The markers were the first of its kind that I've come across. A sign at the top of the pass denoted their purpose.
Another observation I've made while in Montana is the over-saturated casino market. I've seen them in every town big enough to support a fast food chain. In Dillion, there's even a KFC/casino combo. I wasn't expecting this at all. These aren't real casinos, more like glorified slot machine closets that collect smoke like people collect air. It kind of scuffs the finish of the state for me, but overall it's still one of the most beautiful states around.
Sunjay and I wound up in Hamilton because there is a wonderful woman named Terry Tignor who let's cyclists camp in her backyard and use her shower. She has been doing this for a couple years, ever since her son and his friend took on the TransAm. She told me she aspires to one day be the next Cookie Lady (Afton, VA). I really think she may be. Glad I got to meet her when it all got started. Here's to her. I pray that she lives a long healthy life, taking in the adventure cyclist. I didn't need to say it, but she's the Citizen of the Day.
Tomorrow Sunjay and I will split ways pretty early. He's heading west into Idaho. I'm continuing north, to Missoula. There I will find the Adventure Cycling headquarters. Hopefully I get in before business hours. If I do, I'm going to visit, get a motel, and catch a movie. Bigger cities are a great way to refresh. Sometimes you get stuck in the wilderness and you don't know if the page is loading or frozen.