With one week down and around 850 miles in the bag, we took our first rest day today. Since we stayed last night in Madison campground just inside Yellowstone, we were able to tour around the park a bit and get to Yellowstone Lake where we're staying tonight (in a hotel! with beautiful showers!) and enjoy the scenery, which has been a little tough when we're trying to fit 8 hours of biking into each day. That's definitely one of the big surprises for us on this trip: not nearly enough time to relax and sight-see.

We slept in until the luxurious hour of 8:45 am, which after a bunch of nights with <8 hours of sleep was very needed. Though we felt groggy when we woke up because of the late hour, we hopped on our bikes for a quick spin to get from Madison to the Lake Yellowstone hotel to check in. It was a great idea to take a relaxed ride through Yellowstone with no pressure to get any distance done, as it allowed us to see some waterfalls, hot springs, and bison.

Yellowstone is however full of tourists, which is a little annoying when it comes to trying to find a reasonable place to eat or enjoy the scenery as we bike (so many cars - at least they drive slowly!), but we managed to hit up some general stores along the way for lunch.

As we were pulling into the lodge to check in, Don noticed that his left shoe wouldn't come out of his pedal. (For people who don't bike or use clip-in pedals, we're using different variants of shoes that have cleats on the bottom and pedals that we clip into when we're riding - this lets us get a full pedal stroke instead of just using our quads pushing down) This was perfect timing for something like this to happen, as it would have been incredibly inconvenient to have this kind of problem when we had to keep riding. Don just untied his foot from his shoe and left his shoe attached to the pedal - it turned out that one of the screws holding the cleat onto the shoe had come loose and fallen off. We didn't bring an extra screw for this so we were worried about what we could possibly do.

Luckily, Don and I headed downstairs to talk to the concierge after we checked in, and he directed us to another Yellowstone employee who happened to be an avid cyclist himself! Not only did this guy (named Wim) have exactly the screw we needed, but he also gave us a ton of advice on biking in Yellowstone. Apparently all the volcanic rock in the park will damage our bikes if we don't clean off our brake pads and rims after we leave - it sticks onto different parts of the bike and will carve grooves into the metal and carbon. Definitely some important advice - thanks!

Not too much else to report, but we are excited to sleep a full 8 hours in comfort tonight and get an early start to riding in the morning.


July 4th. 
The day started out with clean riding clothes, although when we had them on, we noticed much of the road grime hadn't washed out, but the clothes felt and smelled great. We ate leftover PB&Js from dinner, grabbed coffee from the KOA and were on the road before 7am.
Now that we are in the western part of the time zone, the sun rises later by the clock making very early departures a little harder.

The plan was breakfast in Ennis which was 22 miles away.  The ride took us through two ghost towns
then a big climb. At the top there was a herd of cattle
and from there we could see the road winding downhill for miles with Ennis in sight.

When we entered town we noticed people gathering and chairs lining the road. We found the grocery store, bought fruit, yogurt and hard boiled eggs. By the time we were done, the Ennis Fourth of July parade had started. Justin led the way and found a path along the parade route and out of town. 

We had packed lunch as the next town was West Yellowstone 71 miles away. The ride was a gradual climb of 2000 feet along route 287 with a strong headwind making it a struggle to maintain 10 miles per hour. The group became very discouraged when the sheriff of Madison county pulled the three of us over. He had seen us on the parade route and wanted us to know that in Montana  bikes must follow the same rules as cars. He was a cyclist himself and encouraged us to be good stewards for the sport. We thanked him and continued into the headwind. There is no picture of the sheriff as we didn't feel comfortable asking him to pose.

     We stopped for lunch halfway, took very quick naps and when we started again out luck had changed. The road took an easterly turn, still climbing, but we now had a tail wind and beautiful terrain. 
We got to West Yellowstone, ate at the Slippery Otter and while we were at dinner they closed the roads for another Fourth of July parade.  We were still in Madison county and could see an emergency vehicle in the distance.  Could this be the same sheriff from earlier?  We needed to hurry and get in out way before we were caught in a second parade.  Luckily they were still letting some cars through and we were able to find an open side street that reconnected with our route.  My sister had made us a reservation at Madison campground 14 miles away inside of Yellowstone. We entered the park and entered another state.
Planning the trip to go through Yellowstone had added miles, but the beauty of the untouched landscape made us realize we were had planned correctly.

We've made it to the campground
and are trying to get to bed early as our bodies need rest.